Tucson is no stranger to mouthwatering Mexican food. The city even has a district designated as the "23 miles of Mexican food," a nickname that refers to the high concentration of Mexican food eateries clustered around downtown and South Tucson.
Now, you can add one more name to the city's ever-growing roster of Mexican food restaurants: Reforma Cocina y Cantina. Unlike many restaurants in town, however, Reforma doesn't specialize in Sonoran-style Mexican food, which is heavy on northern Mexico staples like flour tortillas, refried pinto beans and red meat.
Reforma Cocina y Cantina serves gourmet modern Mexican fare in midtown Tucson — Photo courtesy of Reforma Cocina y Cantina
Reforma, which is located at the St. Phillips Plaza shopping center in midtown, is an upscale eatery with a modern take on some of Mexico's most iconic dishes. The eclectic and creative menu reflects the culinary spirit and bold flavors of central Mexico, a region known for complex sauces like mole and its emphasis on New World foods like corn, squash and black beans.
One stand-out menu item is the chiles en nogada, a dish that hails from the central Mexican state of Puebla. The name comes from the Spanish word for the walnut tree, nogal, in reference to the key role walnuts play in the dish. Traditionally, the dish is made with poblano chiles stuffed with picadillo (a mix of shredded meats, spices and aromatics), then topped with a walnut-based cream sauce and pomegranate seeds.
At Reforma, the chiles are stuffed with vegetarian chorizo and dried fruit, then drenched in a luscious walnut cream and topped with fresh pomegranate seeds. The dish achieves complex depths of flavors that you won't find on most combo platters.
The menu also offers a selection of gourmet tacos, soups, salads and Mexico City-style tortas. Seafood lovers will appreciate the number of fish-based dishes, including a ceviche verde, which is made with shrimp, bay scallops and the fresh fish of the day. The ceviche is topped with spices, salsa verde and avocado.
Dishes are made from scratch daily, including the fresh ground corn tortillas. The restaurant goes through as much as 100 pounds of corn each day to make 3,000 tortillas, which are used in many menu items.
For dessert, be sure to sample traditional central Mexican desserts like pastel de elote, sweet corn cakes steeped with honey milk and topped with dulce de leche ice cream. If you happen to be dining at Reforma during the hot Tucson summer, you might want to order the paletas borrachas, adult-only homemade fruit popsicles infused with alcohol.
On the bar side of the restaurant, diners can enjoy one of Tucson's largest selections of fine tequila and mescal. There's also an extensive wine list, local craft brews and plenty of Mexican beer by the bottle.
Reforma Cocina y Cantina is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Most dinner entrees range from $17 to $21. The restaurant also hosts lunch and happy hour specials.