Half the fun of discovering a new restaurant is sharing it with people you know will enjoy it. As Rachael Ray’s resident restaurant guru, here’s an inside look at what I report back to Rach about some of my favorite restaurant finds and food experiences!
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2013 3:19pm
Subject: Wildcat Country Food – Tucson, AZ
Hi Rachael -
I was recently in Arizona – Tucson to be exact – for a good friend’s wedding. I haven’t really spent much time there besides driving through on my way from Miami to L.A., so I didn’t know what to expect, food-wise at least. We’ve known our friends for about eight years, so I’ve been hearing about all of their hometown favorites for quite awhile and was excited to taste for myself. But it wasn’t necessarily about trying the best food, but rather the food they grew up with, loved and missed since moving out of Arizona.
The first night there we had a great dinner catered in from a Tex-Mex-style bistro called Zivaz. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to the restaurant, but if the catering was any indication of the food, I can safely recommend it. We had everything from guac and salsas to fajitas, chilaquiles, chimichangas and more. I was told the actual restaurant is on the casual side: you order at the counter, sit down and they bring you your food, but the quality, freshness, and family recipes are all apparent.
Almost straight off the plane, I went to Eegee’s. I’m guessing that no one will really know Eegee’s unless they are from Tucson or have spent time there. Eegee’s is simiar to an A&W Stand, or a smaller Sonic. My friend Jeremy gets their…ice, I guess I’ll call it? It’s a thick slush, for lack of a better way to describe it, but Tucsonians just call it an Eegee. I ordered half strawberry and half lemonade. They always have these two flavors, and then there is always an additional flavor of the day. That day it was blackberry, which was quite good, but I stuck with the originals. There are many Eegee’s around town, so check it out if you’re hot and in Arizona (and the chances of you being hot in Arizona are of course quite good).
Next stop was for a Cheese Crisp – yes, a cheese crisp. Picture a 12-14 inch thin tortilla (made with lard, as they do in AZ) sprinkled with Monterey Jack cheese and baked until bubbly and crispy in the oven – a Mexican pizza, if you will (pictured above). We went to a place called Rosa’s in a little strip mall for this, and topped ours with guacamole. It was definitely unique, considering the only similar thing I’ve had is a Mexican pizza from Taco Bell about 15 years ago, but we don’t have to talk about that.
After that, it was off to try a Sonoran Hot Dog at BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs, since we were in the Sonoran Mountains after all. There are many places that sell them, but BK is one of a select few that people will tell you is “the best.” I was vaguely familiar with this type of dog, as Big Star in Chicago serves their version of one and it’s quite good. The BK version is a bacon-wrapped hot dog served on a bakery-style hot dog bun – BK’s bun is a super light bun that almost wraps itself around the hot dog – with beans, a little mayo, chopped tomatoes and onion. While I’m sure the locals may beg to differ, along the lines of the Mexican pizza I spoke about earlier…it’s a Mexican hot dog.
Last stop: In-N-Out Burger for an Animal Style Burger. Enough said!
And that’s what’s on my plate!
4590 E. Broadway
Tucson, AZ 85711
Locations throughout Tucson
1750 E. Ft. Lowell Road
BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs
2680 N. First Avenue
Tuscon, AZ 85719
See website for additional location
Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, by day he runs Yum-o!, Rachael Ray’s charity focused on kids and cooking, and keeps special projects running smoothly for her. By night he hops course to course, place to place, all across the country. He’s Rach’s own personal dining guide! You can also follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate in real-time!