RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "Stomping Grounds"

Vegetarian meals can be creative

Vegetarian meals can be creative

By ERIK MEDINA

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.

FYI

The Tasteful Kitchen

Address: 722 N. Stone Ave.

Phone: 250-9600

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

Website: thetastefulkitchen.com

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)

STOMPING GROUNDS: Old West awaits, practically in your backyard

STOMPING GROUNDS: Old West awaits, practically in your backyard

By DALE VILLEBURN OLD COYOTE

Polish your boots, straighten your bolo and bust out those Wranglers, because this is Trail Dust Town and you’re re-entering the wild west. Well, about as close as you can get without leaving the Tucson metropolitan area.

Trail Dust Town is located on Tucson’s east side at 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road. Start off with the train ride around town. A haunted cemetery, Polly Anna Park, a Native village and a decrepit mine shaft are just a few of the sights along the track.

Stop by Polly Anna Park. You’ll find a carousel and a Ferris wheel for all ages. Rides cost a wooden nickel ($2.50) for tykes over 3 years old.

A Trail Dust Town sign greets visitors at the Polly Anna Park entrance on the southwest side.
The Old West destination offers activities ranging from a stunt show to a haunted tour.
Dale Villeburn Old Coyote / Aztec Press

A dozen different activities can entertain all types of folk. Catch the Pinnacle Peak Pistoleroes Wild West Stunt Show, full of daring feats and booming pyrotechnics, for just two wooden nickels ($5).

Visit the shooting range if you have an itchy trigger finger afterwards. It takes quarters, and the rifles need to be sighted, but you might enjoy a jaunty tune while you work on your aim.

Pop into the general store for some novelty trinkets and toys. Or, you can stroll the street and take old-timey photos with outfits and props throughout the town.

HORSE SOLDIER MUSEUM

The Museum of the Horse Soldier is the newest addition to the property and truly is one of Tucson’s hidden gems.

Featuring more than 2,000 pieces of genuine American military history, it has everything from uniforms to swords to cannons.

According to museum director Rae Whitely, “Everything behind glass is authentic.”

The gallery also displays the only surviving uniform from Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. The rest were destroyed on an official burn order.

Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children. Ages 6 and under are free.

FRIGHTFUL FUN

is it time to put some fright into your night? Bill Delfs, the proprietor of Ravenhearse productions, recounts more than 40 instances in their less-than-two-year stretch in which adult patrons have been scared enough to lose control of certain bodily functions.

Don’t be shy. Ravenhearse is a family haunt that operates year round and offers tour choices that can accommodate a variety of health issues. The green tour, yellow tour and red tour get increasingly frightening.

The green tour is acceptable for all ages, while the red tour is for the utterly fearless.

A tour can run 15-45 minutes, depending on how long you can last. They’re available Thursday-Sunday, and cost $5.

Youngsters can enjoy an old-fashioned carousal ride for $2.50 in Polly Anna Park.
Dale Villeburn Old Coyote / Aztec Press

GETTING HUNGRY?

If you swing by the Dakota Café, you might run into general manager Juan Figueroa.

The restaurant has strong customer loyalty, and Figueroa will try his best to make you feel at home.

“It’s mostly regulars, people who have been coming here for 30 years,” he said. “I like to treat everyone like family.”

Pay attention, Pima students. If you whisper the secret code “dakota cats” to your server, you’ll get 20 percent off your bill.

If you have a serious hunger, head into Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse and fill your belly with its 30-ounce T-bone steak, “The Big Cowboy.”

Don’t come in your best dress, however. Pinnacle Peak has a strictly enforced “no ties allowed” policy. You can see what others have lost, with hundreds of ties cut from the necks of patrons hanging from the rafters.

Save room for dessert and stop by the Chocolate Depot to pick up some homestyle fudge and pastries. Stock up on oldfashioned candy, or a three-foot gummy snake for the week.

There’s plenty more to discover at Trail Dust Town, and it’s a great way to support small, local businesses.

A farmers’ market is open each Friday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. There’s a banquet hall available to rent, an art gallery to visit and plenty of interesting characters.

