Being stranded in Tucson without a means of transportation is hardly the preferred option for a New Yorker. Especially for one whose mobile friends wouldnt care if they were having Dominos or DiFaras.
That said, my dining options have always been minimal at best. If it isnt on or directly adjacent to the University of Arizona campus, odds are I cant get there. Its with that in mind that I want to mention my two favorite local joints, both located just off of campus at the corner of University & Park.
Panizza is the newer of the establishments, specializing in paninis. While their version is admittedly a new twist on an old classic, good ingredients make it worth a visit. In a city which nearly caused me to die of shock by finally stocking fresh basil in the supermarket, thats certainly a big deal. Each panini is more than generous. Ive yet to try more than a few, but have enjoyed all that Ive sampled. The pizza isnt traditional either, but its still closer to the real thing than anything else Ive found here (order it with the fresh basil!). Again, one slice is more than plenty for one person. The only dessert Ive tried so far are the chocolate chip cookies (very enjoyable), but I do look forward to trying the gelato. The place is actually nice, too the dessert case is adorned with a note, naturally saying Leave the gun take the cannoli. TVs are turned to Food Network or Turner Classic (with minimal volume).
I tend to prefer its neighbor though, The Fat Greek. The gyro is as good as Ive ever had. Salads are top-notch. Good, not great, tzatziki. Im not big on the souvlaki (a little peppery for my taste), but its not bad at all. Really, really enjoyable as a whole. I exist on the gyro and salad for weeks on end without getting sick of it. Worth a look.