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10 Best Late-Night Restaurants in Tucson



Tucson may not be New York or Los Angeles when it comes to late night dining. But the Old Pueblo is no slouch either. If you're ready to chow down in downtown Tucson, head to the HUB Restaurant and Ice Creamery, a favorite late night destination for local foodies. The menu is eclectic, the drink menu is full of hand crafted specialties, and there's always the promise of creamy, delicious ice cream for dessert.

For fine dining in a hip, jazzy venue, Kingfisher Bar & Grill in central Tucson is a must for seafood lovers. There's live music and a light dinner menu that's served until midnight. Kingfisher also has one of the best wine lists in town.

Another destination for gourmet late-night eats is Dante's Fire, which offers diners a menu inspired by Dante's Inferno. Savor decadent, gourmet small plates with flavors from around the globe in a sophisticated dining room. 

When you're craving pizza, head to downtown to Empire Pizza & Pub, home to some of the city's best New York-style thin-slice pizza. 

Finally, if you're craving a coffee and pastry, drop by the Shot in the Dark Cafe in downtown. It's a favorite hang-out for writers, artists and other Tucson night owls.

 

 


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Bison Witches Bar


You're probably wondering where the name comes from. Well, if you run the phrase "buy sandwiches" together, it might sound a bit like "Bison Witches." OK, maybe that's not so creative, but the food at this neighborhood college hangout is. They serve sandwiches, soups, salads and beer, but what a selection. Soups and salads are served in big bread bowls, making them a complete meal in and of themselves. But the sandwiches truly are noteworthy, due to their variety, massive size and general tastiness. Try the Hawaiian chicken, brie and roast beef, or the Wildcat (roast beef, smoked turkey, smoked gouda, lettuce and spicy honey-mustard). If you're feeling homesick, there's grilled cheese or PB&J--now that's comfort food! The beverage list is impressive too: 8 domestics and imports on tap, plus more than 30 microbrews and over 20 imports in bottles. Great drink specials (this is a college bar, after all!).




Although it's changed hands a few times over the years, Jonathan's Cork has maintained a loyal following, both for its rustic, retro decor and its non-standard steakhouse menu. The atmosphere is decidedly old-Southwest, with beehive fireplaces and old DeGrazia prints on the walls, but the food is decidedly more modern. In addition to great steaks and fresh fish, guests enjoy a selection of more uncommon meats such as ostrich, buffalo and venison. Most are char-broiled, sauteed or blackened to bring out the inherent flavors. There's also a good choice of beers and liquors. If you love dessert, ask for the daily dessert tray, which includes the likes of Almond Rocca Torte, Coconut Truffle, various Cheesecakes, and Pot de Crem.




Coffee shops don't usually offer much for vegans except perhaps something like a latte made with soy milk. But Shot in the Dark certainly does, while still providing plenty of fodder for the rest of us. Vegans have several options in addition to latte-with-soy-milk, from snacks and baked goods to meals like black beans and rice and a hummus and tabouleh plate. There are plenty of meat and dairy containing sandwiches, coffee drinks, cookies, pies and pastries too, including an amazing peanut butter mocha. Shot in the Dark may cater to vegans, but on the opposite side of the spectrum they also offer a well-ventilated indoor smoking patio and a good selection of cigarettes, tobacco and lighters. How's that for a dual personality?


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This Fourth Avenue institution creates its own energy using solar panels. But let's talk about the pizza: delectable thin-crust slices loaded with fresh toppings. Owner Tony Vaccaro has operated his bustling operation for 12 years now, with no signs of slowing down. Pizzas come in one size, 16 inches, and whether you design your own or choose a specialty pie, the quality of ingredients always makes this one of the best slices in town. If you're looking for a healthier pie, you'll fined great veggie and vegan options here. There are also gluten-free options available for diners with diet restrictions.




HUB Restaurant and Ice Creamery has quickly become a popular downtown Tucson dining destination. The menu is eclectic, fun and always fresh. Starters include a fresh calamari, jumbo lump crab cakes, and pei mussels. The Mac & Cheese is a house favorite. Choose from three varieties on the American comfort food staple: classic, bacon and lobster. Stand-out main dishes include the corned beef hash, made with red potatoes, caramelized onions, bell peppers, asparagus, swiss cheese, two fried eggs--all served with toasted bread. There is also an extensive draft beer, wine and cocktail menu. And for the dessert, try a soft serve treat from the creamery side of the restaurant.




This quirky seafood favorite serves up a great menu of fresh fish in a stylishly eccentric environment. The food says upscale but the vibe is fun and upbeat. Excellent wines, juicy rotisserie meats, hip martinis, hand-bottled bourbons and live jazz make this a great choice for a lingering evening. Oysters and chilled Gulf shrimp by the dozen, cornmeal-crusted pan-fried catfish are a few seafaring options. After 10pm, a light menu is served until midnight. Reservations recommended. Wine aficionados gather here regularly, too. The restaurant has one of the most comprehensive menus of fine wines in Tucson, making this prime territory for oenophiles.




This hybrid bar, restaurant and live music venue has one of the best locations in town. Located in Old Town Artisans's, La Cocina features a sprawling outdoor patio shaded by old cottonwood trees. Even better, the menu is chock-full of seasonal dishes and Southwestern specialties. For starters, try the quesadilla with green chiles, with comes with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. Salads, entrees and sandwiches round out the menu. Try the Presidio Reuben, a Tucson version of the deli classic. It comes with your choice of corned beef, house roasted turkey breast, or eggplant, served with grilled sauerkraut, green chiles, provolone, thousand island dressing and spicy mustard on rye. Check out the bar too, where you'll find a good selection of local beers and handmade cocktails.




Located over the picturesque courtyard of St. Philip's Plaza in midtown Tucson, Union Public House blends the atmosphere of a friendly public house with the hospitality of traditional southwestern culture. The food is made-from-scratch modern American fare crafted from local and sustainable ingredients. On tap, there are 30 beers on any given visit, plus a long menu of handcrafted cocktails. There are plenty of TVs with top sports programming for the happy hour crowd, and a lovely al fresco dining room to enjoy a meal or drink with friends. The happy hour - known here as "the social hour" - is full of great bites and drinks.




Who knew that authentic New York pizza could be found in Tucson? Empire Pizza & Pub brings New York-style pizza to the desert, along with fresh-made hero sandwiches, salads, garlic knots, hot wings, and a menu of mouth-watering desserts. The kitchen prepares pizzas from scratch using hand-tossed dough and freshly prepared sauce. Empire only uses 100 percent Grande mozzarella cheese on its pies, many of which are named after some of the city's most popular neighborhoods and boroughs. Empire Pizza & Pub - as its name implies - also serves beer and wine, making it a great place to watch a game.




Dante's Fire is a new player on the Tucson food scene, but it's quickly established itself as a fine dining destination. The menu is Continental American cuisine, but don't let that label fool you. This is a small plate lover's paradise. Exciting, creative flavor profiles and unexpected pairing are the name of the game. Start with the Arugula & Bleu Cheese Salad, featuring a fresh raspberry vinaigrette. The cocktail menu is equally adventurous. For a refreshing cool-down, try the cucumber martini. It features the essence of cucumber foam. The menu is divided into fun and fanciful sections inspired from Dante's classic poem: choose something from the "Limbo," "Greed," "Anger," and "Atonement."


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Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.

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