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BULLETTucson and Southern Arizona Dining Guide
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Featured Dining Location
Lovin' Spoonfuls is located at 2990 N. Campbell Avenue in Tucson. For more information, call 520-325-7766 or visit lovinspoonfuls.com.
Lovin' Spoonfuls
Tucson
www.lovinspoonfuls.com

Vegetarian restaurants tend to scare carnivores, but not Lovin' Spoonfuls in Tucson, which is attracting beefeaters and tree-huggers alike.

By Robert Stieve

Robert Oppenheimer never opened a steakhouse. That's not unusual — scientists typically stick with science, or maybe take up fly-fishing, but they don't open restaurants. Peggy Raisglid is the exception. After working for 13 years as a chemist for Mobil Oil, she finally took the advice of friends who would come up to her after dinner parties and say things like: "Peg, your casserole was so good I licked my plate. And then I licked the plate of the woman sitting next to me. She looked at me a little funny, but I didn't care. It was incredible. You really ought to open a restaurant." And so she did. [more]


Plaza Restaurant
Willcox

Stepping into Willcox is a little like stepping onto a Wild West movie set. It's in the heart of Apache country, which means it's a bit rugged. It's also smack dab in between Phoenix and El Paso. But that's not to say the area is a wasteland of good eats. For casual family dining in Willcox, try Plaza Restaurant. It's open 24 hours a day and features Mexican food and American fare, from burgers and fries to a Friday night fish buffet that's popular with the locals. Plaza also offers takeout service, banquet facilities and an ultra-friendly service staff.

Plaza Restaurant is located at 1190 W. Rex Allen Drive, Willcox. Information: 520-384-3819.


Shelby's Bistro
Tubac

What tiny Shelby's lacks in size, it makes up for in charm, sporting an eclectic collection of tchotchkes and a pleasant patio overlooking a pond. Owner Anthony Tay's Mediterranean-inspired menu, which focuses on the foods of his childhood, features pastas; light, thin-crust pizzas (try the Mediterranean, topped with grilled chicken, pesto, kalamatas, artichokes and feta); and lots of seafood, including the signature Southwestern Seafood Bouillabaisse, accented with lime and cilantro.

Shelby's is located at 19 Tubac Road, Tubac. Information: 520-398-8075.


Featured Dining Location
Tanuki Japanese Restaurant is located at 1221 E. Fry Boulevard in Sierra Vista. For more information, call 520-459-6853.
Tanuki Japanese Restaurant
Sierra Vista

Sushi in Sierra Vista might sound preposterous, but Tanuki is one of the best and most authentic Japanese restaurants in the state.

By Terry Greene Sterling

In Japan, the word "Tanuki" conjures mythic characters resembling doglike raccoons. Supernatural Tanuki can either be nasty or kind, depending on how they feel. They hold special sway over Japanese restaurant owners, so it makes sense that Michiko Maggie Grace named her restaurant and sushi bar Tanuki. [more]


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AH Best Restaurants


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Velvet Elvis Pizza Company
Patagonia
www.velvetelvispizza.com

Cecilia San Miguel has one mission and one mission only: to "introduce customers to delicious and healthy dining alternatives." And in the striking Southern Arizona town of Patagonia, that task is becoming less daunting, as more and more restaurateurs and chefs are turning to locally grown and organic produce, meats and cheeses. Consider, for example, the menu at Velvet Elvis, where San Miguel has combined the vibrant flavors of the Southwest with a dose of vintage kitsch to create such items as the "Pancho Villa" pizza, a combination of homemade beef chorizo, fresh tomatoes, yellow onions, cilantro, fresh jalapeños, and Asiago and mozzarella cheeses. The soups, salads and calzones are equally delightful — and the King would not have it any other way.

Velvet Elvis is located at 292 Naugle Avenue, Patagonia. Information: 520-394-2102 or www.velvetelvispizza.com.


VinTabla
Tucson
www.vintabla.com

At stylish VinTabla (which means "wine casket"), there is much ado about wine, thanks to Laura Williamson, one of only 130 master sommeliers in the world. She oversees the restaurant's retail wine shop, conducts wine-tastings and classes and maintains a Wine Spectator award-winning global list that reads like a bodice ripper ("juicy & lush" reds, "vibrant & sleek" whites). Executive chef — and Postrio alum — Bruce Yim complements her efforts with an appealing menu of wine-friendly small plates, wood-fired dishes and entrees, including duck sausage and sun-dried cherry pizzetta, salumi, artisanal cheeses and sticky pudding toffee cake.

VinTabla is located at 2890 E. Skyline Drive, Suite 100, Tucson. Information: 520-577-6210 or www.vintabla.com.

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