|Indian fry bread for Navajo tacos.|
My taste buds are going crazy in Tucson. I am loving the plethora of authentic Mexican food that surrounds me here. We have tried everything from the street vendors selling Sonoran hot dogs in the convenient market parking lot to the historic El Charro Café which claims to be the oldest restaurant in Arizona. And, much to my surprise and amazement, Betsy is now a convert to the Mexican culinary delights and words like tamale and enchilada freely roll off her tongue as we order.
We kicked off our culinary fiesta nearly two months ago when we spotted an ad for a tamale festival. The festival’s headliner came in so many varieties featuring many different flavors, spices, and ingredients. Our gastronomic worlds were not opened to tamales and it was a great foodie revelation.
When our friends Dan and Charlotte were visiting, they wanted one of their last nights in Tucson to be spent enjoying Mexican food. As it turns out the authentic food at Perfecto’s Mexican Restaurant was great but it was almost all of ours last meal…period. We were settled into our feast when we noticed the waitress lock the door. Our thoughts were that it was closing time (and that may have been the case) but the evening news report of a nearby shooting had us thinking differently. This may have been our most exciting stop yet. Not necessarily for the food but to survive the location! The restaurant is family-owned and they take pride in serving delicious food. We are still contemplating going back for the buffet…..in the daytime.
|The poster to the left of the restaurant says "Life after Meth." That should have been our clue about the neighborhood.|
The thought of eating a hot dog wrapped in bacon was more than our waistlines could handle so we put off eating a Sonoran hot dog as long as we could. Finally, the rave reviews and countless “you have to try one” directives by locals compelled us to drive up the street to El Perro Loco – a stand that sells nothing but Sonoran hot dogs made three ways. There is cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, mushrooms, jalapenos and more cheese for toppings. Being a little unsure of how this bun of extreme pork fat and calories was going to muse our taste buds, we decided to split one. Big mistake – we were fighting for the last bite. I managed to squeeze out the last part of the hot dog and left Betsy with only a bite of bun. Ha, ha.
|It ain't fancy but sure was good.|
|The question now is "How many hours do I have to spend on|
the treadmill in order to go back?"
The Sonoran dog put us in hot dog euphoria so we decided to keep up our guilty pleasure and go back to a dive we saw a month ago called Pat’s Drive In. Pat’s is a Tucson institution known for cheap, messy chili dogs and hand-cut fries. Somewhere under the chili and beans is a hot dog. There was no way we were going to eat this in the car so using the hood as a table was a perfectly suitable option.
|Of course we had to get the fries too.|
|Would you believe I went to etiquette school?|
One cannot come to Tucson and not eat at El Charro Café which claims to be the oldest restaurant in Arizona and claims to have invented the chimichanga. As we settled down, placed our margarita order and perused the menu, I knew what must be done….I would have to order the chimichanga. Betsy settled into an enchilada and a delicious taco and was pleased with her choice. El Charro is famous for their carne seca which is a meat “dried in the Sonoran sun” and then reconstituted. It sounds gross but is really delicious and full of flavor. El Charro Café in old historic Tucson did not disappoint.
|Betsy's carne seca taco with slaw and pork enchilada|
accompanied by rice and refried beans.
|The famous carne seca chimichanga.|
|Tina, me, Susan, and Betsy with aching bellies from laughing and|
A morning check of Facebook alerted us that some of our good friends from New Orleans were in Tucson visiting family for the holidays. A quick “are you gals still in town” was immediately followed by a “yes, are you in Tucson?” “Let’s have lunch.” “Would love to, where?” “The Tucson Tamale Company.” “Can’t wait, see you there.” There is that magic word again….tamale. Oh boy were the tamales great! The tamales come in over 25 different flavors…like a Thanksgiving tamale with turkey and cranberries, spinach and mushroom with blue corn masa, roasted plantains in yam masa, spicy chipotle beef, and the list goes on and on. We were so happy to get to spend time with our friends that we had not seen for two years and enjoy such delicious food. Definitely a highlight!