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    Post #1 - February 14th, 2011, 5:47 pm
    Post #1 - February 14th, 2011, 5:47 pm Post #1 - February 14th, 2011, 5:47 pm
    Tucson

    Years ago, there was a discussion of Arizona cuisine that was basically about pizza.

    I may be headed to Tucson in a few weeks, and I’d be more interested in some specialty restaurants and regional specialties that may be less common in Chicago.

    My current list of places and things I might want to check out:

    • El Charro: birthplace (or so they claim) of the Chimichanga. There are few Tex-Mex places in Chicago, so that’s a point of interest
    • Mesquite flour: new one on me – sounds like something people use mostly at home
    • Fry bread or some other Native American stuff that’s not usually found in Chicago (except maybe at the annual pow wow, which is the only place I’ve had fry bread before).
    • And, of course, the Sonoran Hot Dog

    I’m less interested in “fine dining.” White table cloth places are okay, but I find that many feel so much like one another and are ultimately kind of boring.

    I’m way open to other suggestions. Anyone know of any places around Tucson that serve food that’s relatively specific to the area (or that are under-represented in Chicago)?
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #2 - February 14th, 2011, 10:52 pm
    Post #2 - February 14th, 2011, 10:52 pm Post #2 - February 14th, 2011, 10:52 pm
    David -- I have no restaurant/food recommendations. But if you have the time -- definitely go visit the Desert Museum. It's an amazing, wonderful place. It's located in proximity to the Saguaro National Park, which is a very beautiful and eerie place.

    Sorry to get off topic....
  • Post #3 - February 15th, 2011, 12:28 pm
    Post #3 - February 15th, 2011, 12:28 pm Post #3 - February 15th, 2011, 12:28 pm
    I was just in Tucson over the holiday season. I felt that the food we ate did not warrant a full post, but I'll divulge the details below. The geography is gorgeous down there though- I second the recommendation for The Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum. Saguaro National Park is stunning as is Sabino Canyon.

    The best thing I ate was the Sonoran hotdog at El Guero Canelo, which is the fast- foody Sonoran hotdog emporium that seems to be ground zero for the Sonoran dog. Sweet bolillo appropriately sized to the smallish probably 1/8# dog (unlike some versions around these parts). Bacon wrapped, topped with pinto beans, grilled and raw onion, tomato, mayo, mustard, and jalapeño salsa, a very nice rendition, everything playing its part in proper proportion. They had a pretty awesome condiment bar with many salsas, grilled cebollitas, jalapeños, and a variety of hot yellow chile.
    I must say that their burritos looked pretty damn good as well.
    I know that there are probably better versions of the Sonoran dog to be found at street vendors, but I was with my sometimes-vegetarian parents and they weren't up for intrepid, late night, greasy field work.

    I must say that I was bored to death with Southwestern/ Sonoran style Mexican food by the end of five days.
    The good: ubiquitous handmade flour tortillas. Burritos are a good option, often sparsely dressed with just meat, maybe beans or cheese.
    Green tamales with fresh corn incorporated into the masa are nice.

    The bad: carne seca. I thought this staple was just somewhat off tasting and I tried three versions, including El Charro's. It is dried, shredded beef that I reckon is given a run in the deep fryer. It has a somewhat confit- like consistency. To me every version I had tasted of spent oil and not so much like beef. You should try it and report back.

    The ugly: "Enchilada style" a popular style to order a burrito- analogous to our northern "wet" style, smothered in bland chile sauce and copious amounts of cheddar cheese. Menus in Tucson go out of their way to flaunt "Wisconsin" cheddar. Totally bizarre, especially considering the proximity to the border and real deal Mexican cheeses.
    We never ordered one, but a very popular appetizer offering at many restaurants was the "cheese crisp" which is an oversized deep fried flour tortilla covered in nothing more than melted cheddar.

    It is clear that a lot of our Northern, gringo-ified Taco Bell- esque Mexican fare has its roots in this cuisine, from the blankets of orange cheese to the chimichangas and hard shelled tacos.
    For my money the exemplar of this cuisine was found at El Charro. Granted, I did not sample the chimichanga and was very near tempted to try the hard shelled tacos. But, the barbacoa burrito I had was the best of the batch for the entire trip. Aggressively seasoned braised meat in a nice handmade flour tortilla, good stuff.

    Restaurants to avoid:
    Poca Cosa. This upscaled downtown spot showed some promise, with a seeming chef-driven nightly chalkboard menu. What was delivered was 2% alcohol mix- margaritas. Plates overflowing with garnishes of poorly cut and out-of- place fruits and vegetables. My carne de res en salsa de cacahuete was low rent round steak with zero character beyond chew in a both watery and greasy tomato sauce with an occasional bloated peanut surfacing from time to time. And a whole bunch of the fruit, grapes, kiwi slices, etc. also went buoyant in this swamp of a dish. Don't get me started on the "mole" that my sister ordered. Abhorrant, just awful, and insulting at $20+ a plate.

    Rosa's was straight up cheddar-ville. As gringo as it gets- packed with gringos as a matter-of-fact. So greasy my tummy hurt for 24 hours.

    Mi Nidito seemed to be a favorite, we wweren't willing to face an hour + wait the night we tried to dine there.

    Good luck! Enjoy the desert landscape, the cactuses, the warm and dry weather, and the Sonoran dogs!

    El Guero Canelo
    5201 South 12th Avenue
    Tucson, AZ 85706
    (520) 295-9005

    El Charro
    7725 North Oracle Road,
    Tucson, AZ
    (520) 229-1922

    Cafe Poca Cosa
    110 East Pennington Street,
    Tucson, AZ
    (520) 622-6400 ‎

    Rosa's
    1750 East Fort Lowell Road # 164,
    Tucson, AZ
    (520) 325-0362

    Mi Nidito
    1813 South 4th Avenue,
    Tucson, AZ
    (520) 622-5081 ‎
  • Post #4 - February 15th, 2011, 12:45 pm
    Post #4 - February 15th, 2011, 12:45 pm Post #4 - February 15th, 2011, 12:45 pm
    El Charro is pretty good. That's a hard part of the country for a visitor to find decent food in. Not much of a downtown. Lots of surburban sprawl and highways. Chain restaurant paradise!

    Good luck!
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #5 - February 15th, 2011, 12:49 pm
    Post #5 - February 15th, 2011, 12:49 pm Post #5 - February 15th, 2011, 12:49 pm
    I forgot to mention that we had a really nice night of drinking downtown at District Tavern. A surprisingly hip vibe, great jukebox, and generous pours.

    District Tavern
    260 E Congress Ave
    520.791.0082
  • Post #6 - February 15th, 2011, 1:05 pm
    Post #6 - February 15th, 2011, 1:05 pm Post #6 - February 15th, 2011, 1:05 pm
    David,

    I happen to think Tucson has some of the best Mexican food in the country! What you will find there will generally be Sonoran Mexican, not Tex-Mex (which people in that area would take as an insult).

    El Charro which you mentioned is the oldest (or one of the oldest) family owned Mexican restaurants in the country. Now it has become a bit touristy, and since they have franchised lost a little bit of quality. Stick to the original location, and you still can get a good meal there. I really like their salsa! They are famous for their carne seca (a sun dried marinated beef), but I just never really enjoyed that there. Their carne colorado chile stew is good, my wife likes the different enchiladas there, and they do have quite a few interesting things I have yet to try.

    El Charro Cafe (the original location)
    311 Court St.
    Tucson
    520-622-1922
    http://www.elcharrocafe.com

    Little Cafe Poca Cosa is my favorite place to eat in Tucson, and if it were located here would be a GNR for sure. Before you go there, you need to know several things about the place. First, it is only open from 7:30-2:30. It is a cash only business, and has no phone number. The music there is loud, and the owner (Suzana Davila) is a little gregarious (understatement alert) you may not be able to get out of there without a hug. Having said that the prices are great, the food is made fresh and has bright and colorful flavors and appearance, and they contribute to a lot of local charities. The first time I ate there, I sat down and was craning my neck to see the menu board. I asked Suzana what she recommended since it was my first time there. She just smiled and said "Let me feed you!" She asked if there was anything I don't like (so she wouldn't waste any food which is a big thing of hers) and proceeded to put together a beautiful combination plate of barbecoa, chicken mole, and a homemade tamale. She also brought me a glass of her pinapple and basil fruit drink (the different fruit drinks she makes are a must have). As an aside, while the owners of LCPC and the big Poca Cosa are sisters, LCPC is far less costly and much more interesting.

    Little Cafe Poca Cosa
    151 Stone Ave (at Stone and Alameda)
    Downtown Tucson
    http://www.littlepocacosa.com

    You had also mentioned wanting Fry bread. When I visited Mission San Xavier (just south of Tucson, and worth a visit), quite a few of the locals would set up their stands in the parking lot preparing and selling fry bread with all sorts of different fillings. If you get up to Phoenix there is also FryBread House which is an interesting experience.

    Mission San Xavier del Bac
    1950 W San Xavier Rd
    Tucson
    http://www.sanxaviermission.org

    Another family owned Mexican restaurant I enjoyed was Mi Nidito. It has been a few years since I was there, so I don't remember much about the meal except that I was brought there by a local friend and it was good.

    Mi Nidito
    1813 S 4th Ave
    Tucson
    520-622-5081
    http://www.minidito.net

    Also, as Earthlydesire indicated, the Saguaro National Park and the Desert Wildlife Museum are both worth looks. Have a great trip, I am jealous!

    Glenn
  • Post #7 - February 15th, 2011, 1:17 pm
    Post #7 - February 15th, 2011, 1:17 pm Post #7 - February 15th, 2011, 1:17 pm
    Some very helpful recs. Thanks.

    It's a shame that "Tex-Mex" is apparently a slur. Last summer, I was with some former New Mexico residents and I referred to a dish as "Tex-Mex" and they seemed kind of offended. I used to think of Tex-Mex as a neutral term for regional type of food, like Cajun, but apparently it carries some negative connotations.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #8 - February 15th, 2011, 2:10 pm
    Post #8 - February 15th, 2011, 2:10 pm Post #8 - February 15th, 2011, 2:10 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Some very helpful recs. Thanks.

    It's a shame that "Tex-Mex" is apparently a slur. Last summer, I was with some former New Mexico residents and I referred to a dish as "Tex-Mex" and they seemed kind of offended. I used to think of Tex-Mex as a neutral term for regional type of food, like Cajun, but apparently it carries some negative connotations.



    There's a big difference between Tex-Mex (gloppy cheesy pseudo Mexican dishes) and New Mexican. I can see why they would take offense.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #9 - February 15th, 2011, 2:28 pm
    Post #9 - February 15th, 2011, 2:28 pm Post #9 - February 15th, 2011, 2:28 pm
    stevez wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:Some very helpful recs. Thanks.

    It's a shame that "Tex-Mex" is apparently a slur. Last summer, I was with some former New Mexico residents and I referred to a dish as "Tex-Mex" and they seemed kind of offended. I used to think of Tex-Mex as a neutral term for regional type of food, like Cajun, but apparently it carries some negative connotations.



    There's a big difference between Tex-Mex (gloppy cheesy pseudo Mexican dishes) and New Mexican. I can see why they would take offense.


    My understanding is that Tex-Mex is not "pseudo Mexican" but rather a kind of hybrid. Burritos, chili con carne, even nachos and other Tex-Mex standards can be quite good: A Burrito to Remember.

    If the food is gloppy and cheesy, that seems a problem with execution.

    When people take offense at the term "Tex Mex," however, it's probably for exactly the reasons you stated, but that view of the food tradition seems unneccesarily narrow.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #10 - February 15th, 2011, 3:52 pm
    Post #10 - February 15th, 2011, 3:52 pm Post #10 - February 15th, 2011, 3:52 pm
    The original El Guero Canella is a Tucson must. Another place I like on the East side of Tucson is Gus Balon's. Balon's bakes in house and is locally know for their cinnamon rolls , pies and bread. They also do a mean green chille and cheese omelette!
    Time permitting you can cut out the Tex and go straight to the Mex.A few hours and a world away from Tucson thru some beautiful sceanery to Puerto Penasco, Mex.(AKA Rocky Point / Arizonas Beach!) on the Sea of Cortez.
    Abundant seafood, great taco joints, homemade fireworks, Cuban cigars ,cut-rate pharmaceauticles....Think Maxwell St. by the beach.
    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=19394&p=194959&hilit=penasco#p194959
  • Post #11 - February 15th, 2011, 3:56 pm
    Post #11 - February 15th, 2011, 3:56 pm Post #11 - February 15th, 2011, 3:56 pm
    David Hammond wrote:My understanding is that Tex-Mex is not "pseudo Mexican" but rather a kind of hybrid. Burritos, chili con carne, even nachos and other Tex-Mex standards can be quite good: A Burrito to Remember.

    If the food is gloppy and cheesy, that seems a problem with execution.

    When people take offense at the term "Tex Mex," however, it's probably for exactly the reasons you stated, but that view of the food tradition seems unneccesarily narrow.


    You are correct. Tex-Mex is its own genre. However, in terms of thinking that proper execution can make it wonderful...well, I guess you haven't spent much time in Texas.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #12 - February 15th, 2011, 5:52 pm
    Post #12 - February 15th, 2011, 5:52 pm Post #12 - February 15th, 2011, 5:52 pm
    stevez wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:My understanding is that Tex-Mex is not "pseudo Mexican" but rather a kind of hybrid. Burritos, chili con carne, even nachos and other Tex-Mex standards can be quite good: A Burrito to Remember.

    If the food is gloppy and cheesy, that seems a problem with execution.

    When people take offense at the term "Tex Mex," however, it's probably for exactly the reasons you stated, but that view of the food tradition seems unneccesarily narrow.


    You are correct. Tex-Mex is its own genre. However, in terms of thinking that proper execution can make it wonderful...well, I guess you haven't spent much time in Texas.


    No one used the word "wonderful," but I'm willing to give it a chance.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #13 - February 15th, 2011, 6:07 pm
    Post #13 - February 15th, 2011, 6:07 pm Post #13 - February 15th, 2011, 6:07 pm
    Here's a few more spots:

    Robert's -- a breakfast/lunch only. I can't clearly remember what I had, but I do remember loving it. I think they bake their bread in-house -- the rye was exceptionally good.

    Cafe 54 -- Located in downtown, I believe that Cafe 54 is open for lunch only. It's a place run in part to train and assist individuals with mental illness integrate in the community. I remember really enjoying the food. The staff at the restaurant was amazingly welcoming, too.

    Mona's -- a Danish bakery. If I lived nearby, I think I might go every day. Their "snails" are a cinnamon roll that is a little dense and a little crisp. My sister was in Tucson over the holidays and, bless her heart, she mailed me a few. Even a few days old, they were awesome.

    Cup Cafe -- Located in the old Congress Hotel downtown. I really wanted to love this place, but it was a little bit too hipster for me. Still, not a bad place for lunch if you find yourself nearby.


    Robert's Restaurant
    3301 E Grant Rd
    Tucson, AZ 85716
    (520)795 -1436

    Cafe 54
    54 E Pennington Street
    Tucson, AZ 85701
    520-622-1907

    Mona's Danish Bakery
    4777 E Sunrise Dr # 113
    Tucson, AZ (520) 579-1959

    Cup Cafe
    311 East Congress Street
    Tucson, AZ (520) 798-1618
  • Post #14 - February 15th, 2011, 6:36 pm
    Post #14 - February 15th, 2011, 6:36 pm Post #14 - February 15th, 2011, 6:36 pm
    JSM wrote:The original El Guero Canella is a Tucson must. Another place I like on the East side of Tucson is Gus Balon's. Balon's bakes in house and is locally know for their cinnamon rolls , pies and bread. They also do a mean green chille and cheese omelette!
    Time permitting you can cut out the Tex and go straight to the Mex.A few hours and a world away from Tucson thru some beautiful sceanery to Puerto Penasco, Mex.(AKA Rocky Point / Arizonas Beach!) on the Sea of Cortez.
    Abundant seafood, great taco joints, homemade fireworks, Cuban cigars ,cut-rate pharmaceauticles....Think Maxwell St. by the beach.
    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=19394&p=194959&hilit=penasco#p194959


    Hey man, thanks for chiming in. El Guero Canella is interesting (any idea what caramelos are? I doubt they're caramels).

    I remember that post of yours about Puerto Penasco -- plans are still in flux, but PP sounds worthy (as you might have guessed, the Maxwell St. ref sold me).
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #15 - February 16th, 2011, 2:04 pm
    Post #15 - February 16th, 2011, 2:04 pm Post #15 - February 16th, 2011, 2:04 pm
    Maybe too obvious a point, but one reason people in places such as Arizona, Nevada, the Inland Empire and New Mexico take offense to visitors calling the local Mexican cuisine "Tex-Mex" -- they are not in Texas.

    I love, love the early gringo-ized versions of Mexican food slung out of pink adobes around the Southwest. Many bear only a passing connection to actual Mexican food and indeed feature a lot of bright yellow cheese. Few remain. My all time fave was Gay & Larry's in Redlands, near Riverside/San Bernardino, it was all red vinyl and sombreros going back to the 40's or 50's and you could see the bloodlines linked to early Taco Bell clearly. I'd hate any newer place selling that kind of stuff. Such places are obviously distinct from Sonoran and even TexMex. And even in Texas, there are distinctions between TexMex and Texas Mexican. One of my favorite exchanges from several years back, a team of coworkers eating at a Gay & Larry's type place with the boss deferring to the youngest member of the group and asking "What part of Mexico is your family from?" Answer: "Texas." They'd been there for 150 years plus. I guess the point is, unlike Chicago where you can get a pretty clear idea what region the cook and his/her food is from, in the Southwest it's endlessly complicated and interesting as old Mexican traditions change and merge with gringo touches and new immigrants from further south in Mexico. Add to that the fact that different regions have different gringo influences (eg, German/Bohemian in TX), and it's all the more complex.
  • Post #16 - February 19th, 2011, 10:28 am
    Post #16 - February 19th, 2011, 10:28 am Post #16 - February 19th, 2011, 10:28 am
    you might enjoy the Desert Rain Cafe on the Reservation:
    http://www.wanderingnotlost.org/2011/01 ... he-people/
  • Post #17 - February 19th, 2011, 10:47 am
    Post #17 - February 19th, 2011, 10:47 am Post #17 - February 19th, 2011, 10:47 am
    bbqboy wrote:you might enjoy the Desert Rain Cafe on the Reservation:
    http://www.wanderingnotlost.org/2011/01 ... he-people/


    Tepary bean and cholla bud are exactly the kind of stuff I'd like to explore. Thx, bbqboy.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #18 - February 19th, 2011, 5:03 pm
    Post #18 - February 19th, 2011, 5:03 pm Post #18 - February 19th, 2011, 5:03 pm
    Hi Dave,
    I would highly reccd. reading the Sonoran-Style Hot Dog posting already on this section.....
    viewtopic.php?f=15&t=23228&hilit=tucson
    In which I covered the Sonoran Hot Dog stand on Alvernon, called "Bettos" ( Bobby's).
    After trying one of his sublime creations,while sitting under the shade of his awning,
    on the crunchy gravel parking lot- you will find the El Guero Canelo version about as tasty
    as a 7/11 weenie is, in comparison to Hot Dougs.
    Avoid at all costs- a highly commercialized /gringoized version of a brilliant idea.

    Do try and stop at a great taqueria in "southern" Tucson called Pico de Gallo. .
    It's a very nice family owned business that serves Carne Asada, Al Pastor (grilled/not al Trompo)
    and very nice fruit cocktails w/ lime salt and Chili powder.
    Pico de Gallo
    2618 S. 6th Ave.
    Tucson, Arizona

    I found the junkyard for airplanes incredibly fascinating- it's where old jetliners go to die....
    National Aircraft is near the Airforce Base (AMARC facility)-S.E. of Kolb Avenue- near Davis.
    Sadly, every-time I've been there- the owner hasn't(so no one else can "set" the prices)....as a result, the "Ejection Seat"
    I wanted to repurpose into a residential project- had to be left back in the desert..
    Image
    Seat by Man_of Steel, on Flickr

    North - a very nice restaurant in the hills above Tucson (where the Crate and Barrel is located) is a nice spot to go for pre-sunset cocktails, wood burning oven for tasty gourmet pizzas and antipasto salads.
    NoRTH Tucson
    2995 East Skyline Drive
    Tucson, AZ 85718
    P: 520.299.1600

    It's been a year since we last visited Tucson-so I will check with my sources for other more current updates.
  • Post #19 - March 9th, 2011, 6:03 pm
    Post #19 - March 9th, 2011, 6:03 pm Post #19 - March 9th, 2011, 6:03 pm
    We just got back from a wedding in Tucson, and while we had little opportunity to hit restaurants (dinners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday were all taken by wedding activities), we did stop for lunch one day on the groom's recommendation at La Olla, which is quite a bit north of downtown - address is Tucson but I think it's in Marana? - but not terribly far off of I-10. Also happened to be close to the couple's house, where we had been helping out with some things. Slightly different takes on Sonoran, but good stuff. We were in at lunch when they had both their regular menu and what they call a "recession buster" menu but was basically a lunch menu with smaller portions and smaller prices than the full menu. Delicious. Carnitas are done right, the calabacitas is great. I had the "La Olla Wrap" which according to the description was "Tender morsels of steak wrapped in a flour tortilla with jalapeno bacon, sautéed mushrooms, salsa freaca, avocado, cabbage slaw, and a citrus garlic aioli." I just call it delicious. Worth a stop if you find yourself to the north.

    La Olla Mexican Cafe
    8553 North Silverbell
    Tucson, AZ
    http://www.laollamexicancafe.com/
  • Post #20 - April 2nd, 2011, 9:44 am
    Post #20 - April 2nd, 2011, 9:44 am Post #20 - April 2nd, 2011, 9:44 am
    Hombre de Acero wrote:Hi Dave,
    I would highly reccd. reading the Sonoran-Style Hot Dog posting already on this section.....
    viewtopic.php?f=15&t=23228&hilit=tucson
    In which I covered the Sonoran Hot Dog stand on Alvernon, called "Bettos" ( Bobby's).
    After trying one of his sublime creations,while sitting under the shade of his awning,
    on the crunchy gravel parking lot- you will find the El Guero Canelo version about as tasty
    as a 7/11 weenie is, in comparison to Hot Dougs.

    Avoid at all costs- a highly commercialized /gringoized version of a brilliant idea.


    Oh Sweet Carol Channing's Ghost, why did I not heed the words of Hombre de Acero?!

    Because I couldn’t.

    I had to try El Guero Canelo. Ditto El Charro. Why? Because they seemed historically relevant places, and I felt the need to log experiences at both to round out my education.

    If you’ve been to the original EGC (we just drove by -- we should have taken JSM's advice and gone to that one), get a load of the new place: all the charm of a Costo .

    Image

    As I was going full dimwit with this lunch, I got the Sammie Dog, which is basically just two mediocre franks jammed into a bun, with lousy tomatoes, limp onions, mustard and mayo, no jalapeno sauce (which jefe reported having, so maybe I just got them on an off-day)
    and imperceptible bacon. (Of note: Sonoran style dogs sometimes are served in a more traditional bolillo, but as often as not they’re served in a customized hot dog bun, thicker and more capacious than a Chicago hot dog bun but not as dense as a bolillo. There seem to be several varieties of these buns floating around, some with crusts on sides, sometimes not).

    Image

    This Sammie Dog was abhorrent. A giant belly bomb of tastelessness. A complete waste of gastrointestinal real estate. Good for instructional purposes only.

    The moyete (torta buns with beans) was in many ways more satisfying, though tasting like precisely like what you’d expect, no more or less, exactly equal to the sum of its parts.

    Image

    Like the original Portillo’s in Villa Park, the owners of El Guero Canelo have created a little shrine to their empire, showcasing their first cart in the parking lot:

    Image

    Incidentally, we drove by the abandoned aircraft repository on way home – didn’t have time to stop, but it looked very cool. Next time.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #21 - April 2nd, 2011, 2:20 pm
    Post #21 - April 2nd, 2011, 2:20 pm Post #21 - April 2nd, 2011, 2:20 pm
    And if you are heading east toward Willcox, AZ on I-10, stop at Stout's Cider Mill for their 10# apple pie.

    http://www.cidermill.com/
  • Post #22 - April 4th, 2011, 9:32 pm
    Post #22 - April 4th, 2011, 9:32 pm Post #22 - April 4th, 2011, 9:32 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Oh Sweet Carol Channing's Ghost

    She's STILL not dead!
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #23 - April 12th, 2011, 6:58 pm
    Post #23 - April 12th, 2011, 6:58 pm Post #23 - April 12th, 2011, 6:58 pm
    Thanks to everyone for the recommendations, I'm about to head back to Tucson later this week and am trying to find some new places. The last time we were there we went to Vivace (Italian) and really liked it. We also went to The Grill at Hacienda del Sol and had a great brunch, and beautiful views as well.

    Vivace
    4310 N Campbell Ave
    Tucson, AZ 85718
    www.vivacetucson.com

    The Grill at Hacienda del Sol
    5601 N. Hacienda del Sol Rd.
    Tucson, AZ 85718

    I should note that I also recommend Cafe Poca Cosa (both little and big).
    It is VERY important to be smart when you're doing something stupid

    - Chris

    http://stavewoodworking.com
  • Post #24 - February 2nd, 2012, 6:54 pm
    Post #24 - February 2nd, 2012, 6:54 pm Post #24 - February 2nd, 2012, 6:54 pm
    JSM wrote:The original El Guero Canella is a Tucson must.
    agreed, but if one just can't get down to EGC, BK will do.
    glennpan wrote:El Charro .... They are famous for their carne seca (a sun dried marinated beef), but I just never really enjoyed that there.
    (bolding mine) agreed, the carne seca sounds so promising, the description from their menu reads: A deliciously grande ½ pound portion of our World Famous El Charro Carne Seca. Dried in the Sonoran desert sun, our marinated lean Angus beef is shredded & flash-grilled with green chile, tomato & onions. Served with guacamole, Pico de Charro salsa, arroz & frijoles refritos or Charros, and handmade flour or corn tortillas, Sounds great doesn't it??!!, It was only ok.

    There are a number of taco trucks to the south near the airport, I tried a multitude of items, don't think I had a bad experience, loved them all.

    We really enjoyed Inca's Peruvian Cuisine http://www.incascuisine.com/ this place we didn't think much of as well pulled up, it knocked our socks off, here is the Tucson Weekly review www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/incas-peruv ... id=1909786
    Hombre de Acero wrote:I found the junkyard for airplanes incredibly fascinating- it's where old jetliners go to die....
    we were never able to make it there, yet! I've only heard good things. Same with the Pima Air & Space museum: www.pimaair.org

    Some other activities we enjoyed while in Tucson

    driving to top of Mount Lemmon, yes one can drive all the way to the top: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lemmon
    Titan Missle Silo Museum, a very neat tour: http://www.titanmissilemuseum.org/
    Sabino Canyon, a tram can take you near the top so it is easy to walk down (or take the tram back down): http://www.sabinocanyon.com/

    The town of Tubac is about an hour south of Tucson and is an easy drive, LOTS of arts/crafts at great prices, some very neat stores,
    make sure to dine (we went for lunch) in the Tubac Golf Resort, very old place, great atmosphere http://www.tubacgolfresort.com/
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #25 - February 4th, 2012, 10:29 pm
    Post #25 - February 4th, 2012, 10:29 pm Post #25 - February 4th, 2012, 10:29 pm
    A really cool restaurant in Tuscon is on Mission Rd. which used to be the old bypass between the Nogales highway and the highway heading out west to Phoenix in the pre Interstate days. One of the few remaining remnants of the old tourist route is the Karichimaka Restaurant. It looks like something straight out of a 1950 Holiday magazine. A total southwestern timewarp. It is run by a Japanese and Mexican Family who have 5 generations working there. It is not uncommon to have a waitress cradling a baby while taking your order. The place specializes in Sonoran cuisine (and cheap pitchers of beer). They also have some dishes unique to their restaurant which usually feature huge homeade flour tortillas in a variety of configurations. The place is always packed with locals who seem to know each member of the family by name. There may be a little wait to get seated, but it is worth it.

    Karichimaka Restaurant
    5252 S Mission Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746
    (520) 883-0311

    Near the intersection of S Mission Rd and S Rosepine Rd
  • Post #26 - January 20th, 2019, 9:04 pm
    Post #26 - January 20th, 2019, 9:04 pm Post #26 - January 20th, 2019, 9:04 pm
    Aside from the fancy resort restaurants, Tuscon has a surprising selection of ethnic restarants. Granted, many of my faves have either closed or changed hands (like the Karichimaki restaurant above). One that has not, is Suzana Davila's Cafe Poco Cosa, which serves upscale Mexican dishes made with fresh and traditional local ingredients. The menu changes twice a day and is written on a chalkboard. The restaurant
    has been discussed elsewhere on LTH, so I won't re-review it. I just wanted to mention that it still exists and is still IMHO the best upscale Mexican/Southwestern inspired restaurant at which I have eaten, anywhere.

    CPC is just around the corner from the Congress Hotel, mentioned above by Cynthia in another thread, which actually serves some pretty decent eats. The Congress has a huge wood smoker on their massive patio which is always chugging away. Just bring your own Hickory, because wood in Arizona means Mesquite. In fact, there are several BBQ places in town, but,as far as I know, they all use Mesquite.

    Despite the number of ethnic restaurants in Tucson, they often seem to cater to local immigrant communities and many of the proprietors see an American and adjust the food accordingly. The exceptions to the rule are the mostly Sonoran and Sinaloan places in South Tucson. For some reason, Tucsonians(?) treat South Tucson like an ugly stepchild. They seem to think that it is a dangerous area (think little village) and that I am nuts to to eat from the many trucks and tents that pop-up on street corners on the weekends. There are a number of decent weekend only Birria and Pozole shacks (and I do mean shacks) along 6th and 12th streets. I would list some names and addresses, but I am not sure they have any. Just don't expect the Michoacano food we get in Chicago (think flour tortillas, pickled onions, chopped cabbage, cucumbers and radishes). They do love Habaneros though.

    There are two restaurants which serve some of the best Michoacan style carnitas I have ever had. One is on S. 6th and Ajo across from the VA hospital. It is called Carnitas la Yoca. The place is only open until 3:30 pm (wed-sun). It is a large self serve place with a cement floor and dozens of tables. It is always packed. You order carnitas from a window,and have a choice of chopped belly or pulled shoulder/butt meat (or both). There is a station with a choice of salsas, onions, cilantro, limes and other condiments. The to-go orders come packaged with a complete assortment of condiments and fluffy corn tortillas. The other place is in a tent a mile or two south of la Yoca around Park and Drexel. It is called Carnitas Michoacana and may have even better Carnitas. They do serve fresh house-made tortillas. CM has similar early hours to el Yoca. Both restaurants serve Mexican Fresca, which (unlike its American namesake) is made with sugar and real grapefruit juice and is a perfect complement to salsa laden carnitas.

    Turns out there is a fair sized Korean population on the east side of Tucson, and about a dozen Korean restaurants. None I have been to are comparable to the best in Chicago, but they definitely scratch the itch. Thanks to a Korean Lyft driver, I found out that several Korean community favorites, are disguised as Japanese Sushi places. You need to know to order off the Korean menu. There is a fairly upscale ultramodern K-BBQ restaurant, for some reason called the 7 ounce Korean Steakhouse, but I prefer the more hole in the wall places (I am a notorious tight-wad), like Wings and Rice and Kim Chee Time. The Korean places are mainly along East Speedway.

    There are also quite a few Indian, Thai and Chinese restaurants (some of which are also Korean restaurants in disguise)
    I spotted a promising looking hot pot restaurant on the north side, but was not able to muster enough people for a real hotpot meal. Now it has been renamed the Fatman Kitchen specializing in handmade Chinese noodle dishes (an improvement). Next time I am in Tucson, I will definitely try it.
    I did, however, eat lunch at an Eritrean storefront in a stripmall that was pretty decent. It was called Queen Sheba. I was solo, so I didn't sample much of the menu opting for a 7.95 lunch special. I do not know from good Eritrean food, having only Den Den with which to compare, but my lunch was very good and the proprietress/chef was lovely.

    My main complaint with Southern Arizona is the lack of decent Rye bread (or any rye for that matter), which is probably due to the lack of eastern European establishments. I finally found an excellent bakery, in Broadway Village called Barrio Bakery. They bake dozens of types of bread that rotate daily. Everything uses organic grains. many of which are unusual heirloom varieties. All the bread is baked fresh and the place closes whenever they run out. So get there early.

    The coolest place in Tucson (which is often sweltering hot) is the flea market on the Tohono O'odom/San Xavier reservation at the south edge of Tucson located south of Drexel and just west of I-19. It is the biggest flea market I have ever seen. The place is like Maxwell Street in the old days, but much larger. It is open from 5am to noon on Saturday and Sunday. There are acres of semi- permanent shacks and tents selling everything from old books, toys, furniture, electronics and jewelry to industrial air compressors and tools. There are barbershops and pet groomers. There is even a wokshop that custom makes fancy wooden doors.

    What makes this place really special (and of interest to LTH) is the many food stands, shacks and tents. You can buy all sorts of unusual Mexican, Native American, Central and South American foods from fry bread to manta ray wings. On my last trip I had excellent pupusas with Guatemalan style horchata, a slab of veal ribs which were marinated then cooked to a crisp over lump charcoal, not burnt but carmelized like beef candy, accompanied by a delicious mango and banana agua fresca. Finally, I had the best tacos al Pastor that I have ever had. There is something about a trombo cooked outside on a charcoal fired spit turned by hand. I wish I had taken a photo of the homemade contraption.

    Anyhow, I think Tucson is highly underrated from a food standpoint. You just have to look beyond the overhyped tourist destinations and fast food. For some reason, Arizonans are not the most adventurous eaters, but if you search it out and take a few risks, there is plenty of good food to be found.

    Lately I have been spending a lot of time on the Mexican border (long story). At first, all you notice is the plethora of fast food joints and chains like IHOP and Denny's. Anyhow, I have been eating a lot of food from street vendors, food trucks and grocery store hot food counters near the border in Nogales (Arizona and Sonora). To paraphrase our dear leader, there are many good foods on both sides.

    I will post some highlights from the Borderlands in this forum at a later date.


    Cafe Poca Cosa
    110 e. Pennington, Tucson
    https://cafepocacosatucson.com

    Barrio Bread
    18 S. Eastbourne, Tucson
    http://barriobread.com/bread/bread_menu.html

    Carnitas La Yoca
    3530 S. 6th St.

    Carnitas el Michoacano
    856 E Bilby

    Queen Sheba
    5553 E Grant, Tucson

    7 ounce Korean Steakhouse
    4699 E Speedway

    Wings and Rice
    5502 E Pima St.

    Kimchee Time
    2900 E Broadway

    KOGI
    4950 E Grant

    Takamatsu
    5532 E Broadway

    Fat Man Kitchen
    2601 N. 1st
  • Post #27 - January 20th, 2019, 11:07 pm
    Post #27 - January 20th, 2019, 11:07 pm Post #27 - January 20th, 2019, 11:07 pm
    d4v3 wrote:Despite the number of ethnic restaurants in Tucson, they often seem to cater to local immigrant communities and many of the proprietors see an American and adjust the food accordingly. The exceptions to the rule are the mostly Sonoran and Sinaloan places in South Tucson. For some reason, Tucsonians(?) treat South Tucson like an ugly stepchild. They seem to think that it is a dangerous area (think little village) and that I am nuts to to eat from the many trucks and tents that pop-up on street corners on the weekends. There are a number of decent weekend only Birria and Pozole shacks (and I do mean shacks) along 6th and 12th streets. I would list some names and addresses, but I am not sure they have any. Just don't expect the Michoacano food we get in Chicago (think flour tortillas, pickled onions, chopped cabbage, cucumbers and radishes). They do love Habaneros though.


    You mean like many in Chicago who say the same thing about the Southside of Chicago? I agree with you completely. Most of the people who bad mouth South Tucson have not spent much time there. Personally, I think that many of the best restaurants in Tucson are in South Tucson. Many of them are in the corridor along 12 Avenue between Ajo and Valencia. There are also a good number of places along 6th Ave. between the VA hospital and the Rodeo Grounds.


    d4v3 wrote:My main complaint with Southern Arizona is the lack of decent Rye bread (or any rye for that matter), which is probably due to the lack of eastern European establishments. I finally found an excellent bakery, in Broadway Village called Barrio Bakery. They bake dozens of types of bread that rotate daily. Everything uses organic grains. many of which are unusual heirloom varieties. All the bread is baked fresh and the place closes whenever they run out. So get there early.

    [/quote]

    I disagree. There is a small chain called Beyond Bread that sells several varieties of rye bread all of which are pretty good. Also, Fry's (Kroger's) sells a number of rye breads in SOME of their locations in Tucson (not the locations in South Tucson). I would attribute this as a decision made in Cincinnati rather than in Arizona as the rye bread does NOT sell well in this market. And if all else fails, we head to the Orowheat outlet as they have a decent rye bread as well as one that is produced solely for restaurants. By the way, it took me about a year living in this area before I realized that you could buy Rye bread in Tucson.

    Wings and Rice is one very unusual restaurant and was one that I avoided for a while. The menu combinations were unusual and I could not determine exactly what their forte was. However, I have had their Kalbi platter and their Katsu plate and the food has been excellent. Their hibachi fried rice is unlike any fried rice that I have ever had but it was a pleasant surprise with its mayonnaise-based sauce.

    Takamatsu is a really unusual place. Is it a buffet? a Korean restaurant? a sushi placer? I am not exactly sure other than you choose what you are going to eat when you walk in and they seat you in different areas. All their food is quite excellent.
    ======================

    Talking about unusual places, one of my favorite places has been Buffalo Bells Wings. I generally order their 12 wing special (Frank's Hot Sauce) with beans and rice and served with carrot sticks and ranch dressing. For the quantity and quality, it is a great deal for $10.49

    Buffalo Bell
    3756 S 6th Ave
    Tucson, AZ 85713

    Beyond Bread
    3024 North Campbell Avenue
    Tucson, Arizona 85719

    6260 East Speedway Boulevard
    Tucson, Arizona 85712

    421 West Ina Road
    Tucson, Arizona 85704
    https://www.beyondbread.com/bakery/bread/

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