Finding the best brunch in Tucson is fun thanks to tasty dishes like Chilaquiles and Huevos Rancheros. Discover seven great Tucson brunch spots where you can eat these Mexican classics as well as Cinnamon Buns and French Toast.
Brunch wasn’t on our radar when we arrived in Arizona. Sonoran dishes like bacon-wrapped hot dogs? Sure. Meat-filled tacos? Of course. Pancakes and waffles? Not so much.
But, as we quickly learned, the Tucson brunch game is both strong and varied.
We also learned that knowing where to go and what to order is key if you want to eat the best brunch in Tucson.
Finding The Best Brunch In Tucson
Brunch is one of the best meals of just about every day in Tucson since most of the city’s restaurants serve brunch on weekdays as well as Saturdays and Sundays.
That being said, weekend brunches are more popular and for good reason. These meals are typically more leisurely and, as a plus, often involve cocktails. But weekday brunches have their merits since queues tend to be shorter.
The big factor is what you want to eat for brunch in Tucson. Specifically, do you want to eat American food or spicy, zesty Mexican? Admittedly, it’s not an easy decision. But, once you make up your mind, you’ll be ready to check the huge brunch scene that is Tucson.
Our Favorite Tucson Brunch Spots
Proving that the best brunches in Tucson aren’t cookie cutter affairs, our favorite Tucson brunch spots specialize in both Mexican and American dishes. Some of these spots are trendy while others are old school. A few even serve third wave coffee roasted at the best Tucson coffee shops.
Without further ado, these are our favorites places to eat brunch in Tucson:
5 Points Market & Restaurant
We must have driven by 5 Points Market & Restaurant a dozen times before we ate brunch at the centrally located cafe. Once we finally entered its doors, we wasted no time and promptly ordered a kouign amann creatively filled with herbed goat cheese.
That unique kouign amann would have been enough to win our our hearts. However, the pastry was an intro to a memorable brunch that included sauce-topped huevos rancheros and a ridiculously tasty sausage sandwich that made our tongues tingle with its chiltepin-sage pork sausage patty and local tomato jam.
Operating as both a restaurant and a market, 5 Points offers indoor and outdoor seating. While its patio surely appeals to guests during cooler months, we chose to sit inside since the infernal desert temperature was at full blast during our visit. It was a good move. Not only did we beat the heat, but we also had a prime spot to watch servers scurry by our table and smell tempting aromas wafting through the air.
Since the main event was the meal itself, we wasted not time in tucking into farm-to-table dishes prepared with both local ingredients and gusto. And, while we agreed that our drinks (freshly squeezed orange juice and cappuccinos) were equally enjoyable, we agreed to disagree about our dishes.
Daryl is convinced that his open-faced sausage sandwich was the winning dish thanks to ingredients like locally grown chives, sharp cheddar cheese and Sonoran honey butter piled high over buttery brioche. Meanwhile, Mindi knows that her Huevos Rancheros reigned supreme with ingredients that included the same sharp cheddar cheese as well as avocado, cilantro-serrano pesto, pico de gallo and pinto beans.
We were tempted to order other daily brunch options like Smoked Salmon Benedict, Cobb Salad and a Smoked Beet Sandwich. Some of these dishes are vegan while others are gluten free. We suspect that they’re all delicious.
Prep & Pastry
Since it would be wrong to eat at a restaurant called Prep & Pastry and not eat a pastry, we ate a Coconut Lime Donut. It was good. Really good. And we don’t even like coconut. But we digress…
Prep & Pastry was ahead of the Tucson Sunday brunch curve when it opened in 2013. However, to be clear, Prep & Pastry doesn’t just serve brunch on Sundays. It’s a seven-day brunch operation.
Only a few pastries were available when we arrived on a busy Sunday morning which explains why these two coconut haters chose to eat a Coconut Lime Donut. But, despite our coconut disdain, we loved the rich sugary donut accented with just enough lime flavor to balance its sugary sweetness.
For our brunch plates, Mindi dug into a monstrous Monte Cristo stuffed with honey roasted ham, Swiss cheese and pineapple-jalapeño mascarpone while Daryl filled his belly with Cast Iron Duck Confit which he couldn’t help but compare to duck hash. He liked it but then again he likes all things duck. As for Mindi, she was thrilled to have three different condiments plus smashed potatoes on the same plate as her french toast sandwich.
