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Reviews (346)

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Michelle H.

11 September 2019

Had the Pozole and it was so fresh, healthy and satisfying:).  Great city atmosphere.  I met a friend afor lunch but would love to go back in the evening and have some cocktails from the bar.

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Esmeralda B. Rodriguez

9 September 2019

I love the food, music and drinks! the flavors remind me of my childhood, my grandmother's seasonings. I definitely recommend this restaurant!

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Nat Whitman

25 August 2019

Remarkable cocktails. Super food. Terrific service and great vibe. New favorite.

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Vladimir Silva Ahumada

25 August 2019

Excelente lugar, buena atencion y muy buena comida

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Ivonne Torres

25 August 2019

Muy buena comida y lindo lugar

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Rose Audretsch Pinsonneault

24 August 2019

Great service, delicious food and relaxing atmosphere!

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Cecile G.

23 August 2019

We went for my birthday and I did not get disappointed. The drinks were amazing and unique. We first ordered the mole appetizer sample and it did not disappoint us at all. Then The seafood tostada which was delicious and the pozzole. I don't remember what my husband had but he was in heaven and let me try it and it was so tasty. Maybe it was some kind of short rib tacos maybe. My daughter had the coliflor tacos and they were surprisingly super delicious. I'm thinking of getting that for myself next night. I definitely recommend this place. And loved the atmosphere too. Maybe a little dark but still enjoyable. More...

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Paul P.

22 August 2019

YOU MUST TRY PENCA!!!!!! Nothing like it!!!!Ok. Let me start with this is like NO OTHER place in Tucson !!!!!! The best drinks that you will not find anywhere. The best Molé that has ever graced my mouth. We went on a Thursday night and it was busy and everyone around us was saying how great everything is. I had the braised beef tacos and they were nothing short of amazing! More...

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Dwayne Arnspiger

22 August 2019

interesting food that is clearly made with a passion for authenticity and quality. can't wait to go back.

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Kelley Campbell

13 August 2019

food and service was amazing! unique and extraordinary! love,love this place!

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Carol Gatewood

28 July 2019

We had a nice, cozy dinner and enjoyed one of the best margaritas in town.

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Emily Cadamagnani

27 July 2019

You will not be disappointed with anything on the menu. If you try the sangria and elote, you REALLY won’t be disappointed!

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Thomas Sharpe

26 July 2019

Natalie was our server. She picked out my entire meal from drinks to entrees. She nailed it. The food was delicious and the drinks were amazing! I highly recommend this place. The owner even came out and asked about our experience. If you’re looking for a good date night spot this is the place! More...

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Karen Kana Mott

25 July 2019

The food is great, atmosphere comfortable. It is a great local spot. It is a very small restaurant, however service seems to be consistantly ineffiecient. They seem unconcerned/unaware that patrons can't stay all day. We need to get back to the office after lunch. Getting drinks should not take 20 minutes. Sadly there have been several times when I, or others, have had to take their food in a to-go box. Not my idea of a nice lunch out with friends. I'm very sad about this but I will not be back when I'm on a schedule. I hold out hope that it will change, but this has been a constant since Penca opened several years ago. More...

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Cliff D.

24 July 2019

They have 2 of my favorite foodie items on the menu, Pulpo and Bone Marrow.  While dining here last night it brought me back to my New Year's 2019 trip to San Jose Del Cabo!  I sent pics of my meal to my brother who asked if I was back in Cabo.  I travel to Tucson once a month for work and I will be coming back every time!  Thank you, I love Penca!! More...

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Mike Mallozzi

21 June 2019

Love everything the new chef is doing there and their use of the UA School and community garden produce

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Krista E.

25 May 2019

we had such a good time here! the atmosphere is really fun and inviting, and the decor of the restaurant is beautiful. we got the ceviche, which was a bit saltier than we would have liked, and the tacos (nopales and fish) which were truly incredible. the pickled onions added so much flavor and the tortillas were perfectly made. we had a great time here and would definitely return! More...

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Jordan B.

17 April 2019

They specialize in central mexican tequilas, liquors, spanish wines - loved the handmade chips. I had the Rose Sangria (very refreshing and different).

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DeConcini N.

15 April 2019

I have no review because they don't take reservations during the dinner hour. But I will be persistent. Looking forward to a real review.

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Rosa Toscano

21 March 2019

Excellent good and service!!

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Lori Cotten

17 March 2019

The tortillas are amazing. I enjoyed the pescado and carne asada tacos with a spicy Bloody Mary!

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Carrie R.

11 March 2019

I can't fairly give 5 stars because I didnt try any food, however my husband and I stopped here both nights during our weekend in Tucson.  We loved the ambience,  as it transported us back to Mexico city with their huge array of mescal and inventive cocktails.   Staff was super friendly and knowledgeable about their booze.   We even got some delicious free churros! I wish we had this in our neighborhood. More...

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Sergio Sanchez

4 March 2019

el servicio muy bueno asi como la comida y de fondo musica de mexico

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Stephanie Barker

2 March 2019

Great food! Great atmosphere. I'll definitely be back!

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Randi Berman Footlik

18 February 2019

We were in Tucson for just a few hours and what a lucky find! We were able to get two seats at the bar and lucky to have Sam take care of us! The sangria, we chose red, was excellent! The ceviche delish and the tacos were perfection with handmade tortillas! And the chips were the best! There for happy hour and what a great deal! The atmosphere did not disappoint. Wish we had something like this at home! More...

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Nereida G.

14 February 2019

This is very special place in Downtown Tucson. Great service! We had almost everything in the lunch menu!The Watercress salad is just amazing!Try the Beet soup , the Carne Asada Tacos with handmade corn tortillas are perfect!!A repeat from now on when in the area! More...

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Charles S.

14 February 2019

Just had Valentines dinner here with the wife and was amazed at the quality of the food and the superb staff! Our compliments to @chef_nicole333 for a job well done!! For the appetizer the tamale was the best I've ever had. No joke! Followed that up with a Sea Bass in a bed of Risotto with some other yummy goodness I won't even try to describe. Then there was the dessert! The wife had a sangria poached pear dish that she said was exquisite with a great blend of flavors and I had the pleasure of enjoying a sugar cookie and some outstanding chocolate bars with pistachios embedded in them. Will stop in here when visiting Tucson in the future. More...

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Ashley G.

10 February 2019

I have been here a few times in last couple of months. Growing up in Tucson, and also being Mexican I can tell you this is not your traditional, Mexican food. It is upscale and much more glamorous. Do not go expecting enchiladas, arroz com leche, or menudo. If this is what you're wanting go to El Minuto. Penca does not look like a Mexican restaurant at all. However, I really love the atmosphere, it's very modern but they play a lot of old style Mexican music that reminds me of my great grandmother and grandfather that to me is comforting. I appreciate it is not the typical mariachi music. The food like I mentioned is different from what I'm used to, but it is sooo tasty. The Queso Fundido amazing, Quesadilla amazing, carne asada tacos amazing the corn tortillas are house made and sooo damn good....but the best thing are their chips which are house made also AND their green salsa. That green salsa are what hopes and dreams are made of.The service the first two times were fine. Service was friendly, and accommodating. However, my service last night was awful! He would look at us and not bring us anything, took him 30 mins to bring our chips and salsa after asking 2 times, took him forever to come take our order. We wanted order off the happy hour menu only having a few mins to do so we were pretty annoyed that he was not on-top of it . To get more salsa and salt I had to ask a Busser to get it. She must have told him because he brought it out. He never once asked if we needed anything else, it was almost as if  he was there to just help. I'm going to call to speak with management because that's unacceptable. That one experience will not prevent me from going back. I like this restaurant much better than Cafe Poca Cosa. More...

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Mayank G.

9 February 2019

Great food, they mix their alcohol. So when you are ordering a hibiscus marg, it's more like tequila + hibiscus margarita mix. Not a fan of that.

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Joy Plaster

2 February 2019

Hit happy hour woohooo fish tacos and carne asada tacos were excellent just a squeeze of lime was all they needed, tho the salsa is awesome! Queso Fundido also was great . Disappointed the tres leche cake was sold out but WOW did the churros make up for it.... The atmosphere is chill n relaxing our Server Eduardo was so friendly n warm and helpful we will definitely make the 2+ hour drive from Peoria again just to see him and for that Tres Leche!!!!! Gracias a todos Eduardo! More...

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Casey H.

22 January 2019

We were in Tucson for my stepson's soccer tournament this past weekend. Since we were there, we met my co-worker and her husband at Penca for dinner. My friend made reservations for 6:30pm but we got there early and were escorted to our seat immediately. We ordered:1) Paloma Negra (Tequila de Jalisco, chile morita, limon, sal) - this had a bite to it.2) Costillas en pibil (Beef short ribs braised in a pibil sauce served with white rice, cured vegetables, plantains)3) Enscalopas a la plancha ( Pan-seared scallops over roasted tomatillo and green olive salsa garnised with basil, bull's blood, micro greens, shaved fennel)My friend said she didn't like the scallop as much as she thought she would. She enjoyed the braised short ribs that I ordered. It was a bit oily but that's what made it really good right? It was more than I could eat so I took it home for lunch the next day. It was kinda difficult to find free parking but it's available if you're willing to circle around a couple of times because street parking is free after on the weekend and after 5pm during the week. More...

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Jaclyn L.

19 January 2019

Chic trendy Mexican restaurant!This place is a little hard to find as there is no sign outside that says Penca. 1. The Food: This place is super chic and the food is pretty good. The tacos are good, they made the taco shell home made which makes the tacos pretty unique. The ceviche is also delicious, not the best or most impressive. They have unique drinks as well, given they have a bar inside that is also worth coming for since the location of this restaurant is conveniently located to walk downtown. 2. The Ambiance/ Service: The location is perfect if you are heading out downtown afterwards. The ambiance is very trendy, chic and romantic. It is intimate with brick walls and cool undertones. They only have seating inside. Restaurant is not that big so I would think they might have a wait time on busy nights. The service is also pretty good even for a relatively busy night. 3. Recommendation - Would I go again/ what I recommend it for: The restaurant is perfect for lunch or dinner; most likely recommend this for a trendy dinner and unique drinks More...

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Louie C.

27 December 2018

This place could be so special!While the drinks are always always on point, the food just lacks that extra bit of character. Always tastes good, but it doesn't have that umphh that a place like Cafe Poca Cosa or Seis carries.Go for the drinks, and some appetizers at the bar. More...

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Lu W.

18 December 2018

Just delightful! From the interior atmosphere to the excellent service! And let me tell you...the food is amazing! Authentic Mexican! Cocktails and sipping flights were perfect too! More...

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Aron S.

8 December 2018

Penca provides classy offerings from central Mexico, unique cocktails, and a industrial yet well put together environment in the heart of downtown tucson. Overall I recommend Penca for a cool place to grab a drink on your date, before your show, or just on a nice night out. My table had mixed feelings about what they ordered, by no means nothing they hated, but just nothing that they would get again. If you try one of their entrees be prepared that the flavor and style may be different than what you are used to. To me their menus is very subdued when compared to other Mexican food offerings. My short ribs were very delicious but the mole and tacos brought to our table were underwhelming. I feel like I had a four star experience and my company had a three star. I've heard their menu is seasonal so I'll make sure I come back. More...

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Jo Ann Kolbe

12 November 2018

They have the most delicious food! Good service and seasonal prices!

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Michael Kearney

12 November 2018

Fantastic food, service, and atmosphere!

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Patricia Falshaw

9 November 2018

Food was superb! Atmosphere was very pleasant. Great servers. Two thumbs up! ❤️

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Matt F.

9 November 2018

I must say, I was shocked to see that this place wasn't rated higher. I absolutely loved it. Everything was delicious from the chips to the tacos to the drinks.The atmosphere was nice. Upscale and cozy. Dim light. The waitress was very nice and helpful with questions.The chips were thicker than normal, just like I make at home, and the salsa was delicious. I had a drink with fermented pineapple that was very tasty and intriguing. The cabeza tacos (beef cheek braised in wine) were delicious. Simply dressed with pickled onions and cilantro on amazing homemade tortillas. Seriously, get some tortillas, even if you don't get tacos. Wow. The black beans were also just booming with flavor.The prices were great. $20-$25 entrees, $15 taco plates. Right in line with the quality.I highly recommend this place if you're looking for somewhat upscale Mexican food. More...

