Eegee's is on the way. Here are 10 more Tucson restaurants and bars we want in Phoenix – The Arizona Republic

Tucsonans around metro Phoenix collectively cheered when eegee’s, a staple fast-food chain in The Old Pueblo, announced plans to open five locations in Phoenix in 2021.
Ever-busy Tucson brunch spot Prep & Pastry also made the journey up I-10 and opened in Scottsdale last fall. And soon, Beaut Burger, a plant-based burger joint from Tucson’s popular Mercado District, will open a new location in Phoenix’s Arcadia neighborhood.
But even if metro Phoenix is home to amazing restaurants — including some originally from Tucson — there are still some spots that call this former Wildcat down south. 
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The Tucson culinary scene is different in ways that are hard to pin down. The Mexican food is great, that’s a given. But it’s also a city built on mom and pop shops where the family behind the restaurant is more important than any celebrity chef or glamorous digs. Shiny and new isn’t the goal. Instagram photos and influencers don’t hold as much weight. And as for the food, deliciousness is favored over cutting edge. 
Because of these things, Tucson’s restaurants may not often make national headlines. But after a few years of living in Phoenix, there are some restaurants and bars I just can’t find equivalents for in the Valley.
Here are 10 Tucson restaurants we wish would open in metro Phoenix. Note that some of these restaurants and bars may be temporarily closed or have altered hours due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Call ahead to check before visiting.
The famous El Charro Cafe pops up on nearly every Tucson tourist guide. It claims to be the oldest Mexican restaurant in the country and serves some great margaritas. The most famous dish, the sun-dried carne secca, is often why people visit El Charro. But my main goal when eating there is to leave enough room for dessert. I’d drive two hours simply for the flan. The El Charro empire has expanded over the years to open locations around Tucson including El Charro Steak; Charro Del Rey, a seafood concept; and CharroVida, a healthy spin-off. In September, the restaurant’s owners announced a partnership with award-winning Barrio Bread baker Don Guerra, forming Barrio Charro. But what I really wish is for the chain to branch into Phoenix.
Details: Original El Charro Cafe, 311 N. Court Ave., Tucson. 520-622-1922,
In Tucson, when you say you’re going to BK’s, you don’t mean you’re getting a Whopper and fries. Although you may still be going through a drive-thru. BK Tacos on First Avenue sports wooden booths, Shakira music videos on small TV screens and often, pre-pandemic, a line out the door. The Al Pastor tacos are particularly memorable, but it’s the Sonoran specialties I miss the most. BK serves caramelos, which are like small, thicker quesadillas, and has some of the best Sonoran hot dogs in town, something rare to find at a sit-down restaurant in metro Phoenix. The bacon-wrapped, bean piled dogs thankfully come two per order and are best enjoyed with a Corona-Rita at this upbeat restaurant. 
Details: 2680 N. First Ave., Tucson. 520-207-2245,
In the spring of 2018, Tucson residents suddenly got a reason to visit an almost-empty strip mall on Grant Road. Noodleholics, a Chinese noodle restaurant, started selling cuisine influenced by Guangzhou and Guilin cities in China. The large bowls filled with broth joined the ranks of other notable noodle shops in town, but the noodles at Noodleholics stand out. Made in house, they are cut thick and have a satisfying bite. Service is fast-casual and bowls of steaming noodles appear quick after ordering off clipboard menus at the counter.
Details: 3502 E. Grant Road, Tucson. 520-305-4262,
After a sunset hike to the top of Tumamoc Hill, a short but very steep trail that offers views of the entire city, there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of noodles from Maru Japanese Noodle Shop. Maru was brought to life by chefs Takayuki Takagi and Yoshimi Tashima, known from another popular Tucson Japanese restaurant, Yoshimatsu. Although the pork katsu curry ramen is a rich, savory treat, at Maru the focus is on thick, flour-based Udon noodles. The small shop serves them eight different ways. 
Details: 1370 N. Silverbell Road #180, Tucson. 520-838-0717,
Main Gate Square, just outside the namesake main gate of the University of Arizona campus, is chock full of restaurants and bars. But when walking or biking down the street, the smell of curry is hard to miss. Kababeque is a counter service Indian spot serving curries, kababs and wraps made with naan bread. Bollywood films play on the small restaurant’s TVs and the Pasanda, which the menu describes as “a perfect blend of masala and corma” is so buttery I can only ever eat half. Mango, strawberry or salted lassi round out the menu. 
Details: 845 E. University Blvd. #185, Tucson. 520-388-4500,
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The B Line is a spot that I could really see working in Phoenix. The wine bar and restaurant was quick service before it was cool. Walk-in, pick a pasta dish and glass of wine from the chalkboard menu on the wall and order at the counter. Then sit at the front window bar and people watch as students make their way to the flashier parts of downtown on a Friday night or snag a little table in one of the converted house’s cozy rooms. When done with dinner, take a peek inside the rotating diner-style sweets case and grab a slice of pie for dessert.
Details: 621 N. Fourth Ave., Tucson. 520-882-7575,
Tough Luck Club, one of my favorite bars in Tucson, is little tricky to find, but well worth the hunt. Located underground with thick stone walls, Tough Luck Club is a dark escape from the hot summer temperatures with plenty of drink options. The historic building houses Reilly’s Craft Pizza and Drink upstairs with Tough Luck Club located in the basement. Legend has it, the building was originally a funeral home and mortuary. The beer garden offers seating in the old hearse garage and the underground bar tips its hat to history with a dancing skeleton cover on the craft cocktail menu. I’d love to see something like this in metro Phoenix, a place where the night starts at a beer garden before guests fuel up at a restaurant and end the evening at the bar, all in one cohesive, historic space. 
Details: 101 E. Pennington Street, Tucson. 520-882-5550,
Over by the railroad tracks west of Fourth Avenue is The Royal Room. And this wine bar is a vibe. The best time of day to visit is at sunset when multicolored panels of glass around the top of the building create a rainbow effect when the sun hits just right. Sip on a glass of wine, beer or cocktail while watching live music or a poetry reading in the main bar. Afterward, grab a snack and retire to the sofas and chairs in the small back lounge, complete with board games and a burgundy, zebra print wallpaper that I want to wrap my whole house in.  
Details: 450 N. Sixth Ave., Tucson. 520-347-7023,
When walking around Roosevelt Row or downtown Phoenix, I’ve often wished for more options for ice cream. And what would be really perfect is a location of Sonoran Sno-Cones Raspados. One of the businesses inside Tucson’s popular Mercado San Agustin, this small ice cream counter is one of the plaza’s best-kept secrets. A Macedonia, which is filled with fruit, nuts, condensed milk and a scoop of vanilla is the perfect way to beat the heat.
Details: 120 S. Avenida del Convento #120, Tucson. 520-344-8470,
MotoSonora Brewing Company opened after I moved away from Tucson. But on a visit, I finally managed to stop in at this car and motorcycle-themed brewery. It lived up to the hype. A little south of the tracks, this brewery offers a small indoor area and expansive back patio complete with string lights, picnic tables and umbrellas. The motorcycles and cars that dot the space rotate and often have a story, so be sure to ask about Former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords’ 1972 BMW R75/5 or the vintage Land Rover Defender 110 complete with safari seats. Oh, and the beer is great too. 
Details: 1015 S Park Ave, Tucson. 520-416-6686,
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