Great Mexican food has long been a part of Tucson's culinary tradition. The city boasts one of the country's oldest family-owned Mexican restaurants - El Charro Cafe - and it's home to award-winning eateries like Cafe Poca Cosa.
Now, a new Mexican food cafe is joining the ranks of Tucson's impressive Mexican food scene. It's called Gio Taco, and it's the third restaurant to be launched by Metzger Family Restaurants. The Metzger family also runs Tucson's award-winning restaurants Jax Kitchen and The Abbey.
The team behind Gio Taco hopes to elevate the humble taco by blending traditional cooking techniques with fresh, unexpected ingredients. The restaurant's philosophy is no-rules tacos with attitude.
That philosophy comes to life in the house special Gio Taco. It features smoked pork belly with a coffee and chipotle rub, served with seared butternut squash and a pumpkin seed salsa.
Gio Taco is a new Tucson eatery that specializes in cutting-edge tacos — Photo courtesy of Gio Taco
Another example of Gio Taco's cutting-edge approach to tacos is the Duck Mole Taco. The tender duck meat is smothered in a rich cherry and chocolate mole sauce and served with fresh cilantro, blood orange segments and a tangy lime crema.
Enjoy your taco with one of the house sides. These include a soup of the day; fruit and vegetable sticks dusted with chile and lime; cilantro-pineapple rice and white beans; and the baby kale salad made with fresh blackberries, shaved shallot and apple vin.
Flavor-laden tacos aside, Gio Taco also dishes out a selection of other entrees, including burritos, bowls and a torta du jour. But some of the most creative concoctions at Gio Taco are tucked away in the snacks menu.
Try the crispy chicharrones (or fried duck skin), dusted with a house spice. Or sample the yucca tots, a Southwestern take on the classic cafeteria side. They come served with a spicy sambal ketchup. You can also order them 'luchador style,' which will score you a delectable handful of melted mozzarella cheese curds.
Other treats include plantain crisps, a homemade empanada and Brazilian hush puppies.
Good food deserves good drink, and Gio Taco doesn't disappoint in that department. The beverage menu includes a Mexican agua fresca-inspired cantaloupe water. There's also a good selection of hand-crafted cocktails. Try The Gringo, a blend of vodka, brown rice horchata, homemade coffee liquor and a splash of cola. Beer, wine and spirits round out the drinks menu.
Gio Taco's creative take on classic Mexican fare is already earning it a loyal following of fans. The restaurant is located in a convenient downtown space and stays open until 2:30 a.m. on the weekends.