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Caron M.

25 October 2018

I hadn't been here in years, not since the restaurant was new and I work downtown. But I was downtown unexpectedly on a Thursday evening and decided to stop in. The food turned out to be nothing short of glorious. We started with the guacamole and salsa platter, an enormous portion of guacamole and three different salsas. We moved on to pozole soup and the queso fundido, which were both served with fresh handmade tortillas. By then, I was so happy and satisfied that I didn't even want our shared entree, the shredded turkey tacos. But they too were so delicious we made short work of them. The space itself is lovely, with tons of windows to the street and excellent modern decor. And the attentive service struck just the right note of helpful without being overbearing. I'll have to come downtown more often. More...

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Rob Mueller

22 October 2018

Super friendly staff. Chips, salsa, oj, you name it, made in house with really fresh ingredients.

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Michelle S.

21 October 2018

I was walking down the street trying to find a good place to eat and found this place. The drinks are outstanding the food is delicious and the service was great!!! Recommend people to come check it out! More...

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Richard V.

19 October 2018

We have eaten here at least 3 different occasions and the quality has been the same each time.The food is the best! We enjoy all the different taco offerings as they are unique and flavorful beyond expectations.Happy hour is the best deal in town. Great downtown atmosphere as well. More...

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Scott F.

8 September 2018

I just ate at Penca for the first time and I will definitely be back!  I was greeted by a very friendly staff and manager, Chris.  The ambiance is amazing in this cerca 1900 historic building.  The prices are very reasonable and the food did not disappoint.  For Saturday brunch, we ordered the achiote pork breakfast torta and the achiote pork hash.  Both were amazing.  We wanted to sample some menu items, so we ordered a side of calabacitas and also a taco de cabeza.  These were both delicious as well.  The food at this locally owned restaurant is very authentic Mexican.  I would highly recommend Penca; you'll be glad you gave it a try! More...

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M M.

3 September 2018

Very friendly people and we were promptly seated for our 7 pm reservation.  It took a little while for someone to take our drink order but after that things started to hum right along.  The food is very good and the dining room is very attractive. I'd definitely return on a future trip to Tucson. More...

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Rob D.

1 September 2018

Great place. The drinks are excellent, you should try something new and get out of your comfort zone. The snacks were great, we ordered the papas fritas and I was expecting fries, but they were more patatas bravado which are my favorite. Tacos were excellent, the churros were fanatic as well. The decor was beautiful and well thought out. The lighting was top notch, very impressive to get the light just so. Looking forward to coming back. More...

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Tom W.

31 August 2018

A great little Mexican restaurant downtown. I love their tacos and their salsa is delicious! The taco sampler plate is a great way to try out all three kinds of tacos. Authentic and freshly prepared a simple Mexican kitchen. More...

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Lee Gunter

28 August 2018

We luckily had made a reservation and were seated immediately upon arrival about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, just ahead of a very busy evening. From the moment we arrived until we departed, the service was impeccable, and the food was unmatched. We started with the house guac and salsas with chips. We had read prior reviews that stated the chips were overly salty, but ours were just right. The guacamole was creamy and tasty, and the salsas and pico de gallo were some of the best we had ever tasted. We ordered the vegetable chile relleno and the short ribs as our entrees - both were near perfection. The short ribs were juicy and tender - a real surprise because I expected tough, dry meat, which is how short ribs usually end up. The relleno was attractively served and full of flavor - a good assortment of veggies and not loaded with cheese. The only fault I could find is that water is served European style - warm, in a bottle, with no ice. We didn't ask for ice, but in Arizona during the summer, I don't feel we should need to ask. Also, the entry doors were propped open, which meant flies were bothersome. The negatives notwithstanding, I heartily recommend the Penca experience. More...

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Michelle A.

11 August 2018

The salsa is on point. Its not just tomato and cilantro like so many other places. I'm full and I can't stop eating it!

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Melissa B.

15 July 2018

I went to dinner with my sister and cousin for a much needed girls night out. What a great dinning experience we all had. Our waitress Zoe was wonderful. She recommended the rajas taco and I'm so glad she did because it was my favorite. The drinks were delicious and we will definitely be returning for another girls night out. More...

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Anne F.

7 July 2018

This was a place that was playing music from the outside stereo.  My partner and I were walking down the street, looking for a place to eat.  The music here caught my ears, and that's how I discovered this place.  It was not too busy since it was a holiday.  We were seated quickly.  The restaurant itself is very nice.  Kinda rustic, yet modern.  I liked the decor.  The pillow I sat on though was itchy and that's the only thing I didn't like.  Food wise, my partner got the quesadilla.  He said it was ok.  He wouldn't get it again though if we went back.  I got the cabeza tacos.  The waitress was nice enough to offer a-la-carte option for the tacos, instead of getting the whole meal with rice and beans for $14.  Just the tacos together we're $7.50.  Overall, I really liked it.  I think if I was hungrier I would've have gotten something different.  But the food satisfied our mild hunger.  I'll definitely return sometime when I'm in downtown again. More...

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Camille G.

29 June 2018

My time at Penca last night has made me fall in love with this place. I think it might be my favorite "nice" Mexican dining spot in all of Tucson. I came last night with my partner who had been here before. To drink I got the "Diablo", which comes with beet-infused tequila. My partner got the Sonoran Gimlet. Both were excellent drinks. The Diablo was a unique drink. The beet flavor is subtle but pairs nicely with the other flavors. To eat I got the tacos de pescado, which comes with rice and black beans on the side. Absolutely delicious. Every component was on point. I also appreciated the authenticity of the tortillas. They look, feel, and taste homemade. I honestly couldn't stop raving about how good the food was. My partner got the mole dish and he also really enjoyed it. He liked that the mole wasn't sweet. The chips and salsa which came at our arrival were also bomb. The chips are crispy and taste homemade (not sure if they are though) and the salsa is sooo good and has decent spiciness. I wanted to take a jar of the salsa home. Besides what we ordered, a lot of stuff on the menu looked tasty. I would love to come back and try the elote appetizer. There are also good vegetarian options which I appreciate. I also really dug the interior of Penca. I felt they made really good use of the space. The decorations, lighting, etc all flow together really well. I would come here on a date, with friends, or for a small get together. There is also a bar in case you don't feel like sitting at a table. I just loved everything about this place.Penca might be easy to miss as it has no sign on the exterior. But please, make your way into this restaurant, as your taste buds will be thankful. More...

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Mary S.

29 June 2018

So confused why all the bad reviews! We had such great service and great food. This was not our first time here, and it has always been consistent. Our waitress, Vanessa was so awesome. She also offered another table because we were hot. We didn't even have to ask her. We will come back over and over! More...

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Carolina M.

27 June 2018

One of my favorite places to dine on the weekends. First: the food is amazing. While it is Hispanic food, the gourmet versions here are exquisite. I definitely recommend the Chile en Nogada as it's one of Mexico's most traditional meals and they conquered the flavor! The ambience is also amazing. Fun music, dim lighting and amazing service! What else do you need? Also, it's easy to keep the fun going since it's located in downtown Tucson and there's many other local bars you could hop to afterwards. More...

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Akshay Mehndiratta

26 June 2018

Solid 4 out of 5. Had a nice Saturday lunch here. Good tacos with special corn tortillas. Great chips and salsa for hor 'oeuvres. Friendly service. Very reasonable prices. Worth the trip. More...

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Marnie Messmer Neilsen

10 June 2018

The tacos are delicious and the two out three varieties of sangria I tried were excellent!! Great service and we loved everything about the interior.

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Thomas B.

22 May 2018

My wife and are are regulars at Penca. I love the language tacos and she likes the calabacitas. We both live their classically made craft cocktails!

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Allison Skoda

21 May 2018

Absolutely phenomenal service! Vanessa was extremely attentive but also wasn’t smothering. She was sweet and pleasant to be around! The food was superb! I highly recommend the churros at the end, they blew my mind! More...

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Roger C.

3 May 2018

Love the early start of the Happy Hour at 3:00 pm. Great food, full bar and the best selection of Mezcal in Tucson! The ambiance and building where it is located feel like you are in Mexico, the only negative is that there is no outdoor seating.  Great place Off Congress on Broadway in Downtown Tucson. More...

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Anastasia Z.

28 April 2018

Had a beautiful time. Great drinks (happy hour rose followed by the winner: a cocktail called Aves y Abejas but sub mezcal instead of the vodka) and the tacos, while a bit messy with the cracking of the thick corn tortillas, were delicious. (I had the pescado and the rajas-- rajas were a bit spicy, but good.) Our bartender knew  her  shit . Great chips, ok guac plate. More...

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Bobby Luna

9 April 2018

Great service , and food is delicious !! Will be coming back again!! Drinks are Great too :)

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Brian I.

15 March 2018

Would have been a 5.   Food was excellent. Ambiance is well-designed.  Hostess fit the cool vibe.  Bartender seemed a bit bothered but drinks were nicely crafted (when I was finally noticed).  Great care went into making  the cocktail but it floored me that the ice  was the kind  you get at the machine in 7-11.  Kudos to the chef though; Cant get this authenticity in NY...and the value is incomparable. More...

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Daniel L.

11 March 2018

Came here for happy hour drinks and food. First, the ambiance had a rustic, downtown, brick, old school industrial vibe (yep-I just used a ton of hipster power words). My drink that I got was the wine but my wife got their sangria. I must say the drinks were on pint and strong! From there we ordered food. I got a taco plate of cabeza (beef cheek) and carnitas (pork butt). The cabeza was really not that good although recommended to us. It tasted that it was slow cooked for too long and wasn't a flavor that I cared for, the carnitas was very good, nice flavor and was not over cooked. I wasn't impressed or had a desire to go back for the food as Tucson has a ton of great taco places but if I was there for happy hour and happened to order the tacos I wouldn't be disappointed. Try it out for the nice atmosphere but if you are seeking a food nirvana might want to try somewhere else. More...

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Jon G.

4 March 2018

Absolutely one of THE BEST MEX FOOD I have had EVER! Flat out 10 in every way!!!! Food 10. Drinks 10. Musica 11. Ambiance 10. Food Food Food 10, 10, 11!!!!!!!!!! More...

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Nick R.

20 February 2018

Quite possibly the best corn tortillas I have ever had.  I grew up on homemade Mexican food and this is more traditional from Central Mexico so don't have it compared with border Mexican or TexMex.  This place is amazing from the ambiance to drinks to food and everything in between. More...

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David P.

4 February 2018

The vintage ambience of this charming place makes you feel right at home. Sitting across from at the bar was a young guy eating 3 plates of Tacos, 6 total. They must be good! We had the Elote corn appetizer which has Chipotle buttered grilled corn, herb aiolite, Queso Fresco & green onions. Delicious! Can't wait to come back next year! More...

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Liz C.

23 January 2018

We were I n town for a couple days.  We accidentally found this spot and had lunch. The drinks are very special. You won't find anything like them anywhere else.  The food is completely non-mainstream in the best way.  I ordered a lovely beet salad and elote.  Both were excellent.  I also tried the fries, but they were a bit too heavy for my taste.  This place is absolutely worth a stop. More...

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Sandra Perez

19 January 2018

This place is very close to the Fox Theater. Decor; upscale urban warehouse. Food moderately priced and quite good. 4 stars. A little dark. Bring a date especially if you have a zit. They won't see it Lol........ More...

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Jose F.

7 December 2017

I love a place with character and it's own unique flavor. All of the cocktails are unique and made in the traditional bartending style! They carry a great selection of liquors (not your brand name stuff), which are always very tasty. The menu is pretty diverse as well and I have yet to have a bad dish here. Very rustic decor which adds to the experience. Great place to grab a drink or a meal, even better if you combine both! More...

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Garrett K.

22 November 2017

Service is quick! The atmosphere is wonderful, the music is not too loud but still discernable during conversation which is a plus! The food is so fresh and well plated, not to mention delicious! My new favorite lunch spot! More...

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Ciera L.