Don’t hesitate to order coffee at Prep & Pastry if you’re a coffee snob like us. The popular brunch spot was brewing coffee with beans sourced from Presta Coffee Roasters, one of Tucson’s best third wave roasters.
Prep & Pastry has multiple locations. We ate at the Central Tucson cafe located at 2660 N Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719, United States.
We loved everything about Robert’s, open since 1978. It’s the kind of working man’s restaurant we take for granted when we’re in America but miss a lot when we’re away.
Luckily, we weren’t deterred by the building which looks more like a taupe box than a diner. Our walk inside the boxy building revealed a ceiling tile-topped dining room, an L-shaped formica counter and simple prefab plywood booths. An employee who’s worked the register for more than two decades welcomed us while a cadre of locals sat in the booths and counter stools while enjoying hearty breakfast dishes and cups of joe.
These hearty dishes include items like Homemade Corned Beef & Hash, Biscuits & Gravy and a spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich. They also include Cinnamon Buns and Chorizo Scrambled Eggs which is what we ordered.
Though we hadn’t read about Robert’s before our visit, we arrived with a recommendation to order the freshly baked Cinnamon Bun. It was a solid recommendation but one that came with choices – with or without pecans (we chose without) and toasted or not toasted (we went toasted). However, we didn’t have to specify the bowl of extra sugary glaze which comes with every bun.
Discover more great cinnamon buns around the world.
That Cinnamon Bun was easily one of the best we’ve ever eaten. Mindi loved the extra glaze and now believes that every diner cinnamon bun should be served that way.
Daryl gave a big thumbs up to his Chorizo Scrambled Eggs – a dish where scrambled eggs and ground Mexican chorizo harmoniously intermingled – and he certainly didn’t complain that it was served with a side of Hash Browns and a flour tortilla.
We may try a slice of homemade cream pie when we return. If we do, we’ll have to choose from a range of flavors like apple, banana, cherry, lemon and peanut butter but we’ll definitely pass on coconut.
Order the breakfast combo that pairs a Cinnamon Bun with two eggs, two bacon strips and a cup of coffee if you’re feeling especially hungry.
Robert’s Restaurant is located at 3301 E Grant Road, Tucson, AZ 85716, United States.
Cup Cafe is a popular brunch spot located inside the century-old Hotel Congress. That hotel, where the bank robber John Dillinger famously stayed just before he was captured in Chicago, has become a downtown dining destination thanks to its restaurants, bar and music venue.
Since the cafe’s lively dining room and expansive terrace were full when we arrived before 10am on a Saturday morning, we were pleased to encounter a short wait. Once seated, we began our brunch with drinks – an iced horchata latte and a cappuccino crafted with beans from Decibel Coffee Works (see below).
Highlights of our brunch were the cafe’s famous Cast Iron Baked Eggs, a creamy melange of poached eggs, ham, leeks, shallots and gruyere cheese and the should-be-famous Braveheart which topped sourdough toast with smoked beef brisket, grilled tomatoes, sautéed spinach, gruyere cheese, two smoked eggs and sausage gravy.
Both brunch dishes arrived with breakfast potatoes that reminded of smashed potatoes we’d previously eaten at Lola’s in Seattle. The smashed potatoes we’d eat the next day at Prep & Pastry did too. We enjoyed our brunch so much that we returned a few nights later for dinner.
Seis Kitchen isn’t a traditional brunch spot. Instead, the popular fast casual restaurant specializes in food from six different regions of Mexico. Brunch is just one of Seis Kitchen’s meals but it’s a meal that the restaurant does well.
Eating brunch here on our first morning in Tucson set a high bar for all other brunches in the city. It was unique, tasty and featured a drink that we absolutely adored. That drink was Cochata, the restaurant’s unique blend of cold brew and horchata with ground cinnamon sprinkled on top
Perhaps we liked the Cochata so much since it was made with specialty coffee beans sourced from Decibel Coffee Roasters (see below). We also liked the restaurant’s “smashed” beans filled with piquant flavor.
Beyond beans, Daryl found his Chilaquiles Tradicional to be lively with pleasant citrus acidity, nicely cooked pork and a delightful array of toppings. As for Mindi, she didn’t overthink her El Jeffe breakfast burrito which was essentially a flour tortilla stuffed with chorizo, roasted green peppers, eggs, guacamole, potatoes and cheese. It was a hefty burrito that made her smile.
Every day is brunch day at Barrio Charro, a casual Tucson cafe that unites two of the city’s top culinarians – Carlotta Flores and Don Guerra. It’s an intriguing combination. Flores heads the legendary El Charro restaurant group and Guerra is the James Beard award winner behind Barrio Bread.
Their brunch concept involves $5 mimosas, Sonoran ingredients and artisan bread. The food is just as affordable with complete brunch dishes ranging from $10 to $14 at the time of our visit. As always, prices are subject to change.
Most of Barrio Charro’s succinct brunch dishes have Sonoran touches. Hollywood Toast has frijoles refritos (refried beans) and pico salsa while Santa Rosa Avocado Toast is topped with cotija cheese. Focaccia French Toast made with cinnamon focaccia, whipped cream, manzanilla syrup and strawberries is the non-Sonoran exception
We ordered Don’s Encanto Breakfast which typically includes two eggs, bacon, frijoles, salsa, breakfast potatoes and either barrio toast or a tortilla. While opting for Guerra’s bread was a no-brainer, switching the frijoles for chorizo was a clutch move that didn’t disappoint.
Pick up an artisan boule or tasty tamales from Barrio Charro’s market during your visit. Better yet, pick up both.
Barrio Charro is located at 3699 N Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719, United States.
Good coffee is typically a bonus at brunch. It’s the opposite situation at Decibel Coffee Works – a coffee shop where good food has been the bonus since 2019.
To be clear, Decibel serves a simple menu that includes house-made pastries, biscuits, granola and ice cream in addition to its eclectic coffee and tea selection. This isn’t a typical brunch spot but rather a cafe that serves coffee with benefits.
It’s a well known fact that coffee tastes great with pastries. And, since you can also eat Decibel’s pastries at noon, the cafe is firmly in brunch territory.
Proving that all pastries aren’t alike, our savory elote (i.e. Mexican street corn) scone looked nothing like our sweet blueberry lemon scone. It didn’t matter. They both tasted great and, as expected, paired well with coffee.
Order a specialty coffee drink if you’re feeling adventurous with your caffeine intake. Options include Cafe de Olla, Spiced Mocha and Cold Brew Soda. Otherwise, just order a cappuccino or latte.
Decibel Coffee Works is located at 267 South Avenida del Convento, Building #9, Tucson, AZ 85745, United States.
Additional Tucson Brunch Spots
Our favorite Tucson brunch spots should cover your brunch needs for a week. However, consider the following additional spots if you’ll be in Tucson for more than a week or if you’re a true blue brunch fan:
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Eating brunch has become one of the most popular things to do in Tucson.
Typical brunches in Tucson run the gamut from Mexican dishes like Chilaquiles and Huevos Rancheros to brunch classics like pancakes and waffles.
Brunch is available every day of the week in Tucson. Weekends tend to be busier which could be a good or bad thing based on your brunch objectives.
Since Tucson has numerous brunch options, the best place to eat brunch is likely the one closest to where you’re living or staying.
Most Tucson locals pair brunch with coffee and/or cocktails.
No. Expect to spend less than $20 when you eat brunch in Tucson. Cocktails will cost more.
Yes. Expect to leave a 15-20% tip.
Where To Stay In Tucson
Located in a historic downtown building, The Citizen Hotel is Tucson’s first wine-themed boutique hotel. Guests can taste and drink wine at this well-appointed hotel when they’re not soaking in a tub. Actually, they can also drink wine in the tub since each has a wine caddy. You can book a room via booking.com.
Modern and fun, The Tuxon attracts travelers who appreciate the hotel’s central location as well as its hopping pool bar and complimentary La Colombe coffee. Rooms are comfortable and parking is ample at this Marriott Bonvoy Design Hotel. Guests can even use the hotel’s laundry room. You can book a room via booking.com.
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.
We were hosted at some (but not all) of the restaurants featured in this article with no express expectation of coverage.
We thank Visit Tucson and its partners for their assistance to facilitate this and other articles.
Original Publication Date: December 30, 2022