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Vegetarian meals can be creative

Vegetarian meals can be creative


My first time dining at Tasteful Kitchen was by chance. A group of friends and myself were planning to dine out, but we were tired of the usual chain restaurants.

Someone had the idea of eating vegetarian. Unsure at first, we decided to look up local restaurants.

Tasteful Kitchen popped up. The website said it offered a twist to the vegetarian menu while still maintaining awareness of people’s dietary needs. So we gave it a chance.

The restaurant, co-owned by sisters Sigret and Keanne Thompson, is located between University Boulevard and Fourth Street at 722 N. Stone Ave. The menu offers a wide variety of vegan and gluten-free options.

The Thompson sisters opened Tasteful Kitchen in early 2011 after noticing there weren’t many vegetarian restaurants in Tucson.

The restaurant is housed in a building from the 1930s. It was built with 13-inch solid adobe walls and is very rustic, giving it a cozy feeling. Once inside, you will find two small dining rooms.

The rooms are decorated with warm colors and paintings from local artists. The art is for sale, so the art displays change from time to time.

My first experience at the restaurant was fabulous. The environment was soothing and the lighting was just right. Service was spectacular and the food was delicious.

Keanne Thompson guided my party by letting us know what was what, and recommending some dishes.

I recommend the decadent carrot cake. It’s not too sweet and not too bland. It’s just right.

Starters and small plates range from $6 to $10, main courses are $18, desserts are $7 and drinks cost $3 to $4.

Tasteful Kitchen isn’t like your average restaurant. Dining there is like eating at home, and reminded me of a family gathering.

The Thompsons prefer quality over quantity. The dining experience may take a little longer than usual but that’s because everything is made fresh for the customer.

Sigret Thompson taught herself to cook by recreating food from London and Sydney, places she used to live. She is a chef at the restaurant, working alongside sous chef Laura Clawson. They both enjoy the freedom to offer classic vegetarian specials.

“We enjoy working with seasonal fruits and vegetables with a strong emphasis on organic and locally grown produce,” Sigret Thompson said. “We offer farm-to-table specials frequently and local ingredients are intermingled throughout our menu.”

The owners keep their ingredients as close to their natural state as possible with a minimal amount of processed foods. They also avoid hydrogenated fats, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners and GMOs.


The Tasteful Kitchen also offers educational events to sharpen kitchen skills. Classes and events are listed on the website.


The Tasteful Kitchen

Address: 722 N. Stone Ave.

Phone: 250-9600

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m.


Tasteful Kitchen co-owners Keanne Thompson, left, and Sigret Thompson offer diners vegan and gluten-free dining options. The sisters opened their Stone Avenue restaurant in early 2011. (Erik Medina/Aztec Press)

Café offers great coffee, good vibe

Café offers great coffee, good vibe


Customers socialize at the cozy and inviting downtown Cartel Coffee Lab, located at 201 E. Broadway Blvd.
Ashley Munoz / Aztec Press

College students and caffeine will always share a special bond. It’s there for our early morning classes, and helps us through finals week.

Cartel Coffee Lab is my first choice for amazing coffee, delicious pastries and excellent service. I’m always looking for a really good coffee shop, and Cartel has the perfect university vibe.

I discovered Cartel a few months ago when I visited its downtown location at 210 E. Broadway Blvd.

The café’s original Tucson location is at 2516 N. Campbell Ave. It also has restaurants in Tempe, Scottsdale, downtown Phoenix and at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport.

Owner Jason Silverschlag said he originally wasn’t sure about expanding to the Broadway site.

“We weren’t totally sold on it, but the longer we looked the more it made sense and the intriguing possibilities became apparent,” he said.

The spacious brick-walled downtown site provides a comfortable atmosphere that is well suited both for business meetings and for hanging out with friends. The smell of fresh-brewed coffee gets your attention the minute you walk in.

Cartel’s website says it carefully curates each product it sells, proclaiming: “It’s about principles, as much as passion.”

Visit even if you don’t drink java. It’s good to just sit, relax and watch people passing by. Plus, Cartel offers every student’s favorite bonus: free WiFi.

Coffee prices range from $2.50 to $4.50. I recommend trying the iced black and white mocha.

Another option is to purchase take-out Cartel bags filled with whole beans, so you can brew your own coffee at home.

An online store offers coffeethemed accessories and coffee beans originating from countries including Guatemala, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Rwanda.

If ale is more to your liking, Cartel offers two brews: a desert pale ale and a brown ale brewed with Cartel coffee. The desert brew resembles an American pale ale, and uses agave for a bit of sweetener.

Diner makes itself welcome

Diner makes itself welcome


 Welcome Diner, the pale blue, 1960s structure at Broadway Boulevard and Euclid Avenue, quickly proved it would be more than just a pretty renovation for mid-century architecture fans.

After just five months of operation, the diner extended its hours to 2 a.m.

Its sister restaurant in Phoenix has been named Arizona’s best diner, and both locations have been lauded throughout the state and nationally for their dishes.

Unlike most diners, these offer vegetarian options. There’s one vegan dish if ordered without slaw.

