It's easy to work up an appetite watching Spring Training baseball: ducking foul balls; filling out scorecards; not to mention too many beer-arm curls to count (plus the attendant trips to the pisser). So after a Cactus League game in Phoenix or Tucson, you're gonna want to give your sunblock a rest with a little grubbin' at one of the area's fine dining establishments. Which is where we come in, with our guide to the best restaurants in Phoenix and Tucson...
La Tolteca, Phoenix
1205 E. Van Buren Street
• Located in a nondescript adobe building in a slightly seamy area east of downtown Phoenix, La Tolteca is a full-fledged carniceria and bakery with a full restaurant menu to boot. It's a lunch/early dinner spot and by no means a date destination, but it does have perhaps the best chile rellenos in the world as well as a full gallery of awesome pastry porn.
100 E. Congress St.
• Four words: late-night tater tots. An art deco'ed-out diner in the heart of downtown Tucson, Grill is the perfect soak-up-some-of-the-booze (while continuing to drink) late night spot, but it's also a destination in itself, with live music most nights, and a full menu (everything from steak to pasta to bowls of Cap'N Crunch) in addition to the aforementioned tots.
Matt's Big Breakfast, Phoenix
801 North 1st Street
• A downtown PHX institution (yes, there is a downtown Phoenix), Matt's is legendary for its...big breakfast. If "institution" and "legendary" lead you to think this cozy spot might get a touch crowded on the weekends, you'd be right. So get there hella early (it opens at 6:30) or be prepared to wait.
Blue Willow, Tucson
2616 North Campbell Avenue
• Winner of numerous "Best Breakfast" awards in Tucson, Blue Willow serves the most important meal of the day all day, but also features a full menu with numerous vegetarian options. If you're in Arizona, you're going to eat a lot of Mexican food, as well you should, but when you go off the reservation, it's hard to do better than Blue Willow.
El Charro, Tucson
311 N. Court Ave.
• The self-described "oldest Mexican restaurant in the U.S." El Charro now has four locations in Tucson, but for the full affect, you've got to head to the original, on North Court Avenue downtown. Famous for their carne seca, El Charro also makes salsa on demand and has a staggering variety of burrito permutations.
Phoenix Palace, Phoenix
2075 N. Dobson Rd. (Chandler)
• Dim sum in the desert? Si! (Tri-lingual, bitches!) Located within a row of Asian restaurants and food stores, Phoenix Palace was one of the first dim sum joints in the Valley of the Sun, and still retains its rep for the most carts per capital.
Gordon Biersch, Phoenix
420 South Mill Ave. Suite 201 (Tempe)
• The middle-of-the-pack West Coast brewery's long had a chain of restaurants (recently expanded to the East Coast), and while the food is merely solid, the Tempe location is dope for its sports-bar-meets-fine-dining mash-up and terrace seating. Oh yeah, fuck halitosis, garlic fries FTW.
Mi Nidito Cafe, Tucson
1813 South 4th Avenue
• A rival of Phoenix's La Tolteca for the best chille rellenos belt, Mi Nidito also has diabetic coma-inducing flan topped with whipped cream, and a "real Tucson" location away from downtown and the University of Arizona campus.
The Cup Cafe, Tucson
311 East Congress Street
• Located on the backside of the Hotel Congress, the Cup is a modern bistro serving all three daily meals with a constantly changing menu. Its small terrace plus full-service bar equals awesome people (or train) watching all day long.
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