As odd as it may sound, Tucson is historically known for its food. When one thinks of historical aspects of a city or town usually buildings or statues come to mind, but to me, history is shaped by culture and food is reflexive of the many different cultures that make up a geographic location. Tucson is heavily made up of a number of cultures which is why the food scene in this city is so prominent.
Bio: This Ma and Pa Italian restaurant opened its doors 40 years ago in 1977. The Italian restaurant that blossomed in the desert of Tucson came to be after the Bianchi’s yearned for a change of pace, scenery, and profession. Randy and Nancy Bianchi Lived in New York with their four young kids when they decided the lifestyle they had been living was not for them anymore. They debated pursuing a number of different careers but found themselves picking up and moving across the country. Tucson Arizona was the chosen destination for this family’s new life and, I can say for a fact, we are grateful for that! The Bianchi's found an old pizza restaurant and, without any prior knowledge on running a restaurant, decided they would try their hand at the food industry. Taking old family recipes, the Bianchi family worked hard to make a name for themselves. This family is a testament to the idea that hard work pays off because 40 years and two locations later, Bianchi’s Italian is known for its fine Italian dishes.
Review: There are two locations to choose from, my family and I chose to go to the location off of Speedway and Silverbell (1110 N. Silverbell Road). This restaurant has a very casual, fast-paced, homey vibe to it. Walking in it’s like walking into a family-friend’s house: the T.V’s are on the sports channel, you order at the front, and find the seat of your choice. The food definitely lived up to its iconic reputation. The portions were family style, giving you enough to have leftovers for at least the next day, if not two days. The food tasted as if it was made in an Italian home. I ordered the spaghetti with meat sauce, which has the potential to be extremely plain; however, sauce was the perfect amount of sweet and savory that a homemade tomato sauce should be. The eggplant parm was seasoned beautifully and served over a bed of pasta and tomato sauce, perfect for a heartier dish. My dad ordered the ziti and when it came out, it looked eerily similar to my spaghetti and meat sauce so if you’re a ziti lover make sure to see if they have baked ziti which is different.
Info: All of the historical information that has been used in this article, in addition to further details, can be found at:
Bio: When naming iconic restaurants in Tucson, Bobo’s Restaurant is easily one of the top on the list. Known for their oversized pancakes and that old diner feel, Bobo’s is the place to be on any given morning. Bobo’s Restaurant has been in Tucson Arizona since 1976 and has only become more and more popular as the years have gone by. Bobo’s sticks to their old school roots, keeping a their web presence to a minimum so the history of this establishment is a bit hard to find.
Review: As you walk in you see an old cash register straight ahead, usually, with no one standing behind it because just as an old-fashioned diner functions, everyone helps out everywhere so there is no time to stand and wait for people to come in. To your right is a look into the past, a framed picture of the restaurant back in the day hangs on the wall with a row of motorcycles parked out front. This image of history draws me in every time I visit because it is funny to see how similar the diner is today as it was back then. This restaurant is a piece of history that has been preserved in a day in age where society thinks newer is better. Looking around the small dining room there is nothing fancy, tables with chairs in the middle of the room, booths along the side, and taller chairs at the bar. Seeing as this iconic restaurant has not been dramatically remodeled, Bobo’s still has the old school open kitchen where you can see the rows of pancakes on the griddle and the eggs frying right next to them. The atmosphere matching the aesthetic of place as well. It is a fast-paced diner with friendly faces all around. University of Arizona murals, pictures, and even clothing is present at all times, making it the beloved breakfast place of college students. Not only does the school spirit attract college students, but the extremely low prices do as well. Bobo’s is known around town to fill you up without emptying the wallet.
Info: Links to more information about Bobo’s Restaurant, in addition to the information that has been used, can be found at:
El Charro Café:
Bio: El Charro Café is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, restaurant in Tucson seeing as it was established in 1922. It is one of the most historic and iconic restaurant Tucson has to offer not only the city, but the entire country. The founder, Tia Monica Flin moved from France to Tucson with her family “when her father Jules, a famous stone-mason, was commissioned to build the city’s pristine St. Augustine Cathedral”. While running the restaurant by herself, unusual for that day in age, Tia Monica Flin invented a Mexican dish eaten nationwide today. The commonly ordered Chimichanga was invented by accident here in Tucson, Arizona. Tia Monica accidentally dropped a burrito in her frying oil, and voila the Chimichanga was born.
Review: This café has a homey feeling to it, which makes sense seeing as it was once the home of Tia Monica. A courtyard connects different buildings, all of which have that old Spanish flair to it. Bright colorful paintings and decorations line the walls while the dark wood seating reminds us of the age and history of the building. The food is out of this world, combining traditional Mexican flavors from 95 years ago with modern cooking techniques.
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Info: All of the historical information talked about, as well as additional information, can be found at:
DISCLAIMER: All pictures were taken by myself unless otherwise stated in the captions