My most memorable dish at both locations was the jackfruit sandwich, which is marinated in a local IPA. Each time I order it, my instinct is to pull a can-I-speak-to-the-manager and ask why they served me real pork.

Even if you do question the vegan purity of your meal, your server will probably be really nice about it because that’s the way they are at Welcome Diner.

Plates range from $8 to $28. The diner is definitely busiest on weekend evenings but will cater to large parties.

Welcome Diner’s Tucson site offers viable parking because it is located conveniently far from downtown and Fourth Avenue.

However, it’s close enough that downtown-dwellers can drive up Broadway Boulevard. Cyclists can ride and lock up out front.

It’s also located less than a mile from Congress Street, so is close enough for diners who want to bar-hop after their meal or for bar-hoppers who want a late-night snack.

That may not be necessary, however, as Welcome Diner offers a surprisingly long list of cocktails, beers on tap and wine selections.

Options include 15 types of wine, 12 classic cocktails, 11 house cocktails, a rotating beer menu and a decent selection of non-alcoholic beverages.

Although Phoenix-based, Welcome Diner has made itself welcome in Tucson by supporting local businesses such as Presta, which roasts the diner’s coffee, and Seven Cups Tea, which provides its tea.

The diner also works with Fiore Di Capra, Time Market, Pivot Produce, McClendons Select, Ramona Farms, Schreiners Sausage, Bake House, E & R Pork, Red Bird and Niman Ranch to create its Southern-inspired menu.

The diner is open every day from 9 a.m.-2 a.m. For more information, visit or call 622-5100.


Welcome Diner

Address: 902 E. Broadway Blvd.

Phone: 622-5100

Hours: 9 a.m.-2 a.m. daily


Photo: Katelyn Roberts

Retro lighting attracts flocks of people looking to fill their bellies with locally crafted food and drinks at the Welcome Diner every day of the week.

Tucson Comic-Con craze

Tucson Comic-Con craze


While Tucson Comic-Con isn’t nearly as big as San Diego Comic-Con or New York Comic-Con, there’s no doubt that attendees take just as serious as they would anywhere else.

Held every November at the Tucson Convention Center, TCC is open to the public, allowing Tucsonans to unleash their inner nerd and buy some cool merchandise.

Many attendees choose to dress up as their favorite characters, or cosplay, and take photos with other people.

Each year, the attendance grows in both attendees and exhibitors from all over Arizona.

The atmosphere is always inviting and a great way to spend an otherwise uneventful weekend in the early November Tucson sun.

If you’ve never been to a Comi-Con, your next chance is  Phoenix Comic-Con Fan Fest this December in Glendale.

Aztec Press photos by Larry Gaurano

Judge Dredd sits above the convention floor, welcoming people into the convention.

Judge Dredd sits above the convention floor, welcoming people into the convention.

 Sakura Haruno lets the floor of the convention know that women can do cosplay just as well as the men.

Sakura Haruno lets the floor of the convention know that women can do cosplay just as well as the men.

Kiba the Cosplay Corgi made an appearance at Tucson Comic-Con this year, including a Link from the Legend of Zelda cosplay.

Kiba the Cosplay Corgi made an appearance at Tucson Comic-Con this year, including a Link from the Legend of Zelda cosplay.

Darth Vader and his daughter, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan admire the fellow cosplayers upstairs.

Darth Vader and his daughter, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan admire the fellow cosplayers upstairs.

Cosplayers walk the show floor, perusing booths for art prints and memorablia and merchandise.

Cosplayers walk the show floor, perusing booths for art prints and memorablia and merchandise.


Stomping Grounds:Tucson cyclists are riding in the Loop

Stomping Grounds:Tucson cyclists are riding in the Loop


USA Today ranked Tucson number seven in “The 10 Best U.S Cycling Towns” in 2014. With our variety of bike lanes, trails and routes, that title comes as no surprise to Tucson’s cycling community.

One of those much-loved routes is the Loop, a large bike path that spans over 100 miles for cyclists, equestrians and roller-bladers. With multiple parks along the route, access to major streets in the city and restrooms along the way, the path is already a great means to get around a wide section of town. The car-free super highway is now on its way to upgrade.

The city is currently working to expand the popular trail, which at its completion will form a 130 mile loop around town.  The improvements will include more connections to the Rillito, Santa Cruz, Pantano River Parks, the Julian Wash and Harrison Road Greenways. The city is planning to connect Tucson to neighboring Marana, Oro Valley and extend down to South Tucson with the Loop.

One might be surprised to find out how the Loop came to be. Back in 1983, Tucson was stricken by a tragic eight foot high flood. The flood caused damage along several areas of the city, including the Santa Cruz, Rillito and Gila. After the area began to get cleared up, several people began to realize that the damaged land might be a good location for a travel path. With time and the help of voters the idea of the Loop soon became a plan and now is in its final stages.

With summer near its end, the temperature will soon start dropping to the ideal numbers for a comfortable cruise.

The Loop near Alvernon Way, is one of the many access points of the bike path within the city. Regular rider and cycle enthusiast Dennis Warner, is already planning to take on all 130 miles of trail once the Loop is completed.

“It’s one of the best things the county did,” Warner said.

