For a quick fix for a growling stomach, sometimes the unexpected tastes best.
Yes, there are standbys for appetite emergencies — that semi-flattened granola bar, vending machine fare, an oily bag of drive-through munchies — but nothing breaks monotony like finding food. Real food.
Car dealerships and hospitals probably don’t jump to mind, but bear with us.
We’ve picked a few offbeat places to grab a bite to eat whether you’re on-the-go or stuck waiting. Put that candy bar down.
Ten X Bakery and Cafe
2727 N. Fairview Ave.; 594-5155; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.
Archers dining at the cafe tucked into the PSE Archery Pro Shop will soon have more vegetarian options.
“It’s kind of funny, considering what we do,” said Jeff Shepley, the pastry chef and son of Pete Shepley, founder of PSE Archery.
Desserts and American fare — salads, sandwiches and hamburgers — feed those who can find the spot. The cafe, pro shop and indoor shooting range hide in the back corner of a parking lot framed with barbed wire.
Gene Dickens found the cafe last year and it has since become almost a daily haunt. He loves just about everything on the menu, especially the desserts.
“You have to be careful with the desserts,” Dickens, 58, said, noting that the kitchen was holding a piece of apple pie for him after his meal. “You look at it and you gain weight, it’s that good.”
The cafe opened about two and a half years ago, and Shepley brought to it kitchen experience from his stint as a pastry chef at Troon Country Club in Scottsdale.
When the family opened the cafe, they did it as a way to keep employees fed and create an outlet for beef from their ranch in Coolidge. They process the grass-fed beef at the University of Arizona’s meat lab and then use it in Ten X hamburgers. The X-Burger with grilled onions, bacon, American cheese and a pickle spear is $5.99. The cafe took off among patrons.
“You see a lot of people walk in with their bow and a bag from Safeway or McDonald’s or any fast food, so it would keep them here longer,” Shepley said about the addition of the cafe. “Once they got used to the fact that they actually had a cafe, they would bring their friends to eat without even shooting anymore. They just came for lunch.”
On a good day, Shepley and his team serve 60 to 80 people, he said. The business also caters events and takes orders for whole cakes and pies.
The name “Ten X” brings together food and archery, defining both a bull’s-eye and powdered sugar. This is no snack bar menu. Shepley’s treats include tiramisu, chocolate brownie parfait and coconut cream tart, each for $2.75 apiece. And there is more.
“It’s really rewarding to have people enjoy what you make,” Shepley said. “I really want you to enjoy what you eat, and I’m concerned about it, and that’s always what I’m going to do. I’m never going to change it.”
Northwest Medical Center Saguaro Café
6200 N. La Cholla Blvd.; 742-9000; 7 to 10 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for lunch, daily; 4 to 7 p.m. for dinner, Monday to Thursday.
A hospital may seem an odd place to sample global cuisine, but the remodeled cafeteria at Northwest Medical Center preps international fare with local ingredients whenever possible.
The remodeled Saguaro Café opened several weeks ago, adding a full-service salad bar and deli counter to existing stations, including stations for American classics, grilled foods and on-the-go meals.
At one station, the cafeteria features a different type of international food each week. Sometimes, Latin American food takes the spotlight. Other weeks Caribbean food might fill plates, said Deana Dunnigan, the director of nutritional services.
“A common thing we hear is, ‘I can’t believe this is hospital food,’” Dunnigan said. “It does have that stigma of green Jell-O and chicken broth, and once they try it, they realize hospital food has moved right along with restaurants.”
Northwest Medical Center joins other Tucson hospitals in expanding menus to include healthier options for both visitors and patients. Last month, the University of Arizona Medical Center announced a partnership with Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the UA Center for Integrative Medicine, to add some of his recipes to hospital menus.
At Northwest Medical Center, kale, quinoa and farro have all debuted at Saguaro Café. The approach of summer means using peaches and apricots. The average price of an item on the menu is around $5, Dunnigan said.
The hospital designed its new menus with Partnership for a Healthier America, so menus push to use whole grains and local fruits and vegetables. Olive oils and balsamic vinegars from Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil and Balsamics add flavor to salads.
