Restaurant Reviews for the Sales person on the go

After a few unplanned then scheduled hospital stays put an end to most away from home meals I was looking forward to enjoying the variety of foods that the many places in Tucson offer. To my dismay the number of choices have gone way down, more so for those with what I call healthy selections. Now most all offer great food, but to eat out every day will increase the blood levels of fats and such to a most unhealthy amount.

With COVID 19 closing so many places for the eating inside pleasure, it seems that take out is the norm. Picking up a selection of meats, cheeses and chicken at the grocery deli for a few days of in office sandwiches just gets old . Something about seeing the smiling eyes behind the wild designs of face masks of the counter people at those spots still open that adds to the pleasure of social contact if limited. Walking out to sit in the car to eat is not comfortable, neat or welcome but may be the only option if there are no parks nearby to soak up the fresh air. Some restaurants do have outside seating areas with fewer tables for spacing to use which helps. This fear has gotten so ingrained in my mind that I wonder how often the outside seating spots are cleaned, now is that paranoia or what?

Fortunately most places have updated the websites for those customers who are looking online to take out meals. I do feel sorry for those eateries that are short on funds to have a website designer constantly keep the pages looking fresh each week. With reduced staffing for the preparation, cleaning and servicing of the customers it must be stress to the max for the owners. The large nationwide chains have resources for all that but I tend to look for the local owned small places to spend my reduced lunch money at.

What started out in my mind to be a quick review of some nice stomach filling food locations has turned into more of a vent or rant about the state of affairs in the summer of 2020. Not sure if I will post this or not.

Well if anyone is still reading this I did stop by (twice now) an easy to find location on N. Campbell called Frankie’s South Philly Cheesesteak. It has been way too long since my taste buds have enjoyed a cheesesteak sandwich ( sub? grinder?) They were busy even with the social distance markers which everyone paid attention to. With my call ahead order it took 5 or 6 minutes for the order to be completed. Not a bad wait at all for a still steaming hot package which delivered what the menu promised it would. Loaded with meat, cheese and all the extras the flavor was intense that got more so when I bit into the peppers. The full size is more than enough for one person more so if not as active as in the past. So some of this was for a late afternoon snack which destroyed my need for dinner.

Way too long

Its been way too long between posts, this happens when one  gets too tied up in the daily business routines forgetting to enjoy and savor the sweet things each day brings. Some of the great locations i have come across have already closed their doors which is a loss to our area. There are new and exciting places opening up each month so I am sure it will be fun tasting the variety of presentations.

Notes will be taken each day from now on about what I find so i can share the news as well as get more practice on my log writing skills which is needed.

I guess this would cover many of the “chain” spots all around the world. As I sat down to eat the other day the thought came to me that this shop has not been on my radar to write about. Why not? the inner brain inquired. The answer took some time to surface to the Tucson sunlight. One of the places I end up at 2-3 times a month is a Baggins restaurants, there are about 11 in our area so finding one is not hard. Nice features are the consistency of food quality, menu selection and upbeat attitudes of the staff. Why after eating here many times did it not occur to write about there healthy foods? The breads are fresh and soft the veggies are fresh and not lacking in the sandwiches. Everything is made fresh after you order and usually the wait is not long which gives us a brief conversation before a staff member walks out calling your name. Everything is in the bag, hence the name Baggins.

If you care to eat inside the clean shop versus a take out,  there are tables for 2 or 4 plus in some locations outside tables are plentiful.  This time of year it is very nice to sit outside and people watch as well as look at our beautiful mountain range. At least at the Ft. Lowell location you can see the Catalina range that sits on the north side of the city. Outside lunch in balmy temps in November? it has to be Tucson.

The sandwiches are full they do not skimp on the portions, have not had the subs but will guess they are just as filled as the rest of the menu items.  Ahhh now I remember something, the menu seems to never change!  A while back , think many months, they did come up with a new item on the sandwich board, it was good too. Ordered it a few times then poof it was gone. Others liked it so where did it go? Maybe that is where the boring thought comes in, nothing changes, ever. I come here to eat when I am just hungry and this spot will fill that hunger. Not much more. Its like OK I am hungry oh well guess Baggins will do OK. Maybe its my age kicking in. Except for the one time they tried a new item everything tastes the same to me.

The cookie in each bag is a nice touch, trying to stay away from too many sweets so the soft, yummy carrot cake is not on my list. (think diet) Well once or twice a year when the office staff orders in I will add that to the phone order. The last time the office ordered in I added a sandwich to the list and had a small shock when it came. I don’t mind a small delivery charge and the people who see an order come from our office must fight over who will deliver it. The manager here tips very, very well each time. What made us sit up was that the delivery charge was added to each order, two sandwiches, two bags, two fees. I assume that on days that 3, 4 or 5 sandwiches are on the order they have been adding delivery fees for each one. Gee its still one trip over here.

Forgot to bring my camera the other day so no picture of the shop for this post. On the way back in to drop off the empty bag in the waste can (they are all inside so I guess to prevent trash from blowing away) The counter girl asked if I liked the sandwich and she asked in a sincere way, not as a robot, which was one more nice touch. I give a over all high rating but still the” b” word comes to mind.

A great fish plate mid day

OK I have a hard time pronouncing the name of this place but not a hard time eating here, the food is great.

Pastiche must mean something fancy, I’ll have to ask next time a meal is enjoyed there. This is not a roadside eatery although it is located among many restaurants on Campbell Ave here in Tucson. With in a block or two at most there must be 8 or 9 other spots that serve good food. Pastiche has added a selection of noon meals at nice prices to bring in more people who, they I am sure hope will come back for a more elaborate evening meal. I have in the past thought that this was just too fancy to stop for lunch, too expensive and would take too long to be served and eat. Wrong on all counts ! Yes the facility is nice, very nice but still comfortable for all to eat and relax in. Lunch menu is designed to bring you in to experience how nice it is. The service was fast but not rushed. I was greeted at the door by a pleasant young lady who may be  a university student and shown to a table in the bar area that I requested. Each table has a set of wine glasses and cloth napkins, nice touch indeed. They also have a separate wine room  with a large variety to choose from if you are interested. A glass of red with dinner would be on my list but not for lunch, too easy to fall into that valley.  My fish plate was served before I had time to browse the emails on the smart phone. OK yes, I now have one of those and still working on how to use all or some of the features.

They have been promoting a value priced lunch menu with select items for a while and I had  the fish n chips the last time here with a business friend. At $10.99 tax included it is a value I enjoy. The 3 fillets plus a medium amount of french fries filled the plate along with a small cup of tartar sauce and a cup of ketchup. The fish was lightly breaded and very nice in color, the size fit the plate and were larger than many I have eaten this past year. The fries were firm, not over cooked and easy to eat with either a fork or fingers. The tartar was what I call brisk, had a nice flavor and fresh taste.

This a spot I will return to again and again, maybe even try other items on the lunch menu. Yes a dinner will be planned as well sometime over the holidays. The desserts are made by a pastry chef on site, now, as this guy is trying to stick to something called a diet, the desert menu was passed. The previous visit included coffee which had a very nice smooth taste to it. I think but am not sure they make it in small amounts so it is not over heated.

While this establishment has a soft elegance to it, many were in the blue jean and polo shirt attire. During the time of my visit some customers also picked up a case of wine that was delivered to their car. Most were of the stature and level in life to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere here.  I did recognize a number of business people coming in for lunch as I was leaving so it’s not new to them.  The wait staff were present but not overbearing, I was allowed to enjoy my meal without constant questions as to was “everything all right”  every few minutes as in so many other places.  One of my sore points are  staff who seem to attach themselves to my table. I read my mail and savored a nice meal here in peace.(sure many books on sales tell you to never eat alone as that is wasted time) As soon as the plate was cleaned of all particles of great fish, she was there to pick it up to give me room to read. I had a full meal all within an hour in a comfortable room,  at a cost less than what would be the case at many of the close by establishments.

My goal last year was to find many spots that had heart healthy meals for lunch. Been eating lots of salads over the months, and found myself going more for flavor over bland heart foods. Hope that a proper mixture will be better for me. This is my first blog  and getting to it has not be consistent but it’s getting better and maybe will be helpful to some,  I hope.