Many people may agree with Warner. It is definitely one of the most eco-friendly things the county has implemented. I am sure there are plenty of others who are excited for the completion of the route.

The Loop is more than just a beautiful, well maintained route of travel. Over time the path has become a hot spot for encouraging bicycle safety and has served as a location for fundraising events.

Pima County’s bike ambassadors are providing free bike bells to riders who participate in one of their safety events along the route, running until Nov. 1. The next safety event takes place Oct. 3, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. where River Park Path meets with the Santa Cruz Path.

So, what are you waiting for? Anytime is a good time to have a scenic workout on the Loop. The route seems an easy place to get to, considering one in three Pima County residents live less than a mile away according to the Pima County website. The Loop is fairly easy to find, and is also convenient with plenty of restrooms and water fountains along the route.

If you don’t ride a bike don’t be discouraged, anyone can jog, walk or ride anything else as long as it’s non-motorized, including horses.

Jessica Gonzales/Aztec Press Dennis Warner takes a break in his training for his quest to conquer “The Loop” when it is completed.

Jessica Gonzales/Aztec Press
Dennis Warner takes a break in his training for his quest to conquer “The Loop” when it is completed.

Beto Hoyos/Aztec Press

Pop Cycle reclaims sustainable art

Pg12-Stomping Grounds





Located in the heart of historic Fourth Avenue stands a shop dedicated to local art made from recycled and reclaimed materials. Pop Cycle offers everything from reclaimed, ecofriendly wallets to Tucson-themed wooden trays, and much more in between.

Pop Cycle opened its doors to the public in September 2008, but the owners have been actively creating works for over ten years prior to their storefront. The boutique works closely with three main artists. Two of the owners, DeeDee Koenen and Shannon Riggs, run DDco Design and contribute great pieces to the shop.

Another artist that contributes clothing and accessories to the shop is Jennifer Radler of Monster Booty Threads. Most of the wood work that Koenen and Riggs create is made right in the back of the store. Store manager Libby Tobey explained that the store is all about sustainability and the type of art work found at Pop Cycle.

“Something has to be sustainable on each element, and it has to be hand made,” Tobey said. Vintage and sustainable clothing can also be found at Pop Cycle. So if you are looking to update your vintage western wardrobe, look no further.

The name of the store came from combining the artists’ enthusiasm for pop culture and working with recycled and reclaimed materials. Put a few of those words together and you get “Pop Cycle.” This shop is full of local art but definitely appeals to a wide range of customers.

“We have a lot of locals that shop with us, but then a lot of tourists come in because we have a lot of Tucson inspired items,” Tobey said. The store puts together a couple of art shows every year to showcase different local artists. The next local artist show will be on Oct. 17 at Pop-Cycle, which is located at 422 N 4th Ave., from 7 to 9 p.m. “The local artist show is going to be Star Wars themed but everyone is going to be doing their own take on it, so that’ll be fun,” Tobey said.

On Nov. 6, they will hold an art auction with the All Souls Procession to benefit Many Mouths One Stomach. Customers are invited to call the store starting Nov. 1 at 622-3297 to place bids or for more info. “A lot of our artists donate pieces that go up for auction and will be on display in our store for the week of day of the dead,” Tobey said.

New customers come in all the time and its usually people who are looking to get inspired. “A lot of people in this do-it-yourself age come in just to get inspired by what we have,” Tobey said.

Others come to the store because they appreciate the ingenuity of the art, or because they like to support local artists. “Local art is the number one thing, and its all handcrafted, and finding handcrafted Tucson magnets that are all local and aren’t made in China or somewhere else is rare,” Tobey said.

The artists that work at Pop Cycle have a keen eye for spotting the potential art in something very ordinary. Its that type of creativity that can bring a community together and allow us to explore the meaning of art and beauty in a way than we previously might have not done.


Beto Hoyos/Aztec Press

Adorning the breezeway of the shop is the signature sign made from a reclaimed toy horse. (Beto Hoyos/Aztec Press)



STOMPING GROUNDS: Native Grill and Wings

STOMPING GROUNDS: Native Grill and Wings


It’s Thursday night; you and your friends are going out to see a midnight release of some indie film at The Loft. Before the flick, you’re all hungry for great food, but since you’re also college intellectuals, you want some mentally stimulating conversation.

No worries, fellow intellectual college student, there’s a place just for you and it’s called Native Grill and Wings.

Native is a restaurant located at Speedway Boulevard and Country Club Road, so it’s pretty easy to get to from anywhere in town. Its doors are open 11 a.m. to midnight from Sunday to Thursday, and they close at 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The restaurant is run by an incredibly friendly staff. On my visit, our waiter was attentive to our group of eight and kept everyone’s drinks filled. I never saw an empty glass for more than two minutes.

A place with wings in their title usually has to have pretty good ones, and thankfully, Native has their wings down pact. There are over 10 flavors, between Honey Hot, which is what I ordered, Spicy Honey Mustard and the most terrifying option on the list, The Ghost.

They also have several dry rub options as well, such as Asiago Parmesean and Lemon Pepper.

Prices for the wings are more than reasonable, as $10 gets you a pound of wings.

Its not just wings at Native though, they also have burgers, pizza, salad, sandwiches and desserts, all for affordable prices.