The hospital makes everything in-house for sale at both the Saguaro Café and the satellite La Cholla Café in the Women’s Center. A third party also operates a coffee kiosk out of the hospital.
“We’ve got our grill customers, but in the last year, the trend has been that one-third of customers eating hamburgers a year ago are now eating turkey burgers or veggie burgers,” Dunnigan said. “There really is a trend of wanting healthier options and still having flavor and taste.”
Jim Click cafes
Jim Click Ford Lincoln, 6244 E. 22nd St.; 747-2000; 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.
Jim Click Ford Hyundai, 1030 W. Duval Road; 320-4619; 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.
Jim Click and Holmes Tuttle Ford Lincoln, 660 W. Automall Drive; 292-3689; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.
Note that hours may vary.
When it comes to hunkering down to wait for service at several Jim Click dealerships, customers have more refreshment options than the typical glass of water or cup of coffee.
James Newton, general manager of the Jim Click Ford Lincoln dealership at 22nd Street and Wilmot Road, prefers dishes such as the strawberry salad or carne asada with hand-tossed tortillas.
When the Jim Click Ford Hyundai in Green Valley remodeled and opened anew in December, it became the third dealership to offer a menu that branches beyond pastries and chips, according to general manager Mo Hindash.
These cafes whip up a selection of “salads, sandwiches, burritos, croissants and cookies, of course,” Hindash said.
The Jim Click and Holmes Tuttle Ford Lincoln at the Tucson Auto Mall also has a cafe.
The menus keep food fresh and fast, and specialty coffee drinks supply that morning jolt for early risers. Daily specials also add variety to the cafes’ palates.
“People like to bring their cars to service early in the morning and don’t have time to have breakfast somewhere,” Hindash said. “They can have breakfast here or maybe work on their computers while eating lunch.”
The seating area that complements the counter-service cafe has the usual, dealership amenities — Wi-Fi, television and a smattering of tables and chairs.
Newton said prices range from about $1 for a cookie to $7.50: “You can eat quite well for $10 with a drink.”
While the cafe serves employees and dealership customers, some people do cruise in just to eat.
“We have people coming here from other businesses around us just to have lunch,” Hindash said. “That’s the neat thing around here. There aren’t a lot of restaurants in Green Valley.”
405 W. Congress St.; 882-2111; 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; closed Saturday and Sunday.
The second, downtown location of the popular Mexican restaurant at 2027 S. Craycroft Road opened in January in front of the Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse complex and shares its address.
For those with courthouse business and only a quick window for breakfast or lunch, the counter-service restaurant gets customers in, fed and out for less than $10, said owner Brenda DeSouza.
The restaurant serves Mexican food such as arroz con pollo and carne asada tacos — menu favorites from the other location — alongside soups, salads and sandwiches.
Chucky’s Chicken Pesto ($6.99) is a hit with grilled chicken breast, provolone cheese, spinach, tomatoes and pesto smeared on ciabatta bread.
“It’s right outside the federal courthouse and 99.9 percent of our business is from the courthouse,” DeSouza said.
The Loft Cinema
3233 E. Speedway; 795-0844; Concessions open about 30 minutes before the first screening, usually 11 or 11:30 a.m., and close at 11 p.m.
At the Loft Cinema, seaweed strips, scones and tamales join buttery popcorn and nachos as movie munchies.
Make that organic popcorn.
“We try to be different in our programming and our menu, so we will do what works with our customers and what they want,” said Zach Breneman, the deputy director at the theater.
In the coming weeks, the Loft will add tamales from the Tucson Tamale Company to a menu already boasting pizza from Fresco Pizzeria and Pastaria ($3.50 for a slice, $6 for two) and $2 scones from Adobe Rose Inn.
Moviegoers can take everything with them into the theaters, including the beer and wine on the drinks menu — a freedom that Breneman said blows customers away at first.
Vegan cookies, seaweed flavored with wasabi and locally made fruit and nut energy bars called RBars also keep food choices funky.
“It’s very important for us to be Tucson-based,” Breneman said.