5 Must-Try Breakfasts in Tucson
When the extreme heat of the Sonoran desert rolls around each year, bringing with it blazing sunshine and oftentimes triple digit heat, the morning is your friend. On any summertime visit to Southern Arizona, you will quickly learn to take advantage of the (slightly) cooler morning temperatures. As you will likely be out and about much earlier that you are accustomed to, you will want to know the best places in the city for a great breakfast. Before or after exploring any of the unique hikes or attractions in Tucson, give one of these 5 local breakfast hotspots a chance, as opposed to resorting to the convenient, common chain.
Seis is a casual affordable Mexican restaurant located inside the beautiful Mercado San Agustin, an attractive Southwestern style open air shopping & dining market near downtown. This is one of my favorite places for a relaxing meal after a long bike ride or hike, particularly due to the casual ambiance and hefty tree coverage.There is plenty of shady here, and thus, it’s one of the few outdoor dining areas which is still bearable on hot summer mornings. The food here is terrific and authentic and the prices great compared to other options in town. The menu is long & diverse, featuring cuisine from 6 regions of Mexico, although you really cannot go wrong with any of the Breakfast Tacos -they are by far the most delicious in Tucson!
The best part of all is that there is a great local coffee shop in the courtyard (Presta), so you can enjoy a delicious cappuccino, mocha, or regular cup of joe while enjoying your breakfast. It helps to stretch out the time a bit, which is always an advantage on a hot Tucson summer day, where in all honestly, your activity options are quite limited. In terms of nice outdoor patios in Tucson, Seis comes in near the top with its’ abundance of shady leafy trees.
Location: 100 South Avenida del Convento suite 200, Tucson, AZ 85745, Opens at 8am
What to do nearby: Get up early for a sunrise hike up Tumanoc Hill, a challenging steep climb of 1.5 miles which rewards with fabulous views of the city and desert. (W Anklam Rd & Tumamoc Hill Rd – free parking).
Cafe a La C’Art
Cafe a La C’Art is a fantastic restaurant on the grounds of the Tucson Museum of Art. Food & Wine Magazine recently ranked it as one of the top 10 museum restaurants in the country. This is a bit of an overstatement considering the mediocre service and poor quality espresso drinks, however the food itself is delicious, and the menu creative. The Cafe is one my top picks for breakfast in Tucson, especially if you are already heading downtown for another activity.
The pretty garden patio, high quality food, and excellent food presentation make it the perfect place for a weekend brunch date. The cafe is even more romantic at night with pretty lights strung up in the garden. The Market Skillet is the absolute must try here, although there are plenty of enticing options to try out. And of course, you cannot leave without trying one of the tempting pastry treats, all made fresh in house daily.
Location: 150 N Main Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701, Opens at 8am
What to do nearby: Check out the Tucson Museum of Art, which boasts a pretty impressive collection of more than 8000 pieces. As there really is not all that much going on in downtown Tucson, combining brunch at Cafe a la C’Art with a visit to the museum makes for a nice little day out.
Tohono Chul Garden Bistro
Like the Cafe a la C’Art, the Garden Bistro at Tohono Chul offers another nice attractive shady outdoor dining space in Tucson. In an area where heavy tree coverage is not the norm, these cafes come in as a real treat. In fact, you may even forget you are in the desert as coming here for brunch feels like a mini tropical oasis. The Garden Bistro is shady and tranquil, and thus, you can enjoy a quiet breakfast while surrounded by lush plant life. Birds chirp around you and there is no traffic noise or ugly Strip mall views, so it really is a perfect setting for a laidback slow brunch.
The food here also is not too shabby, with more than the standard breakfast fare offered, including the most delicious homemade Quiche of the Day. As an added bonus, the service here is amongst the best in Tucson. In terms of overall dining experience (ambiance, food, and service), Tohono Chul Garden Bistro is a real winner.
Location: 7366 N Paseo Del Norte, Tucson, AZ 85704, Opens at 8am
What to do nearby: Stroll around the gardens, or better yet head over to nearby Catalina State Park for a day of hiking, birdwatching, and taking in the most gorgeous mountain scenery in Tucson. (11570 N Oracle Rd-$7 per car)
Cup Cafe is a little gem inside the historic Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson. The ambiance is charming and the outdoor patio is the perfect cozy place to people watch while enjoying a nice brunch. As it is one of the few restaurants with any sort of historical charm, it’s definitely worthy of a look on your Tucson trip. Although the wait is long on weekends and hostess service could definitely be a bit friendlier and more organized, the home style food more than makes up for the minor inconveniences.
The breakfast entrees here are really high quality and the potatoes so perfectly cooked, definitely the best I’ve tried in Tucson. The cafe offers a nice mix of traditional and specialty dishes, along with a decent size selection of GF options. The must try here is The Deposition, which includes 2 cinnamon flapjacks with 2 eggs your way and bacon. Or try the Cast Iron Baked Eggs, the Quiche du Jour, or the Huevos Rancheros.
