If you live in Tucson, your Instagram feed has probably been dominated with people playing cornhole. That's 'cause everyone was at the soft opening for Culinary Dropout, the first Fox restaurant to open here in a decade.
If you managed to tear your gaze away from the legion of Urban Outfitters models serving the food to look into the open kitchen for a second, you'd be amazed. It was like a machine in there, a really spiffy one that was well-oiled in coconut lotion. Dozens of people were crammed together on the line, seemingly unable to move or even turn around. All of them, making pretzels!!! 😨😨😨
The team of 250 held several shebangs throughout the weekend, preparing for the onslaught when this culinary behemoth officially opens Wednesday at the Grant Road Lumber Yard. We were there last Sunday. They let us eat whatever we wanted.
Here's what we liked ...
Culinary Dropout follows the Sam Fox formula of safe but well-executed classics with hip flourishes. AKA: The cocktail menu has a bunch of mules. But now, they don't even need to put them in the copper mugs, because they're "Copper-less!" (TM?)
Both were solid, but my coworker and I preferred the one on the left: the El Matador with añejo tequila and elderflower liqueur, $11. The vegetal notes of the tequila really shine when they're balanced by fruit and fresh ginger. I would also recommend the Pomegranate Yuzu Mule with Aviation gin, $11. It's tasty for those who like their cocktails on the sweeter side.
Also, as I said before, you gotta order the soft pretzels and provolone fondue, $11. Practically every table had them, and I can see why. They're soft pretzels with melted cheese, and a little candle to keep it warm. Enough said.
For the mains (doesn't that sound British? Pinkies up!) we got meatloaf and the fish and chips. Haha, seriously ... Now that I have it written out like that it sounds so boring. I'd like to say it was re-imagined deconstructed hipster meatloaf with bacon foam, but it wasn't. It was just really well-made meatloaf with some garlic mash and a shimmer of what tasted like ketchup. The fish and chips were also perfectly fried, delicious. (Fries were a little soggy though, maybe next time.)
All of this is just a prelude to the monkey bread, $10. I have a feeling this stuff is gonna be like the pizookie cookie (oh yes, pizza cookie) at Oregano's or the garish chocolate molten volcano bomb from our shameful past at T.G.I. Fridays. Like, you wanna go there just for the dessert.
The monkey bread tastes like a bread pudding mated with an apple pie and set its baby in a cradle of sizzling cast iron. Then you eat it, but that's messed up. You keep going anyway, cause it's so warm and yummy, you know what I mean. There's ice cream too. It's good.
I don't want to end the article this way, but I have to complain. Why the valet parking, guys? I know the bean bag toss can be kind of exhausting, but I'm still able to walk to my car when it's over. This is Tucson, not Phoenix. It's only 105 down here ...
Culinary Dropout is at 2543 East Grant Road. Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. Phone: 520-203-0934.