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Martin's Comida Chingona - Badass Eatery Serves Up Authentic Mexican Meals on 4th Avenue




By Kevin Thomas


TUCSON, Ariz. – Standing out on Fourth Avenue is a tall task. Whether it is a lively mural, a gigantic stone head inside of a loud bar, or live music, there is something eye-catching on the bustling street at every glance.

Martin’s Comida Chingona, located at 557 N 4th Ave., not only stands out amongst the crowd with its dishes, but its vibrant luchador decor fits in nicely alongside the rest of Historic Fourth Avenue.

Martin’s is open Tuesday through Sunday. Opening at 10:30 a.m. (10:09 a.m. on Sunday) and closing in the middle of the day at 2:00 p.m. Martin’s does not reopen for the afternoon on Sundays, but Monday through Thursday Martin's reopens for dinner at 5:00 p.m. and closes at 9:00 p.m. (10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.) Parking on the street is available nearby.

Authentic and freshly made Mexican food for a fair price without reservations. Customers can expect to pay anywhere in the range of $10-20 for their meal of one entree and a drink. The tacos are $3-3.25 each. The burritos cost $10.75-12.00, and the silky-sweet horchata cost $3.00.


 

The inside of Martin Fuentes’ fast-casual style eatery draws upon a long-storied culture of regular men putting on masks and becoming extraordinary high-flying entertainers. Like the Luchadors in the ring, when Martin puts on his apron, he turns ordinary ingredients into extraordinary dishes.

Since 2001, Martin has welcomed diners into his establishment, making sure to greet each customer in his restaurant as though they are family. Not afraid to crack jokes and make diners feel comfortable.

“This place don’t open without me, bro,” Fuentes said when asked if he would be opening the restaurant himself the following day.

Martin’s Comida Chingonga cultivates a family atmosphere where anyone is welcome, and everyone is made to feel at home. Fuentes can be seen confidently moving around the restaurant, checking and waiting on every table, making small talk, ensuring everyone is comfortable and enjoying their meal.

Fuentes has tried leaving management in the hands of others but experienced generally unsatisfactory results. “Anytime you see a business and the owner is there, running it, it’s a good business,” Fuentes said. To Fuentes, being present when running a restaurant is important to the success of the venture.


 

Once inside, seating features the option to be sat down either outside at a patio table or inside the intimate dining room, covered wall-to-wall in hand-painted art and bold displays. The adventurous decor and Christmas lights offset the generally darker color of the walls and furnishings.

After being seated, diners are given a basket of tortilla chips topped with mayocoba beans. Martin’s chips have a great texture—a satisfying and airy bite. The smooth texture of the beans interacts well with the crunch of the perfectly salted chips. A salsa verde with a pleasant kick and a noticeable depth of flavor is also provided.


(Photograph by Kevin Thomas. Chips with Mayocoba beans at Martins Comida Chingona on 4th Avenue in Tucson, Ariz., on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023)


Drinks such as horchata and tamarindo are also offered. “Don’t forget to stir!” Fuentes can be heard reminding customers who ordered the horchata.

Martin’s Comida Chingona roughly translates to “Martin’s badass food.” Martin can be heard explaining to curious patrons that Chingona is usually used for emphasis and is technically a curse word, similar to “bitchin’.”

The taco plate features three tacos of the patron's choice. Tacos can be served on corn or flour tortillas. Martin’s Comida Chingona offers a wider variety of filling options than most local restaurants, with unique options, including Chikin-Itza (Jackfruit in achiote sauce), chicken mole, and even the “jamaica” (hibiscus with portobello and red onion). Carnitas is also offered; however, it is not listed on the menu.

The chicken mole taco is a must-try. Rich flavors are present throughout every bite. It's a nice balance of hearty and light flavors. The mole’s spiced sweetness was cut by the fresh texture and taste of the cabbage, carrots, and cilantro that topped all three tacos.

The fish taco uses a cut of tilapia that is tenderized using milk and then grilled. “Nothing here is ever frozen,” Fuentes said to patrons. The generous portion of tilapia sits on top of some spinach. The spinach shines through due to its slightly bitter taste, amplifying the fish's taste. The taco is a lighter option between carnitas and chicken mole tacos.

Tender and well-marinated, the carnitas were savory with a slight tang that provided an added layer of flavor. Another generous serving of protein atop a corn tortilla made for a complete taco experience.


(Photograph by Kevin Thomas. Pinches Taco at Martins Comida Chingona on 4th Avenue in Tucson, Ariz., on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Plate features Chicken mole, carnitas, and fish tacos.)


Martins Comdia Chingona also serves up impressively sized burritos filled with Spanish rice, mayocoba beans, and cheese. Options for filling include, but are not limited to, veggie and chicken mole, jackfruit, and carne verde. The massive burros are truly enough for two flavorful servings. The tortilla is the perfect thickness and texture to keep the burrito intact and prevent a messy experience.



(Photograph by Kevin Thomas. Carne Verde burrito at Martins Comida Chingona on 4th Avenue in Tucson, Ariz., on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023)



 

The patrons of Martin’s Comida Chingona felt at home inside the Fourth Avenue standout. “I think I’ll get a burrito and just ask Martin what he wants to do,” A patron said to their table. Martin is an open book when it comes to talking about his menu and his recommendations.

The time that Fuentes spends at each table can cause some lag between service when the restaurant becomes busy. A tip for getting the most out of your experience would be to arrive within two hours of opening to beat others to the attention-grabbing homestyle restaurant.

Diners can watch as people walking down the street stop and notice the bright lights and decorations of Martin’s longstanding restaurant. Seeing, stopping, and starting to get hungry, then slowly filling the dining room. The experience that Martin’s Comida Chingona provided can be hard to find nowadays, going out to eat and still feeling right at home.


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