Friday, October 28, 2016

Wait...That Place Closed Down?

It happens.

A decent restaurant opens up, you go there now and then, it gets better with time, you get to know some of the staff or even the owner, you have that go to dish after a rough day so you call up to place an order but....nobody answers.


That's strange. You were just there the other day...or was it a week ago? Maybe two? I mean, they always answer the phone. Maybe their phones are down. Better just drive over there to order in person. I'll have a drink while I wait.

Then you get there's closed. The place is dark, the doors are shut, no cars in the parking lot. But, its Friday at 6pm. This is prime time. What gives?

You go online only to find their website is down. That's weird. Better check Facebook.

But when you search social media you find a discomforting message strewn across their feed:

Thank you everybody! It's been a good run but we had to shut down for good.
We appreciate your business. 
Sorry for any inconveniences. 

Whoa. They closed down. That sucks. I mean, they didn't say anything or...


When you like and give business to a restaurant for a good amount of time only to have them shut their doors, you kind of feel cheated a bit. Right? Unfortunately this is a common occurrence in the restaurant world; sales falter, costs go up, rent doubles, you gotta shut the doors before it gets any worse. But you were really craving that seafood dish. Ugh! Why didn't they say anything?

Driving across Tucson we came across a good amount of abandoned shells of once busy restaurants. This got us to thinking about why they closed and how we feel about them closing. Some we will miss and some we will...uh... Meh. 

So here are just six of the one's we wanted to address. And, believe us, there are a lot more just sitting there kind of rotting in the Tucson sun, but we will get to those later. 

Here we go.

Cali Grill
1800 E Ft. Lowell Rd

We totally saw this one coming.

When Cali Grill first opened its doors a few years back, we were excited to find that it was a casual Vietnamese restaurant and not a trying-too-hard "California cuisine" place. The food was good and after being in business for a while it actually got better. We loved their pho and their spring rolls were really tasty.

But it was usually empty. Like on a Saturday night there would be, maybe, a couple seated in the back and, maybe, one dude at the bar. Not good. This went on for quite some time and the last time we were there it did not go well.

It was a Saturday night and, as per usual, the place was empty except for these piles of dirty plates and used bowls just sitting on table tops. It appeared that they might have had some business earlier but whoever was on the floor that night just didn't get around to bussing them. Thing is, there was only one guy on the floor.

And, apparently, he was the cook that night too.

Yeah. This weird kid that looks like he plays way too much Skyrim not only was the server but was also the 'chef' as well. We placed a small order, he took it then went in the back and started to make it. And it took forever. To make the experience all the more odd one TV was on playing some bad sci-fi movie, no music was on, a light was flickering in almost strobe-like eeriness, the air was off, it was stifling (this was like in mid-July) and some of the un-bussed dishes were starting to attract flies. Gross.

Unfortunately the food was actually pretty good but when the place went dark a few days later we were not shocked in the least.

Thing is they re-opened in the Tucson Mall under the new name Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant. And they deliver! Maybe that spotty kid who took our order and then cooked our food is the new driver. Maybe he answers the phone, then cooks it then drives it over. Wow. That kid is amazing!

There are far better Vietnamese restaurants in Tucson anyway so...whatever. Not a huge loss. But good luck to them with their new location. We might have to check it out.

Campbell and Ft. Lowell

Here's the thing: We totally thought this place would make it.

When a fairly successful Italian restaurant decides to open a "fast casual" concept in mid-town serving paired down versions of their upscale dishes with prices to match, you'd think it would do well.

If you remember we did a feature on Orenccio's a while back when they first opened up, and we liked what we ate. The sandwiches were decent, the pastas were tasty and the caprese salad was up there with some of the best in town. Really fresh and fairly delightful.

Then one day....boom. Closed. Like, um...okay.

But why?

Upon closer inspection we saw that the property management had seized, seized!, any and all equipment on premises and warned that if they return they will be trespassing.


Dude, Orenccio's was only open for like a month. What kind of sick damage did they do in that short time to warrant a seizure of equipment and threaten with a trespassing citation?

No clue. Investigating online has us turning up zilch. So, bye Orenccio's. That


Ted's Country Store
2760 N. Tucson Blvd.

We love delis. We love delis so much that we often go back to ones that really don't do it for us but are compelled by the trance of cured sliced meats, soft bread and strong cheeses.

Ted's Country Store was kind of like that.

It was...okay, it had its moments but there are way way better delis and specialty markets in this town.

One thing though...was their bisque. Oh man, we will definitely miss their lobster bisque, a special they ran on just Fridays or something. It was one of the best cream based soups we have ever enjoyed. Rich, flavorful, tangy, bright, supple and oh so good. That is the one thing we will mourn about Ted's.

Thing is, kind of like Cali Grill, it just sort of went downhill.

The last time we were in there they had a decent meat selection but there were no signs and no prices in front of them indicating anything. So we had to guess.

"Is that pastrami?"

"No. Corned beef."

"How much for a pound?"

*thinking* "Um...let's say seven bucks."


Plus their inventory of specialty items such as imported oils, canned olives, sauces and such were all but gone. Their once stocked beer fridge was empty. No customers sitting and enjoying a sandwich on their patio. So I had to ask how things were going.

"Really good," said the guy behind the counter. "In fact we're clearing out a bunch of stuff to make room for new inventory. Keep checking in to see what we got."

We did. Closed two weeks later.

In its stead is the Drawing Studio and their parking lot is pretty full most days. So that's kinda cool. But we're not an art blog, its all about the food here so not being able to get their lobster bisque on Fridays kind of stinks. And we did enjoy a sandwich from them; always fresh and always on point.

So boo to that.

But yay to cool art classes at affordable prices.

Anyway...moving on.

Tokyo Rice Bowl
2807 N. Campbell Blvd.

This is a sad tale of when the little guy gets pushed out by the bigger boys.

Tokyo Rice Bowl was killer. They had a great selection of Chinese and Japanese dishes for fairly cheap. Not to mention the portions were pretty big and they prided themselves on serving up super fresh and super tasty food...which they did.

Then one day corporate American came knocking at the door.

A Panda Express moved in right across the street and you could slowly watch the deterioration of both the building and its business. Not wanting to bow down to pre-fab big business cuisine we still gave business to Tokyo Rice Bowl. The food was good, as always, it was just that...well...

Kinda of like Cali Grill (okay totally like Cali Grill) one guy took the orders then he went in the back and cooked them. And, again, food took a long long time to get to you. The last time we were there a few customers were in front of us and they looked pissed.

"How long is this going to take?" someone asked their friend.

"No clue. So sorry. I hope the food is worth it."

It was but...jeeze! At what cost? So we ordered our fried rice and yakatori chicken and, yep, we waited and waited and waited. And its not like they have a bar or some kind of entertainment (not even a TV), so we just stared at our phones and let out a sigh now and then.

The guy was nice, always was; big smiles, lots of "Thank you, thank you!" as he handed you the food, but it became really apparent that folks were lining up at the bigger hitters on Campbell Avenue.

So the day when we drove by and saw that his sign was taken down and a lock on the front door was applied we let out a disappointed "Aww man" and wished the little man who ran the place best of luck.

So we hope you are doing well Tokyo Rice Bowl guy. You were always cool and your food was always awesome.

Cheers for that!

Luke's Italian Beef
101 E. Ft. Lowell

Now you can still get Luke's sandwiches at their other three locations, but this one was close to the house so there you go.

This, to us, was hangover food. It was big, greasy, meaty and served up by big meaty and greasy dudes. The fries were amazing; think crinkle cut potatoes that were always crispy and hot. The sandwiches reflected on the employees and customers. Generous portions of beef on soft rolls served up with hot peppers and the like, when you were hurting from a long night of booze guzzlin', Luke's was the place to go.

Then after 23 years of being in business at the Ft. Lowell location, they just shut their doors and moved on. We suppose the other sites were doing far better seeing as this one was kind of in the middle of nothing so you had to make a point of traveling there to get the goods.

It was a fun little stand, no pretension, just an honest hot dog, burger or sandwich for an honest price. Mind you, it was never our super favorite place. We like a lot of other sandwich shops over Luke's. It could sometimes be a bit heavy, drippy and kind of fatty, which is what you want when you are hanging over, but for a normal lunch we would pass it by knowing we would be sandwich baby'd by the late afternoon. And if you got things to do, you know, like work and stuff, having a shovel load of beef and spicy toppings sitting in your belly doesn't make for mega conductive productivity.

All you want to do is food nap.

But the other locations are doing fine so...there's that.

La Fuente
1749 N. Oracle Rd.

Okay. Here is where we can get a bit snippy, nasty if you will.

As you know we always like to stay positive on this blog. Even the places we make fun of for being so crappy, we never say their name or get too hostile.

But we will say this about La Fuente closing:

"Bye Felicia!"

 We've only been there twice, but both times? Yeah, not so much.

Our first experience involved buying a Groupon for the place, like $10 gets us $20 off of our next visit or something. Sure, fine. We have discovered a bunch of decent places by using services such as Groupon. Some good some the opposite of good. We were hoping that a restaurant that has been open for 55 years did so by the merit of their cuisine. So we popped in for lunch and ordered up a good supply of stuff.

All of it...not good.

Bland, flavorless, over cooked beef, dry chicken; none of the items we ordered we enjoyed.

The place was pretty packed though. And it was huge! Room after room of tables and chairs with a bustling service staff delivering heaping plates of...crap.


Years go by and we were in the neighborhood of La Fuente running errands. They have (had) a lunch buffet so we thought let's give it another try with the buffet seeing as we were really hungry.

Bad decision.

The beans were crusty, the lettuce wilted, the taco shells chewy and to make matters worse the lunch buffet was not cheap. We ate enough so we weren't cranky anymore and then left only to get food about an hour later somewhere else. That was two strikes and we didn't want to go back for thirds.

Then in 2014 it closed. They re-opened in Sierra Vista and we sincerely hope that location has stepped it up as far as the food is concerned. But we highly doubt that we will make the trek out there to find out. Plenty of amazing Mexican restaurants in our vicinity and just on the outskirts of.

Hey, at least these places tried. And we tried them all. Liked most, and some we wont miss, but operating a successful restaurant in Tucson is not an easy undertaking.

Go ahead, give it a shot. We'll stop by to see what's up.

Good luck. 

Camera, Typing and Occasional Sadness
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Almost Halloween, 2016

Metal Influence:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Crazy for Kazoku!

The hunt continues.

The need for the next best sushi place always seems elusive yet enticing.

Just like our lusts for rickety food trucks, broke down taquerias and burger shacks that seem to attract the wrong crowd for all the right reasons, locating and locking down a sushi joint that amazes and surprises that isn't a glossy chic with prices to match always proves a challenge.

It's easy to run downtown and follow the steps of those glued to up-to-the-minute review sites telling you where to go and what to do or soft openings operating in hushed tones that only social media zealots whisper to you online before it closes once the truffle infused udon abstraction has all sold out. We here at the Tucson Homeskillet don't (really) care about all that fluff. We like food. Good, honest, relatable yet unpredictable yummy food.  And we have found our fair share of hidden gems or questionable spots that serve up some sumptuous eats. It's what we do. It's the reason for this dopey food site.

Sort of.

So coming across a building next to an auto yard that looked as if it were closed or at least on its way to be on Speedway Avenue, we just had to hit the brakes and see if this place was either A) crap or B) the opposite.

Once we stepped inside and were met with a gracious host, a bowing chef and an impeccable dining environment, we knew we had discovered something that was most definitely option B.

Cucumber salad to get things rolling

The place was and is called Kazoku Sushi and Japanese Cuisine.

The interior was so much different than it exterior. No noisy clanging of machinery from the auto repair lot, the chugging traffic of the busy byway was all but silenced and the weather worn shingles and marquee of the building had warped into a near medical sterilized environment yet mixed with the warmth of a caring staff and (hopefully) food to match.

Once we were seated we took our time to glance over the fairly substantial menu. Of course the appetizers had the ubiquitous edamame, gyoza and eggrolls, but we were happy to find two different styles of "dynamite" (think a type of really spicy mayonnaise over seafood), a kaki fry which are deep fried oysters and, what's this...a quail egg shooter? Oh man.

Wait, and a sea urchin shooter? For real this place rules.

Who does this in Tucson?

Oh, wait...Kazoku does.



