BTO on Speedway gives way to burger place
The folks behind Choice Greens salad emporium and an outpost of BTO frozen yogurt are tiptoeing into the culinary dark side: hamburgers.

But co-owners Paolo DeFilippis, and Jeff and Fran Katz aren’t throwing out their mostly healthful handbook when they open Graze at 2721 E. Speedway in August.

They’ll be grilling up antibiotic- and hormone-free beef alongside veggie and chicken or turkey burgers. Fries will be made Belgian-style — double fried — with inventive dipping sauces.

The menu is still a work in progress, DeFilippis said, “but our burgers will be different.”

“I think the neighborhood and where we are on Speedway, with our style and menu, we’re going to be different. I really believe there’s a home for us there,” he said.

Graze will replace BTO by Choice, which Choice Greens has owned for five years. BTO — open noon to 10 p.m. daily — will close at the end of business Sunday. Choice Greens salad and sandwich shop is located at 2829 E. Speedway.

Breakfast under
4 bucks at Baja Cafe

The 2-month-old Baja Cafe is winning hearts and bellies with its $3.75 weekday breakfast special: two eggs, choice of sausage or bacon, hash browns and toast.

But before you think that Baja Cafe at 7002 E. Broadway is a hash-slinging, egg-flipping shopping center coffee shop, look deeper into the menu:

  • Red velvet pancakes drizzled with a vanilla bean cream cheese glaze. Or Snickerdoodle pancakes that take their cue from the cookies.
  • A toasted, melty grilled cheese sandwich; for 75 cents more, top it with mushrooms, caramelized onions, green chiles or jalapeños.
  • Build-your-own chipotle mac and cheese with toppings including chorizo, jalapeño bacon, pulled pork and nopalitos.
  • Quesadillas and tacos including pangasius (a type of catfish) marinated in a cilantro vinaigrette.

“We’re always doing something different,” said chef Gerard Meurer, whose menu blends the region’s cuisines with some classic Tucson flair including a Sonoran hot dog.

Baja Cafe is owned by Kim Scanlan. It’s open daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Details:

Kingfisher kicks off summer Road Trip
Tucson hit a 100 degrees a few days ago, which means it’s time for Kingfisher to unveil this summer’s “Road Trip” itinerary.

The restaurant at 2564 E. Grant Road will make culinary stops in six U.S. regions starting Friday with the cuisines of California/Hawaii. We’re talking Kung Pao sauced grilled beef skewers, Dungeness crab cake and grilled Ahi tuna in a coconut curry sauce.

The menus were developed by Kingfisher’s chef/owners Jim Murphy and Jeff Azersky and executive chef Fred Harris, who also oversees the pair’s sister restaurant Bluefin, 7053 N. Oracle Road. The road trip takes a break when Kingfisher goes on summer hiatus July 1-July 14.

Other Road Trip stops include: June 5-16, Pacific Northwest; June 17-30, Great Plains/ Midwest; July 15-July 31, Down South; Aug. 1-14, Back East; Aug. 15-31, Southwest. Reservations: 323-7739

Meanwhile, Bluefin hosts its annual Lobsterfest starting Friday. It’s $20.14 — part of the Tucson Originals’ summertime dining campaign — for a one-pound lobster and sides. Lobsterfest runs through Sept. 30, with the exception of July 1-7, when Bluefin goes on summer break. Reservations: 531-8500

Downtown Kitchen going on culinary trip

Chef/owner Janos Wilder’s Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails, 135 S. Sixth Ave., is also launching a culinary journey. It starts Tuesday in Singapore with a menu that includes banana leaf grilled basa with Sambal sauce then concludes in Lima, Peru, in the fall. Each stop lasts roughly a month: Singapore Tuesday through June 30; Charleston July 1 to Aug. 4; Jerusalem Aug. 5 to Sept. 1; and Lima Sept. 1 to Oct. 6.

Order a la carte or get a three-course menu for $34.

Snag a Downtown Kitchen passport and get a stamp each time you visit. You can redeem the stamps for free food. Reservations: 623-7700.

Tucson getting outpost of Cheddar’s

Cheddar’s Casual Café, a restaurant chain specializing in “homemade favorites” that are prepared “in-house and from scratch,” will open its first location in Tucson by early next year.

A commercial building permit for the restaurant was submitted in April for 3455 E. Broadway, which puts the future location in the expansive El Con Mall parking lot.

A spokesperson for Cheddar’s confirmed that a tentative opening date has been set for January 2015.

The first Cheddar’s opened in Arlington, Texas, in 1979. Today, there are more than 130 Cheddar’s locations in 23 states, including one in Chandler.

Now open

Dallas-based Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is coming back to Tucson.

Dickey’s had a short-lived location on North First Avenue; it closed in 2010.

A new Dickey’s at 7850 N. Oracle Road in Oro Valley opens today.

The restaurant, a franchise owned by David Wirth, will celebrate the opening with three days of give-aways and deals:

  • The first 50 people in the door when they open at 11 a.m. today get a $50 Dickey’s gift card.
  • From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, pulled pork sandwiches are $2.
  • On Saturday, the restaurant will give out free merchandise.

 Dickey’s will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Details: Call 219-5742.

Now closed

How Do You Roll? custom sushi shop at 914 E. Speedway closed last week. The shop, part of an Austin, Texas-based chain with a location in Phoenix, offered a modern twist on traditional Japanese cuisine including sushi rolls made with chicken and beef.

Cathalena E. Burch

and Gerald M. Gay

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.