Location: 311 E Congress St, Tucson, AZ 85701, Opens at 7am
What to do nearby: Stop for a delicious cup of coffee at Cartel Coffee Lab (210 E Broadway Blvd ), one of the best local roasters in Arizona. Not in the mood for coffee? Take the short drive over to the Center for Creative Photography, featuring 80,000 works from 2000 photographers. It’s free admission. (1030 N Olive Rd)
Maynards is a charming restaurant located in the old train depot in downtown Tucson. The restaurant is small and intimate with a classy vibe, thus making it a great choice for a date brunch or celebratory meal. The service is upbeat and professional, and the ambiance refined, yet still casual. The food here is delicious and well presented. Maynards uses local ingredients, so it’s a nice choice for the health conscious.
You will find lots of fresh baked pastries in the Market section of this restaurant, while Maynards Kitchen serves your basic breakfast entrees. I highly recommend going with the Baked Eggs, which was both different & delicious. The pick 3 ingredient omelet is another must try here.
Location: 400 N Toole Ave Suite A, Tucson, AZ 85701, Opens at 7am (9am on Sunday)
What to do nearby: If you are looking for another quaint date hotspot in the city, head over to Seven Cups Tea Lounge, which has been rated one of the 6 best tea shops in the US by Travel & Leisure Magazine. Tea is pricey, but worth it for the beautiful ambiance. Try the Eight Treasures blend! (2516 E 6th St)
A Few More Great Breakfast Choices Around Tucson
Above are my personal picks for the best restaurants for breakfast in Tucson. Of course, your experience may differ completely from mine based on the type of food you order, your personal preferences, and service of the day. In the case of a longer trip (or for repeat visitors looking for new ideas), here are a few more decent breakfast options to add to your itinerary!
Agustin is another great find in the Mercado San Agustin market. While not as fantastic as Seis, it still offers delicious food and the same relaxed, shady outdoor setting. Agustin is a bit more upscale with more refined service, so if you are in the mood for a fancier vibe or taking out a date, it’s the better choice. Brunch includes an assortment of breakfast plates, as well as seafood and salads.
Location: 100 South Avenida del Convento #150, Tucson, AZ 85745, Opens at 11am , 10am weekends
What to do nearby: Browse around the Mercado shops or take a (scary) drive up “A” Mountain (1000 S Sentinel Peak Rd), where you will be treated to some nice overlooks of the city. If you are looking to get more active, take a leisurely bike ride along the Santa Cruz Riverway (1345 W Irvington Rd).
The Grill at Hacienda
The Grill at Hacienda is one of the better resort dining options in Tucson. The Grill is one of the few places in the city which offers dramatic views of the mountains and the only I have come across where you can see a giant Saguaro out the window. Although the setting is spectacular, the same cannot be said for the service, food presentation, and bitter, undrinkable coffee. You would think a 4 star resort restaurant charging 4 bucks a piece for coffee would serve something fresh?!
Regardless, the Grill offers unbeatable views along with tasty breakfast entrees, although the menu is a bit limited in terms of creativity. If you are more interested in the ambiance than the food, then The Grill should please. My advice: Save your morning coffee for one of the great local shops around town (like nearby Savaya) and simply enjoy a great breakfast in a great setting at The Grill.
Location: 5501 N Hacienda Del Sol Rd, Tucson, AZ 85718, Opens at 7am, Brunch at 9 on Sundays
What to do nearby: Stroll around La Encatada, an upscale outdoor shopping center. While here be sure to treat yourself to a decadent gelato from Frost, a popular Italian gelato chain which originated in Tucson. (2905 E Skyline Dr)
5 Points is a small local cafe and market just outside of downtown Tucson. They offer a great create your own breakfast plate where you can mix and match all sorts of items. The potato pancakes here are so delicious, as is the Giant Pancake served with clarified butter and real maple syrup. They also offer fresh housemade pastries daily. If you are a health conscious diner, 5 Points is one of the best choices as they use a lot of locally sourced ingredients, including the option to sub free range eggs.
The ambiance is really nice with an upscale casual vibe, however, the noise level is bordering on ridiculous, so much so that holding a conversation is nearly impossible. Also, service is just so-so and the menu is pretty basic and in need of a few creative additions. Nonetheless, the food we did try was delicious and the atmosphere charming, despite the noise level. And I could say that I would definitely order the humongous pancake again, especially after a long hike!
Location: 756 S Stone Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701
What to do nearby: Check out the loop, a flat paved multi use path which is perfect for leisurely biking or jogging. A great section of the trail can be found at Santa Cruz River Park (1345 W Irvington Rd)