Now Open: Umi Star
When you walk through the doors of the new Umi Star restaurant at 2502 N. Campbell Ave., you'll see what appear to be metallic sea urchins stuck to a long blue wall. Further investigation shows light fixtures made from repurposed stage lights, tables fashioned from big hunks of pine, and quirky signs with humorous messages throughout the restaurant. Then you get to the food, and all of that slick interior design pales in comparison. Tucson has long needed a new, exciting restaurant, and Umi Star is the place, with crazy sushi creations, exotic tacos and hot dogs, and a cocktail list that is sure to become one of the best in the city. You've stolen my heart, Umi Star.
North Goes for a More-Casual Vibe
What used to be NoRTH Modern Italian Cuisine in La Encantada, 2995 E. Skyline Drive, is now North Fattoria Italiana. The people from Fox Restaurant Concepts, which owns and operates the restaurant, say the new place is a "complete departure" from what was happening there previously, although it obviously still resides in the Italian-dining category. Expect wood-fired pizzas, pasta, a salumi-slicing station, sandwiches and a more-casual vibe than what was found at NoRTH. It opened last week. Find more over at foxrc.com.
The good people from food-truck MaFooCo put out a notice last week to let Tucson know they're back. This is great news for those of us who despaired when the truck suddenly closed after being open for just more than three months, leaving a huge gap in Tucson's burgeoning fusion-food scene. If you've yet to discover how well Korean and Mexican flavors go together, MaFooCo will give you a crash course. Think kimchi quesadillas, fried-rice burritos and Korean-style tacos. Find MaFooCo on Facebook for location information and other updates.
Wild Garlic Grill Coming
We've started hearing whispers of a new restaurant that's setting up shop in the building at 2530 N. First Ave. formerly occupied by the short-lived Three and a Half Brothers Café. A liquor-license application has been submitted for that address under the name Wild Garlic Grill. We'll be back with an update when we learn more.
Closed: Panda Buffet
Panda Buffet and Sushi, which opened in 2010 at 2419 E. Broadway Blvd., has closed.