The rest of the menu is what you would expect a bar and grill menu to look like, delicious, but the food is just the appetizer to the main course, Thursday Trivia Night.

My friend had been telling me about it for weeks, he and some of his coworkers went every Thursday after work.

He explained that it was just standard trivia, but when we walked in and got started, it felt like something more.

Trivia starts at 9 p.m. and that is when the night really begins. You and your team are handed a sheet of paper to write down the questions announced over the loud speaker.

You can make up any team name you want and your team is capped out at 10 members.

Having multiple people is a double-edged sword however, as each team can only submit one answer per question. So you have to agree on an answer as a team within the time limit, which is the duration of a random song.

The point system is based around teams assigning point values to each submitted answer. You can chose to make an answer worth one, three or five points, however, you can only use one point value per every set of three questions.

There are six sets of questions, one halftime question and a final question where you can wager up to 15 of your points, but if you answer incorrectly, you lose the amount of points you bet.

Sound interesting yet?

Far from another typical trivia night, they offer something unique for participants. When it comes to topics, they have everything.

When I went, we were asked questions about Forrest Gump, horse racing generations, geography, historical figures, cartoons and everything in between.

The fun of it all is trying to figure out the answers without the use of your phone. It’s nice to have a group of people who have a wide range of hobbies and fascinations, because whatever you don’t know, chances are, someone on your team might.

When the hostess announces the answers, the restaurant usually cheers, groans, or sometimes it’s a mixture of both, depending on what team answered correctly.

If you’re looking to win something for your mental prowess, Native has you covered.

The top three teams earn in-house credit they can use on their bills, with first place receiving $20, second $10 and third $5. Even if your team blows it and gets last place, you get a complementary dessert, to split with the rest of your team of course.

With all the usuals participating, teams will stick with the same name each time they return, earning a reputation with other returning teams.

Overall, both staff and regular customers at Native are very friendly to newcomers, like myself, making it a nice place for me and my friends to chill out on Thursday nights and get the brain juices flowing.

If you’ve never been to Native, take a Thursday, some of your friends and head out for some real competitive fun.

And hey, you could always get that dessert.

Alex Fruechtenicht/Aztec Press Grabbing a couple of drinks, friends and brainpower equates to an awesome Thursday night trivia at Native.

Grabbing a couple of drinks, friends and brainpower equates to an awesome Thursday night trivia at Native. (Alex Fruechtenicht/Aztec Press)


Old Town Scottsdale worth a visit

Old Town Scottsdale worth a visit


If you are considering a weekend excursion during spring break, consider visiting Old Town Scottsdale. It houses more than 80 establishments ranging from whiskey bars to wine lounges, night clubs to restaurants.

To reach Old Town from Tucson, take Interstate-10 west to East McDowell Road in Phoenix. Follow McDowell to North Scottsdale Road.

It would be nearly impossible to visit every Old Town business, but here are few to consider:


Giligan’s has daily happy hour specials from 4-7 p.m., food challenges that award you a $50 bar tab, Sunday vodka specials and Tuesday night gold fish races.

Address: 4251 N. Winfield Scott Plaza

Details: or (480) 874-2264


El Hefe Super Macho Taqueria

El Hefe, a Mexican restaurant by day and bar by night, is a favorite of many who frequent Old Town. California native Mitchell Dembitzer calls El Hefe his favorite spot. “Collectively, everyone is in the right mood,” he said. “No one cares about getting too drunk, everybody’s here just to have fun.” El Hefe hosts a Sunday party from 4-10 p.m. and offers VIP bottle service and table taps reservations.

Address: 4425 N. Saddlebag Trail

Details: or (480) 945-6200


Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row

The unique selection of whiskey and beer concoctions makes this a great stop for any Old Town outing. Most interesting is the boiler bomber, a shot of whiskey dropped into a beer. Aside from a curious drink menu, Whiskey Row offers brunch from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Address: 4420 N. Saddlebag Trail #105

Details: or (480) 945-4200


Derby Public House

This fairly new addition to Old Town boasts a carefree ambiance and imaginative dishes. It is a comfortable place to enjoy a cocktail and the company of others. The interior, unlike most bars in the area, is well lit and has an interesting modern vintage feel.

Address: 4420 N. Saddlebag Trail (adjacent to Whiskey Row)

Details: or (480) 999-3311



International calls itself a champagne bar/boutique nightclub inspired by years of world travel. You won’t necessarily feel as if you’ve been transported to another city, but it’s a great place to dance. It offers an ample dance floor, two bars and an outdoor patio.

Address: 4405 N. Saddlebag Trail

Details: or (480) 213-9500

Tempe residents enjoy a night out in the Old Town Scottsdale club district. (Aztec Press photo by Jennifer Graham)

Tempe residents enjoy a night out in the Old Town Scottsdale club district. (Aztec Press photo by Jennifer Graham)

Spring break on a budget

Spring break on a budget


Pima Community College’s spring break is March 17-23, which means we’ll all soon be jetting off to Cancun, Honolulu or some other resort destination.

What? You’re not going to Hawaii or Mexico? Neither am I.

I can’t afford to go anywhere exotic, and I’m not alone. What I can do is offer ideas for spring break outings that won’t leave you broke. Some are free and some cost a bit of money, but they’re all good deals.

I’ve also suggested a movie for each destination, either to provide a little context or just to get you in the mood.


Is there anybody out there?

Close to home and yet out-of-this-world, the planetarium and observatory at the University of Arizona’s Flandrau Science Center has something for aspiring astronomers of all ages.

The observatory is generally open Thursday-Saturday from 7-10 p.m. It is staffed entirely by volunteers, so call ahead to confirm they’ll be open. Visitors can experience the 16-inch telescope (weather permitting) and ask questions about the night sky.

The observatory is free to visit, though donations are appreciated.

The center also offers traditional planetarium shows, ranging from “Legends of the Night Sky” to “Touring the Planets.” Laser shows are mostly “Family Friendly Music Shows” or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Tickets for the planetarium and laser show cost $5.

Details: or 621-7827.

Movie suggestions: “Contact” (1997). If you’re feeling ambitious, a double feature of “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) and its underrated sequel “2010” (1984).


Catch a show at the Flandrau Science Center on the University of Arizona campus. (Aztec Press photo by Michael Anderson)

Catch a show at the Flandrau Science Center on the University of Arizona campus. (Aztec Press photo by Michael Anderson)


Mosey through the Boneyard

Back on Earth, Tucson is home to the largest aircraft storage facility in the world. Officially known as the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, most people know it simply as the Boneyard.

The 309th AMARG is home to several thousand aircraft from all military branches. Most are waiting to be scrapped, cannibalized for parts or to eventually be re-fitted and returned to active duty.

Bus tours are available Monday-Friday for $7 through the Pima Air and Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Road. A tour requires government-issued identification. The museum itself is a very cool place, too, but a little pricier at $12.25 for Pima county residents.

There’s nothing quite like the Boneyard anywhere else in the world, and the tour is a surreal trip through the history of NATO “Cold War” aviation.

Details: or 574-0462.

Movie suggestion: “Can’t Buy Me Love” (1987). Oddly enough, the Boneyard is an important theme in this excellent teen comedy, which also features Tucson High School.

A row of F-16 Fighting Falcons at the Boneyard await visitors who take a weekday tour. (Photo by John Sanders)

A row of F-16 Fighting Falcons at the Boneyard await visitors who take a weekday tour. (Photo by John Saunders)


Take me out to the ballgame

Arizona has been synonymous with spring baseball for almost 100 years. Recently, most spring training stadiums have become overcrowded and shockingly expensive. (I’m looking at you, Scottsdale Stadium.)

One exception is Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, spring home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Unlike the Giants and Dodgers, the Brewers don’t have hordes of fans. That means tickets are reasonably priced and not impossible to get. Lawn seating is $8 and some reserved seats cost $13. Maryvale Park, located at 3600 N. 51st Ave., hosts four games during PCC’s break.

If you want baseball without the drive north, the Pima Aztecs play at West Campus on March 15 and 18. The softball team plays at home on March 20 and 22.


Movie suggestions: “Major League” (1989). Spring training scenes were shot at Hi-Corbett Field. Or try “Bad News Bears” (1976). Rent the original only; accept no substitutes.


What do you want on your Tombstone?

The most famous gunfight in American history took place just 70 miles from Tucson, at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. As one of the last boomtowns of the Old West, Tombstone has a colorful history of miners, gamblers, prostitutes and gunfighters.

The downtown has been relatively well preserved. It is well worth a visit for those interested in local or western history.

The best attraction is the O.K. Corral itself, which is now a museum. It’s located at 326 E. Allen St. and is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. It features a re-enactment of the 1881 shootout between the Earps and the McLaury-Clanton crew every day at 2 p.m.

Most historians agree the gunfight actually occurred a few doors down the street, but the O.K. Corral is a must-visit attraction nonetheless. Tickets for the museum and re-enactment cost $10. Get them early because the show will probably sell out.

The most authentic site in Tombstone is probably the Bird Cage Theatre. It was a one-stop-shop for miners and gamblers, functioning as a theater, saloon, gambling hall and brothel.

It’s not as cool as the O.K. Corral and it costs $10, but check it out if you need the full Tombstone experience. It has a dark and violent past, and is undeniably spooky.

On your way out of town, stop by Boot Hill Graveyard, the final resting place for victims of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Many headstones have humorous inscriptions reflecting gallows humor.

It is a free and fitting way to end a trip to the “Town Too Tough to Die.”


Movie suggestion: “Tombstone” (1993). Kurt Russell is great as the legendary Wyatt Earp.

Boot Hill gravesites honor the three men killed in the famous Shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. (Photo by Cynthia Lancaster)

Boot Hill gravesites honor the three men killed in the famous Shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. (Photo by Cynthia Lancaster)


Put down ‘Angry Birds’ and go see some real ones

Madera Canyon, east of Green Valley off Interstate-19, is a bird-watching paradise. It contains beautiful hiking trails and hosts at least 200 species of birds as a waypoint on migration routes.

The canyon is open daily from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. and is a wonderful place for a picnic. Parking costs $5.

A male Elegant Trogan is one of the rare birds that can be spotted in Madera Canyon. (Photo by Alan Stankevitz)

A male Elegant Trogan is one of the rare birds that can be spotted in Madera Canyon. (Photo by Alan Stankevitz)

If birds aren’t your thing, you can hike or picnic on Mount Lemmon, watch a sunset at Gates Pass, ramble through Sabino Canyon or check out Saguaro National Park.

Tucson is virtually surrounded by cool places to experience nature. Go out and find your favorite.

Details: or 281-2296

Movie suggestion: “Winged Migration” (2001). An excellent if slightly slow documentary on the worldwide migration habits of birds. Not a fan of documentaries? Have a dark sense of humor? Check out Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” (1963) and then go bird watching.

Gates Pass west of Tucson offers sweeping views of the Tucson Valley. (Aztec Press photo by Rachel White)

Gates Pass west of Tucson offers sweeping views of the Tucson Valley. (Aztec Press photo by Rachel White)


Go to prison

Many people have heard of the Yuma Territorial Prison, but how many have actually been there? Yuma is four hours from Tucson, so a visit should be part of an overnighter or a pit stop on the way to California.

The prison was one of the most notorious in the Southwest, housing Arizona’s worst criminals from 1876-1909. It was built on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River and much of it is well preserved.

It has a fascinating museum and original cellblocks that give you a sense of how horrible it must have been to do time there and how daunting the prospect of escape would have seemed.

The museum costs $6 and is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. There is also a hiking trail that runs along the river.

Details: or

Movie suggestion: What else? “3:10 to Yuma” (2007). An entertaining western action film starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale.

Visitors investigate the original cellblocks preserved at the Yuma Territorial Prison. (Photo by Debbie Weber)

Visitors investigate the original cellblocks preserved at the Yuma Territorial Prison. (Photo by Debbie Weber)

STOMPING GROUNDS: Tiny’s Saloon offers oversized pleasure

STOMPING GROUNDS: Tiny’s Saloon offers oversized pleasure


Anyone who has taken a trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios, Kitt Peak or Saguaro National Park West probably noticed a small building with a covered wagon in the parking lot.

Tiny’s Saloon and Steakhouse, located at 4900 W. Ajo Highway, is about 5 miles from I-19 at the intersection of Kinney Road.

The restaurant is a throwback to another time, with cowboy-themed regalia on the walls and country music playing over the speakers.

The decor clearly caters to tourists visiting west-side scenic spots.

“When the snowbirds come in, all hell breaks loose,” waitress Linda Breen said. “I love it.”

But I don’t go to Tiny’s for the music or decor. I have been a customer for more than two decades for one very simple reason: Steerburgers.

These signature hamburgers are some of the best around town.

Available in quarter-pound or half-pound offerings, the burger can be ordered with a host of toppings and is accompanied by a herd of fries. When the first bite begins to melt in your mouth, you will understand why people say the Steerburger is a must-order menu item.

The family-friendly restaurant boasts an impressive 89 percent approval rating on and 4.5 out of 5 ranking on, due in no small part to the iconic burger.

“I am a real hamburger lover and this place turns out real hamburgers!” one reviewer wrote on

Tiny’s also serves up hot wings, sandwiches and, as the name implies, steaks. And since no self-respecting saloon can operate without serving alcohol, Tiny’s offers a robust selection of adult-beverages at low prices.

In fact, everything is affordable at Tiny’s. An average meal for two costs less than $25, including tip. Mixed drinks and pitchers of beer start at a few bucks each.

Cash is the only form of payment accepted. There is an onsite ATM.

The establishment isn’t afraid to shake the old-fashioned vibe with flat-screen TVs and karaoke nights, although the selection of songs performed is decidedly western-flavored.

This place is one of the few watering holes for miles around. If you stop in on a Friday or Saturday night, expect the joint to be packed with interesting characters.

Remember, most of these folks live away from the city because they are a little rough around the edges. Trust me, I grew up in the area affectionately referred to as “The Hill” and people out there don’t take any crap. But that doesn’t mean they are unfriendly.

“The people who come in are great,” said Brandi Wood, a high school friend of mine who has worked at Tiny’s on and off for six years. “I know everyone who comes in. It gets crazy but I love working here.”

I recommend visiting on a Tuesday afternoon to enjoy a Steerburger for a dollar off.

Tiny’s Saloon and Steakhouse is well worth the drive, even if horseshoes on the wall aren’t your idea of proper style.


Tiny’s Saloon and Steakhouse

Address: 4900 W. Ajo Highway

Phone: 578-7700

Hours: Daily except Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight

Pg08-Stomping Grounds Saloon

Brandi Livengood works the counter at Tiny’s Saloon and Streakhouse, home to iconic Steerburgers, during a slow Tuesday afternoon. (Andrew Paxton/Aztec Press)

STOMPING GROUNDS: District tavern

STOMPING GROUNDS: District tavern


Tavern breaks from the ordinary

wPg12-District TavernBY JORGE ENCINAS

With an atmosphere of familiarity, even for the first-time visitor, the District Tavern is a welcome break from many of the swanky-style bars found in downtown Tucson.

The locally owned tavern reflects the flavor of its clientele with a collage of photos on the bar top, foreign posters and a vintage table-top Pac-Man arcade.

While many patrons are regulars, the bartenders always welcome people who walk in and quickly get to know them.

The tavern only accepts cash but you will find that it does not take very much to enjoy your evening.

You can buy $2 well drinks during the daily happy hour special from 2-8 p.m. A popular all-day every-day special offers a High-Life and a shot of whiskey for $3. Note: No Budweiser or Pabst is available.

District also features live bands. To find out who’s playing, just take a look at the front window where the fliers are posted. Some bands are from out of town but there’s a good chance you will find a local band playing on the small stage.

A featured DJ plays every Saturday night. In the absence of that or a band, an old-style jukebox has a limited but good selection of music you don’t typically find downtown.

Music isn’t all you find. There are also traditional games like pool and darts, and a variety of board games and dominoes can be checked out with the bartender. You’ll even find a Jenga set available.

For smokers, District provides a small shaded patio with chairs to relax and talk to your friends. However, it’s also the back way out of the bar so there is no drinking while smoking, with the exception of electronic cigarettes.

If you’re downtown looking for somewhere laid back to hang out and have a good time, the District Tavern is a one place worth checking out.


The District Tavern

Address: 260 E. Congress

Phone: 792-0081

Hours: Open daily, 2 p.m.-2 a.m.

Springs events abound in Tucson

Springs events abound in Tucson

Compiled by Nellie Silva

Arizona Renaissance Festival: Feb. 9-March 31


Larry Gaurano/Aztec Press 2012

The 25th incarnation of this medieval festival takes place right outside of Phoenix. The 30-acre amusement park has 12 stages, an arts/crafts fair and a jousting tournament. The festival runs every Saturday and Sunday from Feb. 9 through March 31, plus President’s Day on Feb. 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking is free. Tickets cost $20-22 for adults. From Tucson, take Highway 70 to Florence Junction. Go west 7 miles on Highway 60 to Festival Village.


Gem Show: Feb. 14-17

Celebrating its 59th Annual Tucson Gem and Mineral show it’s the largest gem and mineral show in the United States. It’ll be held at the Tucson Convention Center 260 South Church Avenue, Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and on Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, children 14 and under are free with a paying adult. Details:

Rodeo: Feb. 16-17 and Feb. 21-24

The Rodeo is located at the rodeo arena on the corner of Irvington Road and 6th Avenue. The ticket prices range from $12 to $26 depending on the section of your choice. Ticket office hours are from 8a.m. to 5 p.m. located at 4823 S. 6th Ave.

Details:, call 741-2233 or (800) 964-5662

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (No PCC classes Feb 21-22 due to rodeo holiday) Rodeo Parade : Feb. 21

The 88th annual parade will start at 9 a.m. beginning on Park Avenue and Ajo Way, and proceed south on Park into Irvington Road. Ticketed grandstand seats on Irvington Road cost $7 for adults. Street spots along the parade route are free.

Details: or 294- 1280

Southwest Indian Art Fair: Feb. 23-24

Arizona State Museum, 1013 E. University Blvd., presents the Southern Arizona Premier American Indian Art Show and Market with 200 native artists and their wares, live entertainment, food and more.

Details: call 626- 8381 or visit

BEST BETS Donate time, goods this holiday season

BEST BETS Donate time, goods this holiday season

Compiled by Miki Jennings

As winter approaches, many people in need miss out on traditional holiday experiences due to lack of funds.

Food and clothing bins become more common around campuses and other public spaces, and are a great way to help those in need.

Another way to help your community is through direct contact with an organization of your choice. The nonprofits listed below accept donated money and goods, and volunteered time.


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson

At-risk youngsters between the ages of 6 and 18 have benefited from Big Brothers Big Sisters for almost 50 years.

The organization matches youth with mentors, and annually serves more than 450 Tucson youth.

Big Brothers Big Sisters offers sports and military-related programs, and a couples’ mentoring program to teach children the dynamics of healthy relationships.

The group also accepts gently used clothing and furniture donations to sell, with proceeds benefitting the program.

For more information, call 624-7039 or visit


Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

The Community Food Bank has been fighting hunger since 1976, and depends on volunteers to keep the organization running smoothly.

Volunteers can help by sorting, packing and distributing food and by doing office, computer or maintenance work.

They can also work at one of the Food Bank’s farms, at the Caridad Community Kitchen or at the Gabrielle Giffords Family Assistance Center.

Interested persons can apply to be a one-time, short-term or recurring volunteer.

For more information, email or call 882-3292.




Wingspan is the center for Southern Arizona’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The organization offers goods and services to LGBT people in need, including peer support groups, anti-violence programs, crisis hotlines, youth and family programs and a free lending library and computer center.

Wingspan’s Homeless Youth Project provides support and crisis intervention, and essential items such as food, clothing and hygiene supplies to homeless and near-homeless youth.

Wingspan welcomes both volunteers and tax-deductible donations.

For more information, visit, email or call 624-1779.



Five ways to spend Thanksgiving break

Compiled by Jennifer Coulter

If you can’t go home for your mother’s cooking or want to entertain family members visiting you, here are five fun activities to fill your Thanksgiving break:


Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic

Runners will also hurdle hay bales and water jumps during the Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic Nov. 22 at Reid Park, on Country Club Road immediately north of 22nd Street. Separate races will be held for men, women and children, beginning at 8 a.m. Prizes include turkeys and pumpkin pies. The races benefit Toys for Tots. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for the donation box. Call 326-9383 or visit for more details.


Tohono Chul Park celebration

Walk through gardens decorated with 750,000 lights during celebrations at Tohono Chul Park gardens, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, on Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 30-Dec. 1 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Visitors can start their holiday shopping and enjoy live stage performances. An ornament sale and silent auction will be held. The garden bistro will be open for dinner each night. Tickets are $15, and $2 for children 12 and under. Call 742-6455 or visit


Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair

Buy original work from local artists at the Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair on Nov. 24-25 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Reid Park, west of DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center. You can also sample food from local vendors. Admission and parking is free. Call 791-4877 or visit for more details.


Native American Heritage

Celebrate Native American culture with dancing and drumming performances, art and craft exhibits, children’s activities and traditional foods during the Native American Heritage Social & Indian Craft Market on Nov. 23-25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites, 5151 E. Grant Road. Admission is free. Call 622-4900 or visit for details.


Pima Air & Space Museum

Santa will arrive by helicopter Dec. 1 at the Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Road. The museum opens at 9 a.m., and  Santa will land at 10 a.m. Children can enjoy holiday arts and crafts. The Flight Grill will be open for breakfast. Admission is $15.50 for adults, $12.75 for seniors and military, $9 for ages 7-12. Kids 6 and under are free. For more information, call 574-0462 or visit

BEST BETS: Mr. Head’s offers more than drinks

BEST BETS: Mr. Head’s offers more than drinks

Compiled by Miki Jennings

Many college students spend a lot of free time in bars. It can be difficult to find a venue with the right atmosphere, crowd and events, especially if you don’t like doing the same thing every time you go out.

Mr. Head’s on Fourth Avenue hosts a range of events each week, making it easy to keep your outings interesting.


Cutthroat karaoke

Cutthroat karaoke on Mondays at 8 p.m. gives bar patrons an opportunity to have fun and impress others … until you’re up. A wrong note or obnoxious stage presence gets singers “gonged” off the stage in an instant. Cutthroat is a bit harsher than standard karaoke, and is not for the sensitive or inadequately inebriated.


Comedy night

For those who like to have something to laugh at while imbibing, Mr. Head’s offers comedy acts every Wednesday at 10 p.m. Take in the show along with a drink on the patio or in the newly renovated interior. It’s free to get in and there are plenty of drink specials once you’re inside.


DJ night

Check out DJ Bonus spinning it up on Thursday nights starting at 9. In addition to nicely priced drink specials, you can try the club’s newest cocktails while you enjoy the show. Dance, drink and enjoy the music late into the evening. No cover charge to get in, music until closing.



Mr. Head’s

Address: 513 N. Fourth Ave.

Phone: 792-2710

Hours: 1 p.m.-2 a.m. daily

TOP 10: Tucson fine dining spots


Whether you have a date or just want to appreciate the taste of fine cuisine, these restaurants will leave a lasting impression.


10. 47 Scott

With a great bar selection and delicious cocktails, happy hour is a must at this downtown restaurant. Address: 47 N. Scott Ave. Details:


9. Maynards Market and Kitchen

Sophisticated cuisine, seasonal produce and innovative recipes lands Maynards at No. 9. My recommendation: Order the French fries and mussels as an appetizer. Address: 400 N. Toole Ave. Details:


8. Blue Fin Seafood Bistro

Hankering for seafood? Blue Fin will fulfill your craving with its oyster bar and array of fresh fish selections. Address: 7053 N. Oracle Road. Details:


7. Ra

Signature sushi dishes and sake are a great way to start a Friday night. With more than 30 sushi options, Ra will leave you satisfied. Address: 2905 E. Skyline Drive #289. Details:


6. Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

If you’re in the mood for steak, Flemings offers top-of-the-line cuts that melt in your mouth. Be sure to order plenty of sides to company your main dish. Vegetarians, stay away! Address: 6360 N. Campbell Ave. Details:


5. North Modern Italian Cuisine

This Italian restaurant offers a country atmosphere accompanied by the latest culinary trends in high quality food. Address: 2995 E. Skyline Drive.


4. Anthony’s in the Catalinas

Name your meat of choice and Anthony’s will have it. Dishes ranging from roasted duck to veal marsala make Anthony’s a go-to restaurant choice. Address: 6440 N. Campbell Ave. Details:


3. Vivace Restaurant

Looking for exquisite Italian cuisine? Look no further. Vivace offers great service along with high quality food at a moderate price. Address: 4310 N. Campbell Ave. Details:


2. Wildflower

With its seasonal menu changing and top-notch martinis, Wildflower offers progressive American cuisine in a chic atmosphere. Address: 7037 N. Oracle Road.


1. Café Poca Cosa

Café Poca Cosa deserves the No. 1 spot for the twice-daily menu change and innovative approach to Mexican food. Order the surprise plate for the ultimate tasting experience. Address: 110 E. Pennington St. Details: