Back In Town
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
A poster asked a week or so ago for my recommendations of good restaurants in Tucson. So below is my very subjective list based on 10 springs in the Old Pueblo.
You cannot go wrong with any of the Metro restaurants (think Lettuce) like Old Pueblo Grille (southwest, corner of Broadway and Alvernon, not far from Hi Corbett), City Grill (Tanque Verde), Firecracker (Pan-Asian, at Swan and Ft. Lowell) or McMahon’s (steak, across from Firecracker).
Up in the foothills a popular place is Piazza Gavi (Sunrise and Kolb) for the best Italian, Risky Business (same general locale) for good bar food. Over near La Paloma, you can find Janos (at the Westin), Café Terra Cotta (a personal favorite), Fleming’s (West Coast steak chain). At the corner of Campbell and Sunrise (near where I live), there is North, Ra and a couple of others I can’t remember as I sit on the plane. Nearby is Anthony’s (I think you need a jacket) and Soleil, where I am planning to take my wife when she arrives later this month.
At the corner of Campbell and River, (south of Sunrise), there is Bistro Zinc, Sullivan’s (yes, the Chicago favorite) and P.F. Chang’s.
Lots of our players and staff like Sushi, but I am from Iowa, so inherently I don’t like Sushi. We cook anything that comes out of the Mississippi. You are on your own when it comes to Tucson Sushi.
Some other popular spots around Tucson include:
Daisy Mae’s … very casual but a steak/rib place near Starr Pass.
Lil’ Abners … Ed Farmer swears it’s the best rib place in the country (and you should see him down a rack of ribs).
Sakura … my family has already voted to head to this Teppan Yaki/Sushi place on their first night in town (on Tanque Verdi)
Fox & Hound … (located NE near the Foothills Mall) for those of you looking for a good place to watch NCAA Basketball
Champions … (I think that is the name, located near 22nd and Campbell near the U of A) has a great bar and nice menu.
Re-reading this list, you must wonder if I do anything but eat while in Tucson (well, you know I do golf). But take 45 x 10 = 450 nights of my life spent in Tucson. And some springs, I never even open the oven in my apartment. In spring training 1995, Dan Evans and I roomed together in Sarasota. That was the year to two spring trainings, one with replacement players, one with the regular guys, and Dan always joked that we did not cook a single meal.
While I am on the Tucson topic, here are a few non-baseball things you could consider while in the city…
Visit Sabino Canyon, Saguero National Forest (it’s Cactii, not trees), drive to the top of Mt. Lemmon or any of the other outdoor options that are so great. Watch for rattlesnakes (when it gets warmer) and Mountain Lions. On the Mountain Lion point, I read somewhere that if you see one, make yourself as tall and as loud as you can, place small children on your head, etc. Whatever you do, do not run (something about triggering a chase instinct and you ain’t gonna outrun one, guys). Someone else told me not to worry. By the time you see it, it is way too late. These things are apex stalkers. (Editor’s Note: Remember I live in Chicago. Don’t take wildlife advice from me very seriously).
So my kids posed around a big orange sign last spring that read: “Warning: Be Alert for Mountain Lions” or something like that. We made it into a holiday card and sent it to the grand parents. They sure loved seeing their progeny placed at risk in the wild.
A Connecticut cousin (all due respect to Mr. Twain) visited us last year and the kids, ages 6, 9, 11, 13 and 15 set out down a Sabino trail to “find a rattlesnake.” We figured what were the chances? Well, pretty good. About 10 steps down the path, there was a snake, minding its own business, curled under a tree/bush. You should have seen those kids scamper back up the trail. The biggest one was shoving his loving little cousins aside in his effort to escape the snake. It was Survivor writ large.
OK, re-reading this section (and I hope my wife does not), I realize you must think we are terrible parents. Please assume I have exaggerated some of this for effect, call it fictionalized non-fiction. But they did see a snake.
So there’s some of the other fun stuff you can do with your family and toddlers in Tucson.
No really, some of the other cool stuff is… Pima Air Museum (near the ballpark, military planes of all kinds, even the Air Force 1 Johnson was sworn in on), Zoo at Reid Park (right by Rockies ballpark), The Desert Museum (really a Zoo, this place is great. Make sure you take Gates Pass Road to get over to it), Old Tucson, Kitt Peak (an hour away), and there is a cave to the east of town that is worth the trip out (bank robbers used to hide out, lots of bats, lots of bat guano … my nine-year-old loved it).
Finally, the U of A offers great options. Their sports teams are fun and there is always something happening on campus or in the artsy area around the campus.
I am sure I have omitted much and maybe have made some mistakes in this info. Anyone who has visited or who lives in Tucson, please add to this entry or correct the record.
Special thanks to Kevin Buzard, who I understand is encouraging his MySpace friends to visit this blog. Appreciate the added readership, Buzz. Thanks.