For more information, visit traildusttown. com or call 296-4551.

Stomping Grounds: Games and Gadgets draw loyal fans

Stomping Grounds: Games and Gadgets draw loyal fans

pg10-gandg-mark-kadow-nick-photo

Store owner Mark Kadow keeps Games and Gadgets stocked with a wide variety of games. (Nicholas Trujillos/Aztec Press)

By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO

When a former stuntman/producer wanted to settle down two and a half years ago, he opened Tucson Games and Gadgets.

“I’ve traveled the world, lived in 14 different countries and then I had an opportunity to come back to Tucson, where I grew up, and try something else,” store owner Mark Kadow said.

“I said, ‘Why don’t I open up a board game store?’ because I’ve been playing games like Dungeons and Dragons for 30 years.”

A couple of weeks after thinking about the idea, Kadow obtained a business license and distributors for games.

Kadow opened his store at 2900 E. Broadway Blvd., #134. He plans to open a second location by the end of November at Tucson Mall, 4500 N. Oracle Road.

The Broadway store brings in loyal customers like Chris Novellino, who visited on opening day and has since made it his second home.

pg10-gandg-chris-novellino-nick-photo

Chris Novellino sets up to teach customers about new games. (Nicholas Trujillo/Aztec Press)

“I can’t get the guy to leave,” Kadow joked.

Novellino is a photographer by day and an avid Living Card Game player by night. He follows a set schedule for coming into the store.

When he’s on site, Novellino can be found in a dedicated “Novellino’s Corner” teaching others about new games.

“I help out any way I can, teaching games, demo-ing board games,” he said. “Gamers have this stigma with nerds and geeks, and we indulge in that. We accept it with open arms.”

The store has created a community, or safe haven, for gamers. It welcomes customers ranging from the newest of newbs to the most seasoned veterans.

With Novellino keeping customers interested and Kadow keeping shelves stocked, it’s not hard for Games and Gadgets to make a profit.

Kadow reinvests his profits into the business so he can keep the lights on, provide the newest games and open the second store at Tucson Mall. Its location will be near the Animal Kingdom pet shop.

“The future is bright, come on in,” Kadow said. “If you haven’t played any games, then this is the perfect store. We aren’t going to jump down your throat. We want to know what you like and we want to help you.”

The new destination will be more than 4,000 square feet, double the size of the Broadway store. Décor will include dark wood and dim lighting. Hours will extend to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

“It’s going to be an entertainment destination,” Kadow said. “We’re hoping to get something that has a Dungeons and Dragons type feel.”

The new store will also have multiple rooms available for different types of games, such as Magic the Gathering, D&D, X-Wing and Local Area Network parties.

Players will also have a chance to participate in virtual reality games.

Good shoppers can buy a virtual reality set for just shy of $800, but Kadow offers trial play. His setup regularly attracts quite a crowd.

Participants pay $10 for 15 minutes of playing time. Available options include shooting zombies in a darkened area with only a flashlight and gun, and defending your castle with a bow and arrow against incoming invaders.

“We’re approaching all types of entertainment,” Kadow said. “The virtual reality is just a small aspect of what we’re doing.”

FYI

Games and Gadgets

Address: 2900 E. Broadway Blvd. #134

Phone: 207-8013

Hours:

Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight

Website: tucsongamesandgadgets.com

 

Note: A second store in Tucson Mall will open by the end of November.

Stomping Grounds:Tucson cyclists are riding in the Loop

Stomping Grounds:Tucson cyclists are riding in the Loop

by JESSICA GONZALES

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.

STOMPING GROUNDS: Native Grill and Wings

STOMPING GROUNDS: Native Grill and Wings

By ALEX FREUTENICHT

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)

 

Stir fry restaurant  offers tasty choices

Stir fry restaurant offers tasty choices

By ALYSSA RAMER

C.I. Chu’s Mongolian Barbeque is a made-to-order stir fry restaurant in midtown that brings in lots of customers and enjoys good reviews.

Calvin Chu and his wife Elaine opened the restaurant in 2003.

The restaurant gets a lot of business during the week, especially on Thursdays when many college students come in to eat, according to the owner’s niece Bella Chu.

Customers grab a red bowl and select options from each section at the buffet counter, beginning with noodles, then vegetables, meat, sauces and spices.

Tabs overhead give details about the best way to add sauces and spices to attain a specialized flavor, such as “Tantalizing Teriyaki.”

After compiling their dishes, customers head to the cook’s counter and leave their bowl under the next available number.

A variety of vegetable and meat options are available, and employees continually bring out fresh stock.

Meat choices include pork, lamb, seafood, beef and chicken.

In addition to traditional stir fry vegetables, Chu’s offers unique options such as cilantro, garbanzo beans and pepperoncinis.

Noodle choices include wheat lo mein noodles, regular lo mein or rice vermicelli.

A new shaved ice dessert, the “Snow Volcano,” can be ordered with a variety of toppings. The newest special is “Strawberry Sensation.”

Lunch is served from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and dinner from 4-9 p.m. The prices are the same for both times.

The one-bowl meal costs $9.49, and the all-you-can-eat meal totals $11.99.

Both come with a bowl of either white or brown rice, a choice of hot-and-sour, egg drop or vegetable soup, and a hot piece of shiao bien, a delicious, flat square of sesame bread.

Drinks are not included in the meal and cost $2.50.

The U.S. Marine Corps recruiting office next door frequently attracts crowds of military customers.

C.I. Chu’s Mongolian Barbeque is located at 4540 E. Broadway Blvd., in the Midstar Plaza.

It is open daily, except on national holidays.

Pg08-Cooking-Stomping Grounds

Employee Dimitry Hare prepares a stir fry dish on an open grill for a future regular customer at C.I. Chu’s Mongolian Barbecue. (Alyssa Ramer/ Aztec Press)

 

Pg08-Veggies-Stomping Grounds

In addition to the traditional veggies on display at C.I. Chu’s Mongolian Barbeque buffet table, customers can choose cilantro or pepperoncinis. (Alyssa Ramer/ Aztec Press)

Yogi’s offers authentic Indian food

Yogi’s offers authentic Indian food

By RUDRANI CHATTERJEE

Yogi’s Indian Market and Cafe is the place to be if you love Indian food, where you won’t find a buffet or a large and overwhelming menu.

It’s a family-run business that takes its cuisine to another level. The restaurant, located at 2537 N. Stone Ave. just north of Grant Road, has been delighting customers since it opened last summer.

Satye Bhati, the owner, said “I really felt that Tucson lacked a proper Indian grocery store and Indian food options.”

Many of the dishes are gluten free and it doesn’t stop there. Yogi’s is the only restaurant in Tucson that serves up Indian street food, such as Pani Poori, Bhel Poori and Nepalese Momos.

“We always test our food before putting it out,” Bhati said.

They also make fresh roti daily that can be purchased in bulk to take home or enjoyed alongside your meal. The menu is categorized mainly in three sections: vegan, vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

Yogi’s also has daily specials listed on their menu board, made with the same fresh produce that they sell in their market.

Unlike many other Indian restaurants, Yogi’s prides itself in serving up dishes in a health conscious manner, giving diners the options to choose brown rice and limiting the use of heavy cream. Bhati mentions “Unlike many Indian restaurants, we do not use heavy cream in our spinach dish known as Palak Paneer.”

Forget about paying $10 for Tikka Masala along with another $2 for rice; dishes at Yogi’s rarely exceed $7.99, and the best part is, rice is always included.

I couldn’t help noticing the friendliness of the staff, the cleanliness of the restaurant and the amazing options in the market. The goods sold range from produce and spices to cookware.

There’s plenty of parking in the rear of the restaurant as well as free Wi-Fi.

Prashad Verma and wife Anju came from Rio Rico to check out Yogi’s wide variety of products. “This is our first time here, and they have a good selection,” Prashad Verma said.
The couple initially came to buy groceries but also decided to check out the restaurant’s menu while they were there.

Bhati hopes to experiment with adding south Indian dishes such as Dosas to the menu in the future, and I just can’t wait for what this restaurant come

 

Pg13-Yogi owner

Satye Bhati, owner of Yogi’s, arranges some of the products available in his grocery store. (Andrew Paxton/Aztec Press)

 

 

STOMPING GROUNDS: Tiny’s Saloon offers oversized pleasure

STOMPING GROUNDS: Tiny’s Saloon offers oversized pleasure

By ANDREW PAXTON

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 urbanspoon.com and 4.5 out of 5 ranking on tripadvisor.com, 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 tripadvisor.com.

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.

FYI

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: Skate Country wheeling out fun

STOMPING GROUNDS: Skate Country wheeling out fun

By DANA BOYD

Colorful lights dance across a wide floor, glimmering on a room full of adventure.

Skate Country, a roller rink on Tucson’s far east side, opened its doors in 1972. The rink still works hard to bring wholesome family entertainment to Tucsonans.

“We are keenly aware of the times and what the public and in particular our new generation of kids demand,” says a statement on the Skate Country website.

Trying to meet that demand, Skate Country created weekly schedules that cater to customers. Sunday is Family Night. Monday’s Dollar Night offers reduced admission. On Thursday’s Adult Night, skaters must be 18 or older to attend.

The rink is open an average of 360 days a year for family recreation. On most weekday nights, the facility can be rented for birthday parties and other special events.

General admission is $4, and weekend admission costs $8. The skate rental fee is $3.

Along with skating, arcade games and a full snack bar, Skate Country features a pro shop where skaters can purchase roller skates, laces and colorful wheels.

Skating is a tradition for Tucsonan Perry Biberdorf and his family. Biberdorf met his wife at a skating rink, and now they bring their family from Avra Valley to Skate Country every Sunday.

Biberdorf said it is definitely worth the long drive to the East Side.

Serving Tucson for more than 40 years, Skate Country is a local “Stomping Ground” where skaters grow up and return with little skaters of their own.

Derek Walker, 15, works at Skate Country dealing out skates.

Derek Walker, 15, works behind the rental counter at Skate Country. (Aztec Press photo by Dana Boyd)

FYI

Skate Country

Address: 7980 E 22nd St.

Website: skatecountry.com

Phone: 298-4409

Hours: Monday 4-8 p.m., Tuesday/Wednesday 4-6 p.m., Thursday 4-10 p.m., Friday 3-10 p.m., Saturday 1-10 p.m., Sunday 1-9 p.m.

 

 

Lindy’s dares you to finish its O.M.F.G. burger

Lindy’s dares you to finish its O.M.F.G. burger

Story and photo by Daniel Gaona

Imagine a burger so big you can’t even take a standard bite. So big, it towers 12 patties with as many slices of cheese packed inside a regular bun, not to mention the lettuce, onion and special sauce. Try to envision that monster sandwich.

Or, just go to Lindy’s on 4th in Tucson.

It’s not a joke or a trick: there is a burger joint in town that actually serves this heavyweight. When it hits the plate, it weighs more than three pounds and is held together with a long skewer.

It’s called the O.M.F.G. and costs $19.99.

However, if someone conquers the beast in less than 20 minutes, they get it for free. Just finishing it in 30 minutes will get that person’s picture on the wall and a $5 gift card. Not finishing it earns nothing.

“I just had one more patty to go but I couldn’t eat anymore,” patron Michael Craven said about trying the O.M.F.G. “It’s the closest I have come to getting the whole thing down. I’m not going to be able to do any eating contests for a while now.”

For someone seeking a lesser challenge, there is the AZ Hooligan. This one is stacked with six patties and six slices of cheese, plus the basic toppings.

It weighs about half as much as the O.M.F.G. and costs $14.99. The only award for finishing it is your picture on the wall.

The “challenge burgers” are not available for takeout, most likely because there are not boxes capable of holding them.

Lindy Reilly, owner of Lindy's, at last year's Earth Hour. (Aztec Press photo by Matthew Henry)

Lindy Reilly, the restaurant owner, said the O.M.F.G. originated from his Hooligan burger because the Hooligan just didn’t seem like enough. There is a slim margin of victory against the 12-layer burger.

