We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Pre Theater Show Dining”
Review of Penca

Penca
Order Online
Ranked #83 of 2,371 Restaurants in Tucson
Cuisines: Mexican
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

Came on a Tuesday nite w/ a reservation. Seated by the window which apparently means you are served by the bartender. Wine by the glass is OK but overpriced. Three standard menu entrees of interest were not available. Shared a beet salad that was terrific but entrees came out cold & unimaginative. Bartender / server was busy so no one followed up on our meal. Never once were we asked about our meal. Very disappointed as prior visits were quite good. Probably won’t bother to return. Too many better, more consistent dining options in Tucson.

Date of visit: January 2020
Thank 35rscoleman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a reviewReviews (279)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Language

6 - 10 of 279 reviews

Reviewed January 6, 2020 via mobile

We wanted to love Penca because the idea of it is just so cool. It is in a beautiful old building that has been perfectly restored to an industrial vibe. It has a really exciting sounding menu, except that the chef had just changed the menu (rotates about quarterly now, says the staff), so none of the dishes I wanted were available any more. Of the items that were available, the tacos were the best—we had the steak and the nopales—and they were expertly prepared. But the rest of the meal was just strange. Cold esquites and we are used to hot. A Chile relleno that was so spicy it was inedible (they comped this meal, which was generous as we did try to pass it around and eat it). Mole tasting plate with blue corn tortillas that was mostly just bland salsas. Margaritas that were perfect, but served in glasses so full of ice as to be annoying. And, for dessert, churros that tasted like they were made from the Belgian waffle batter at the Holiday Inn Express out on I-10. They were big, puffy, twisty things that were really tasty, just not really churros. We told the staff we were disappointed and they were kind in accepting our critiques. My advice? Go when the stakes are not too high and help these folks get better! They are on the right track, but just need practice and input from a community that cares about having restaurants willing to serve unique Mexican food.

Date of visit: January 2020
1  Thank ManitouMom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 22, 2019

We finally got to try Penca today for lunch. All both my wife and I could say is "amazing!".

Very different from your typical Sonoran food (not to knock Sonoran). I had the skirt steak tacos. Outstanding! Fresh, well cooked steak, and tortillas that were hand made and very fresh.

My wife had a braised turkey and a mushroom taco (you CAN mix and match) and she raved about them.

And don't forget to order the guac and salsa. Their guac is outstanding and the salsa's are very tasty and fresh.

We will be back soon!

Date of visit: December 2019
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Sherpa728157
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2019 via mobile

One of the best happy hours in the downtown area (think delicious tacos and a large variety) plus the single best sangria (get the Grenache) in town. We come here often just for that sangria!! The food is also very good and always a casual upscale atmosphere. It's hard to be unique in Tucson with a Mexican restaurant but they manage it well here.

Date of visit: November 2019
Thank Susan K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 7, 2019

My wife and I attended Penca's Happy Hour on Sunday, Oct. 6th about 4pm. Their HH goes from 3-5pm on Sundays. Rustic atmosphere with appropriate Mexican music; it put us in the mood. We started off with the elote dish which was excellent. Followed that with the seafood toastada which was very good. My wife then ordered the 2 tacos--one with lengua and one with Baja rock fish; she said they were both excellent. I ordered the scallop dish with squid ink which I liked but it was a bit too "picante" for me; a good dish, but I'd probably have something different on the next visit. Their house margarita made with a quality mezcal is excellent--you have to ask for the mezcal. For dessert, we had the churros and chocolate--delicious! A very relaxing HH with very good food. We would return.

Date of visit: October 2019
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
Thank miles c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Been to Penca? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing