One entire bookcase in my house is dedicated to cookbooks. • Tucked in among them is a clear, plastic folder labeled “Places I Will Eat At Someday.” One of the oldest clippings is from a 2005 Bon Appetit magazine, spotlighting eateries in Kauai. It took me seven years, but I finally ate at Puka Dog.
Some people base their travel plans on beaches or golf courses or fishing spots. I travel for food. Nothing wrong with that, and one prime dining destination is within easy reach, just up the road.
Phoenix. My big-city must-eat list equals a good week’s worth of meals. Maybe two.
Now, before you Tucson foodies get your napkins in a bunch, just simmer down.
Tucson is a great restaurant town. We all know that. We have high-end, fancy-dancy spots along with eat-by-the-side-of-the-road treasures.
Still, it’s fun to go on an adventure and explore — especially when you can easily do that road trip in a day.
Restaurateur Kade Mislinski — who owns downtown hotspots Hub Restaurant and Creamery, Playground Bar & Lounge and Lulu’s Shake Shoppe — makes a point of visiting our neighbor up north at least once a month.
“I love Tucson,” he says. “I live here and I enjoy Phoenix. I don’t have that love/hate thing.”
Mislinski clicks onto Yelp, watches “Diners Drive-Ins and Dives” and asks local bartenders for recommendations.
An equal-opportunity eater, he loves the holes-in-the-wall as much as the chi-chi spots. He’s worked his way up and down the Camelback Road corridor of restaurants and calls the dim sum scene in Chandler outrageous.
“I do learn a lot from Phoenix,” says Mislinski, who will take his family up for a ballgame or show and, of course, eat out.
One bit of advice before you gas up and head to your dining destination:
“Go on the peripherals,” Mislinski suggests.
That means dinner at 4:45 p.m., or even 3:15 p.m. A little early-bird? For sure. But, better that than making the journey up and down Interstate 10 with only bitterness to fuel you.