Friday, June 30, 2017

If This Place Was Just Called "Dave" It'd be Weird

First let me preface that all of the photos I took were done by my phone. Not even my new fancy phone, my old one that had a crack in the lens. In a place like Dave and Busters I really didn't feel safe bringing my camera camera so apologies for the slightly fuzzy and kinda crappy shots.

Plus lugging a high-end digital camera around while trying to balance a beer and steer on some Fast and Furious machine would totally suck. So there's that as well.

Anyway, Tucson finally got itself one of these mega-clusters of food, booze and games and its about time we say. Located in the Tucson Marketplace area just off of South Park Avenue and East Benson Highway, nestled between a movie theater and a god awful Asian buffet (that surprisingly serve decent quesadillas, go figure) Dave and Busters is the kind of family Petri dish of overly excited kids, bored teens, half drunk dads and cell-phone staring moms that you always dreamed about.

I think we've been to one, maybe, back in either California or Texas and, if blurry memory serves, it was kind of fun. So on a searingly hot day with convection oven winds, the Homeskillet crew rallied up and set out to eat, drink and get high score.

This is what went down.

Full on Vegas mode with this place

The way Dave and Busters works is this: If you wanna play games, which you totally do, you purchase a Power Card, which is a card that you 'power up' with cash and can 'recharge' once your credits get low. Like $30 gets you 200 credits, or something like that. Each game requires a certain amount of credits. For example, Skee-Ball is perhaps 2 credits but some surround sound IMAX 3-D type game will be, say, 12. You get the idea right? Most places like this have the exact same method to take your money. But...whatever.

We went on a Wednesday, which we highly recommend, because on Wednesdays all games are discounted. That 12 credit IMAX 3-D game is now 6 credits. Get it? Good. So we loaded up our Power Cards then went to the bar to get slightly loaded.

So sweet, so unnecessary 

Note to all readers: Avoid any and all glow in the dark / snocone / anything that has gummy worms hanging from them drinks. They are pricey, they suck and most of all they are sugary frosted glops with a hint of booze. Just stick to your usual cocktail or beer. Trust here. In fact, the pours we got from the young bartender were actually kind of impressive. So stick with what you know.

As we were sipping away, we couldn't help but notice that the whole stretch of the room, equipped with a restaurant, sports bar, separate eating area and huge game space, looked and sounded a lot like a Las Vegas casino. With the exception of cigarette smoke (you can't even vape in D&B's, thank jeebus) we could have been at some bar in the Venetian, except the one armed bandits were replaced with Big Buck Hunters and Pac Man games with screens 10 feet high.

While we were surveying our afternoon territory, we were beginning to get a bit grumbly in yon tummy so a glance at their menu was in order.


The fare at Dave and Busters is kind of what you would expect. Pages of hot wings, "shareable" appetizers loaded with sliders and cheesy bacon covered fries, nachos, burgers, meat stuffed sandwiches and deep fried cheese.


What was kind of surprising was their selection of salads such as an apple pecan option, a baby kale Caesar and Thai chicken chopped. These actually didn't sound too horrible.

There's also a wide selection of pasta dishes, steaks, ribs, seafood and even a tomato feta soup. Not bad D&B, not bad.

Here's the thing: They put calorie counts on each dish so you know what you are getting into before ordering. No sodium count because if they did, no one would order any of this stuff. Or carbs, Or sugar or saturated fat. I'm thinking the food at D&B is loaded with unnecessary amounts of salt and sugar, enough to put any diet right into the dustbin.

It is absolutely rare here to find a dish under 1000 calories. There's a grilled salmon for about 800, most side salads and soups hover around 200...and that's about it. I mean, you're not coming to Dave and Busters for its farm-to-fork chef driven dishes, you're here to grub on some sloppy and slightly not bad food and play arcade games till your eyes bleed and your thumbs go numb. Right?

Taking a walk around the dining area, the food actually didn't look all that bad either. But between the 5 of us we opted to go for something called, yep, Fives All Around. This long plate came loaded with 5 pieces of chicken quesadilla, 5 pretzel dogs, 5 crispy shrimps, a bunch of dipping sauces and house cut crinkle chips. This monster app was over 3000 calories but, hey, between the 5 of us, for each, that's like, uh...let's see. Carry the 3 into...umm...

Oh forget it.

Anyway, the food wasn't horrible. So...there's that.

Wait, did you wash that cube before...oh nevermind

Then it was time to get down and play some games. This is what Dave and Busters is all about anyway.

We wont get into too much about this because, you know, this is a food blog, but we will say the games were new, clean, loud and fun. Most of the racing games came equipped with wind machines to give you that extra feeling of speed and vigorously shook as well. I spent a lot of time playing the Star Wars Battle Pod. Literally you are in an enclosed game egg and you get to fly X-Wings, Snow Speeders and Speeder Bikes. So many credits went bye-bye with this game. A must do for serious Star Wars nerds.

That and Mario Kart in which you can compete with three of your friends. A good hour was spent doing this one. So freakin' fun.

Not even between the 5 of us, nope

So there you have it: The Tucson Homeskillet does Dave and Busters. We had a great time, it was really hot out so we stayed cool and we were kind of impressed with the bar style family fare they served. I mean, we really didn't eat any because, well...why would you? I mean, the food here has to be better than the neighboring buffet (will not give its name'll see when you get here, just don't...) but when we come back, which we so will because we still have a bunch of credits on our Power Cards, we might go nibble a bit here and there.

But we are going to share! Just don't trust the nutritional scree of caloric blood pressure infusers they serve up.

But they do have tot-chos. And if you know us, we love us some tot-chos.

Next time Dave and Busters.

Next time...

And you know wasn't horrible

Camera, Typing, Eating and Drinking
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
It's Too Hot Out, 2017

Metal Influence:

Monday, June 12, 2017

Gettin' Down With The Throwdown

Tucson Originals had this one planned for last year but unfortunately it got cancelled. Bummer.


This year, 2017, they brought back the Pizza Throwdown and, man, did we have a blast eating all of the foods, drinking the beers and sampling delicious desserts.

The turnout was really great, packed into Fresco Pizza up on Speedway, so it was tight maneuvering around with a camera in one hand and either food/beer in the other. It was cool to see so many people show up for the throwdown and everyone seemed to be having a really fun time.

Even though we were jammed in like anchovies.

But lets get down to the yummy business at hand here!

Here is the Tucson Homeskillet's take on what went down at this years Pizza Throwdown...

An ice cold IPA infused with tangerine went down a little too nicely

First of all it was really hot outside so thankfully the event was held inside. I felt kinda bad for Scott Volpe of Fiamme Pizza who was set up in the parking lot making his incredible Neapolitan pizzas next to a 800 degree oven. Yowtch.

Once inside, it was time to grab a much needed beer from Crooked Tooth Brewery.

They were serving up two different styles of IPA. One was called Hippie in the Headlight, which was refreshing, a good hop kiss with passion fruit and even banana notes. The other was called Quaker with Oranges, had a dryer hop taste but absolutely loved the tangerine essence that stuck with you way after you sip it.

Now that we had the required beers in our belly it was time to chow down on some pizza!

Rocco's Little Chicago Pizza
Not exactly deep dish but deep in flavor

We love Rocco's for so many reasons beyond pizza. First off, the man himself is a Tucson treasure and his wings are some of the best we have had ever. Like ever!

For the throwdown the Rocco's team brought in some thick and saucy slices for us to sample. Not exactly the full on deep dish that they are known for but...pretty close. Really rich and really tasty.

These hit the belly like 'boom!' so we were officially off and running with the pizza eat-a-thon.

Bring it on!

PY Steakhouse
Oh chef Clark, you never disappoint

It was funny to see a steakhouse, like a renown and upscale steakhouse, compete in a pizza throwdown. But then when you consider the executive chef at PY Steakhouse, Ryan Clark, the guy loves him some competition.

These slices were much more delicate and refined (duh!) and was a nice contrast to the heavyweights we ate previously.

Loved the goat cheese mixed with mozzarella and the sausage was really flavorful and juicy. Topped with some fresh microgreens, PY's entry was sure to be in the top 3 by the end of the day.

We were sure of it.

Fresco Pizza
Meaty, cheesy and oh so crusty

Okay then...back to some serious slices.

Fresco packed on three different types of protein, sausage, pepperoni and bacon, to make a meat-tastic triangle of drippy awesome.

The crust had a really good crunch and the slice itself was a feat to take down. But...we did it.

We did it with pride, honor and a stomach that was going "Whoa, whoa, whoa! What are you doing to me here?"

Shut up stomach. We know what we are doing.

We're professionals...

Upper Crust Pizza
You just cant go wrong with the basics

We were relieved to find that Upper Crust forgo their usual 'holy crap how am I going to eat that?' size slices that you can find on their lunch menu. These were manageable and were nicely basic offering a cheese option or pepperoni.

Upper Crust has always been one of our favorite pizzarias along the Campbell stretch of so many pizzarias. These slices delivered the goods and it was nice to see one of our neighborhood go-to pizza places come out and compete.

Good luck!

Fiamme Pizza Napoletana
Simply outstanding, always on point

Things are about to get serious here.

Fiamme is probably the best pizza in Tucson. At least top 3. When it went from a food truck to brick and mortar we were a bit hesitant but after eating there our skepticism went out the door because the food there is so good.

Here, they had a spicy three cheese option and the signature Margharita, which is a dance of house made mozzarella, fresh basil, homemade red sauce and finished with olive oil. Wow. Absolutely delicious.

We thought we were kind of done here

There was one more to take down.

Mama Louisa's
Yes, that is Joe's Special on a pizza...yes

And this one was a beast.

Chef Michael over at Mama Louisas decided to bring the hurt but putting the house specialty, Joe's Special, on a pizza. C'mon now. That is a lot of cheese, sauce, red pepper and pasta on its own but...on a pizza?


As the finale of our pizza take down this one sent us off into the neither realms of carbs and cheese. It was spicy, it was fun but best of all Joe's Special totally worked as a pizza.

So cheers to you chef Mikey!

We also had to sample two different desserts. One was from Mama's Hawaiian BBQ, which was a delicious and amiable lemon tart. Really sharp without the overt sense of sweetness. The other came via Dante's Fire which was a melange of fresh summer berries, vanilla semifreddo, citrus foam and caramel wafer. Wow. All of it totally worked.

In the end Fiamme Pizza took the crown followed by Fresco and Mama Louisas. Dante's Fire took the dessert challenge which was not a shocker at all even though we really liked the delicate lemon wedge from Mama's.

Thank you Tucson Originals for putting on this Pizza Throwdown and cheers to Fresco Pizza for hosting the event. Hopefully next year there will be more competitors and, hopefully, it can be held in a larger venue. Still, we had a great time and congrats to all the winners.


Good crowd, good food, good times

Camera, Typing and Eating
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
The 2nd Sunday in June, 2017

Metal Influence: