This Tucson restaurant made a national "50 best" list – Arizona Daily Star

Bata takes up 6,000 square feet of the historic 1930s warehouse at 35 E. Toole Ave.
Downtown Tucson eatery Bata is one of two Arizona restaurants named as Bon Appétit’s 50 Best New Restaurants in 2022.
Located at 35 E. Toole Ave., Bata is owned by Tucson siblings Tyler, Zach and Courtney Fenton.
“An expansive, minimalist industrial space is the backdrop at Bata, a fine dining restaurant in Tucson where a wood-fired oven touches every dish,” writes Bon Appétit. “Its à la carte menu feels like one for a true food nerd.”
Bacanora, in Phoenix, was the other Arizona restaurant that made the list.
Nattha’s Bann Thai Asian recently opened in the former Peking Palace, serving up Thai and Cantonese dishes including the pictured shrimp Pad Thai. 
6970 E. 22nd St.
Nattha’s Bann Thai Asian, located at 6970 E. 22nd St., opened around June and serves up Thai and Cantonese dishes from mussaman curry to Pad Thai. 
Website: Nattha’s Bann
Construction continues on the new Rudy’s “Country Store” & Bar-B-Q restaurant, 2130 E. Ajo Way. The Texas-based company has three Phoenix-area Rudy’s locations and plans to open its Tucson location on June 21.
2130 E Ajo Way
Rudy’s specializes in all things barbecue from their popular brisket to smoked turkey breast, chicken, ribs and pulled pork. Meat is sold by the half-pound — ranging from $6.99 for sausage links to $10.99 for brisket — and sides are a la carte.
Tucson is getting its first By The Bucket takeout spaghetti shop this fall near Kolb and Tanque Verde roads.
2130 N. Kolb Road
(520) 771-6917
By the Bucket sells hot spaghetti to go in a bucket, meatballs, meatball subs, deserts and cold drinks.
By The Bucket’s kitchens are simple, with steamers for the spaghetti, warmers for the marinara and meatballs, and a toaster for the bread.
A pedestrian walks past soon to be popsicle restaurant Peace, Love & Pops, 845 E. University Blvd., in Tucson, Ariz. on March 24, 2022. 
814 E University Blvd
(520) 372-7805
Home | Peace, Love, and Pops – Handcrafted Frozen Treats Tucson (
(1) Peace, Love & Pops | Facebook
A new popsicle shop — Peace, Love & Pops — will be going in at 845 E. University Blvd. The restaurant, which  will feature fresh fruit popsicles as well as more inventive flavors, from regional prickly pear to cream-based popsicles with cereal, is expected to open in late April or early May.
Tooley’s will reopen with the original breakfast and lunch menu that dates back to 1989.
299 S. Park Ave
The restaurant at 299 S. Park Ave. will reopen, after a six-year closure, on Friday, June 3, with the original breakfast and lunch menu that dates back to 1989.
Texas Burrito Company is located at 1570 E. Tucson Marketplace Blvd.
1570 E. Tucson Marketplace Blvd
Suite 100
This new restaurant on Tucson’s south side is run by Jason Scott, who incorporates his Texan roots and barbecue into traditional Sonoran food.
Ren Bakery and Espresso Bar opened in the former 8 Degrees Ice Cream & Cookies, an 1,100-square-foot space that already had an oven.
4320 N. Campbell Ave., #43
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 
Baked goods from muffins and danish to scones and cinnamon rolls that are used in Ren Coffeehouse nearby, and of course, espresso.
Marie and Buddy Lozano place their order at Tanna’s Botannas, 4426 S. Sixth Ave.
4426 S. Sixth Ave.
Spicy candies and snacks are on the menu.
Squared Up Pizza uses fresh pepperoni and co-owner Mario Badali’s family recipe for Sicilian pies.
5870 E Broadway
This pizza spot presents Sicilian pies like you get in New York. Their pies are in the traditional Sicilian square, with a thicker base and crunchy crust.
Frida’s Cafe’s Diego Rivera sandwich is a spin on a BLT, with a chile relleno instead of bacon, plus some avocado.
5526 E Grant Road
Menu items are inspired by the famous painter couple, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Chris Ahlers gets some work done in the main dining room near the retractable doors to the patio after lunch at The Monica, 40 E. Congress St.
40 E. Congress St.
The Monica opened as an offshoot of El Charro Café. It is named for El Charro’s founder Monica Flin and includes a market along with the restaurant.
6872 E. Tanque Verde Road
BoSa Donuts serves more than donuts and coffee. You can get lunch there with sandwiches and other drinks.
3225 N. Swan Road, Suite 111
The restaurant specializes in Vietnamese Bún (Vermicelli Salad Bowls)
Server Lili Garcia brings drinks to the outdoor dining area in front of the new restaurant Cruda, 31 N. Scott Ave., Tucson, Ariz., Feb. 10, 2022.
31 N. Scott Ave.
Cruda is the newest in a slew of opulent, Mexican-influenced restaurants across Tucson. It was opened by Danny Cordova in the space left when his first downtown venture, La Chingada, moved into the former location of the now-closed restaurant Cafe Poca Cosa.
Pictured is half of the V-Licious Vegan Burger and veggie chips from Fullylove’s now in Main Gate Square
994 E. University Blvd.
This lunch to late-night munchies spot has classic and vegan burgers and sandwiches and sides and a considerable dessert menu.
Guadalajara’s in Marana has opened with the same classic Mexican dishes as its sister locations in Tucson.
5955 W. Arizona Pavilions Drive
This Mexican restaurant at 5955 W. Arizona Pavilions Drive is the third location for chef-owner Seth Holzman, which include Guadalajara Grill Mexican, 4901 E. Broadway, and Guadalajara Grill Fiesta, 750 N. Kolb Road. It has the same menu of classic Mexican food.
Midtown Vegan Deli and Market wants to make veganism more accessible for all.
5071 E. Fifth St.
Tanya Barnett started her deli and market out of a desire to make veganism more accessible — for meat eaters and die-hard vegans alike. She asked vegans what ingredients they needed to find and placed them on her first order.
2800 N. Campbell Ave.
Ni Hao Tea, with this new location, serves Boba tea and smoothies.
Shana Oseran spearheaded the idea of opening a jazz club called the Century Room inside Hotel Congress’ former Copper Hall. The borderlands jazz and mezcal tasting lounge will open on Feb. 4.
311 E. Congress St.
Tucson’s only jazz club, The Century Room borderlands jazz club and mezcal tasting lounge, is in the former Copper Hall banquet space at at Hotel Congress.
Owners of the newest downtown restaurant, The Delta. From left, Steve Dunn, Travis Peters and Bryce Zeagler hope to create a “libation and culinary thrill ride.”
135 S. Sixth Ave.
The Delta officially opened on New Year’s Day. It is the downtown sister project of local favorite The Parish.
Tucsonans might recognize The Parish as a restaurant that transforms an Oro Valley strip mall into a shot of New Orleans. The Delta will feature the same Southern Hospitality it will be a bar with a grill menu instead of the Parish’s gumbo.
Bata takes up 6,000 square feet of the historic 1930s warehouse at 35 E. Toole Ave.
35 E. Toole Ave.
Bata is owned by Tyler Fenton, who, with two siblings, also owns Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink. The menu will consist of foods touched by fire, whether being grilled, charred, flame dried or burned (on purpose).
6255 E. Golf Links Road
Opened March 17.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on March 8, 2022. Noodies opened on April 15, 2022. 
Noodies! When owner Carolyn O’Connor says the word out loud, it sounds like a party, a celebration.
The name belongs to her new pasta restaurant, opening later this month, in the space formerly occupied by Bentley’s House of Coffee and Tea. Carolyn is totally re-imagining the place, complete with a mural painted by a friend who happens to experiment with abstract noodle shapes. There isn’t a better word for it than “fun.”
Noodies is a Tucson inheritance. But its lineage, like sister restaurant Ceres, comes from all over. If Ceres is inspired by the pastries and pasta of northern Italy, Noodies draws material from the checkered-tablecloth Italian-American of Syracuse, with some help by way of Hong Kong.
Syracuse is Carolyn’s hometown. It’s where she was pregnant, scrolling Pinterest, when the algorithm realized she needed more brightly-colored images of cha chaan teng — American-style diners in Hong Kong, where you can get condensed-milk French toast and macaroni soup. Those hues inspire the setting of Noodies today, if not the menu.
Carolyn O’Connor’s handmade, fresh pasta will be available at both Ceres and her new venture, Noodies.
Though both restaurants share the foundation of Carolyn’s handmade pasta, Carolyn is clear that each restaurant is its own concept. “Ceres always felt like my baby. The first time going into something, everything was really new. Because of that everything feels so precious … Noodies felt almost like having a second child … Noodies is colorful; the food is a little more gluttonous and cheesy. I see it as a wild second child or something.”
While you will be able to get your favorite sauces from Ceres at Noodies — the tomato basil, the bolognese, the cacio e pepe — Noodies’ larger kitchen allows Carolyn to expand the menu. You’ll be able to add Italian sausage, meatballs and burrata to your order. Unlike Ceres’ lunch counter, Noodies will have both indoor and outdoor seating. Their menu will also offer sandwiches Carolyn misses from her hometown, like meatball subs and Italian grinders.
Though Carolyn never thought she would go into the restaurant business — her parents are in academics — her mother’s hospitality inspires Carolyn’s restaurants.
“My mom, she’s a really good cook, and she loves having a real dinner. She sets the table, puts out napkins, does all this stuff, makes a whole beautiful meal and a pie, tea and coffee, so she creates this whole experience for people, and it makes people feel so loved and appreciated. It’s also a legacy in my own family, taking care of people through food,” she said.
Ryan Eggleston, local painter, paints the archway over the front door at Noodies, 1730 E. Speedway, on March 8, 2022. Carolyn O’Connor is opening a new restaurant, Noodies, in the space that once housed Bentley’s Coffeehouse.
The “also” responds to Noodies’ more apparent legacy: Noodies is taking over the lease of her mother-in-law Jo Schneider’s first restaurant, Bentley’s, which occupied that space for over two decades. If Carolyn’s own mother gave her a love for feeding her community, Carolyn’s mother-in-law inspired her to make service her livelihood.
“Going into the restaurant business or being an entrepreneur was so different than what I expected (for my life). The trust (the Schneider family has) put in me, the support, how they’re always there for me, with anything. It’s such a testament to their kindness and generosity. I think Jo does that for a lot of people in this community, giving people a chance when maybe other people wouldn’t, and let them shine,” she said of Jo, who owns downtown’s LaCo.
At both Ceres and Noodies, Carolyn aspires to be that support system for her own employees. She hosts weekly tasting sessions for staff, where they all sample the specials, the soft-serve flavors and give feedback. “Everyone who works there respects everyone else and works really hard. It’s such a good thing for workplace morale. It’s very collaborative, so everyone feels really listened to,” Carolyn said.
“There’s two staff at Ceres who have been there since the day we opened,” she said. “They now know how to do everything. They’re more or less managing Ceres for the shifts, every day … I really wouldn’t have been able to take on the new project without them.”
Owner Carolyn O’Connor and her husband Ben Schneider try to move a table between two benches at Noodies, 1730 E. Speedway, on March 8, 2022. 
Workers at Ceres have to be able to do it all: cook pasta and take orders and make espresso — because the space to work is tiny. Though the larger venue at Noodies allows for more specialization, people working in the front versus the back of house, Carolyn aspires for the restaurants to cross-pollinate.
“I have everyone try cooking lunch. I love it so much. It’s really fast … I think a lot of women, especially, are really intimidated to go into a kitchen and work in a line … I think giving people the chance who wouldn’t maybe necessarily think that’s a good fit for them, the opportunity to cook in a fast-paced place, and realize: I could be really good at this.
“We just started accepting resumes for Noodies. I’m not sure what the kitchen will look like, or the front of house. We wrote that all are welcome to apply. I really hope people will.”
Location: 1726 E. Speedway
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday-Monday.
For more information, check out their Instagram.
Bemo’s Ol’ Joe’s tot-chos are tater tots loaded with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, cheese and slaw.
Amber Donahue and Chris Frisch were running a thriving sports therapy business, traveling across the United States with elite athletes, when the pandemic hit.
“Overnight, our jobs were obsolete,” Amber said. “So we started thinking about businesses we could do that were pandemic-proof.”
As they traveled for work, through cities like Austin, Texas; Portland and Bend, Oregon; and Nashville, Tennessee, they noticed these cities each had food truck parks. They liked that the concept had a small footprint: it’s simply making a setting to bring together food trucks and the people who love them. And Tucson, the foodie city where their eldest daughter was recently hired as a high school teacher, didn’t have a food truck park yet.
“We thought we could bring something to this town we loved vacationing in so much,” Amber said.
The main seating area at The Pit used to be where cars would fill up their tanks at the former gas station.
After nearly a year of development, their new food truck park, The Pit, opened last weekend at 7889 E. 22nd St. “The property used to be a haunted Scooby Doo gas station,” Amber said.
“Remember the gas stations you see in the middle of nowhere? That’s what we walked into,” she said. “We gutted the whole thing and kept it bare: we have coolers full of drinks, a few snacks and decorated it with kitschy awkward family photos, just made it a place that is clean and comfortable.”
Amber Donahue had a sports therapy business for elite athletes before the pandemic. Her new business, The Pit food truck park, aspires to be pandemic-proof.
The station itself is used as a central bar to complement the sizable outdoor space they cleared of debris and turned into seating. They also built a stage for live music on weekends and have plans in the works to install misters and build more shade for the summer. Many of their materials were sourced from community donations, from families and local businesses.
“We want this to be a place people can come in the evening,” Amber said.
The business partners decided on a rotating food truck schedule so people who live in the area can experience a variety of different vendors. Harris Hotstuff, a made-to-order barbecue truck, is only set up on the weekends, while you can get Hermanos Tacos and Lebanese food truck Homemade Mediterranean during the week.
“The woman who runs Homemade Mediterranean is the hardest working person I know,” Amber said.
The Pit’s outdoor space borders The Loop biking trail.
Amber and Chris will soon be adding a Jamaican food truck, and are looking for a pizza truck and a truck that does Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Filipino noodle dishes.
Though the two divorced seven years ago, they are involved co-parents. Last year, they bought homes near each other, both in the Catalina Foothills School District. “Our success is based on building a legacy for our children, which is something we both agree with, always,” Amber said.
Chris Frisch is “the other 100% of the operation,” says business partner Amber Donahue.
When I visited, every single thing I tried stood out as one of the best meals I’ve eaten all year. I was amazed at the curated selection of food trucks.
When I asked co-owner Chris about it, he said that the park has a special culture. Everyone is super kind and they help each other out. “We open up in the mornings, Homemade Mediterranean locks up at night. Cuppa GoGo helps clean the bathrooms. We all pitch in,” he said.
The result is a tight community of vendors, each with outstanding customer service and even more special food.
The Pit is currently home to six regular trucks, with three more coming soon, and seven visiting trucks. Here’s what you can get:
Homemade Mediterranean is a Lebanese-style sandwich shop.
This Lebanese sandwich place, Homemade Mediterranean, is simply amazing. I will be going back to try every item on their curated menu. I ordered their koefte sandwich, which is a vibrantly spiced beef patty tucked into a pita that rivals Tucson’s best flour tortillas: thin and almost laminated in its flakiness, but with a slightly more bready texture. The condiments are also stars: slightly sweet, slightly umami pickle with parsley salsa and tomato.
Homemade Mediterranean’s beef koefte sandwich is to die for!
They had an extra falafel lying around when I stopped by and they let me try that too: perfectly crunchy with a slightly softer inside, with a dusting of sesame seeds. In my humble opinion, Lebanese hummus is the best of the Mediterranean, and I can only imagine how yummy their falafel sandwich with hummus and tahini must be.
I also got a side of fries, which I habitually get alongside Mediterranean food. I need to research why the region has french fries down pat: somehow they get extra crunchy on the outside, with a custardy middle. Heavenly.
Homemade Mediterranean is open 12:30-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 12:30-6 p.m. Sunday.
Bemo’s Ol’ Joe’s food truck welcomes you upon entrance to The Pit.
Stop by Bemo’s Ol’ Joe’s and you might find the now-closed Hog Pit co-owner, Les Baxter, sitting in a folding chair, welcoming you with a big smile. He’s teamed up with chef Donald Adkins to bring you a food-truck concept with a pared-down menu, but full-volume flavor. Donald insisted I try the tot-chos, which were over-the-top in exactly the best way.
Tot-chos consist of five layers. The base, of course, are tater tots — fried, not baked. Tots’ signature riced texture and substantial crust will hold up to the hearty toppings: first a layer of melted sprinkle cheese, then a generous portion of melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork, doused in sauce and finished with a serving of slaw. While each ingredient is indulgent, they are in such perfect ratio that each bite is in harmony. I loved this place.
On my way out of The Pit, I saw someone eating a chicken sandwich from Bemo’s. I asked her how she liked it. To my surprise, she puckered her face like she was about to come up with the worst insult she possibly could, and delivered one line: “I wish there was more sauce.”
Bemo’s Ol’ Joe’s is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
Hermanos Tacos’ carne asada tacos cost $3.
Trust me when I’ve said, I’ve eaten a lot of carne asada.
Hermanos has the real deal: succulent, a little chewy but tender, with a little crisp on some of the edges. The flour tortillas are thin, stretchy and just substantial enough to deliver the meat, pico and a splash of bright green salsa to your eager taste buds.
The one-man operation also makes impressive-looking raspados, as I witnessed from the woman who ordered in front of me, then hopped back in her truck, raspado in hand. I was so jealous.
This place is cash only, so keep that in mind.
Hermanos Tacos is open 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Coming soon: Jamaican, Italian and sushi!
Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at
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Gabriela’s been with the Star since 2007.

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Bata takes up 6,000 square feet of the historic 1930s warehouse at 35 E. Toole Ave.
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