Saturday, November 3, 2012

DAY 73-Tucson: Eateries & Construction…

This I will admit wasn’t my first time to the Tucson area.  I was down in Tucson about 5 years ago for the El Tour de Tucson.  It’s an annual bike ride event that takes place in Tucson where almost 10,000 cyclists ride their bikes around the perimeter of the city of Tucson.  It’s a very well supported cycling event and a wonderful event to ride if you’re a cyclist; riding with 10,000 cyclists is just amazing.  But what I remember most about riding in the event was seeing people from the community of Tucson all along the route clapping and cheering while you are cycling by.  In fact, that event would be taking place here in Tucson in about 2 week’s time.  I hope they have some of this construction done with before then!
Photo- Starr Pass Golf Suites where I stayed in Tucson.

On Halloween night, I would have headed down to the 4th Ave area of Tucson which is a central night spot I was told for Tucson but everyone had warned me about the construction and finding parking down there.  So instead I headed down the next day.  I was given a list of places to go to check out and eat at in the area.  So I drive from my hotel down to the 4th Ave area.  I kept on getting lost and couldn’t quite figure it out until I came to the intersection of 6th and 6th.  WTF!  Well, long story short- the number streets go one direction and the numbered aves go the other direction.  It’s a good thing to know if you are driving in Tucson.  I flipped my normal “U” turn and I finally was heading in the right direction.
Photo- Construction in the middle of the road along 4th Ave in Tucson.

WOW!  I found 4th Ave!  Now was the chore of finding a parking space amid the limited park and amid all of the construction which took another bite out of the parking situation.  I actually lucked out on the 5th pass of the area and found a space on 4th Ave.  Another bonus was that it was 2 hour parking and I didn’t have to fill a meter.

Off I went down one side of fourth and then the other; exploring as I went.  Along 4th Ave in Tucson, there’s a variety of shops such as costume, thrift, souvenir, tattoo parlors, plenty of bars and eateries.  I was told to definitely hit Bison Witches and have a bread bowl of soup.  4th Ave is currently being torn up in the middle for some light rail mass transit.  There’s chain link fences right up against the sidewalks and most of the businesses are still open.  I walked down one side and then walked around to the other side only to discover that I had walked right by the Bison Witches because I couldn’t read the awing from the sidewalk area.

I walked into Bison Witches and immediately took a seat at the bar.  I was handed a menu and was told that they were having a $2 special on drafts.  I asked what they had on draft.  I chose the Heffe, as I’m becoming more than a little predictable with my choice of beers.  I then talked with the bartender, a tall slim cute brunette gal with a huge warm smile.  I told her I heard talk of their soups served in bread bowls and asked which one she recommended of the four choices.  I ended up ordering the potato bacon soup that comes with a choice of chips. 
Photo- My soup and beer at the Bison Witches.  Yummy!

With ordering out of the way, I sat back and kind of just people watched.  There were businessman with ties, construction guys, gals having a girl’s lunch, and families with small kids; basically, everyone from all walks of life.  Though, it almost seemed like the businessman were out of place compared to everyone else.  I made the comment to the bartender and she quickly said that of anyone here they were the ones that belonged the most.  They hit almost every bar/restaurant in the area.  They know the menus better than anyone too.  Some local people will just hit one bar all the time and have never tried any of the others; funny how people get in a rut the bartender said.

We talked for a bit while she mixed drinks for other servers and clients. Bison Witches was the brain child of two men; one of which was stocking the shelves of the panty as we talked and had made all of the soups that morning himself.  It’s been open since 1995 and the bread that they used in their sandwiches and bread bowls is made at a local bakery that just down the street.  It’s very local and they get a lot of regulars that come in; especially on rainy days.  She said that on those days it’s like everyone is having a bowl of soup and a Bloody Mary.  A Bloody Mary?  Yes, their Bloody Marys are pretty good too and they have a special spice mix that they use for it.  I stayed for a couple of beers and people watched one of my favorite past times.
Photos- Shops along 4th Ave area in Tucson.

I left and wandered around into some other shops on 4th Ave for a little while after wards.  Then, I decided that I would head over to the downtown area near the area of Congress where I had seen that there were more shops, art galleries, and what not in the area.  BIG mistake!  The construction and traffic had been mild on 4th Ave.  This area of downtown was a traffic jam and after 10 minutes to travel 2 blocks; I had had enough!  I eventually was able to turn off onto a side street and work my way back through more traffic to I-10 from which I was able to figure out how to get back to my hotel.  I walked down to where the fitness/pool area of the hotel.  They were nice facilities but while I was walking towards the gate and over hearing two wives complain about their husbands golf habits I just didn’t feel like relaxing there.

Back at my room, I went.  I took out the Tucson visitors guide book that was in the room.  I started reading about these misc. restaurants and started thinking about what to do for dinner for the night.  Something close by and that was relaxing atmosphere.  But it seemed like nothing was appealing.  Then, I read about the Tucson Tamale Company and it mentioned take out.  Hmmmm…now that sounded good; get take out, come back, and watch a movie on HBO.  And the best thing was… is that the drive over to the Tucson Tamale Company required only 4 turns. 
Photo- The Tucson Tamale Company.

The Tucson Tamale Company didn’t look like much when I got there.  It looked as though most of their business was carry out.  The gal at the counter handed a menu and not that the ones with the asterisk were the ones that were available hot and that the others were available to be taken home frozen in packages of three.  She went on to say that they were easy instructions to heat up in the microwave.  I ordered 3 different flavors of meat tamales that I could take back to the hotel hot.  Then I noticed the dessert tamales and asked if there was a way to get one of those out of a package of three. 

I told her I was from Utah, that it was just me staying in town for the night, and didn’t have a refrig. (A lie about the refrig. But she didn’t need to know).  She said let me check to see what batch they may be working on in the back.  They had sweet pumpkin tamales available if I just wanted one.  Yep! I told her I would take one of those.  Her demeanor changed a bit when she found out I was from out of town.  Then she started talking about how they ship their tamales all over the US and most recently they shipped some to England.  She tucked a takeout menu in with my tamales and wished me a good night.

Back at the hotel, I returned without getting lost or stuck in Tucson traffic.  Yeah!  I rearranged the room so I could eat the tamales while watching the TV.  The Arizona tamale was a wonderful mild spicy red chipotle beef.  Then, I tried the Jojo which was a chipotle beef and cheese in a jalapeno masa.  The Jojo had a bit more kick and was very tasty but my favorite had to be the very flavorful Santa Fe tamale that was pork loin with green chile sauce and cheese.  Next, I tried the sweet pumpkin tamale and it was very pumpkiny but not too sweet.  I rather liked it because it wasn’t overdone on the sweetness.  I had a very happy stomach and finished watching a movie on HBO.

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