Year in Review

A year in restaurants

2013-12-26T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T10:24:28Z A year in restaurantsBy Cathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Restaurants of note

that closed

Meat-lovers nirvana Chad’s Steakhouse & Saloon, 3001 N. Swan Road, had been a fixture in Tucson’s cowboy steakhouse scene for 22 years. Owners Shaun and Sandi Herrington, who ran the restaurant the last decade, decided to close April 21.

Mary and Jack Weger called it quits with their 36-year-old Venice Restaurant & Pizzeria, 7848 E. Wrightstown Road, on May 25. The restaurant was one of Tucson’s longest-operating Italian eateries.

The Garland Bistro, 119 E. Speedway, closed in in early June. It was one of Tucson’s early vegetarian and health-food restaurants, opening in 1974. The last owners introduced Vietnamese dishes to the menu after taking over in 2005.

Fire shut down Rincon Market, 2513 E. Sixth St., on July 1. The owners this week said they hope to reopen by mid-March.

The Jacob family pulled up stakes on their family’s 40-year-old El Parador Restaurant and Cantina, 2744 E. Broadway, on July 11. Loretta Jacob Carlson, who ran the restaurant with her brothers Donald and Daniel Jacob, said the family was ready to “move on and get out of full service and find something else to do.”

Sonoita’s legendary Steak Out closed its 4-year-old Marana outpost on July 28. The owners said they had been overly optimistic of the market’s potential when they built their 7,000-square-foot building at 3620 W. Tangerine Road.

Anthony’s in the Catalinas’ owner Anthony Martino abruptly closed his 25-year restaurant at 6440 N. Campbell Ave. over Labor Day weekend. The biggest question for longtime fans: What would become of the restaurant’s storied and award-winning wine collection, reported by Wine Spectator magazine to number 19,000 bottles?

El Mezon del Cobre closed on Sept. 30 after owner Consuelo Medina lost the building at 2960 N. First Ave. to the bank. She had run the popular Mexican restaurant for 23 years.

Mr. K’s Barbecue on the corner of North Stone Avenue and East River Road closed on Oct. 13, two years after it opened to honor Tucson barbecue pioneer Charles Kendrick.

Restaurants of note that opened

After an exhaustive renovation of the multistoried 12,800-square-foot building at 3500 E. Sunrise Drive, French-Syrian businessman Nino Aidi  opened the upscale Five Palms Steak and Seafood in late March in the former home of Terra Cotta.

Amanuel Gebremariam  opened Zemam’s Too, sister restaurant of Zemam’s Ethiopian Cuisine, in The Garland Bistro house, 119 E. Speedway, in late July.

Celebrated farm-to-table chef Greg LaPrad introduced Overland Trout to Sonoita in mid-October. Four months earlier he left the Phoenix area, where he was the chef of Quiessence At the Farm.

Flagstaff invasion: A couple of established Flagstaff eateries sprouted outposts on East Congress Street: Diablo Burger opened in May followed a few days later by the upscale eatery Proper.

Penca at 50 E. Broadway takes its culinary cues from Mexico City. Ron and Patricia Schwabe opened the urban-chic, rustically cool restaurant in early March.

Travis Reese and Nicole Flowers  expanded their downtown holdings on Aug. 15 when they opened Saint House Rum Bar at 256 E. Congress St. They also have 47 Scott bistro and Scott & Co. speakeasy downtown.

Brian Metzger — Jax Kitchen, The Abbey — opened Gio Taco, 350 E. Congress St., at The Cadence student housing complex on Saturday.

Coming soon

The Flores family (El Charro/Sir Veza’s Taco Garage) will open Hecho en Vegas on Saturday in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. James Beard-winning chef Chris Bianco will open Pizzeria Bianco on East Congress next to The Hub in January.

hello and goodbye
on Facebook

Several Tucson restaurants took to social media to announce their big news — they were opening, or they were closing. Here’s some excerpts:

Anthony’s in the Catalinas: “We are very sad to announce that after 25 years Anthony’s in the Catalinas is now closed. We are very proud of all we have done and glad to have served all of you. Thank you for all your support.”

El Parador Restaurant and Cantina: “We would like to thank the thousands of Tucsonans who placed their trust and faith in us hosting their wonderful family celebrations. …. Our family thanks you and will miss you.” (Posted as a link to a press release.)

El Mezón del Cobre: “Unfortunately, after twenty-three incredible years, El Mezon del Cobre will be closing its doors on Monday, September 30th. We’d like to express our gratitude to everyone who has supported us and we hope to see you one last time. Thank you!”