Nigiri in all of its glory

Outside of the adventurous possibilities, we entered the realm of 'let's keep it safe for right now' due to the fact that this was our first time and if they screw up the bare essentials then we know we have to move on.

Nope. We stayed.

The miso soup was some of the best we have had...anywhere. Really rich and brothy with a heavy miso tang. The edamame was glorious, warm and salty. The cucumber salad was good if not a bit pickley...that is if 'pickley' is actually a word. Which it is not. The cucumbers were tasty but it was a little heavy with the vinegar.

We then got a plethora of stuff to sample. Being big adventurous eaters and not afraid to try what could be "challenging" in a possible "iffy" location, we decided to get a good load of nigiri, sashimi and sushi rolls. You know, the raw stuff.

All we can say is: Wow.

Feeling passionate about their Passion Roll

It can be a bit intimidating to eat raw fish in a land locked desert city but, whatever...

The nigiri, ranging from yellowtail to tuna to salmon to unagi were simply stunning. Fresh and buttery, all four options were sumptuous and made us close our eyes for a second as we took them in one by one. Absolutely delicious.

The salmon and tuna sashimi were right up to par with the nigiri. Big hunks of precision cut fillets that were at first imposing from just the sheer magnitude of their thickness, proving a little ambitious a bite, but then melted in your mouth and sent you reeling from its texture and flavor.

And to think we were about to just drive by this place. Who knew?

The sushi rolls were awesome as well. How could they not be? The little chef at his station is and was a culinary wizard and if he can pull off a serious sashimi and nigiri then the rolls should be a snap.

Some of our favorites included the Passion Roll which features spicy tuna with avocado then topped with tempura flakes and drizzled in a spicy kani reduction. The Kamikaze Roll comes equipped with a lightly battered fried fish cake, shrimp tempura, white onions, more avocado, more kani and finished with masago and a rich eel sauce. We also dug the "Y" Roll. This one has tamago (egg), cucumbers, a spicy mayo, masago and stuffed with fried sweet potatoes. Really fun and playful to eat.

There are so many sushi options and we could only hold down so much so you are just going to have to get over to Kazoku to eat and discover for yourself. You'll thank us. No really. You will.

Oh yeah...the California roll was good too. Always is. They got that one right for sure.

Sashimi and California Roll in repose

Here's the thing:

Kazoku was literally almost empty, as far as customers were concerned. This was shocking because reading their reviews and check-ins online it would seem that this place would always be bumping. It was quiet, like real quiet. Mind you it was a hot Wednesday afternoon and when we returned for a second time it was pretty much the same: Silent.

Not that we mind. We actually like eating delicious food in a peaceful environment so we can concentrate even more on what's going on in our mouths and down on the plate, but we felt bad for the chef and owner. She didn't seem to mind though, in fact the owner appeared to embrace the calm.

Perhaps they kill it on weekends and at night. But for $10 at lunch you get a full plate of amazing food and appetizers you'd think this place would be packed from the moment they opened. Not on the times that we have been there. We'll have to come back for dinner to see what their rush looks like. And we wont mind waiting a bit for our food if they are indeed a little slammed; quality and flavor of Japanese cuisine such as this is far worth the wait.

So we are telling you here Tucson Homeskillet readers: Get yourself over to Kazoku sushi and see (and taste) for yourself. And if you don't like it,'re wrong.

Sorry. There are plenty of other food blogs to hang out with.

Oh did we mention that they finish off the whole dining experience with a bowl of plum ice cream? We didn't? Well now we did. But we forgot to take a picture of it. Why?

Well we just did! We were lucky to get the photos we did take for this post. The food there is just too good to always be taking pictures. Gosh.

But we are a food blog and so...we need to take photos. So there's that.

Again, sorry.

Thanks Kazoku! We'll be back for more soon.

And thank you for reading this and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed this food. Because we did. It's pretty apparent right? Yeah.

See you next week.


So fresh and so delicious...thanks Kazoku!

Camera, Typing and Much Sushi-ness
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
A Very Warm Mid-October Day, 2016

Metal Influence:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Yes, We Finally Ate At Taco Giro. Yes, It Was Delicious.

