A Tour of Downtown’s Weekend Brunches

January 26, 2016

by Mariana Colín

Cafe Ala C'Art's Banana Cream French Toast.

Cafe Ala C’Art’s Banana Cream French Toast.

After a long work week, it’s good to wake up on a weekend morning with the entire, glorious free day ahead of you. With what seems like ages available at your fingertips, it’s easy to decide what you should do first to celebrate the day’s freedom: eat. Tucson, with its long summers and mild winters, is perfect locale for a refreshing late-morning drink and a hearty, indulgent meal to start your day off right. Here are some of Downtown’s best places to do just that:

Café Ala C’Art

Operating directly next door to the Tucson Museum of Art, Café ala C’Art offers amazing home-baked goods and classic breakfast dishes to go with your coffee and newspaper on a lazy weekend morning. The Banana Cream French Toast, which I tried on my last visit, was a glorious mess of whipped cream, fresh fruit, walnuts, and thick, buttery French toast. It looked so good that I immediately dug in, scrambling up the beautiful presentation before I remembered to take a picture. Cafe ala C’Art’s generous servings and beautiful, shady patio provide the perfect atmosphere for eating slowly while you revel in the thought of having nowhere else to be.

Cup Cafe is often considered one of Tucson's best and most famous eateries.

Cup Cafe is often considered one of Tucson’s best and most famous eateries.

Cup Café

The Southwest is famous for its hearty, Mexican-influenced cuisine, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example of it than at Cup Café. Tucked into the iconic Hotel Congress, Cup Café is an award-winning Tucson jewel that serves some of the best Southwestern food you’re likely to find anywhere in the country. Men’s Journal certainly agrees, including it in its Top Ten Brunch Spots in America. Huevos rancheros, vegan Tofu Scramble, and the “Braveheart,” a house-creation involving Arizona-raised brisket, grilled tomatoes, eggs, sausage gravy, and potatoes on sourdough toast, are just a few of the items that put a modern twist on the classic Southwestern menu. Be sure to try their cast-iron baked eggs; Cup Café is especially famous for them.



Poached eggs and cinnamon-swirled French toast with hollandaise and smoked bacon crumble at Playground.

Poached eggs and cinnamon-swirled French toast with hollandaise and smoked bacon crumble at Playground.

Every Sunday, Playground Bar & Lounge offers a party every bit as fun as the nighttime events. Their Sunday Brunch, which they call Trumpets and Tequila, celebrates the weekend the Tucson way, with a menu heavy on tequila and great food. Their eclectic menu has something for everyone, from chilaquiles to chicken and waffles, and music is provided live by local band Mariachi Luz de Luna, who are known the world over for their collaborations with Calexico. Not much sounds better than enjoying some canciónes with a friend, some food, and maybe a mimosa or two.

Maynards Kitchen

Walk into Maynards on a Sunday morning and you’ll feel as though you’re sharing the building with most of the city. Maynards’ weekend popularity might seem overwhelming, but is completely understandable once you’ve tried what their brunch menu has to offer. The bright, art-deco style of the building is the perfect backdrop for a hearty omelet with mushroom and goat cheese, or with lump crab and greens on top. If your weekend fun hasn’t satisfied your sweet tooth well enough by brunch time, a plate of hot beignets with Nutella and fresh whipped cream should do the trick, perfect for splitting between a table of friends.

Penca's weekend menu is one of the newest in the Downtown brunch scene, but promises to become a Tucson staple.

Penca’s weekend menu is one of the newest in the Downtown brunch scene, but promises to become a Tucson staple.


A relative newcomer to the Downtown Tucson brunch scene, Penca offers fresh, upscale Mexican fare and, just as importantly, the best selection of classic brunch cocktails you could ask for. Penca’s knowledgeable bartenders are sure to know the perfect drink to accompany your steak and eggs or pork braised in chile poblano (especially if you have a taste for top-shelf tequila). Their space near the corner of Broadway and Scott is bright and rustically decorated, the perfect visual complement for starting your day with a spicy, colorful, expertly-made Mexican brunch.