18 November 2017

Penca is a quaint restaurant in the heart of downtown Tucson. The look and feel of the restaraunt is perfect for a date night or a meeting, it's not too big and not too loud so you can actually hold a conversation with who you're dining with. The drinks and food here are very good. The bartenders take crafting a cocktail seriously and you can see this and taste this in their drinks. The food is fresh and appetizing. Their tacos are simply delicious, the corn tortillas are a perfect thickness and the meats and tacos filling is so fresh and so filling. I love this place and always recommend it whenever anyone is looking for an intimate space to hit downtown. More...

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Tina B.

5 November 2017

This restaurant is amazing. The horchata  is some of the best I've ever had. I had chilaquiles with turkey, and the salsa and chips combined with the soft turkey was amazing. Even their chips and salsa are great. More...

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Rocio I.

2 November 2017

I've only had their tacos and they are so good! Almost as good as a REAL Mexican taco. The cabeza tacos are my favorite, Turkey tacos come second. Their chips and salsa are delicious. I was also very surprised that their guacamole was actually very flavorful! So good I will be back again soon for sure. More...

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Mel G.

22 October 2017

I was down Scott Street earlier in the evening and was looking for a quick bite to eat. I've noticed Penca while driving by because of its beautiful ambiance and was glad that on a Saturday evening, there was a spot at the bar. I think hands down out of all the eateries/bars I've been to so far in Tucson, I think Penca has the most beautiful atmosphere. Dim lights, brick walls, big open windows so you can look out on Broadway. If I ever have a fancy date lined up in the future, this would be a good place to stop by for a drink/snack!I ordered the elote and ceviche. Both were good--hence the whole thing earning a 4 star rating. To be honest, I have had both better elote and ceviche at other establishments in town, but I think you're really paying for the atmosphere/central location. And there's the Owls Club down Scott Street to check out afterwards. :) More...

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Brian Levy

15 October 2017

Authentic. Talented chef in the kitchen and great staff up front. Like the vibe very much.

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Family T.

8 October 2017

It is a little mysterious why this is such a go to restaurant for us. It's the vibe, it's the basics we've identified that are good and dependable. They've hit the right spot for us: modern Mexican, clean and fresh ingredients, serious cocktails, and not pretentious but not provincial. However, food can be hit or miss and uninspired. They need to maintain quality control as they settle into being established on the scene and open new places that sap the attention of ownership. We went there recently and the service was both poor and dripping with attitude. We've had service that was the opposite, but this was prize-winningly bad. I'd just come back from 2 months of travel in Europe and on the east and west coast of the US and eaten in many dozens of restaurants and Penca was the worst service I had anywhere-- and at a local favorite. Raise the bar, mix it up, and don't hire service people for their looks and swagger. It's not too late for us to come back another 50 times. More...

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Michael Sulkowski

7 October 2017

Great food, service, and atmosphere! My only problem with Penca is that their chips and salsa are so good that I binge on them and usually have to take most of my meal home :)

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Wayne Jenderny

3 October 2017

A special place to dine! From the knowledgeable, friendly staff, the beautiful decor and industrial design, and to the well balanced, creative dish selections.

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Jack S.

1 October 2017

Penca has been a favorite since they opened. Last night went with friends and the food was excellent. But concerned over the late delivery of 2 people's meal. Overall a very enjoyable evening.

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Nick J.

23 September 2017

Cabeza and carne asada tacos were both amazing and I usually don't like corn tortillas but these were bomb. Cabeza was actually better :) house-made tortilla chips were SO good! Prices are too high for sure though. $14 for 2 tacos, rice and black beans is insane, I wouldn't mind if you got 3 tacos. Really the only reason I refuse to give 5 stars is because of that. More...

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Belinda Molina

22 September 2017

It's the best food I've tasted in a long time it's excellent I rated it a 10

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Sara McCamman

4 September 2017

Amazing drinks, food was perfect and excellent attentive service!

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Carolyn W.

3 September 2017

Went here for a business meeting on a weekday night. It was fairly busy but not hard to get a table. The steak was a bit over cooked (I asked for rare) but the sauces on everything made up for it-they were delicious! The service was good and the atmosphere was nice for the meeting. More...

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Rio Mar

23 August 2017

This place is amazing. I see some negative reviews of the place and it was mostly about the service, but I'm from California and their service is exceptional. Their drinks are on point and their food is on point with made to order corn tortillas YUM. How can you go wrong with made to order corn tortillas? There are some new liquors here that I've never had before which may be due to the restaurant being 40 mins from the border. Sotol and tepache have been my favorite here since I have been visiting. I wish I could give this place 5+ stars. Keep up the good work guys. More...

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Steve M.

19 August 2017

Wow.  First time.  Food was amazingly delicious.  Drinks were great.   And Vadi made our first visit so memorable that we can't wait to return.    Try it.  You WILL like it!

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Stephannie Q.

7 August 2017

I have drove past Penca more than a dozen times and have always wondered what type of restaurant it was. It's always packed but I could never see a restaurant sign for it so had no clue what the name of this place was up until this past weekend when I parked across the street and checked it  out for myself, unsure of what I felt like having for lunch that day. For starters, I love the vibe and ambiance. It's super chill and has a nice, welcoming rustic feel. I didn't know they served Mexican cuisine until I saw the menu. I loved it. I started with a house-made sangria which was soooo good. It's not your typical overly sweet sangria. It had a good tartness to it and was served over crushed ice. I had the breakfast torta which had carnitas on it, avocado, scrambled eggs and a crema served on the softest bread ever with a side of seasoned potatoes. I was stuffed by the end of this meal but when our server mentioned churros served with a side of chocolate and house-made whipped cream, I couldn't resist and I am glad I didn't because it was amazing. I enjoyed my drink, meal and dessert at this place and can definitely see myself frequenting when in the mood for Mexican food. More...

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Brendan McAlister

16 July 2017

Aaron the bartender was fantastic! Great experience!

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Brant P.

15 July 2017

One of our most favorite Tucson restaurants! Food is consistently fresh, flavorful, and upscale (without the pretense). Tuck into any of their Happy Hour plates - we tried one of each - and enjoy! The harmony of the menu is matched by their refreshing cocktails. Wait staff is knowledgeable and attentive. Always a hit! Love! More...

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Lety Loya

10 July 2017

Beautiful place , great food , fab service!! Love the style and the friendly atmosphere it really is a great place. Def recommend it.

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Tina G.

6 July 2017

Daughter's birthday and it was a great place to celebrate. Atmosphere is very cool--rustic, yet upscale. Drinks we tried were the Diablo (beet tequila! If you like beets, this is a fun drink to try.) and Grenache Sangria--very good. The Guacamole & Salsa bar is outstanding. Chips are made there--most would say they're great, a little too salty for me, but I do low sodium everything so probably is perfect for most. Our chip bowl never went empty! Their house salsa is great, as is the salsa verde. Pico was pico--that's a good thing most of the time. We all tried different tacos. We liked them all--carnitas, beef cheeks, carne asada, nopales (prickly pear), rajas. Churros for dessert were decadent. They put a candle on it for her birthday :) The wait staff was great; it was a Wednesday and summer, so a slow day. It's pricey, but definitely a great place to come for a special occasion or if you don't mind spending money on great food. We'll definitely be back for Happy Hour. More...

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Hector G.

5 July 2017

Location: Located on Broadway in Downtown TucsonThe Skinny: Great Atmosphere and excellent food but service was a little slow at the beginning. Don't let that keep you from going though because the food is excellent. The Restaurant: The restaurant was situated directly off Broadway with excellent views of the road and great for people watching. Their drinks on their menu were ones that I was not familiar with but I did take a a chance and it was something I did not regret. Ended up ordering the Taco Platter and found that the Carne Asada was the best out of the two (the other was Carnitas). The next time I will be going I will try their Fish Tacos. Their Guac appetizer was on point and came with a green salsa and a Pico type in three bowls. Their chips were also very tastyOverall: Not only a great date type restaurant but one that would serve well as a great happy hour. This did not seem like a kid friendly place so I would limit it to just adults. Tip: Get the Guac appetizer. Excellent. The Kids Review: Didn't go! More...

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Patt Riese

1 July 2017

I am especially loving how this summer they have extended their happy hour menu until closing on Tuesdays Wednesdays and Thursdays! But beyond that, everything I've had on the menu has been outstandingly delicious! Their tacos cannot be beat, they come on a hand-made corn tortilla. I could drink the salsa by the gallon. The quality of the food is unsurpassed! Great service every time. More...

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Melissa A King-Marvin

24 June 2017

Our meal and service were wonderful, & atmosphere very nice!!! I will definitely go back!!!

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Katie A.

21 May 2017

Great food....close to authentic Mexican food. We tried hominy, bone marrow appetizer.Yummy! Salsa is spicy and great. For main course we had tacos...absolutely recommended. Margarita was a delight. Worth stopping by :) More...

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Cindy E.

13 May 2017

Was recommended by a friend to eat here while visiting town for a graduation. Was not disappointed, food was exceptional and service excellent. The chips are made on site and were the best chips I have ever had! I ordered the tacos, one cod and one steak. I liked the steak one best. My nephew had the short ribs and they were great. I would order those if I went again. Very unique menu. Be prepared for the fact that there is no outside signage. It was a little hard to find. More...

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Lisa Walter

1 May 2017

Excellent, creative food & lovely service... A favorite place for us to take out of town guests.

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Ricardo L M.

26 April 2017

It was good, but lacked the wwwooww factor. Food was good, Service was very, very good but lacked something, in my opinion, to get the extra star. Portions were good, flavor was there, but simply didn't have the " I will definitely come back for more" thing or  two. More...

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Fringe O.

23 April 2017

You HAVE to try the Diablo cocktail: beet tequila, lime juice, ginger, seltzer.  Beet works so well in this cocktail!  There weren't many vegan choices but the ones they have are VERY good.  They have the best fresh salsa I've ever had in my life, and living in Tucson for a long time, I've had a LOT of salsa.  The nopalito tacos are excellent.  Just make sure to tell them you want no dairy or other animal products and they haven't had a problem veganizing the vegetarian items. More...

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Shirlee Mae Graff

18 April 2017

The best fish tacos I have ever had. And I've eaten A LOT of fish tacos; even at Dukes on Waikiki Beach. I don't care for your rice preparation however; it was too crunchy.

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Christina A.

18 April 2017

Let me start by saying the staff here was very friendly and very attentive. The chips and salsa were fantastic. The ambiance was warm and welcoming. I loved the easy menu that they had and the pricing was right on point. I left there very satisfied and look forward to revisiting here in the near future for date night with the husband. More...

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Susan Tarozzi O'Cain

17 April 2017

The service was good, food was excellent. Original, fresh. It will probably be among our faves.

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William B.

16 April 2017

Really good Mexican food. The food wasn't quite as cutting-edge as I was expecting from the trendy atmosphere or the website, but it is still really good. The ceviche particularly caught my attention, with strong hits of lime, salt, and pickled onion. So too did the braised short ribs, in some kind of nice red chili sauce, served with a nice mix of hominy and goat cheese that I may try to replicate at home. It reminded me what I missed about living within an hour of Mexico. More...

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Kevin B.

10 April 2017

On a recent visit to Tucson, my co-workers dined here on a Friday night. Penca boasts upscale Mexico City + craft cocktails in a trendy-chic atmosphere. While it's certainly not a perfect Mexican restaurant, there's a lot to like here.Pros:- Fresh, homemade tortilla chips (you can taste the difference). Plus, they're complimentary.- Guac that rocks (and comes with a trio of delicious salsas)- An inventive bar program that boasts plenty of mezcal & tequila selections + mouthwatering craft cocktails. I pretty much gulped down my Jicaro (made with corn-infused mezcal, sap from the maguey aloe plant, lime juice, and orange bitters) in 3 minutes. And when I was done, I had to order another one. It went down that easy.- Very friendly, bordering on overly-attentive service. Our server came to our table three times before we were even ready to place our order. But it was nice that she kept checking in on us to see if we needed anything else.The Not-So-Positives:- The tacos were fine, but not exactly memorable. The carne asada could have used some more flavor, and was a bit overcooked. The carne asada was much better.- The rice was undercooked and crunchy. And the beans lacked flavor.- The Queso Fundido sounded great on paper (warm Oaxacan cheese, house made turkey achiote sausage, roasted poblano rajas, sauteed onions), but the delivered product was kind of unimpressive. Within just a few minutes, the melted cheese dip coagulated and it was difficult to dip our tortillas in it. Oh well.All in all, Penca isn't the best Mexican restaurant I've ever been to in my life, but it's definitely worth checking out. I would especially recommend it for happy hour on a toasty Tucson evening. And make sure you order the Jicaro. I'm still dreaming about it. More...

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Rick Haase

8 April 2017

We had a great time The Chile en Nogada was amazing! Roasted chile poblano stuffed with traditional pork, plantain, apples, almonds, fried fruit, finished with sherry walnut sauce... Mmmm!

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Devon Cadiz

4 April 2017

Hands down best mexican food and drinks in Tucson!

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Jillian W.

2 April 2017

Penca has a really adorable and homey ambiance and feel to it.  I do adore the unmarked entrance which makes it feel a little more exclusive and unique. The menu is simple and clean with the basics. I ordered the two taco plate with the nopales and pescado tacos. Both were really delicious. My main beef was with the rice. Half of my rice still had an undercooked starchy core. No bueno.  Perhaps it was an off day for them, so I am only docking 1 star. I will certainly give it another shot when I am in the area. More...

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Cynthi K.

1 April 2017

Excellent selection of wine, I loved the Pinot Noir. The chips and salsa were a great start to our dinner. The salsa was flavorful and a little zippy. Interesting menu, not the typical Mexican dishes. The tacos were delicious and you can try two different types. The beef was rich in flavor and the cactus one was tasty. Each in our party tried something different and we were all pleased. The server was knowledgeable about the wines and entrees and most attentive. We will definitely go again. More...

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Jillian S.

31 March 2017

Stopped in for lunch today and was pleasantly surprised with this spot. I highly recommend the Sonoran gimlet for a cocktail, and the quesadilla is a perfect size for a light lunch!! Will definitely return

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Jennifer Sjoland Williams

26 March 2017

Lynn was an awesome server. Loved the happy hour menu and wine!

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Tim Darmetko

23 March 2017

great food !!!!! I'll be going back soon :) .

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Jen N.

22 March 2017

Lovely experience.  Staff was very friendly, patient and came at just the right times for ordering, follow up and check.  Food was fresh, served quickly and DELICIOUS.

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Jean G.

22 March 2017

Great authentic Mexican food.  Lovely atmosphere and friends Waite staff. Busy evening right before an Elton John concert. Recommend reservations

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Sharon B.

18 March 2017

This was our first time at Penca and we were extremely pleased with everything we tried.  I had the Diablo cocktail--a nice change from a margarita with its beet tequila, lime juice and ginger. My husband and I shared the Elote as an appetizer.  I had the grouper with sautéed mushrooms and green mole for my entree, and it was excellent.  My husband had the Chile Relleno de la Casa, and it was outstanding--a poblano stuffed with of mushrooms, spinach, onions, and pepitas.  It had just the right amount of queso (too often cheese can overwhelm a stuffed poblano). We'll definitely be back! More...

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Brandi C.

15 March 2017

Have now been in twice for happy hour  (3-5 PM), and have had wonderful experiences both times. $5 jars of beer (24 oz) and a small happy hour food menu - I have now tried everything except the pork tacos (which I'll get next time), and you really can't beat the price. The quality of the food is outstanding, and it's a really cool atmosphere. More...

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Christine Andrew

13 March 2017

Delicious food, superior service. The atmosphere was great too.

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Liz J.

2 March 2017

Penca is one of the best restaurants in Tucson. It's great sitting at the bar, drinking cocktails and snacking, but is also perfect for a nicer date night meal. You can't go wrong ordering, the chicharrones are a good start. The mole entree is fantastic. More...

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Rob G.

26 February 2017

Excellent atmosphere, service and food. A gem in Tucson.

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Amy P.

26 February 2017

We had the Guac and Salsa and margaritas. The servers were attentive and friendly. Chips were homemade.

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L. K.

23 February 2017

I've only been here once so far but the food and the atmosphere and the service all seemed solid and awesome. We were definitely under-dressed too but no one was snooty about it and we didn't get a table near a bathroom or anything. The ceviche was good and super plentiful, and we were offered an order of marrow bones for free because the kitchen made too many orders for another table. I had never thought marrow really sounded that delicious but OH IS IT. Now I call it beef butter, and I love it. More...

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Jenny C.

17 February 2017

Is it too bold to call this the Best Mexican in Tuscon? Well, in my book, that's where this place sits, right at the top of the list. I got to try this place out mid-day on a Saturday. They were still running brunch but I skipped that and went straight for the tacos. The menu has lots of Spanish on it so I was on my phone right away looking up translations. I got a glass of Horchata, which was delicious and rare for me, as It is not common in my home city. Then my friend and I shared chips and dip to start. There were a few different kinds of salsas and delicious tortilla chips. Then the tacos!!!! I went with fish and prickly pear cactus, because, again, I can't get this at home, and how can you pass up the chance to eat CACTUS on a TACO!!!!!!! I had to try it and I was sooo glad I did. The food was awesome. Two tacos was also a great amount. After the chips to start and the drink too.. I was full but not stuffed, right at that perfect level. The environment was really cool. I'll go as far as calling it a little hipster. There is no name of the resturant outside it... that screams hipster. And everyone working there was just in cute clothes that they liked, no uniformity among the crew. I thought it was cool but it was also filled with only people my age. Go here, eat tacos, love life. More...

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Dian Y.

13 February 2017

Penca was the icing on the cake for our New Years trip in Tucson. Down to earth brunch experience with an artisan menu. The interior was tastefully designed with the touch of an unique rustic character that complements the high desert.

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Mike V.

11 February 2017

Wow. Food is great. Carnitas are really good, just small street style tacos. Sangria is also great. It seems like it has a hibiscus and cinnamon  flavor to it. Definitely a must try.Well we came back after 2 hours for more Sangria. The  Sangria is a must when you come here. If you do t you will regret it later. More...

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Tabitha R.

11 February 2017

Absolutely delicious! From the home made chips and salsa to the sangaria. Everything we ordered was delicious!! Loved the beans..... seriously love the beans! Great atmosphere, service and food! More...

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Lacey R.

5 February 2017

Visiting from NYC for the Gem Show and this is by far the best restaurant we've tried over the past 5 years. This is our second time at Penca and it did not disappoint. Love the ambiance here, food is great and our service couldn't have been better. We had the mixed salad (soo tasty and refreshing),  quesadillas, steak tacos and short ribs. All were delicious. We look forward to coming back to our favorite spot in Tucson next year! More...

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Monica G.

31 January 2017

Amazing! Breakfast Torta is the best!!! Available only on weekends. Totally worth it. I try to make it hear when I'm in Tuscon

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mary h.

30 January 2017

Great restaurant always good service. A pleasure to find South American food that we had in South America.

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Perry Anderson

20 January 2017

Food was good service was good. Prices were decent. It was more in line with the healthy trend. But it still appealed to me.

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Cindy Garcia Myers

16 January 2017

Great service, great food and great, loved the atmosphere, we sat at the bar

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Megan P.

15 January 2017

Our slow service was the only thing holding back a perfect experience. I love the decor of this place and the old bare brick walls. 4 of us dined and each of us enjoyed our meals. The warm fresh chips and salsa was a great start to our brunch. I ordered the hash which was delicious with the perfect amount of spice. Servings are generous. More...

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David Bigham

24 December 2016

The bartender Alan was very friendly and knowledgeable. I loved the papas fritas much, MUCH better than I expected! I will certainly be back to see Alan and try more things on the menu. :)

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Grisamentum A.

16 December 2016

Authentic. Awesome. Those words don't do this place enough credit so I'm making a new word just for them that described what they do here perfectly. "Awthsome"! Bam. Did you see that's?! Thats it, right there. That's how magic happens. And that one, That's just for you guys. You do fantastic work. Thanks to the great staff here that talked shop, suggested other eateries & let us sample different alcohols, and for Gods Hooks, yes, they answered all our questions like, we had a test coming up. More...

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Keith B.

10 December 2016

Went out with a buddy for a Guys night out. That being the activity we needed to find a steak and whiskey. We had decided on downtown for the hockey game but not sure where to go. Our first choice was full so off on a walk we went. We had been here for brunch a few months ago, and enjoyed it. We were seated quickly and the service was on top of things. The hostess let us know that there was another reservation for our table but it was more then an hour away so we had plenty of time.  We ordered drinks, I had a Manhattan and my buddy a Cuba libre. My only complaint would be the time it took to get us our drinks. I ordered the steak, it was very good. Not your typical New York or porterhouse but an artistic display, it was very tender and juice. Overall a fine meal. I wish I had ordered the pork chop though, it looked very good and had a Mexican squash patty that was just delicious. I will be back. More...

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Robin Willard

29 November 2016

Attentive service, attractive decor, tasty torta and amazing, deliciously seasoned Bloody Mary!

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Monalisa Oreschnick

19 November 2016

Good food, great waitstaff.slow kitchen, unfortunately.

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Harsha G.

18 November 2016

Hubby is alum from UFA and we were visiting my cousin who is studying at the university and we were looking for an upscale dinner restaurant. Luckily for us we could get a last min reservation eventhough it was the 2nd Sat of the month when there is a local fair in downtown. Loved everything about this place- Drinks:Sonoran Gimlet- magical potion that hits the right notes if you like a tequila based coctail made with finesse. They are strongBourbourn and Tepache-my whiskey loving hubby couldnt have enough of it ;)Boca Del Rio: need an acquired taste for it,very strong but may not appeal to everyone-Appetizers: Ceviche: Perfect!Complimentary Chips and Salsa- super yumm, know when to stop or you will miss the main courseTacos- Amongst the 5 of us we had Nopalaes, Rajas,Carnitas,Pescado and Lengua- you get 2 types per plate and all of them were delish and well madeMain Course:Chile Relano and Chile Nogada- both perfectly presented, served and cooked :)Dessert: OMG, best tres leches ever presented beautifully in a Mason jar..yumm yummOverall, a memorable family dinner. Can't wait to come back for another meal! More...

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Amanda P.

18 November 2016

I think the best part of this restaurant was the ambience in the way that that it was decorated. The cocktails are amazing and I appreciate the variation in food. The rice and beans are the only thing that aren't great but otherwise the tacos and the seasoning were amazing I got the fish tacos and let me tell you they were definitely feeling for just having two mini ones. The best part though about my dining experience was the guacamole they put feta on top of it and it is definitely fresh and I bet you can't eat just one! More...

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Sarah S.

5 November 2016

Pence is a great place for a casual dinner or special occasion. I went there for the first time and was impressed with everything. The ambiance is really neat, the location is awesome, and the food-oh the food. The chicharrones are AWESOME! My friend doesn't normally like them but neither of us could stop eating them. The entrees were both great, and the churro she were wonderful (one of the dipping sauces was a banana caramel sauce, so take a moment and try to wrap your head around that). Highly recommend. More...

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Karla Lopez

2 November 2016

Food was amazing !!!!! but the service was very bad. Server never came back to ask if we needed anything. Didn't offer refills or any other drink. To be honest very disappointed.

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Alyssa E.

2 November 2016

This place is great for brunch! Even at 10 am, you get unlimited chips and salsa!! No complaints there. I got the two eggs platter for only $8. This was a great deal to me and it was so much food! The fingerling potatoes were perfectly cooked and the charro beans were so flavorful. My brunch date ordered the chilaquiles and substituted calabacitas for the turkey and the dish also turned out really tasty! Service  was very poor so I had to knock a star. More...

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Rolando Acevedo

3 October 2016

The food has always been very good. This last time we had the chile en nogada, it was the best I've had in awhile. The grenache sangría was delicioussss! Nice atmosphere.

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Eleanor C.

29 September 2016

Everything was perfect!  The service was excellent; large bottles of water on the table (important in Tucson);  outstanding guacamole w/ "add your own condiments".  Tacos are small and inexpensive, so you can sample several.   I took my sister for her birthday.   She pronounced  it PERFECT!! More...

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Robin C.

27 September 2016

Great food and drinks.  Cozy restaurant and great for people watching.  I like the mescal cocktail, smoky and not too sweet.  I dined with my 11 year old and he loved the "chicarrons"...fried pork skins.  We've been there a few times and the food is always wonderful.  Nice atmosphere and we were happy with the service. More...

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Jesse L.

18 September 2016

The carnitas (pork) tacos were incredible. So juicy, with such excellent corn tortillas. Additionally, the tres leches cake was delightful. It also wasn't too expensive compared to some upscale restaurants. I would definitely recommend this restaurant. More...

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Barry Welker

7 September 2016

Great place to dine in Tucson before or after a play

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Kathleen L.

4 September 2016

LOVE this place. Me and my buddy pop in about once a month and they never let us down. Sangria and corn tortillas are fantastic! Can't wait until our next visit:)

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Cristian R.

22 August 2016

Something about this place just never caught my attention or gave me a feeling that i had to go there but my girlfriend and i went there saturday early and had some amazing tacos had the nopales and lengua tacos which very good specially the tortillas which looked hand made on location. The drinks were awesome and there some very good drinks straight outta mexico that I've never seen or didn't think i would find in the U.S like tepache and tesguin (must try). Great spot i left very impressed the staff was very polite and respectful too. More...

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John K.

20 August 2016

Thank you, Penca, for a delightful evening, meal, and atmosphere for my daughter's 20th birthday!  Bravo!

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Ericca S.

12 August 2016

If you come here to fill up on the salsa, chips and jamica alone ... You'll leave satisfied.Their tacos, tortas and tazos are all amazing. And did I mention their chips and salsa! Come here, you won't be disappointed! More...

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Eric C.

28 July 2016

I don't usually write a review unless a place really wows me or pisses me off, and Penca was one of those places that did neither, hence, no review. That all changed when I was introduced to Bryan, the bartender my friends said "totally makes Penca worthwhile." In the past, I feel Penca was slightly overpriced and generally pretty average. If I never came here again (I thought before), I'd be okay, but I didn't turn down invitations either. All that changed recently. Several of my friends kept raving about this auteur bartender there, some young up-and-coming guy named Bryan. Bryan exceeds all the superlatives thrown his way by my friends. This guy knows the history of every spirit in every drink he makes. Don't know what you want?  Describe some things for him: flavors, spirits, profiles, or even emotions, and he will become your very own "drink whisperer," using his alchemical skills to give you whatever you really want but might not know how to describe. Case in point, he made me a special, nameless drink when I told him I had been "wrestling with the concept of the will of God."  I meant it as a joke. He took it as an inspirational challenge. And he succeeded. Do yourself a favor. Forget Penca as primarily a restaurant, and start realizing it for what Bryan makes it: the best damn bar in Tucson, which also happens to serve pretty good food. And don't be afraid to talk to Bryan. He is unfathomably well versed in mixology AND local ingredients. In fact, he used to do the saguaro harvest with the Tohono O'odham Nation as a kid, and has toured tiny indigenous villages in Mexico looking for the best mescal and sotol. Um, he even has homemade tincture of creosote. Unbelievable. And he's incredibly generous with his time and expertise. So, Bryan, you've earned Penca a five star review from this previously unimpressed-yet-still-fairly-frequent patron. You deserve it more than I can say. Cheers!  I'll be raising many a glass n your honor, I'm sure. More...

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Jenny C.

27 July 2016

This restaurant was SPECTACULAR! Everything we ordered - corn, ceviche, salsa/guacamole,  tacos, churros - was amazing. The service was great as well, but it's definitely a slow dinner sort of place, so if you come here, I'd make an 'evening' out of it. I'm new to Tucson and will definitely be taking out of town guests here to 'wow' them with what the city has to offer in terms of food - and will be coming back myself. More...

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Lawrence K.

16 July 2016

Street Tacos in Tucson all get their inspiration right here.  Best Black Beans and Cotija Cheese on the Planet.  If you come visit me, 100% chance I'm taking you here for the win.

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Andrew N.

15 July 2016

Penca will not disappoint.Whether you want a nice lunch downtown, cocktails in the afternoon, or a romantic dinner, they always have the right atmosphere. Their cocktails are great. The sangria (red) is a perfect light amount of sweet and tangy.My favorite appetizer is the ceviche. It's perfect and rests on a pickled cabbage salad.Their salsa is a delicious smokey flavor that is very unique.Overall recommend this place to anyone!! More...

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Jason J.

3 July 2016

Good unique Mexican food, very cool atmosphere, will definitely be coming back! Oh and their mojito's are probably the best I've ever had.

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Juan S.

1 July 2016

It was delicious and a great option to celebrate our wedding anniversary. First time here, and the waitress was really helpful explaining the menu, and cocktails.Ordered the Costilla de res and steak. More...

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Megan Betty

26 June 2016

So delicious! I had the chili relleno la casa and friend had the banana wrapped fish!!! Full of flavor and actually healthy!

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Levi K.

25 June 2016

Penca is one of those surprise Tucson places that delivers more than you'd expect.  Great brunch place, with fancy digs, but the salsa is legit, and the Mexican food offerings are for real. The inside decor is urban-Tucson cool, and it's a bit quieter than other places off Congress for the few patio tables. More...

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Ellsworth O.

23 June 2016

Great meal and fantastic service. Wednesday special is amazing. Trendy and comfortable at the same time. Lucky to have a place like this in Tucson.

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Alberto R.

13 June 2016

This is a regular spot for me and my wife, either for a weekend brunch or a dinner spot. The food is fairly good and nearly always consistent, but what we most appreciate is the atmosphere, which is both hip and warm with wood, metal and glass as the predominant elements in the décor. It is just so comfortable here that it doesn't matter what we order to eat or drink we will keep coming back for more. More...

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Jennifer S.

12 June 2016

Wow...Penca is housed in such a beautiful space!  We stopped in for dinner before heading out to enjoy some cocktails in downtown Tucson.  I enjoyed the dorado steamed in banana leaves with zucchini, squash and tomatoes with a roasted lemon - it was fresh, flavorful and so healthy...especially at a Mexican restaurant.  The service was great and the vibe of the restaurant was lively too. More...

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Shawna F.

11 June 2016

I love this place! They offer a unique take on Mexican food and drinks. Try the fermented maize beer and chicharrones!

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David G.

15 May 2016

I think I found the place for the perfect first date after 25 years of marriage. I took my lovely wife to a classy, quaint and by the way a very good good Mexican restaurant. My bride recommended after we decided that we wanted Mexican for dinner and what a great job she did. We started with the chips and salsa with a starter of ceviche. Absolutely wonderful ceviche and the service was even greater. We each had the tacos plate both carne asade and pescado. Excellent again. Remember this also occurred during the UofA graduation weekend so this restaurant can handle stress and acts like it's just another day.  Thanks to Penca for providing an old groom a place for his pretty bride More...

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JD Zarate

13 May 2016

Definitely great waiting staff and great Mexican food. Try the barbacoa tacos and the salsa needs no additives

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Greg M Smith

8 May 2016

Drinks are fantastic, some of the meals, made to sound great, weren't.

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Debi H.

18 April 2016

Wonderful food and the staff was helpful and suggestive with some great ideas.

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Kelsey D.

8 April 2016

Their bathroom stall doors are too hard to close when you're drunk ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  also the rice and beans are bland but everything else is GREAT.

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Aaron B.

6 April 2016

Chopped Salad with carne asada was the best I've ever had. So good and will definitely be back.

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Kathi K.

3 April 2016

Great brunch. Nook had a 45 min wait and realized these guys were open for brunch. Great brunch, service, ambience. Will be back.

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Opt I.

20 March 2016

They say it's hit or miss. So what, it is and that makes it exciting. I always really enjoy Penca. Give it a shot and decide for yourself.Tacos are good. Nice deals for happy hour. Cocktails on point. Great service. More...

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Amanda M.

19 March 2016

The best tacos ever for this Los Angeles girl! My husband and I enjoyed this trendy spot that had food that tasted as good as it looked.Enjoyed the lengua, raja, and cabeza (spelling?)Try the fermented pineapple too...Great atmosphere and service! More...

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Cory L.

13 March 2016

Freshly fried chips with a thick salsa arrived. I could eat the salsa as a meal, complex smokiness with burst of spiciness. Trio of taco. turkey, carne asada and carnitas. Each delectable, first, turkey was moist and flavorful on a soft corn tortilla. Carne asada (beef) with a sliver of perfectly ripe avocado equally delectable. whoa ! Last, but not least, the carnitas was very moist too. Can't wait to eat more menu items and try their margarita. The decor was quite fascinating with a metal reinforced skeleton holding up a wooden exoskeleton. Welded steel and an amazing fun industrial feel. More...

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Chelsea T.

22 February 2016

We came here as a spur of the moment late lunch idea.  A family member had said they had been before and I am always up for trying Mexican food so we went.  We arrived around the time happy hour started so we were given the happy hour menu which was nice but very limited.  I ordered two carne asada tacos which were delicious and a Tepache which was a fermented pineapple cocktail.  The chips and salsa were amazing; the salsa had just the right kick and the chips were fresh and warm when they were served.  My only complaint was that the service was a little slow and we were not there during any rush so I am not sure what the deal was on that.  We will defeinetly be back again though and I would recommend this fantastic eatery to my friend and family. More...

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Jake G.

5 February 2016

Delicious salsa and homemade chips! Pleasant staff, cool atmosphere, great styling and design! Hip spot for business people to dine at.

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Ellen L.

30 January 2016

This spot was stellar! I don't know who is giving less than 4 stars, but I can say every detail from atmosphere, to craft cocktails, to phenomenal food, including many veg and vegan options.Service was a bit less than attentive, but very very knowledgable.I like what is happening to downtown Tucson, you keep doing what you're doing! More...

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Kiri K.

23 January 2016

Visited Penca for a night out with brother-in-law and his wife. Service was solid and food was lovely. Food: Tacos were great - tortillas were really tasty. Grilled zucchini was seasoned very well. Wish we had gotten more chips, but guess it's good we didn't fill up on those. Wasn't a fan of macaroons, but I also don't love coconut. Maybe we should have ordered the churros?Drinks: sangria was flavorful, and had some nice spicy undertones. Definitely not sweet which I appreciated. Wine list looked good - all old world though. Definitely an opportunity for some Aussie or California reds. Service: Our waitress was very straightforward and took good care of us. Best service actually came from a different waiter who noticed our table was wobbly and fixed it with a piece of cork. More...

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John L.

9 January 2016

Nice variety of Central Mexico-type dishes.  Quality and presentation were good.  A little heavy on the heat, so be cautious if you don't do hot well.  The wait staff was very knowledgeable about the food, so this was not a problem; I had heat and wife not so much.  The wait staff was also knowledgeable about the draft beers and wines, and I had a tasting of one of the drafts before committing to a stein.  Did not need reservations on a Wed night, but it would be a good idea on a weekend or during major downtown events. More...

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Anand B.

16 December 2015

This place is fantastic! Great ambiance paired with delicious house cocktails, I'd recommend the Bourbon and Tepache if they have it brewed that day. Finally, the food is quality and of the right portion size; make sure to order the guacamole board - the juxtaposition of flavor is phenomenal. More...

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Paul H.

9 December 2015

Not that often I taste a new cocktail  I really like or a novel dish I enjoy. But I discovered both at once sitting at the bar here one Wednesday evening.. Friendly creative bartenders. Hip, but not too hip. More...

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Angela Y.

7 December 2015

I have only been to Penca once. They have some good drinks options that are interesting/unique. For food I got the carne asada taco and the fish taco. To be honest I wasn't too impressed by the tacos. They make their own corn tortillas but they are very thick. Not my preference but some people really like their tortillas. Service was pretty good as well! More...

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Lauren K.

26 November 2015

Fresh food.  That's the beginning and end of the story at Penca.  This has quickly become one of our favorite spots to eat because we can taste the quality and care given to the food.Let's start with the location.  Penca sits off Broadway across from the Federalcourthouse near a streetcar stop.  The decor is modern: lots of metal and concrete floors.  Nothing amazing but clean and modern.The real star here is the food.  You are greeted by a complementary and endless bowl of hot tortilla chips and salsa.  The chips are made from their own freshly made corn tortillas.  They have great texture, with a hint of salt, and have a deep delicious corn flavor.  The salsa is among the best I've had--very flavorful with good spice that builds.  It's sad that some many places sell bagged chips, and even amongst those that make fresh chips, Penca sets the standard.  Other appetizers are very good too:  the elote appetizer is amazing roasted fresh corn smothered with queso fresco and spices and spicy sauce.  The ceviche is freshly made daily and is tart and rich.  Sometimes if you come early it's not ready--something slightly annoying but a fair trade for fresh quality.  The guacamole is amazing.  Creamy and bright with lime, worth getting for the avocado fan in your life. The entrees are focused on tacos but also include tortas (sandwiches) and tazones (bowels).  People rave about the pork hash and eggs but I haven't tried...because of tacos!  First, for Tucson they have some unique ones:  cabeza (beef cheek), nopales (cactus), lengua (beef tongue), guajolote (turkey), and rajas (chiles).  They also have favorites like fish, carne asada, pork carnitas, and my husband's favorite: papas (potato).  In fairness I haven't tried all of them.  The carne asada is flavorful and pairs well with the pickled veggies and onions that come with each taco.  The carnitas are juicy with a light crunch from the griddle.  Potato tacos are roasts and seasoned fingerlings with a spicy sauce.  The rajas are tasty and fire roasted.  I must admit I do not like the nopales.  I'm not sure if that's their preparation or the nature of the beast as I haven't had them elsewhere--but the texture is slimy and there is little flavor.  All tacos are small and come wrapped in Penca's warm and fresh corn tortillas, although you can ask for a fresh and delicious flour tortilla (or both) by request.  I recommend 2-3 tacos per person.  Sides can be ordered.  The beans are fairly standard which is to say not much to my taste.  The rice is quite good with hints of lime and cilantro.  Try it at least once.  Most people I know opt for that extra taco...and did I mention you can mix and match kinds?  All the food is fresh so there's no problem with a fish taco next to carnitas.  I've never made it to dessert, but it looks good.I forgot to mention the drinks.  Not only do you have the normal choices like soda and tea, but you can opt for fun favorites like Jamaica (hibiscus) and Horchata (rice drink).  Or, the new, old favorite: Mexcian Coke in the bottle.If every restaurant took the time to make food as flavorful and freshly as Penca, the world would be a better place.  This is a must-try! More...

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Erica H.

12 November 2015

The drinks were average. I got the diablo and did not like it. Service was very good! I got the pepper tacos and mixed green salads both were delicious.  My friend got the carne grilled romaine salad. It was ok. The braised short ribs were great!! Great ambiance! very moody! good for a date! More...

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Sol L.

11 November 2015

Noches de Penca (the Wednesday night pre-fixed meal) is amazing!  Of course I go to Penca on other nights too and it doesn't disappoint.  Great (and unique) food, awesome drinks, and cool atmosphere.  Probably my favorite spot downtown. More...

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Debi Matiella Hunley

1 November 2015

Great food & service in the heart of downtown Tucson!

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Holly Hughes

31 October 2015

The flavors from Mexico City made this restaurant really stand out to me. It is my #1 favorite restaurant in the downtown area.

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Mimi Robles

31 October 2015

Best Margaritas ever. If you go have the bartender give you a deconstructed margarita first. All in house made ingredients except for the tequila. Delicious.

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Matt Smith

29 October 2015

Cool atmosphere, delicious cocktails (try the pineapple beer), and wonderful central Mexican food.

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Elizabeth Vega

28 October 2015

Best crafted drinks in town, along with the corn on the cob appetizer and there tacos are the bomb!

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Ekta P.

28 October 2015

Went here last week with a big group and we had a great time. I got the carnitas and pescado tacos and both were delicious. I like that the tortillas are a little thicker than normal so the taco doesn't completely fall apart while you are eating it. The bourbon and tepache drink was yummy too! More...

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Mark Fleming

22 October 2015

Please don't eat here. This is our favorite restaurant and we don't want it to become popular.

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Molly P.

19 October 2015

This was the best meal I've had in Tucson in recent memory. The kitchen gets 5 stars. Fresh, interesting and inspired food. Atmosphere is perfect. Bar service was subpar. The bartender never offered the specials/ soup or the list of things they were out of, which ended up being quite a few menu items. I had to ask for silverware and a steak knife for my pork chop. When it comes down to it, everything looked so delicious I would have eaten every last bite with my bare hands and wiped my hands on my skirt but I think my dinner companion would have been mortified. More...

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Vanessa H.

19 October 2015

I wasn't expecting this place to be off the wall amazing, but it was in fact off the wall amazing! Bartender at Pueblo Vida recommended this place (we went to Vida and realized they only had popcorn... We were hungry LOL). Anyways, we got here around 1 PM on a Saturday. Boyfriend and two of our close friends from out of town. The interior is charming and welcoming. I ordered a spicy Bloody Mary and my friends ordered a margarita and mimosa. The mimosa tasted absolutely delicious and so fresh! Highly recommend. I ordered two carne asada tacos and they were delicious. The tortillas... Just wow. Fresh, soft and obviously delicious. Boyfriend had the same as I did. Our friends got the pulled pork torta with the egg and a side of potato wedges and they swore by it! The server also brought them a side of avocado aioli which my friend devoured with her fries (no ketchup... Aioli was more than better replacement!)This place is in downtown Tucson. Come here and I guarantee you won't be disappointed! More...

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Pete Bejarano

18 October 2015

Awesome food and great service Highly recommend I will definitely be back

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A T.

18 October 2015

Fantastic food! Oh my gosh, those fresh corn tortillas are the best! We sought out Penca as being one of the few places you can find chile en nogada on the menu, but fate landed us there midday and they only serve it for dinner. Balls! Plan B was the tacos and they didn't disappoint. We tried the rajas, cabeza, carnitas, and lengua tacos. We loved them all, and if we ranked them it'd be in the order I just listed. The house michelada was wonderful as well. I'd love to make my way back to this restaurant some day and try more from the menu, and I highly recommend it if you are living in or visiting Tucson! More...

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Moises E.

16 October 2015

This place located in the heart of Downtown Mexico has a very unique style. From the outside this restaurant screams romantic and quiet. Came here due to the authentic Mexican menu i seen on their website. Staff quickly greeted me and sat me at the bar. They offer upscale fancy drinks that are also drinks from Mexico City. Perfect place to bring someone on a date. I ordered the chiles en hogada, (might have misspelled) and it was as good as my grandmothers food. Dish tasted very good and worth the high end price. On the other hand my dish did come with Tomatoes which in the description of the dish said nothing about it. A no no since i am allergic to tomatoes!!!5 stars due to the amazing food!!!! More...

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Jess E.

4 October 2015

Penca is a fantastic downtown restaurant. I love the tazones (think burrito bowls) , and the corn cakes on the brunch menu - that are serve with Cholula butter and jalapeño syrup. The tacos are delicious and the chefs make the tortillas for your tacos when you order them. I love the guacamole and salsa board as well. Very good food, and good friendly service. My only criticism would be that the menus are sometimes dirty and stained. It happens at a lot of restaurants, but at least penca has good food to show for it. Give it a try, you won't regret it! More...

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Yolanda R.

19 September 2015

Great brunch menu. Really tasty food and great service but the sangria was terrible.  Would com back for the food

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Ernesto L.

18 September 2015

I wasn't expecting much when I walked into this place but I'm glad I gave it a try.Everything was pretty good, included the horchata but my very favorite was the nopales tacos. All the dishes tasted way closer to the authentic Mexican food than most of the places I've tried outside Mexico.It's worth a visit and the prices were decent at least at lunch/hh time.BTW the bar looks super cool, it would be perfect for a date (not a first date though) or meeting with a friend.Cheers More...

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Gene T.

17 September 2015

Ok. Amazing. Been here before. It was good. Today amazing. Had the chicharron...fresh and crackling. The chili En Nogada was amazing. Stuffed chili with pork, etc. etc. filling. Wonderful. Could have ate more.  Service was good. Coffee very good (French press). More...

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Kyndle K.

15 September 2015

One of my FAVORITE Mexican places in town. Adorable, Classy and DELISH!I recommend the extensive fancy drink menu, the salsa platter w guac is to die for!, the tacos, the soup. Everything is fantastic. It's a little upscale, would make a good date place and is a little more pricy than other Mexican restaurants but sooooo Good. Go there. More...

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Srinath G.

9 September 2015

Nice cozy Mexican restaurant with food which tastes great always goes for a 5-star rating for me.. The hosts were really friendly and patient.. The food tastes awesome.. My personal favorite would be the tortas and tazan... Keep up the good work guys!!!! More...

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Scott Shehorn

30 August 2015

With no sign on the building, it's definitely a hidden gem! Fresh ingredients, expertly prepared. Great vibe, great staff. My absolute favorite downtown food joint! More...

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Jesse B.

30 August 2015

If you like your tacos served with a side of ambiance and an air of pretension then Penca is the place for you. Don't get me wrong, the food at Penca is great and the drinks are even better. I usually get the tacos because the homemade corn tortillas are heaven.  As for the cocktails, they are original and very tasty. So why 4 stars? Their staff is one of the rudest in Tucson. I've been here 5 or 6 times and only had one server who was pleasant. One night the server suggested I order another cocktail, "I don't think that would be to your taste." Another night a friend of mine asked for a wine suggestion. She indicated that she like Sav Blanc, to which the guy reasoned, "well, don't we all?"On paper the encounters don't sound bad, but it was all about the tone. So if you're willing to put up with some attitude, Penca is great. If not, go somewhere is South Tucson that's twice as good and half the price. More...

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James K.

25 August 2015

A little pricey but simply amazing street style tacos.  Another great place in the downtown Tucson Renaissance.

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Mark K.

24 August 2015

Amazing authentic cuisine. Love the bone marrow, cabeza and lengua tacos, and the tepache "pineapple beer" is absolutely phenomenal!

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Christina Montoya

12 August 2015

Excellent refreshing, delicious food, greAt service included.

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Suzanne Kellogg Kenyon

9 August 2015

Best restaurant for n Tucson! Be sure to have the Grenache Sangria and the guacamole with its different salsas. The tacos are excellent as is the chili rellano. Service was excellent. It is not Sonoran style! So be prepared for a delish difference! Making reservations for all our Tucson visitors coming this winter. More...

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Julie K.

6 August 2015

Had dinner here last night. $25 fixed price, three courses. Yum. Great food, great value, and the place was was jumping. Great vibe, cool space, and even a deal on wine!The food was well prepared, wait staff was attentive, Penca was humming. Lovely bar space. Have you been?  If not you are missing a great dining spot, sorry it took me so long to get there. Nice menu, Mexican food elegantly prepared. More...

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Holly Holton

31 July 2015

The staff was extremely knowledgeable. The food was amazing. This is a place that we will frequent often.

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Mercedes R.

3 July 2015

Met some friends here while in town. Started off at the bar where the bartender made me an amazing watermelon cocktail ... Could have had those all night, but I needed to be in bed by 10, so I stopped at two. Dinner was a mixed bag - and I was conflicted over the the short ribs dish - the short ribs were awesome, tender, juicy and tasty, but the hominey it came with was bland (I know it's hominey but still ...) and had an odd texture, but the grilled squash was excellent ---- my dish was part hot food, part cold. The setting is super cool, hip, etc., but loud so hard to hear your dining companions sometimes. Service was excellent - attentive but not overbearing. Had a great time so, I'd come again. More...

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Sandy A.

2 July 2015

Just ate here for the first time. What a great restaurant! Their menu is very interesting. We had 7 people in our party and everyone ordered something different. Everything was great!We also got several different drinks from the bar. All were absolutely fantastic! The bartender has a great personality for this place and creates wonderful drinks. If you're  looking for a place to eat where the food is different from othere restaurants,  and the drinks are unique, try Penca. More...

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Christopher S.

14 June 2015

My wife and I have enjoyed Penca many times in the past, so we decided it was the perfect spot to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary.  As always, the staff was attentive without being overbearing, and the food was incredible, particularly their moles.  They're a little on the pricey side, but absolutely worth it. More...

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Stacy M.

10 June 2015

Must stop when in Tucson. First visit was very impressive, started with a killer Mezcal cocktail & Chicharrones (best ever). Had many other stops to make so this is all I tried today. Can't wait to go back. More...

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Steve M.

3 June 2015

No signage, no overt markings it's even a restaurant until you pass by and peek in. Only visible markings are the hanging flower pots on the exterior. Started with chips and salsa with pretty standard ingredients, seemed to use sweet tomatoes but not overly sweet just changed the standard flavor. Chips were homemade style which were thicker and crispier then the norm. Appetizer was the quesadilla which was good for two and had calabasas inside served with black beans. I chose the asada and carnitas tacos and they were also very good served on homemade corn tortillas. To sum it up it's more of a gourmet Mexican restaurant that has a rustic industrial design and what appeared to be a good selection of tequila and mescal. Sat down, ate lunch and returned to work in an hour so good for lunch as well. More...

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Frank K.

26 May 2015

I eat downtown all the time, and this truly is one of the gems of downtown Tucson. Amazing deals during happy hour and you can't go wrong with the tacos. The chips and salsa are spectacular as well. I've had great service every time I eat there (been there about 7-8 times total), so to see so many complaints about service is quite baffling to me..Overall, reasonable prices, very solid drinks and delicious food. This is a great place for a date. I will definitely be back again. More...

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Jennifer Stack Higgins

24 May 2015

Excellent experience and the best prickly pear tea ever!

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Samatha C.

24 May 2015

The Elote appetizer is wonderful....could order just that and be happy. Also had the Rajas and the Papas taco's, both of those were great too. The only disapointment was the calabacitas....I'm use to calabacitas made with squash cooked in tomato sauce with sautéed onions, maybe a little corn and then cheese. Their's was basically cooked squash on the plate that desperately needed salt, that coming from someone who doesn't really salt anything. More...

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Laramina B.

3 May 2015

Pineapple Beer is a must. It's homemade .I had the 2 taco plate. FYI they are street tacos.  So super small. However the portions with the rice is just enough. Pablano rice is tasty. Chips and Salsa delish  and home made. Highly reccomend. Parking is a bitch though. Get there early and make reservations. It's worth every penny. I wanted to order more food. But it was just enough.  Curious about the chicharrones. Was in a group of 8. They do add gratuity automatically. More...

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Marissa D.

26 April 2015

Amazing atmosphere! Cutest little place for a date. Enjoyed everything. Pineapple beer is a must!!! Had the tacos and all of them were amazing. Can't wait to go back

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Gail P.

4 April 2015

Last minute decision--quick reservation via Yelp. Seated immediately upon arrival. Our waitress, Emma, was great--friendly and helpful. The food (Pescado de la Casa--Sea Bass tonight and Chile Relleno) was delicious. The horchata was perfect--refreshing with just the right amount of cinnamon. Loved the fresh chips and salsa. We will definitely return. More...

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Melissa L.

31 March 2015

Great food! Authentic Central American food! Drinks were delicious but very tiny! The whole experience was pricey, but fun to enjoy on a night out!

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John F.

28 March 2015

I've gone back and service was prompt and professional and the food was excellent. I would need to see consistency for 5 stars.

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Max F.

29 January 2015

If you love flavor and something different Penca is the place! I've been to Penca at least 5 times and it's always great. Great location downtown, although it can be hard to find parking. The salsa is just the right amount of spicy. Each type of taco I've had has been great. Try the limeade and a different taco, like the lengua taco. Everything is great! More...

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Mando Rodriguez

28 January 2015

Love the atmosphere not to mention the food was delicious an service with smile loved the experience

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Barrio L.

19 January 2015

Romantic, with great food.  I love this place.  Good location, great bartenders.  Amazing menu that's not too big.  The posole is especially satisfying if you're looking for a small lunch.  But the tacos are also outstanding, especially nice with those little pickled carrots.  If you're there with friends, get the chicharones to start.  Also, they have this cool pineapple drink they make in house called tepache that's unique.  Great tequila selection--love that you can do a flight.  Great place for a date, but also a nice setting for lunch with someone you like. More...

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Abby C.

19 January 2015

Currently in Tucson for training. Came across this restaurant and I have to say it was an amazing experience! Started off with the order to Chips and guacamole. Then followed with the catch of the day (highly recommended!). The service and atmosphere was the cherry on top. More...

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Robert W.

16 January 2015

This restaurant was recommended us by the owner of nearby Coronet, where we had a great dinner one evening. Had lunch at Penca and enjoyed the delicious fish tacos and great service.

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Yevgenia F.

27 December 2014

We tried to eat at poca cosa, but once we got there we realized that the lounge atmosphere was not right for us.  They were trying too hard and also didn't serve dinner at the bar.  So, we headed to penca and loved it!  Etolle was amazing and so was the pineapple beer.  We loved pozole and tacos.  The restaurant is beautiful and rustic.  The drinks are amazing!  The staff is very friendly and hip.  If we lived in tuscon we would be here every week. More...

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Chris H.

13 December 2014

Gluten-free paradise and good value.  I'm not militant about gluten-free eating, so I can't say for sure that all of their dishes are "certifiable", but with the exception of flour tortillas I don't recall seeing anything on the menu that would be a problem.  Excellent cocktails and the tequila flights are an good value.  My wife and I had the queso fundito and bone marrow apps, two taco plates, three cocktails and an anejo tequila flight. Everything was delicious and I was surprised that our bill came in well under $100.  Ambiance was nice but it's a small space and we felt kinda crammed in at first.  Service was attentive without being intrusive.  We'll definitely go back. More...

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Dana A.

10 December 2014

Another late review but definitely well deserved. I was taken to this place on the night of my birthday, Thanksgiving eve. All I can say is this is probably  the best meal I have had in a formal restaurant in Tucson since I moved here! The food was absolutely outstanding, kind of a new twist on traditional Mexican dishes. I really loved the  ambiance , interior and design. And the service was excellent! From the time we arrived to the time we left there was never one minute that we didn't have someone checking on us, refilling our drinks or just making sure we were enjoying themselves. Definitely a must for my Tucson foodie crew! More...

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Jake Bunch

7 November 2014

Had a couple Tacos and a house blended pineapple beer "Tepache" great blend of sweet and savory, not only the beer but the food as well. Salsa Verde was one of a kind. Gotta try it. More...

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Rocky B.

1 November 2014

Oh man, this place is perfect. The space is lovely to look at, well designed in every detail, everything we ate exceeded our expectations and our waitress gave us flawless direction through the menu.Try the rose sangria!

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Marisol Montoya

29 October 2014

It was a breath of fresh air! Right in the middle of the downtown Tucson!

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Jenn T.

28 October 2014

I LOVE the pulled pork lunch bowl. The tortillas are served warm and the chips and salsa are really delicious, too.

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AlmostGeorgia

23 October 2014

This classy yet comfortable restaurant provides a modern interpretation on some wonderful Oxacan and regional Mexican dishes. The best dining experience we enjoyed in our week long stay in Tucson! More...

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Kimberley Benner

22 October 2014

So fresh !

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Dr Tim L L.

21 October 2014

Happy Hour - great value.Lots of wait staff and they are very nice.Horchata comes in a tiny glass with tons of ice - it is good.Fresh yellow corn tortillas.I did not care for the fish.Good chips with a decent salsa. Good music. More...

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Jeanette K.

12 October 2014

Penca hit the spot for us!  The tacos are clearly a specialty and my husband gave his pescado and carne asada tacos high marks. The mixed green salad with grilled pescado was delicious and satisfying. We very much enjoyed the prickly pear iced tea with our lunch.  The decor is super neat and the staff friendly.  Only reason to take a star away was the lack of adequate supplies in the ladies room. More...

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Theresa H.

10 October 2014

Awesome service, delicious food, wonderful atmosphere. Hands down my favorite restaurant in Tucson.

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Jorge A. Fonseca

26 September 2014

Happy to work here.

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Anissa R.

10 September 2014

Been wanting to try this place, so we decided to go for lunch. We both ordered the farmers salad with carne asada which was VERY well put together. The meat used was some of the best and the walnuts were my favorite. I really enjoyed it and would recommend the small because it had me full! The chips and salsa we very tasty and well mixed. I am very picky when it comes to salsa (yes, I know it's a very simple mixture) but, a lot of places just can't get it right. It was very tasty but has no kick to it but the flavor was still very satisfying. The water was served at room temperature which was kinda gross to me.The only reason I can't give the place all stars is because we were waiting a whole HOUR for a SALAD. Two of their SMALL farmers salad's took 1 WHOLE HOUR. The tea was only refilled once and sat on empty for most of the time. Our waiter only came once to take our order and that was it. We had to ask a busser for our waiter because it was taking so long. In the end we both enjoyed the salads and were given a discount which was greatly appreciated. I wanted so much to LOVE this place because of how beautiful the decor and how much I liked my salad but I just am still in shock it took an hour for a salad. maybe next time Penca, hopefully next time... More...

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Liz Medina-Barcena

6 September 2014

THE BEST CARNITAS!!!

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Chanel G.

15 August 2014

I really like this place. I almost walked right past it bc there's no obvious signs of the name. The inside is really dark and extremely date-y, especially at night. I ordered the prickly pear iced tea and it was pretty tasty. For dinner, I had the fish tacos. They were really good except the house-made corn tortillas are way too thick and particularly clumsy. I was on a date so I didn't want to make a big of a mess so I opted for just eating the insides of the tacos. I had the rice and the roasted veggies for my sides which were both really good. Now for the best part: dessert. THE CHURROS. THE CHURROS. THE CHURROS. Oh man, were they yummy. They were really warm and fresh and a very good portion that my guest and I split. I'm a fan and I'll def be back. More...

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Judy W.

5 August 2014

My partner and I went for a birthday dinner last Friday evening. We went a little early about 6:30.  I got the special: scallops, cornbread, pickled fennel and roasted tomatillos. Everything was good, except the cornbread was dry and over cooked. I loved the fennel and the tomatillos and would return to have them again.  My mezcal cocktail was refreshing.  My partner had the shredded turkey mole' that was very good, but the plaintain was hard and dry. I don't know why it was even put on the plate. It may have looked cool but it was not edible!  The serving of mole' was very big. He really enjoyed the wide selection of mezcal.   Our servers were very informed about the menu and attentive to our needs. We even had dessert.  The churros and they were delicious! Not heavy at all - very light and delish!  We will definitely go back - it was an enjoyable evening. More...

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Patricia B.

1 August 2014

Another industrial modern chic restaurant in Tucson worth going many times! The food is authentic and delicious, and the environment is energetic and fun.

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Phoebe M.

31 July 2014

if you like authentic central Mexican food made from scratch just for your plate and from very fresh ingredients, then this place is for you, i love it here--even their horchata is made from scratch! ive eaten here several times and it is consistently great--always fresh and from scratch, two of my favorite characteristics in any great restaurant. More...

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Kim C.

26 July 2014

second time here. didn't have time to write review after first visit so taking some time now. tacos tacos tacos. tortillas tortillas tortillas. for their tacos, they do a soft corn tortilla that is so thick one is more than enough to fill you up but they give you two!! I had the carne asada tacos with rice and pinto beans. traditional but amazing. tacos comes with queso and avocado and some limes. with a Mexican coke on ice - couldn't ask for a better dinner. my daughter got the posole which, if you've grown up having your nana make you posole, is a bit of a departure from what you're used to. lots of cabbage and the broth is white but it's still great. they give you a side of warm flour tortillas and it's a total meal. staff is courteous and friendly. reservations recommended because it's small but very busy (like most great Tucson restaurants). it feels like Tucson is in the midst of an urban dining renewal and Penca is right in the middle of it. we'll be back again and again. More...

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Melissa K.

19 July 2014

Everytime I come to this delightful little spot, I leave happy. The atmosphere hooks me every time and sweeps me away to a quiet little spot where its just me and my dining mates. Sitting in the back is my first choice amongst the fancy bottles on the wall. My second favorite spot is the couch in the front, where you can lounge with your happy hour drinks and have an appetizer or two (but remember hh is over at 5:30, get your orders in fast!). My third favorite is late night seating at the bar, where you can chat up the bartenders and get their recommendations which will no doubt be just the drink you were craving! The entrees are savory and unique. I've ordered the chille rellenos and they are roasted and spiced just right! The pescada comes wrapped in a banana leaf and adorned with salsa fresca, it looks as good as it tastes! The mole is ok, I love love love mole and so maybe I am a little more critical, I still recommend it if you want to try it especially with the unusual pulled turkey instead of pork or chicken, I don't know, maybe it's a little too heavy for my taste. The tacos are bite size and you can order a fun variety with all sorts of fillings, and lastly, the ceviche is to die for, I order it every time I go there and it never disappoints!! The beer selections is ok, not as many I would like but no worries because you should really go there for the cocktails! Make sure to try the traditional sangria, it's only $6 during happy hour! More...

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Jeanette A.

12 July 2014

We didn't make a reservation, so we had to sit at the bar. It was fun. Staff was just as attentive and friendly. We had a great time watching what I called...the encyclopedia of drinks. OMG he mad drinks I've never heard of , and looked amazing. The selection of bourbons and whiskeys were outstanding. The ambiance was also on point. The food was delish! Outstanding taste of tacos. Not your typical Mexican food, but definitely amazing flavor and worth the stop.  We will definitely be back. More...

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Liz Macías

28 June 2014

Busy restaurant but still yielded great service & fantastic spicy food! Chile Rellenos were amazing! You have to try the pineapple beer (Tepache)at least once.

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Carol S.

28 June 2014

Terrific and unique little spot in downtown Tucson. Great ambiance, fun bar. Tacos Carnitas were to die for as was the Chile en Nogata. Everything was excellentissimo!!

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Courtney M.

17 June 2014

I'm shocked that the reviews aren't even better. The food is so flavorful and the drinks are amazing. Love the ambiance too. Just be careful for the parking cops outside :) More...

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B. Joseph H.

5 June 2014

Whoa! The atmosphere here is incredible, and the food is 500x better than the atmosphere. I had the taco plate for lunch: cabeza and langua tacos with calabacitas and rice. It was delish. The best part of the meal was when I realized the slightly thicker than normal corn tortilla of the tacos did not get soggy and fall apart!I've been to Penca several times and the service never fails. Today our server used to be a busser at the restaurant and was promoted to server; pretty cool if you ask me!Penca also has great happy hour specials.I will definitely be back for more! More...

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Amanda G.

4 June 2014

Excellent.  I had dinner there on a Saturday night while in town to see the Gyspy Kings.  One of the people in my party was extremely difficult and the server had tremendous patience.  I was impressed.  I enjoyed the food so much we went back the very next day for brunch on the way to the airport to come home.  I wish they had a restaurant in my area. More...

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Mikes A.

24 May 2014

Pleasant atmosphere, lovely music, Mikey-approved portions , good chips, ok salsa.Small beverage glasses, small place, good idea to make reservations.

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Vanessa B.

20 May 2014

First time visiting Tucson, and i was on the hunt for a delicious Mexican meal. Stumbled upon Penca on Yelp and decided to give it a try: pictures and others' recommendations sold me on this place. I am not disappointed. I am sitting here with a plate of yummy chilaquiles and a house margarita in front of me...and i can't get enough!  Plenty of food to satisfy you, and the marg is delicious!  Mexican music in the background and the locals add to the ambiance here. Decor is fun and modern and the staff is friendly and attentive.  If i had this place close to home, you couldn't keep me away!!!  Try it for yourself! More...

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Sandra C.

18 May 2014

My husband took me on a downtown Tucson romp last weekend to celebrate our anniversary. Our first stop was lunch at Penca. Love at first sight - loved the atmosphere. I really appreciated that the hostess gave me the background and a mini tour of the place because I had inquired about some of the obviously recycled (and unique!) building materials. (On a side note- we saw another hostess come in for her shift half way through our meal. We were glad we were not forced to have an encounter with her...she was pretty awful. The attitude pretty much dripped off her.)Ok, now about the food...Love (again) at first bite. We had the ceviche as an appetizer. Fantastic!We each tried a cocktail from the main menu (we learned later they had a separate cocktail list; wish we had seen that earlier...) I had the rose sangria, my husband the "eventide," we ended up switching - they were both unique and enjoyable.When ordering our seconding drink, my husband inquired about mezcal tequilas on site. The bartender, overhearing this, sent him healthy dose a mezcal tequila that was infused with turkey. Yes, turkey...as in "Gobble gobble, I'm a freaking turnkey" turkey... He loved it! We also had a cocktail made with mezcal tequila (we don't remember the name, but it was at the very top of their new drink menu) that was simply phenomenal. (Also quite strong!)We each ordered the cod tacos with handmade corn tortillas. (I should also note that I have celiac disease, and the waitress did a very good job of navigating me around the non-gluten free items on the menu.) Those corn tortillas were the best I have tasted. They were obviously freshly made and were 1/4 inch thick. Delicious tacos. I ordered the mixed greens salad as a side, which was the one unfortunate thing of my meal. The salad was simply too old, it had a few slimy bits :/ Nothing that would deter us from visiting again.Knowing it was our anniversary the waitress brought out a lovingly decorated churro for us to share, on the house. I could not partake ,because of my gluten-free diet, but it was still a gracious gesture! Our waitress was one of the best aspects of our visit - she was wonderful. I will definitely come again. More...

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Lachlan G.

9 May 2014

Let me get the one bad thing about Penca out first,  and that is their generally weak drinks.  Listen, the whole add more ice to take up space thing isn't new.  When I order a beverage that costs more than $6, I expect to taste a bit of alcohol.Whew, now that I got that out, let me now profess my love for everything about their menu.  My wife and I stumbled upon Penca on a Friday night  ( we were not drunk, yet), and were able to sit at their bar, which was actually kinda nice, watching the kitchen work.  We ordered basically the following:- Fresh chicharron, which were out OF THIS WORLD!  I mean I love pork, and its skin, so fresh chicharron still hot, with a bit of hot sauce is beyond heaven.  HEAVEN!!!! So good, I ordered a second batch near the end of dinner.  Let my inner fat kid fly....- Serrano Diablos or something like that.  Basically pickled onions married with some freshly charred serrano peppers, and thats it.  You are literally eating peppers. Hot, delicious, intense peppers.  You feel these the next day, and it's great!- Bone Marrow...I was shocked to see this on the menu.  Fresh marrow, with basically a a chimichurri and tortillas.  Talk about flavor explosion. - Tacos...carnitas and beef.  Both really solid.  Excellent tortillas, flavor of meat, and cabbage.  Every single dish, was cared for.  Well thought out, wonderfully executed, and worth the price.  The atmosphere was a bit "hipster" for me, but honestly, with food this good, I couldn't care less.I will be back... More...

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Stu W.

2 May 2014

Can't say enough about this place.  Great atmosphere - a little darker and rustic.  White sangria pitcher was a fantastic starter for our group.  I did the elote (mexican corn on the cob with crema and spices), pozole, and ceviche.  Ceviche and corn were amazing, and the pozole was pretty good.  Their salsa is on point, as is their queso fundido (sp?) More...

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Marie A.

27 April 2014

I've been to penca before for a late night dessert and coffee and loved the atmosphere.  The big windows make it feel airy and open. I also feel like it has a some-what romantic vibe. This time we went for happy hour. They have delicious food options and drink options on the happy hour menu. My husband had $5 carne asada tacos and I had the pazole. We shared queso fundido. All were tasty! We had stopped in their randomly during a bike ride. The server was tentative and kind. The food came out super fast. The atmosphere was just what we were looking for; laid back and welcoming. This met our needs perfectly. However, we found it surprisingly loud for mid-day happy hour. But it didn't really bother us. All around good experience. More...

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Jason T.

22 April 2014

I really liked this place.  The salsa is fresh and made there.  I had the Swordfish cevice and the pieces were tender and flavorful, my favorite thing there.  Also had the Turkey mole.  The sauce was delicious, but i wished it were chicken and not turkey.  Either way it was enjoyable and the ambiance was fun and creative. More...

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Kathreen A.

19 April 2014

I can only say amazing things about this place! My boyfriend and I are on vacation in Arizona and needed a place to eat. Not knowing anything about this area we decided to resort to yelp and find something that people loved. All the reviews on here are perfect. This place is absolutely amazing! The food was great. Didn't think we'd find this place in the middle of nowhere. Tacos were delicious and drinks are on point. I tried the sangria rosa and that definitely something I couldn't get enough of. The perfect flavors blended together.  We have one more day left here and we're already talking about making this a stop before we leave. More...

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Chris R.

19 April 2014

Excellent experience. Stephanie was our server at the bar. We ordered the bone marrow, sword fish ceviche, farmers salad and cicharrones. Everything was cooked to perfection. Cicharrones were still popping. The salad had a pork vinegarette that was unbelievable. Service was attentive and knowledgable. Wine list was short but solid. This is a definite downtown must eat!! More...

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Caroline H.

13 April 2014

I've been to Penca about 5 times now. I always leave happy, but I also always have a quibble or two. First, the positives: everyone is enthusiastic about what they're doing at Penca. The drinks are amazing and the care involved shows. The chips make any notion of me sticking to low carb fly out the window because they are to die for. The tortillas, chicharrones, queso fundido and ceviche make me a very happy lady. If you go and stick to appetizers and drinks, you cannot go wrong. But, if you order the taco entree, prepare to be a bit disappointed by the sides. So far, I've had the poblano rice, the roasted onions, the beans and the squash. All were a mediocre afterthought. The beans took al dente too far into the slightly tough, chalky territory. The squash was mushy and bland. The "roasted green onions" had a single char mark on them for show but other than that were essentially raw. The poblano rice was mushy, boring, bland and uninspired. You can do better than that, guys. Especially considering so many OTHER things are so, so right (I dream about those chicharrones and tepache). It's a fun place to take guests form out of town, ESPECIALLY at happy hour where you can get all of the impressive appetizers and drinks at an excellent price.I hope that Penca steps up their game on the sides, though. Then they would truly deserve five stars. More...

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Thalia F.

12 April 2014

That 5 star rating is for the cocktails! Yum! Great bartenders here! My bf's favorite drink in Tucson (besides the usual martinis and IPAs) is the winter collins. Yum! Today I had the two taco plato with cabeza and nopales. Fresh made corn tortillas and great pickled veggies! I ordered a drink which I can't remember the name of, it was good and I'm bummed that I can't remember. Delish! My bf had the pork hash and loved it. This a great little place with decor from an old glass factory. Tons of personality, great drinks, a good location (we parked on Stone) and no sign out in front so it feels kind of like some sort of secret. Our waitress was patient and very friendly. The bus boy kept our water glasses full. I have no complaints about Penca and recommend giving it a try! More...

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Blaine L.

3 April 2014

Wow. That was incredible. Best lunch I've had in a month. Try their tacos - fish and veggie

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Melissa H.

4 March 2014

This restaurant has an amazing wine list- the best I have seen in Tucson.  Their thoughtful wine list features sustainably farmed and off-the-beaten path picks and I really appreciate the good representation of mezcals on their menu.  Service was warm and friendly and the food was delicious.  Their chile en nogada was the winner of the night.  But we enjoyed everything we were served.  Thank you, guys! More...

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Rveranes

3 March 2014

Great food and sipping Tequilas. I've been to Penca twice and both times thought the food was excellent. The menu is revised regularly (I understand) and is very tasty, upscale, Mexican oriented. But not a typical Mexican restaurant. They also offer tequilas and mescals for sipping. Their mescal is out of this world tasty. You can order a sipping series of tequilas and mescals. The kind of restaurant you can bring out-of-town guests and won't be disappointed. More...

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Leah B.

3 March 2014

I really enjoyed Penca. We were able to make reservation on Valentine's Day and had the prix fix menu with cocktail pairings. We started with a small but decent cheese place. From there, my husband had the coconut soup and I had the salad. I tasted and liked both, but he disagreed. Then for our entrees, I had the fish which was excellent. However, the lamb my husband ordered was served cold. As you can see, I was pretty happy....him, not so much. The wine pairings with the entrees were great (and I am snobby on my wine pairings). I had the pinot noir and had the cab-excellent. Desert was average. Even though it was v-day, I thought the service was pretty good considering how busy they were. I will be back for dinner and wine! More...

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Rami C.

24 February 2014

Been there three times already and the food is consistently good, especially the freshly made soft tacos. Order the red sangria, one of the better sangrias I have ever had. A favorite restaurant of ours in downtown Tucson. More...

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James T.

9 February 2014