Oh yeah the address is 3025 N. Campbell Ave, Tucson, AZ 325-3333 and the website is http://www.pasticheME.com (that’s the way is is on the receipt)

Imagine how a flute, accordion, violin, tin hand drum(name to come later) guitar and more sound in a small white plaster walled room filled with dark tables. A lite voice ringing out sweet ballads from a land far away as feet tap the rhythm of tunes out on red floor bricks that may have put in place as far back as the 1920’s Tonight there were 7 musicians gathered around the table in the semi dark cafe. Sitting off to one side away from the other guests who were listening, eating and drinking draft beers from the homeland. I heard the melodies as I walked down the hallway on the ground floor of this old but solid building not far from the main gate of  the University of AZ.  Happy to know that this meal would be enjoyed even more by the lyrics of Ireland coming to me. Erasing the stresses of the week away. You never know how many or as i saw tonight, who would show up to play and tell stories of the ballads from long ago. Eves dropping on fragments of conversation I guessed  that maybe two were new to the group tonight. As music is a universal language over the world the new comers blended right in with the regulars with seamless effort. Sitting down on a  bench with a soft cushion leaning back in to the wall not more than a few feet from the focused artists I was taken away into their world. The walls are covered with framed images of whiskey ad’s as well as pictures of the old farm, off in the corner sits a black phone hand set atop a box of a dozen or so buttons. Think back to the 20′-30’s when this modern device connected the offices on the upper floors with callers. I thought I was in a comfy haven in Ireland not in Tucson, AZ  Only the loud sound of the ambulance rushing down the street brought me out of my dream.

I have not even talked about the fish sandwich on a plate of tater tots along with the dark draft nor the ‘Colleen’ waitress yet.  I make a special effort to come here for the fish plate or sandwich.  In the past others with me have had only positive comments on the other Irish items served.  Maybe next time I will vary my selection to taste the stew,  or sausage items.

Before I forget the address is 800 E. University Blvd

More to come on the food and atmosphere in the next post.

Good coffee anywhere?

Where oh where has the good tasting cup of coffee gone to ? After going through cup after cup of weak no flavor coffee at the various gas station/stores and many “coffee” shops I thought the well was dry as they say. Not always in the mood to stand in line at the Starbucks for a ‘straight ‘ coffee, I was pleased to find a nice tasting coffee at the Subway of all places. Stopped in to get a breakfast combo one morning after seeing their ad on TV and in a rush so no food  at home that day. That coffee was good, so good I have been back a few more times. Of course buying a meal each time which means that now and then TV ads can make a sale. A friend recommended I try the Dunkin Donut shop and I did, it was OK , better than most I have found so far but Dunkin is just not anywhere near where I travel most days. For someone who used to drink gallons of this stuff and now just wants to savor one. maybe two a day. The flavor and freshness is a prime factor for me to put down money. Cannot justify spending  close to $2.00 per cup on thin, no flavor fluids or worse yet, stale, burned and old tar that was supposed to be coffee at one time.

More to come

Its been far too long since my last post. been eating many mid day salads at the Rincon Market as my travels have kept me in that area. Now I have added a few new spots to write about in the coming days.  Sad to say not all as healthy as my intentions should be but hey we all need to slip up now and then.

Ok so I have driven by this place a number of times without stopping, the parking is just too difficult at first glance. Hint, park on the corner near the Paul Bunyan statue  at Stone Ave and Glenn,  take  30 seconds to walk to the entrance. This way you don’t have to back out onto Stone Ave.  Rather than my trying to describe the decor which is great, go to the website. www.TucsonHotRodCafe.com 

The address is  2831 N. Stone Ave 520-903-2233

8:30 to 2:30 hours it is easy to pass by if you are not looking for it.

The site has  a lot of pictures showing the automotive atmosphere which is unique even for Tucson. The table I sat at was an actual car hood, don’t ask me what style I really don’t know. If you have a business customer who is into hot rods and all the related items this is a nice spot to have lunch at . Its low-key and fun to look around.

The sandwich was good which is what I wanted. Most of the menu is hot or cold sandwiches, no burgers  etc. and that’s fine with me most days. The names reflect the atmosphere. “the Hog”, Pit Stop Pastrami, Maserati Meatball, the Pink Cadillac to name a few well you get the idea.

I had a Tall Paul Club, it was packed with turkey and ham on toast that was not too hard and not soggy at all. Served with a large slice of pickle.  Made, then brought to me by a bright-eyed perky lass who made everyone  who walked in , feel welcome.  Sides are priced right tho I passed  on them.  walked in , ordered ate at a normal pace then out the door all within 30 min this fits my agenda to a tee. They are open for breakfast as well. Do yourself and the women who run this place a favor and stop by sometime. The menu says this place is “Driven by women”. Current prices range from 2.79  for the ‘Hot Rod to 5.99 for the “Heartbeat of America”

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

The Bread and Butter is a nice gem on 22nd St
Just east of the golf course so it would be a nice stop after an early morning game of looking for that wayward shot. Located in a nice clean shopping center. I got in at 11:55 finding an empty table right away. It is almost impossible to walk in without being greeted by at least two of the staff which was done in a comfortable way.
Love the signs on the walls telling you the daily specials, the 8 types of homemade pies and that they have homemade chili. reminds me of what we used to call a “blue plate special” kind of place back in the midwest. Within a minute the trainee waitress ( HS student ?) and her experienced trainer were at the table. Not rushing me just there to ask what I wanted to drink. One of the days specials was a tuna salad sandwich with a side and salad this seemed to fit my mood. ( $5.45 ) There are lots off menu items as well as other selections on the wall boards to fill most any appetite. Before I could collect my thoughts about my last sales call the salad was on the table with the blue cheese dressing. Yeah not really on my diet but from what I had seen so far, I knew the dressing would be worth cheating just a tad. It was great!
Perfect timing with the last fork of salad the shy trainee came over with the main dish. A good-sized sandwich on sourdough, pickles and the fruit cup as a side. She had offered a selection of about 3 others which were tempting.
Here was a very nice touch that has not been done in most other restaurants, there was a napkin under the fruit dish which was placed on the main plate. This to keep the main plate clean I am impressed!  Sure she could carry the fruit dish separately but the presentation would not be the same.

This place must get busy at times there were four waitresses plus the trainee, a young man who was busy walking around, not sure what all he did. In the back kitchen which is visible to all,  there were three cooks.  The food was tasty, the service very good and I was on my way out the door all in 35 minutes ready for the next sales call. Will have to come back just for a slice of homemade pie.

Maybe one of the special sandwich plates will tempt me some are Ruben, Manhattan Club, French Dip or the beef / or chicken Philly all range in price  from $6.05 to $6.55

By the time I left, the trainee was waiting on a table by herself although the mentor was keeping any eye on her from a distance. This place is open from 5 AM to 2 PM  the address is 4231 E.  22nd St    Not really a spot to conduct business in as you can hear the conversations at nearby tables. My main wish is to enjoy the meal and do business at the clients location.

Hungry on Speedway

Finding myself on Speedway just after 1PM I figured that lunch should be easy this day. Most times while driving in this area, east of Alvernon heading to Wilmot I have not thought about where to stop for a healthy quick meal. Now maybe I have an idea as to why those thoughts kept a distance in my brain. Other than the normal fast food places promoting burgers, pizza and tacos there aren’t any. I am sure there must be one or two someplace along this busy stretch of pavement. If their signs are as faded, tucked away from sight or unreadable as those I saw on this trip I may never find a spot for a quick healthy meal. By the time I did see a restaurant I was passing it, much too late to stop, pull over or see what else was on the window or sign.
After I had finished doing business with my account I asked him where he or his staff ate lunch. Any recommendations as it was his area after all. A shrug of shoulders and one thumb pointed to the desk where a bowl of food from  home sat.
Even when I am this hungry I just do not want to fall back into the habit of stopping at one of the ‘national’ fast food spots. So if you are on Speedway and find a spot in this area please let me know. For now there is just too much traffic and too many eating spots with hard to read signs. I do have to head further east on this street soon , maybe, just maybe it will be better luck  for this fussy eater.