Basically last week's post, the one about Pat's Drive In, should have been labeled as the "Barrio Hollywood Chronicles Part 1", because exploring all of the amazing food that area has to offer is on the top of our list. Not that we haven't been down there before, we have, many times, but not as frequently as we'd like. Why you may be asking yourself?

Because of the car.

Sorry....its our first time here

The old Impala has been giving us nothing but problems and a few hazardous moments here and there for the past couple of years and after a while just driving it more than a mile proved to be a tense situation.

It was totally worn out, a bit beat up and we ended spending more on the upkeep than what it was actually worth. One day the entire coolant system exploded, right around Xmas, and that set us back almost a grand. Happy holidays indeed. Another time, while simply running some errands, the car just stopped; died near an intersection. Turns out some major cable was worn so much that the connection was lost and it took a bunch of duct tape to hold it in place till we could get it into the shop. Fun huh?

The best was the reason we ended up buying a new whip and eventually, thankfully, ditching the old. The just wouldn't start. It sounded like it wanted to start, it would be all "chug chug chug" but then...nothing. And when our trusted mechanic of many years is there, stunned, scratching his bald head in total confusion, staring blankly at the engine, we finally threw up our hands and went "That's it! We give up! We're getting a new car tomorrow."

And we did.

Now that a safe and efficient ride has been restored, our faith in our culinary adventures has been reinvigorated as well.

So first up was a place we had been meaning to go to for quite some time. It's a local chain and is well known for its generous seafood platters among so many other fantastic bites.

The place?

Taco Giro.

Salsa bar, second only to a real bar

Taco Giro was always on the list as a "must try" but we never got around to it. But when we sampled their bean and bacon soup at last years Bacon Fest we knew we had to put it a bit closer to the top. It was delicious. Savory, salty, spicy and one of the few free nibbles to actually feature "bacon" and not its other namesake and cured companion, pork belly, which most other dishes did that day. It was also one of the few places that we went back to for seconds, and thirds, because of the texture and flavor of the soup was so delicious.

So on a beautiful early autumn afternoon we got in the lovely new ride and headed down to St. Mary's to get our fill and to see if Taco Giro lives up to its reputation and reason for having five locations across Tucson.

Here's what went down.

Steak quesadilla was simple and simply amazing

We chose the St. Mary's/Grande Ave location because we really wanted to get back to the Barrio Hollywood stretch. We love this part of town but because of unreliable wheels it has been elusive the last few years. Whatever, it was time to see (and eat) what Taco Giro had to offer up.

First off, we were impressed that the parking lot was pretty full on a late afternoon Wednesday. It was pretty warm out, like high 80s, so only folks that could find shade on the inviting looking patio were out there. Once we got inside we were surprised to see that the actual space itself wasn't too slammed. In fact there were a bunch of tables available so we grabbed one and began scanning the rather wide breadth of the menu.

"Where are all of those people then?", we asked ourselves. Perhaps there is a secret back room that can't be seen from the normal confines of the main dining area. A quick look around and we came up empty; no additional eating area. Huh. In fact we almost wound up in the kitchen looking for this phantom chamber. Sorry about that.

A friendly server promptly arrived and got our drink order. She came back a minute or so later and asked if we were ready to order. We were not. For real, their menu isn't all Cheesecake Factory huge but it is seven pages of laminated items ranging from breakfast to dinner entrees. So, yeah, it took us a while.

Fish taco, shrimp taco and it didn't stop there

Eventually we decided to try some basic items and perhaps one or two "exotic" dishes. The soup that we fell in love with at the Bacon Festival was there, the carne es su jugo, but it was hot out and boasted a price of $12. Not that we're scared by elevated prices for quality items its just that, well...we kinda weren't in the mood. Next time Taco time.

We settled on a steak quesadilla (how can you go wrong?), a collection of fish and shrimp tacos and the campechana tostada which is a mixed variety of seafood on a thick corn tortilla. Sounded rightfully enticing as we had heard about the quality and flavor of their fish for so long.

Taco Giro has a ton of amazing stuff on their menu and if the food we got this afternoon was to be any good we will definitely be back to try some of their other options.

They have a full breakfast menu, both Mexican and American, that includes a T-Bone steak, three eggs, huge helping of hash browns and toast for $14.99 or chiliquitas or huevos rancheros for $6.99 if a steak and some eggs for almost fifteen bucks doesn't sound tempting or financially feasible in the morning.

There are a bunch of lunch specials such as tostadas de ceviche de pescado and caldo de pollo starting at $5.99 and dinner specials ranging from $8.99 that includes pechuga de pollo, a carne asada plate and a grilled mojarra platter. All of it looks really, really tasty.

Things can get a bit on the pricier side of things, such as their fajita dinner and anything with a steak or ton of seafood attached to it (think $15 - $20) but the combination plates are in the $7 - $10 area and are really generous and really good.

Oh, look, our food arrived!

Seafood tostada was a bounty of awesome

We first dug into the steak quesadilla and, was awesome. Juicy, perfectly grilled marinated steak in a huge handmade tortilla with just enough cheese to satiate our "American" palates on the traditional dish. Fresh guacamole came with it too, like a mound of the stuff. Tangy, rich and seasoned perfectly. Yum.

The fish tacos did not disappoint. Flaky grilled white fish under a sea (yes, we said sea) of crispy slaw and zesty crema. The shrimp was meaty and moist without a hint of fishiness, which is always impressive. Paired with the variety of hot sauces you get on your table, this was a serious lunch win on all fronts.

The jewel in the crown of our royally awesome food was the mixed seafood tostada. There was octopus, more shrimp, crab, more whitefish paired with citrus, cilantro, onion, tomatoes and then topped with market fresh avocado slices. Oh man, this sent us into an ocean of textures and flavors. Everything was so clean, so well seasoned and so composed we were stunned that it wasn't one of the more expensive items on the menu. So good.

Okay, okay...we get it. We are now fans of Taco Giro (which basically means 'taco turn' and features a chicken on their, sure) and will be back to try out some of their other offerings. Twenty bucks or not, we are in too deep with the TG and now we have to seek out the other locations.

But we still have so much left to explore in the Barrio Hollywood neighborhood. Taco Giro is only the beginning. And it is surely not the end.

With a new ride and a new sense of Homeskillet pride, we press on.

You ready?

Let's do this!

Thanks for reading. See you next week...

Thank you Taco Giro!

Camera, Typing and Eating
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Yom Kippur, 2016

Metal Influence: 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Pat's Chili Dogs: A Little Celebration For A Tucson Tradition

"So how come you never did a thing about Pat's chili dogs? Thought you liked stuff like that."

"We do. Maybe we will."


"How about now?"

"Oh. Okay. Like now now or now later?"

"Now now."

*long pause*


One mild, one hot comin' up

Pat's Drive In (or more commonly known as Pat's chili dogs) has been serving up sloppy awesome since 1955. Founded by a guy named Henry Patterson, (or more commonly referred to as Pat), this little fast food stand has stood the test of time, waistlines, dedicated fans, an obscene amount of criticism and above all the question of what makes a "real" chili dog.

Do you put beans in your chili for a chili dog or just meat?

Let the great debate begin!

(Personally, we prefer just meat for our chili dogs which goes against what they do over at Pat's, which is a bean based there's that, sorry Pat's)

Always a line waiting for the goods

According to local legend, the recipe for their "famous" chili has changed over the years, which has upset a lot of regular customers that have been coming here for decades. Others deny this. Insiders stake that the recipe hasn't switched at all since its inception, but rather perhaps whoever was on chili prep that day might have added too little cumin, or too much paprika...stuff like that. Which can happen. And it does happen.

A lot.

Having been here only a handful of times, we have never noticed a change in the chili recipe. The recipe itself?

It's fine.

The chili at Pat's probably wont win any awards but it does go well with the dogs, which are...


No actually the links they use at Pat's are a nice quality; soft and flavorful that nestle well with the steamed buns that surround the slapdash fillings. All for like $2.

C'mon now. Now that's a win all around.

If you make them, they will come

Observing the controlled chaos that goes about inside during a rush is a thing to marvel at.

Each employee has a specific station and if they deviate from that said assignment...pure anarchy. It's a bit like watching a line of ants get scuffled by a falling leaf that got in their way. Sure they press on and eventually get proper order reinstated, but for a few minutes a good scream is to be heard, blame gets tossed around like a game of Hot Potato, someone nearly quits and no one knows what do to for a few seconds.

It's quite the spectacle if you ask us.

But once structure falls back into place, all is right with the world.

That's why we think the cooks and servers there are so grouchy, or ornery is a better term: Constant movement, not getting rich doing this and Carl showed up late again.

It's always Carl isn't it?

Stupid Carl...

Shouldn't that be Weeniecat Country?

Our first experience with Pat's was a couple of years ago. And it was sort of on a dare.

It was early July, hot, had the day off and we were reeling that Joey Chestnut usurped Takeru Kobayashi for eating the most hot dogs. Influenced by that bout, we set off to find this Pat's place and see how many dogs we could stuff in our beer soaked faces thinking that we could challenge Chestnut's 66 hot dogs in ten minutes.

Kobayashi only ate 63. Yeah..."only".

Got about three in before hitting the weenie wall. Fries were involved too, but still. Only three. The chili dogs themselves aren't very big which made us wonder why we could only put away three.

"Remember that bar-b-que we were at earlier?", noted one of our 4th of July reveler friends. "You had like four hamburgers."

Oh yeah. We did eat a lot before coming to Pat's. Huh. That explains it.

For all of our smarts, we sure am dumb.

The dogs were good though.

Welp, you get what you pay for

But the fries! Oh man...the fries are what kill it for us.

Hand cut, thinly sliced and perfectly greasy fries are the ideal accompaniment to their dogs and burgers. The old school fry trough looks as if it hasn't changed since the Kennedy administration and we are sure that's what gives the side treat their sheen and moxie.

Hot, chewy, reminiscent of a state fair or circus, the fries at Pat's are some of the best in town and that is a throw down we will stand behind.

Many chefs here in Tucson take the fry game to a whole new stratosphere, but there is something about a lil' stand that's been standing around for over 50 years offering up classically cooked fries served in a white sack that turns a deep silver from the amount of grease emanating from them.

You may think 'gross' but you know you want some right now.

We know we do.

Go on...go get some.

Do it now!

The fries are kind of the star here

Located on the corner of North Grande Avenue and West Niagara, in the Barrio Hollywood district, Pat's isn't exactly in the most picturesque of locations.

We don't care. We love this part of town. Heck, Taco Giro and Tania's 33 are just down the block, some of the best food around, but a lot of timid tourists looking for a taste of old timey Tucson or so called "foodies" that are on the prowl for that next funky and "totally hilarious" grub spot might get thrown off a bit. This particular stretch of Tucson is a little rough, kinda run down, very blue collar and very barrio Tucson.

If you go online and read some of the "complaints" about Pat's, most will be about the conditions of the neighborhood, the cleanliness of the tables outside (you gotta buss that stuff yourself pal, kids inside are too busy to wipe down benches making it all "safe" for you to eat their deep fried majesty) or the attitudes of the staff.

"Ugh. So rude," one 'critic' had to say about the employees. "Like he didn't even say thank you. Just took my money like an animal. I think they're all like gang members or something."

Probably. I hope so. Better them cooking us up some chili dog madness then being out on the street getting into mischief. Pat's is definitely a "locals only" type of place or for those that are cool enough to just relax, sit back, go to your happy place and eat some burgers and dogs from a drive-in for just a couple of bucks.

Otherwise, good luck finding these prices and this kind of atmosphere in the Foothills. Aint gonna happen.

Although they do buss tables in the Foothills. But you're going to have to play extra for that...

"Where's my chili dog at?"

With that said we at the Tucson Homeskillet just want to thank Pat's for doing what they do, why they do it and how they've been doing it for so long. We love tradition and are glad that they have kept to their food heritage for this long. We have a feeling they will be around for many more years to come. By the amount of business they do on a regular basis is an attest to that.

It's also nice to know that when you just want to have a taste of your childhood or maybe that one time when you took your date here and things went pretty well because now you're married and all that, Pat's is that place. No fuss, a bit of a mess, this walk up drive in is an institution whether you like it or not.

We like it. just can't have beans in the chili for a chili dog. It's just....

Sorry. Don't wanna mess with tradition.


Thanks Pat's!

Camera, Typing and Slight Heartburn
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Early October, 2016

Metal Influence: