There isn’t much on the dusty highway that stretches between Tucson and metro Phoenix. While the corridor may only take 90 minutes to drive, few restaurants have made the move from Phoenix down to the Old Pueblo. Outside of a small handful, restaurants have, for the most part, remained in their selected cities.
That is set to change.
A Phoenix metro favorite restaurant, Barrio Queen, recently announced it has plans on opening its first restaurant outside of the greater Phoenix area, with Tucson as a selected destination (a Flagstaff location is also in the works).
In total, with a newly opened Avondale location, Barrio Queen has seven restaurants throughout the metro Valley of the Sun. The new Tucson destination will serve as a grand experiment for Barrio Queen, as owners would like to eventually open up locations in nearby states like Texas and Colorado.
If you haven’t been to one of the Phoenix locations before and don’t know what to expect, it is a Southwestern Mexican restaurant, which pulls from ingredients on both sides of the border. Additionally, each location is a bit different from the next. So while there will be many of the same menu items in the Tucson location, there will also be a number of unique, one-of-a-kind offerings here in Tucson that the Phoenix locations will not have.
You will find classics like enchiladas, tacos, burritos, as well as a number of unique appetizers and more than a dozen house dishes crafted in-house. You will also find most Mexican regions covered at the restaurant. While many Mexican restaurants will pull from one particular state, that is not the case with Barrio Queen. You can find the current menu (as well as several excellent photographs) for the Phoenix area restaurant here.
There is not yet a selected location inside of Tucson for the restaurant to open (at least none that Barrio Queen has announced), but the restaurants are typically large in scale, and with one of the widest ranges of tequila in the greater Phoenix area, there’s a good chance the owners of Barrio Queen are waiting for the pandemic dust to settle and see what restaurant locations are available downtown, either around Congress and 4th Avenue or around University.
By moving into Tucson, Barrio Queen isn’t just another Mexican food joint opening up. It brings with it a number of awards and recognition that should, at the very least, give the restaurant some clout in an already busy sector of the Tucson food scene. Esquire Magazine named it one of the Best New Restaurants in America, and USA Today named it one of the 10 Best Latin/Mexican restaurants in the U.S. Travel + Leisure has recognized the restaurant, and it was recognized in 2013 as having one of the best cocktails in Phoenix in the annual “Best of Phoenix” awards. New Times awarded it the Best Tacos in Metro Phoenix back in 2012, AZ Foothills awarded it the Best Mexican Food and Best Tacos in 2015 and 2016, plus it has received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. So, all in all, it is coming to Tucson with some name recognition.
Once the latest restaurant in metro Phoenix opens up this month, all of the attention will shift to the upcoming Tucson location. If you want to stay up to date on how the restaurant is progressing, where the new location will be, or if you want to receive updates on any possible jobs (for which there will be a need once it moves closer to an opening date) make sure to follow Barrio Queen on Facebook.