Thanks to Chowhound, Tucson Weekly, and Roadfood, we had great eats on our recent trip to Tucson:
Ranch Market in Phoenix: This was a perfect stop a couple minutes away from the rental car pickup in Phoenix. They had a huge selection. Highlights were the taco de lengua, taco de carnitas, chile relleno, and horchata (which we are totally hooked on now - its like drinking rice pudding!).
Ventana Room: Good but not great. The reduction sauce on the dorade was excellent, as was the smoked meats and cold seafood appetizer. Some of the odd touches: A selection of salts and peppers. Why would a 5-star chef want you to add salt and peppers to his dishes? Another weird touch was the grand introduction of Presidente butter. Umm, sure its French, but if you can get it at any grocery store and they serve it on Air France, its not worth an oration. A restaurant in Philadelphia (Lacroix) with similar style has, in my opinion, much better execution and is 1/2 the price.
Pico De Gallo: The salsa was the best we had in Tucson. The horchata was nicely spicy with cinnamon. The pico de gallo was refreshing. The Torta de Barbacoa was good, maybe a little greasy.
Casa Molina: Blech.
Teresas Mosaic Café: Great, huge breakfasts with a big selection. Highlights were the amazing homemade tortillas, the chilaquiles, and the nopales salsa and chorizo on the Sunday special.
Gus Balons: Perfect diner breakfast with homemade bread and a zillion pies. I loved the chocolate peanut butter banana pie. The coffee was very weak, though.
Galos: A cute little restaurant with excellent food. JugglerDave had the steak with onion whiskey butter sauce, and I had the tamale cakes in mild red mole. The desserts were delicious. We had a chocolate cheesecake that was so rich it was almost like a flourless cake, and had a little tang to it from sour cream. I had the warm pineapple upside down cake, done classic and perfect.
Candela Peruvian restaurant: Really interesting dishes with unusual spicing, very good. I had a fish dish with red onions, JugglerDave had carne seca with spinach. The "leche volteada" dessert was like an extra creamy flan, and came with candied orange slices. Extremely gracious and warm hostess (owner).
Breakfast buffet at Loews Ventana resort: The breakfast buffet was very nice. It included a big granola/mueslix section with all kinds of nuts and dried fruit, an omelette station with green chilis, chorizo, and three kinds of homemade salsa (including a true "medium" and true "hot"), a station where they made fresh tortillas, and refills of fresh-squeezed OJ.