Since we’re still waiting on travel (aka simultaneously dismantling and repairing our house, for example), I figured I’d take the time to write about one of my favorite things – local food! In this particular case, I mean some delicious spots we’ve luckily discovered just before we leave. Hey, they’ve been on my mind. And taste buds. Mmm.
Prep & Pastry
This awesome brunch restaurant happens to be right near us, and very easy walking distance from our lovely friend Megan, so it’s quite baffling we haven’t gone there with her yet. Right next to Native Seed, it seems to attract an even mix of well-dressed foothills-y sort of families (aka WASP-y) and exquisitely hipster college students.
We’ve only sat on the frame-shaded patio so far, which can be sunny but makes for a pleasant brunch. I’ve tried a few different things, including an alright medianoche, but my favorite by far has been the breakfast poutine. a giant pile of fries smothered in duck fat gravy mixed with pork belly and cheese curds, topped off with two over-easy eggs. It’s glorious, especially with a generous helping of their pepper sauce on the side, but you do admittedly go into a one or two day food coma afterwards.
Bonnie, of course, has taken a relatively healthier route. She’s enjoyed a veggie benedict made with zucchini, carrot hollandaise, and hominy succotash, though she seems to prefer the sweet potato hash, which comes with over easy eggs and bits of corn, bell pepper, shallot, and asparagus, all topped with a tasty herbed mousse. My next goal: try their absurdly large donuts. I just want to know why they’re so tall.
This funky little taco shop is a bit more low-key and is right at the heart of Tucson’s revitalized downtown. With its super-affordable tacos and late night hours, it’s perfectly situated to take advantage of the towering student housing it’s nestled amongst. I’m just startled that the prices are as low as they are given the fancy ingredient combinations.
There’s duck with blood orange segments, cilantro, lime cream and cherry-chocolate mole sauce. The oddly named Fishy Pig is fish wrapped in bacon with avocado, southwest-style corn and pickled onions, and there’s also one with brown sugar and vinegar braised pork, fresh watermelon and pickled rind, all topped with celery seed slaw. Our mutual favorite so far, though, is their main vegetarian option: a startlingly savory mix of melty cheese with butternut and chayote squash and smoked fresno chili, wrapped up in a big, thin slice of beet.
Also: if you go late enough at night, you can clearly see the go-go dancers at the almost open air Hi Fi across the street without having to wait in line and then suffer the mob of dudebros and raucous sorority girls that fill the place to overflowing.
To my chagrin, I only discovered this food truck after driving past it for practically a year while driving from one job to another. When I finally gave in and tried it, I kicked myself for not having done that sooner.
I’ve actually tried most of the items on their small menu (which is luckily nicely cheap), enough that I think I’ve actually become a ‘regular’ for the first time and gotten a free drink out of it. I can’t get enough of the combination of freshly made baguette, velvety butter, crunchy daikon pickle and spicy bursts of jalapeno. Main ingredients include the unsettlingly named “shaky beef” (it has to do with how it’s cooked), shrimp, and lemongrass tofu or grilled chicken.
I’ll tell you the best option, though: the “Vietnamese special sandwich” – which also happens to be the cheapest – with pork, ham, and pate along with all the usual veggies. So good. (Trust me that reference makes a million times more sense if you know the scene)
A really, really bad ode to Tucson’s trademark: the Sonoran hot dog.
Oh, you wonderful wiener tucked away in your strange boat of a bun, I feel the same affection for you as the bacon that so lovingly wraps around you.
And oh, the brightness of the chopped tomato upon thee, dancing in my mouth with sharp onions and soft beans to the smooth rhythm of jalapeno sauce and mayonnaise.
And oh! Your ever-faithful sidekick, the grilled yellow pepper, that surprising firework of spice, I will be oh so melancholy to not have you for long, long months…I hardly knew ye…*sniff*