Bella D’Auria Restaurant and Bar at 4445 E. Broadway (in capital letters): “We want to thank all of our loyal and dedicated customers over the past year. We are sorry to announce the closing of the restaurant. Due to the tough economy we were forced to close our doors. Our operating expenses were just way too high to continue the business. Once again we want to express our appreciation to all the wonderful people we have met and got to know.”

The Breakfast Club & Cafe at 1423 W. Miracle Mile introduced itself in June as a scratch kitchen serving “breakfast you won’t find anywhere in town” and “sandwiches piled high.”

Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails at 135 S. Sixth Ave.: “A Huge Thank You and Hugs to all our Lunch Guests. We’ve loved serving lunch to you since we opened DOWNTOWN in October 2010 and I know you’ll be disappointed to learn that this is the last week you can get the Bauru Sandwich, Warm Grilled Flank Steak +Romaine Chimichurri Salad, Ginger Shrimp Open Faced Eggplant Salad or any other of our great lunch items. DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails is closing for lunch after Friday, April 26.”

Sir Veza’s Taco Garage: “By the end of October we will be fixing hungry and thirsty at US Airways Center, home of the Phoenix Suns in downtown Phoenix! We are very excited for the opportunity and we can’t wait to open the garage doors!”

Food trends

Pizza

Aaron May fired up the ovens at The Heist Pizzeria, 7131 E. Broadway, in September to make artisan pies with inventive toppings including one pairing Brussels sprouts with pancetta and goat cheese.

Ari Shapiro imported his wood-burning Neapolitan pizza oven from Italy for Falora Pizza & Espresso, his 1,100-square-foot pizzeria that he opened in early March at 3000 E. Broadway, in Broadway Village. He also dresses his artisan pies in fancy pants including one with eggplant and purple Yukon potatoes topped with salty feta and sweet dates and drizzled with white truffle oil.

Abe and Danielle Koroscil  are serving up video games with their pies at Dak’s Pizza & Games  at 9725 N. Thornydale Road in Marana. The restaurant features gaming consoles and LED TVs at most tables.

Lindsey Fisher opened Dominick’s Real Italian, 8330 N. Thornydale Road in Marana, on Aug. 2. Its house special pies include a Southwest chicken with a spicy barbecue sauce and jalapeños.

Brothers Travis and William Miller spun off Serial Grillers Pizza, 5737 E. Speedway, from their twisted Serial Grillers food truck in early September.

Burgers

The tony Ritz Carlton at Dove Mountain opened Carlton’s Burger Bistro in early January, turning out burgers made from salmon, buffalo, turkey, lamb, beef and veggies. The national chains reinforced their holdings with Five Guys, Culver’s and Freddy’s Steakburgers adding locations. And everyone from small neighborhood Mexican restaurants to sprawling steakhouses elevated the burger to headliner with inventive toppings and artisanal buns.

Zivaz Mexican Bistro, 4590 E. Broadway, won the inaugural Caliente Burger Madness tournament in November.

Food trucks

International cuisines entered the picture with the Twisted Tandoor coming on the scene as 2013 dawned. The Indian food truck was quickly joined by Aussie Rolls (specializing in Australian sausage rolls) and the Zany Beaver (Canadian fare including poutine). Some of these food trucks are offering cuisine you would be hard-pressed to find at a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Tucson.

Wine, beer
and cocktails
Arizona vineyards made small inroads onto restaurant wine lists and local brews flowed from the taps of dozens of Tucson restaurants. Tucson also welcomed a couple restaurants whose identity is closely linked to its alcoholic beverage of choice:
Saint House Rum Bar
on East Congress Street pours 40 rums from St. Croix and Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Martinique, Haiti and other countries. Around the corner at
Penca
on East Broadway the libation of choice is the house sangrias made from pinot and rose. Coming soon:
Sentinel Peak Brewing
, 1102 W. Grant Road, is expected to open Jan. 11.
Iron John’s Brewing
, 245 S. Plumer Ave., is expected to open in February.
Plant-based dining

It became easier than ever to enjoy a great meal without meat — or other animal products — in 2013. Food For Ascension Café, 330 E. Seventh St., quietly opened in early November at the Sea of Glass Center for the Arts owned by Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage. Last week, the southside welcomed Mexico in Season, 3820 S. Palo Verde Road, at South Ajo Way. The restaurant specializes in organic, mostly vegan Mexican fare, including burritos and tortas.

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