As a life-long brunch lover I was excited at the chance to write this blog post. What do I look for in a great brunch place? Well delicious food -obviously- but also the right type of atmosphere and HUGE bonus points if they have a beautiful outdoor seating area. I can’t help it, I prefer my brunch outside… especially here in Tucson where the weather is so nice for the majority of the year. So here they are -in no particular order- my top 5 Tucson brunch spots …
Baja Cafe –
So this one doesn’t necessarily have great outdoor seating options (although there are multiple locations so I can’t say that definitively)… but they make up for it in the tastiness of their food. When Lucy and I briefly discussed writing this blog post she specifically mentioned this restaurant… and it’s a FAVORITE of both of our significant others. The biggest thing you need to know about Baja Cafe: daily eggs Benedict and pancake specials… ‘Nuff said. Who doesn’t love an interesting take on eggs Benedict and fancy, dessert pancakes for breakfast? The most recent pancake I’ve tried at Baja Cafe was the lemon ricotta and it was fabulous.
Cup Cafe at Hotel Congress –
I love Hotel Congress in general and their restaurant Cup Cafe is just one of the reasons. The seating is located outside on their expansive patio, dotted with trees and plants. I always enjoy the ambiance of Hotel Congress, I feel like it’s the epitome of all things Tucson… I love that the crowd is always a mix of young and old, a little bit of a wild west feel but with the promise of a hip nightlife always lingering in the air. Enough about the vibes… let’s get on to the food. I got the cast iron baked eggs. They came in one of those tiny cast iron skillets (aw, cute). They were packed with ham, fancy cheeses, and herbs… delicious!
Prep & Pastry –
If you go, do yourself a favor and plan on getting a coffee and pastry before your meal. The pastries are out of this world… I tend to get the croissants (which you can get stuffed with things like nutella, almond spread, etc.) It’s a cute space that is open, bright, and inviting. They do have an outdoor patio, but it is next to a major road… so it’s a little more of a city feel (versus nature). One other note… it is my humble (but correct) opinion that Prep & Pastry has the best breakfast potatoes in all of Tucson. They’re so good. They’re smashed potatoes with the perfect amount of salt and fresh rosemary. I’ve tried to duplicate them using my air fryer but have never even come close (and I don’t think any other restaurants in Tucson have either).
Café a la Cart –
This restaurant is located at the Tucson Museum of Art and the outside looks very unassuming (we’re talking large, white, exterior stucco wall with nothing on it except for one random door), but the inside is anything but. Inside the door they have a huge menu posted on the wall and you order your food, drinks (they have good coffee) and baked goods at the nearby counter. The magic happens when you walk out onto their patio to choose a spot to sit… it’s a colorful outdoor space with ample decor and potted plants (they refer to it as “Monet-inspired” on their website). It’s a delightful place to eat brunch, and the food and coffee are excellent. It’s the type of place that will make you want to linger and waste away your afternoon (although relaxation and self care isn’t wasteful).
Mercado San Agustin –
Ok, this one might be cheating because it’s not exactly one restaurant… It’s an awesome Tucson area with multiple restaurants. This outdoor courtyard/marketplace might be my favorite area in all of Tucson (it’s going to need it’s own blog post soon). It’s perfect for brunch, you have so many options… I’ll go over a few. You can dine on breakfast tacos/burritos and more at Seis Kitchen (named after the 6 different culinary regions in Mexico that inspire their cooking). Seis has amazing food (again, a huge Tucson favorite of mine). You can get a little more of a fancy, sit-down meal at Augustin Kitchen. This is the type of brunch place that gives you arugula salads with your breakfast… I don’t know about you, but breakfast salad helps me feel like a better person. Another option would be to get coffee at Presta Coffee Roasters and a pastry from La Estrella Bakery. No matter what dining choice you make you get to sit out in the open air courtyard filled with sunshine and citrus trees and surrounded by cute shops selling local goods. They even have misters (so you can enjoy outdoor seating in the summer without dying of heat exhaustion). For all these reasons, and more, I consider Mercado San Agustin my number one Tucson brunch spot.
- I must reiterate Sam’s advice about getting a pastry at Prep & Pastry. It’s in the name of the restaurant people! Just do it, it’s so worth it.
- #4, 2, and 1 on this list stand out to me because they happen to be either “centrally located” downtown or in a place that will allow for you to window-shop or explore. (Just thought I’d point that out, in case you’re like me, and you like to walk off your meal).
- Our Significant Others (my husband and Sam’s boyf) are the types of people to balk at a “tiny breakfast” especially if we’re eating out. So, it is no surprise that Baja Cafe is their favorite because the food is great and the portion-sizes are incredibly generous!