“We have just under 1,200 sold to date and less than 60 have been finished,” Reilly said.

Last month, a patron set a time record and finished one in 3:47 minutes. Even Reilly was in awe.

Aside from challenges, the eatery specializes in unique burgers.

There are 17 burgers to choose from, and patrons can select their preferred size: one, two or three patties. For an additional cost, Lindy’s will replace the standard patty with a fried chicken breast or vegetarian patty.

The menu also includes cheesesteaks, which can be ordered with the same toppings as the burgers.

The menu classifies Super Sunrise Burger as a breakfast sandwich, but it is available at all times. It is a single patty, topped with two fried eggs, bacon, cheddar cheese, tater tots and ketchup.

“That was probably the best burger I ever had,” Ernie Cruz said after eating one for the first time. “It was awesome how the tater tots are actually part of the burger and having eggs on it too was great.”

Other options include the Lindy’s Original, known as “The OG,” and the Blue Suede Cow. The Mac-N-Cheese remains a top seller, along with the ever-popular Dirty Sanchez, which is drenched in green chiles, jalapenos, guacamole and pepper jack cheese.

“It’s a burger filled with flavors from south of the border,” patron Will Russell said. “The best part was all the cheese on it.”

While Reilly offers many burgers, he has a personal favorite.

“I love the Velvet Hammer,” he said. “It’s a fried egg on a cheeseburger. The Fat Bastard is my No. 2 to that one.”

The Fat Bastard is a newer addition to the menu, based on the Krispy Kreme burger. The patty is loaded with lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo, bacon, eggs and cheddar packed between two honey buns.

“It’s like pancakes and eggs and steak, it’s so good,” Reilly said.

Regardless of the toppings, Reilly wants to respect the beef.

“I don’t like to lose the flavor of the meat because that messes with the burger,” he said.

Lindy’s is always a good choice for lunch. The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. every day except Sunday, when it opens at noon.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Lindy’s stays open until 2 a.m., making it a prime spot to gather and end the night. With an O.M.F.G., perhaps.

FYI

Lindy’s on 4th

431 N. Fourth Ave.

207-2384

Facebook: Lindy’s on 4th

STOMPING GROUNDS: Kon Tiki lounge

STOMPING GROUNDS: Kon Tiki lounge

Story and photo by Debbie Hadley

Kon Tiki is not the kind of joint you frequent for the food, although lunch and dinner are served at the oldest Hawaiian lounge in town. The main draw is a strong drink, Polynesian flavor decor and rockin’ island jams.

Opened in 1963, Kon Tiki at Broadway and Swan has been a Tucson favorite for more 45 years. With bamboo-covered walls and an ornate fountain topped with a life-sized swordfish, Kon Tiki is pumped with Hawaiian style in every available space.

The bar is in real Tiki form with palm tree branches hanging over the bar roof and logs of bamboo making up the bottom half of the bar.

Patron Taylor Roberts calls the decor “distinctive island flair.” Every inch of wall space is covered with large conch shells, strings of bamboo or stacked coconut shells. Beach ball-sized multi-colored light fixtures, each enveloped in fishing nets, provide lighting.

The drink menu is a trip, with a variety of cocktails creatively named. There are several secret ingredient drinks available, such as The Lunchbox or Mystery Drink. The more aptly named Tropical Itch with rum and whiskey and Barrel of Rum are ready to order as well.

The most popular drink, according to waitress Alisha Shelton, is the infamous Scorpion bowl, a mix of rum, gin, brandy and other liquors. Labeled as the largest drink in the world, it can be ordered for one or two. “Girls order the strawberry, guys get the regular,” Shelton says.

She notes that regulars come to Kon Tiki as a “pit stop to get a drink and then go on to the next place.”

Kon Tiki serves lunch, dinner and dessert. Restaurant hours are Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 4-9 p.m. The bar closes Monday-Thursday at 1 a.m., Friday-Saturday at 2 a.m. and Sunday at midnight.

Next weekend, when the island gods are calling, try Kon Tiki for the best assortment and taste of any cocktails around.

FYI

Kon Tiki

Address: 4625 E. Broadway

Phone: 323-7193