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Tucson, AZ


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We had a great time in Tucson. I can certainly recommend it for a long weekend! There's some good-great food and ah-mazing scenery!

If you're going to have dinner at Chef Alisah's Restaurant, make sure you a) get the surprise platter and b ) have a fridge in your hotel room. They really won't tell you what's in the surprise platter but the answer is, a LOT of nearly everything! I'd never had Bosnian food before and the only truly new taste was the spiced beef sausages; the platter was loaded with excellent and plentiful familiar Mediterranean-ish favorites: two types beef sausages, lamb, chicken breasts and sausages, gyro meat, grilled tomatoes, butter rice, regular rice, thick pita-ish bread, stuffed grape leaves, and a cabbage salad. The star was the simply grilled eggplant - those perfectly grilled and seasoned slices were the only item we actually finished. Everything was good but the sausages, in particular, were wonderful. The restaurant is run by an extremely hardworking family. The dad-chef worked something like a thousand days straight to launch the business. The room is Very Purple and mostly otherwise spare, except for some Bosnian decorations. Go! And bring a group :)

I went to Beyond Bread every morning for breakfast for some excellent pastries and breads. My favorite was the cranberry-white chocolate scone. Everyone there looks so relaxed and happy, and they also have free wi-fi. I didn't have one, but the sandwiches (breakfast and lunch) looked excellent. When I inquired about the ingredients of a particular item, the girl at the register printed out an ingredient list (which also noted whether the item was gluten-free!) in a jiffy.

There's quite a selection of tamales at Tucson Tamale Company, and I very much enjoyed my chicken and pork tamales with green sauce. The space is long and narrow, decorated in cheery colors, and you can watch the cooks at work building your tamales. There's also a nice patio out back. The guy in front of me ordered a case!

We had a group dinner at Wildflower, which is a pretty space with high ceilings and a semi-enclosed front patio. It's a nice enough restaurant with something for everyone, and one person loved his short-rib dish, but a couple of us were underwhelmed by the pastas (gnocchi and pappardelle) - the ingredients were fresh and the presentation quite lovely but neither of those dishes gelled for us, flavor-wise. The service, however, was excellent, friendly and professional. It's a nice place to bring a picky group.

We grabbed a quick lunch at Ceedee Jamaican Kitchen before a run to the airport. It was easy because a lot of the stews/curries are kept on a steam table. Their brown chicken stew is a little sweeter than others I've had in the past, but very dark, rich, and flavorful. We skipped the patties because those are cooked to order and would have taken too long, but would have tried them if we had the time!

We mostly hiked for entertainment, hitting Sabino Canyon, both sides of Saguaro National Park (west is prettier!! Normal cars can make it across the unpaved road with little difficulty), and the Arizona-Sonara Desert Museum. Your National Parks pass will work both at Saguaro and Sabino Canyon, as the latter is a national recreation area. If you're short for time or want to take in the whole canyon before hiking, the tram goes all the way up Sabino Canyon and makes periodic stops along the way. The Desert Museum can take a whole day, especially if you go to all the animal shows. The raptor free flight show is particularly amazing. I wish I'd arrived early enough to go to both of the daily showings!

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