Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights

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wanderingjew
Sirloin
2012/05/06 19:24:15
I've been back for a week and have finally found some time to post a trip report.
 
There will actually be two trip reports representing the two states I visited.  Unlike Buffetbuster's trip report there will be a dearth of pie.
 
Friday April 20
 
Leaving TF Green in Providence very early, I arrived in Phoenix at just after 10 AM their time- (thank you Arizona for not going with daylight savings time) Unfortunately the humongous lines that wrapped around the rental car vendors caused some delay. In all my years of traveling I've never seen anything quite like this anywhere.
 
It's been 6 years since I last visited Phoenix and was looking forward to visiting a couple of old favorites and exploring some new ones.
 
Speaking of new favorites, after finally picking up my rental I hadn't  hadn't had any sustenance in 10 hours (remember the three hour time difference)  so it was now time for lunch.
 

 
 
The Fry Bread House


Reviewed by Ayersian I arrived to a packed parking lot at the height of lunch hour. You review the menu at the counter and then relay your order. I decided to go with the "ultimate"  Taco which is stuffed with  a choice of red or green chili (I chose red) beef, lettuce, onions refried beans cheese and sour cream.
 
 
 
The fry bread itself was soft, warm and doughy but not overbearingly so. The filling itself was a pleasant reminder that I am truly back in the desert southwest. 
 
I subsequently checked into my motel - walking distance from Chase Field- and free parking to boot. Luckily it was only going to be 96 degrees today, so walking around was do-able. I didn't do much during the afternoon, however I did manage to check out Phoenix's downtown library- so I can print my baseball tickets off of stubhub.
 
I'm glad I didn't eat too much at lunch. I was returning to an old favorite for dinner. 
 

 
 
Tacos De Juarez.
 
Just over a mile walk from my motel. 
 
I admired the interesting murals on the restaurant's exterior.
 
 
 
Although the place could look "intimidating" from the outside. The inside is pretty cool
 

As I  entered the restaurant, who is there to  greet me? None other than Roadfood's own Foodbme
I sat down to some chips and salsa
 

 
red and green of course.
 
As Foodbme and I were getting acquainted, I perused the menu.
 
There were so many potentially great items on the menu , I  finally decided on a few a'la carte dishes.
 

 
 
 
I decided to go with a shredded beef hard taco, a lengua (tongue) soft taco,  gordita and refried beans. I wish I could recall what kind of gordita I had but my memory fails me, and it's not because it wasn't good because it was, in fact it's no surprise why Taco's De Juarez always ends up as a favorite in the local readers polls.
 
After dinner, Foodbme joined me for an evening at 
 
 

 
 

 
 
Chase Field
 
Home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

I was really looking forward to this game. On my last visit 6 years ago, it was 108 degrees, therefore the roof remained closed the entire game.
 
When we  arrived the roof was in fact closed and that's because the AC is running.
 

 
 
However about 10 minutes before the game begins, the roof begins to open up.
 

 
 
It actually takes less than 5 minutes for the roof to completely open.
 

 
 

 
The Diamondbacks were hosting the Braves this evening. Although the Diamondbacks were on a hot streak, it ended here. The Braves really know the Diamondbacks number and unfortunately it wasn't even an exciting game. 
 
 
 
 
 
However this guy did seem to make the game a little more exciting
 
 

 
(no this is not Foodbme)
 
Unfortunately the Diamondbacks fell to the Braves 9 - 1 . At least the game wasn't a complete wash out.
 
After the game I walked back to my motel and called it a night. I was exhausted and I had been up for almost 22 hours. 
 
Much more to come......
JRPfeff
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/06 20:32:00
I'm sorry I missed you Dale.  I'm glad you had a good time.
mar52
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/06 20:55:27
You sure that's not Foodbme?
 
How great that you two could meet.
 
Question...  do you buy tickets at the gate for all the games you go to?  Here everything is sold out.  Well it used to be.
 
Great pictures, places and food!
 
Your stuffed fry bread looks like the stuffed soppapilla I had at The Ranch Kitchen in Gallop.
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/06 23:15:58
It was  pleasure to finally get to meet the World Famous WJ!
And no, The Ol' Prospector wasn't me.
That's the AZ Lottery Mascot!
I'm not sure but I don't think WJ hit the lottery while he was here.
He and I get together one more time later in his report.
HEY WJ---Those pictures are more clear and vivid than the subjects were in Real Life!! That Camera's amazing! 
post edited by Foodbme - 2012/05/07 20:10:06
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/06 23:29:48
mar52
You sure that's not Foodbme?
How great that you two could meet.
Question...  do you buy tickets at the gate for all the games you go to?  Here everything is sold out.  Well it used to be.
Great pictures, places and food!
Your stuffed fry bread looks like the stuffed soppapilla I had at The Ranch Kitchen in Gallop.

The Fry Bread at The FBH is very similiar to a soppapilla. For Dessert, you can get the fry bread with Chocolate (Secret Recipe) & Butter - Cinnamon & Sugar - Golden Honey - Powdered Sugar - Butter & Powdered Sugar - Honey & Sugar - Butter & Jam or Butter, Cinnamon & Sugar!!!! All will put you in a coma!
mar52
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/07 00:45:11
Sounds just like something I'd like.  :)
joerogo
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/07 06:45:43
I wish I could "not travel much" like Wanderingjew
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/07 09:19:08
Jim
 
You were missed, but I'm certain you were there in spirit. I probably will be back in Milwaukee way before I ever make it back to Phoenix
 
Mar
 
I've had sopapillas with honey but don't recall having a stuffed sopapilla, yes, they are very similar (as are Utah Scones, Rhode Island Doughboys and even New Orleans Beignets)
 
Lately I've been getting my tickets on stub hub- since they're actually cheaper than getting them at the ballpark
 
Joe
 
Compared to Buffetbuster and TTM, I never go anywhere.
ScreamingChicken
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/07 09:38:00
Now I'm thinking I want Mexican food for dinner tonight!
 
Did the beans at Tacos De Juarez have the quality level of the tacos?  Too often I've eaten at Mexican restaurants where the main item on the plate is pretty good but the beans fall short.
 
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/07 10:13:36
WJ-
Great start to the report.  I plan on visiting the Indian Fry House the next time through.  With the big lunch rush, did you have a long wait?  Do they have waitress service or do you order at a counter?
 
BTW, this place recently won a James Beard Award.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/07 11:18:10
Nice report Dale. I'm looking forward to more. But I take issue with your shout-out to Arizona for not being on Daylight time. That three hour (instead of two) difference messes things up for my twice-weekly phone calls with my daughter in Scottsdale.
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/07 13:22:56
Brad
 
Everything was superb, even the beans- this is Arizona- they take their refried beans seriously-  
 
Buffetbuster
 
There wasn't a line at the Fry Bread house- but it's a small place and the parking lot fills up FAST- I think there was one or two tables left when I arrived.
You go up to the counter- there are actual menus at the counter and you relay your order there and they give you a number that you take to your table- no waitress service, however your meal is delivered to yorur table when ready.
 
Don't discount any of the other places I went to in Phoenix- there wasn't a bad place in the lot
 
MH- I'm glad it gave me some extra time considering my rent a car debacle.
 
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/07 19:47:53
forgot to mention previously
 
Foodbme- it was a pleasure meeting you too-
Thanks for the compliment on the new camera- I'm still working out the kinks- 
Luckily- I only had one food photo on the entire trip where I had to use flash- that will be coming up in the next excerpt.
tcrouzer
Cheeseburger
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/07 22:28:46
Yay! I kinda guessed from the title that we were going to have another great roadfood trip report from the WanderingJew!
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/08 09:44:53
tcrouzer
  
Thanks for the compliment
 
I'll continue with part 2 this evening.
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/08 21:11:46
Saturday April 21
 
Getting an early start I was leaving Phoenix today...well...just for the weekend at least. I'll have one more full day in the Valley of the Sun on Monday. I'm heading to a city I've never been to before-  The Old Pueblo aka Tucson.
Temps are only going to get hotter- as usual I have a knack for hitting heat waves out west.
 
I was going to go with a full Mexican breakfast today, but at the last minute I decided not to and you'll see why. I started out with a lackluster cup of coffee at Joe Bot in downtown Phoenix. I'm not certain why they were rated so highly. I decided out of curiousity's sake to return to Xtreme Bean in Tempe before heading out of town. Although it's been 6 years since I've last visited, either my taste buds for coffee have improved or they have gone down hill. It wasn't terrible, but the coffee completely lacked body. The coffee actually reminded me of Blue States coffee here in Rhode Island. They will be removed from my coffee list when I update it.
 
I arrived in Tucson at just before 11 AM in time for my first stop
 

 
Mi Nidito
 
and I was greeted with a long line of folks (mostly Anglo) waiting for the restaurant to open it's doors. I was making small talk with a couple in front of me from the Boston area who noticed my Paw Sox shirt- they stopped talking to me when I told them I was a Yankees fan.
 
Finally the doors open and lucky me I was the last person to find a table that wasn't occupied. 
Chips and an addicting Salsa headed towards my table.... Eventually my lunch arrived and this is why I'm glad I did not have a full breakfast.
 

 
This delicious cheese crisp was the size of a small pizza. Not as thick or as dense however I could only dig into half of it to may room for my next course
 

 
Topopo Salad.
 
A salad? yes, healthy? I doubt it but I'd like to think so. Loaded with chicken lettuce, peas, tomatos, lettuce  cheese and avocado it sits on a tortilla. This is no light weight meal. I barely finished half of it before I cried uncle.  I was stuffed. Now to get out and start walking, walking and walking in the near 100 degree dry heat.
(BTW the Topopo salad photo is the only  photo on the entire trip where I had to use a flash)
 
I ventured on after my huge lunch and stopped at a very interesting historical building.
 

 
San Xavier Mission

Can anyone tell me what's so unusual about this building and why it was built this way?
 
Located about 10 minutes outside of Tucson this was a Spanish mission built in the late 1700's for the Native Folks who lived in the area. 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
The interior architecture is just spectacular. T
There was a guided tour going on as well,  attended part of it.
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
Outside there is a picturesque garden of local flora and fauna
 

 
 
There's also a small plaza where various artisans are selling there wears and right near the parking lot there is a covered tent where native americans are selling Indian Tacos, and bottled water. 
 
Adjacent to the mission on the hill (which I climbed) there is some type of shrine, but its note affiliated with the mission
 

 

 
 

 
 

 
After my semi-religious experience I ventured back to Tucson and headed downtown. 
 
My first stop was Placita Village. An adobie Indian style shopping district consisting of a few cool stores and restaurants. I enjoyed a local brew crafted by barrio brewing.

I then continued my walk further into town.
 

 
And admired the majestic state capitol building
 

 

 
I'm not sure who these folks are but I'm sure they must be famous.
 
 
I will conclude Saturday's adventures tomorrow.
ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/08 21:20:12
Excellent stuff, so far WJ! The last photo of the man on the horse kinda looks like Teddy Roosevelt.
JRPfeff
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/08 22:39:16
That was a helluva walk. The AZ capitol is in Phoenix.
 
What was the unusual feature of the mission, besides its odd looks?
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/09 02:49:19
ann peeples
Excellent stuff, so far WJ! The last photo of the man on the horse kinda looks like Teddy Roosevelt.

You are Correct Madam! Teddy had a strong attachment to AZ!
Many of His "Rough Riders" came from AZ and fought with him in the Spanish American War.
The regiment, consisting of over 1,250 men, from all over the United States was mainly composed of cowboys, Indians, and other Wild West types, and Ivy League athletes and aristocratic sportsmen from the East.
What did these two very different groups have in common? They could ride and shoot and were in shape, and thus could be ready for war with little training.
Roosevelt Dam just Northeast of Phoenix was one of his major Conservation Projects.
 
post edited by Foodbme - 2012/05/09 03:02:33
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/09 03:14:13
JRPfeff
That was a helluva walk. The AZ capitol is in Phoenix.

AZ has had 4 Capitols!
In 1863, Arizona was organized as a separate territory, with its first temporary capitol at Fort Whipple.
Prescott became the capitol in 1865.
The capital was moved to Tucson in 1867, back to Prescott in 1877, and finally to Phoenix in 1889.
AZ became the 48th State in 1912


buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/09 07:29:16
I've been Tucson several times and had no idea they had a Theodore Roosevelt statue.  Definitely going to see that the next time through, along with that gorgeous church!  Instead of the state capitol building, I think that is the Pima County Courthouse, which is also worth checking out.
 
I had the exact same meal on my visit to Mi Nidito.  That is a lot of food!
 
How you can do all that walking in the heat is beyond me.  Keep those great photos coming. 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2012/05/09 07:31:21
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/09 08:19:22
Ann
 
I'm glad that foodbme was able to answer that question. It did look like Teddy but I wasn't 100% certain
 
JRPfeff
 
Wow, do I have huevo on my face. You are correct, and I knew that too, the desert sun certainly got to me and clouded my judgement. I never professed to know everything (I just know more than everyone else when it comes to Roadfood) hence why I'm not on any geography boards.
 
Regarding the mission, you'll notice looking on the right side of the building and comparing it to the left that it's unfinished. This was done deliberately- does anyone know why this was done? (yes I know the answer)
 
Buffetbuster is correct- it is the Pima County Courthouse
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/09 11:00:38
I don't care whether it was Teddy or a teddy bear, this is a terrific report. Keep going, please.
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/09 18:16:29
Saturday April 21  continued
 
After walking around downtown. I headed out for a pre dinner snack.
 

 
at the Anglo owned Tucson Tamale Company.
I ordered just a couple of green corn tamales. 
 

 
 
Here's a cross section. Not very spicy these tamales were not very big in size but were very big on flavor, packed with green chili and cheese. 
 
Can it get better than this? You'll have to wait a couple of chapters to find out.
 
After my teaser to pique my appetite I headed to 
 

 
El Guero Canelo 
 
for a quick dinner.
 
Ordering outside and seating is underneath the canopy, I was looking forward to trying a new regional specialty to me. The Sonoran dog. foodbme warned me that the dogs are small, so I figured I should order two.
 

 
 
as you can see, I'm not sure what foodbme's definition of small is, but this is not a small dog.
 

 
but I ordered two anyway.
 
I really enjoyed my sonoran dogs and a bite into the peppers that accompanied the dogs made it that much enjoyable.
 
Buffetbuster suggested I order the horchata, he described it as the best horchata he ever had.
 

 
This isn't my first horchata, but this one was just way, way, way, way too sweet. I'm surprised I didn't go into a diabetic coma afterwards. Honestly if the sweetness was cut by half, it could have been much more enjoyable.
Overall, I enjoyed the sonoran dog and will certainly add that to my list of regional favorites.
 
After dinner it was time for another ballgame- triple A this time
 

 
Kino Field
 
Home of the Tucson Padres
 

 
 

 
 

 
I got there early so I could walk around a bit.
 
The Padres were hosting the Salt Lake Bees. I last saw the bees in Salt Lake back in 2010. If I recall they were playing Sacramento and lost.
 

 
 

 
 

 
For the most part a very mundane, long, dragged out game.  
The Padres were scoreless into the 6th inning with the Bees leading 8-0
 
However Padre, the mascot kept us very entertained.
 



 
Anyway, the padres scored 4 in the bottom of the 6th, however I was still convinced the Bees were going to win this one. Something happened in the bottom of the 8th- the Padres scored 4 more runs to tie the game. Well over three hours into the game, I decided I wasn't going to stay past the 9th. Well the Padres scored one more run in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Bees 9-8.  This was a game I was glad to leave- it just lasted way too long...
I returned back to my hotel.
 
More to come tomorrow.
post edited by wanderingjew - 2012/05/09 18:18:28
the grillman
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/09 21:35:09
very nice pics; the church is especially beautiful.
 
and the tamale looks wonderful.
 
looking forward to more...
JRPfeff
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/09 21:38:01
Foodbme

JRPfeff
That was a helluva walk. The AZ capitol is in Phoenix.

AZ has had 4 Capitols!
In 1863, Arizona was organized as a separate territory, with its first temporary capitol at Fort Whipple.
Prescott became the capitol in 1865.
The capital was moved to Tucson in 1867, back to Prescott in 1877, and finally to Phoenix in 1889.
AZ became the 48th State in 1912

Foodbme,
 
I would ask for proof of that from almost anyone else.  But knowing you were an eyewitness to all of those events, I cannot offer any dispute.
 
jrp
post edited by JRPfeff - 2012/05/09 22:07:50
leethebard
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 05:07:49
Great trip report. Really enjoying it. Keep it coming!
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 12:06:06
Thanks grillman and Lee
 
Jim
 
After meeting foodbme  last month, I'm convinced  that he and Michael Hoffman set out on the original wagon trail
ScreamingChicken
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 12:31:15
The cheese tostada from Mi Nidito looks fantastic!  I looked up the menu on its website and see that there are several versions...was yours the green chile one?  I think I see little pieces of something hiding under the cheese.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 12:33:21
Now just a damned minute Dale ...
ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 15:46:35
Studied Teddy Roosevelt  all my life. Love the guy-especially in the west. Thanks foodbme for the update-but know his history.......
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 16:54:29
Brad
 
Mine was just an old school cheese crisp served au natural however it went very well with the salsa that accomanied the chips
 
MH
 
Ok, I apologize, you set out before foodbme did 
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 16:59:34
WJ:  I have spent many weeks in Tucson and Phoenix.  Some of the time we were racing with NHRA but the majority of the time it was business.
 
Regarding the cathedral, I did notice that the building was identical on both sides with the exception of one of the towers was not capped like the other one???
 
Your food choices were outstanding as usual and the pics were equal.  I do not know what Roadfood would do without you BB and TTM.  Several others have started contributing and they are doing a great job but they have a long way to catch up.  The Mayor use to do outstanding travelogues and still does wshen he travels but like me, we do not travel near as much as we use to. 
 
ROZ and I will be traveling to Charlotte next week to the NASCAR hall of fame and then on to Myrtle beach for some sun, seafood, BBQ and of course shopping for Dr. Roz.
 
Thanks again for your contributions. 
 
The tamales were the one thing that I really miss about the southwest.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 17:03:45
WJ: I'll have you know I was the scout for the first small group of wagons to open the trail.
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 17:45:18
Sundancer7 
The tamales were the one thing that I really miss about the southwest.
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

The Tucson Tamale Company will ship:
http://www.tucsontamalecompany.com/
You wouldn't recognize the NHRA Track Area. Firebird Raceway is still going strong along with a Boat Racing Course. The Rawhide Western Town Complex is there as well as The Wild Horse Indian Casino and The Bonderant Hi Performance Driving School.
http://www.firebirdraceway.com/
http://www.rawhide.com/home-index.html
http://www.wingilariver.com/wild-horse-pass
http://www.bondurant.com/home
 
 
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 19:11:18
Paul
 
Thanks for your compliment, I just wish I could eat as much as Buffetbuster
then there would be more food and less "filler" in my reports.
 
BTW if you have a chance- when you're in Charlotte, check out
http://www.lawans.com/
 
for some great soul food- 
 
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 20:13:01
Sunday April 22
 
Now into my third day, there's been know talk of Saguaros and Desert delights, well that's all going to change today.
 
Lots of nature stuff to do today.
 
Not without starting the day right at Theresa's Mosaic Cafe.
 
I didn't realize how close this place was to my hotel- just a mile and a half away. I could have walked, well with all the walking I'm going to do today, it's best that I save my feet for more scenic adventures.
 

 
Arriving shortly after  they opened it appears I was their first customer.
 
Buffetbuster told me that the huevos rancheros was some of the best he's had.
 

 
 
accompanied by their delicious salsa
 

I can't say if it's best huevos rancheros  I've had but its pretty high up there. 
 
I washed everything down with a refreshing  horchata
 

 
 
which was thankfully much less sweet than the one I had the evening before.
 
After breakfast, I headed across town to Crave Coffee Bar  for a couple of incredible cups of joe, probably the best of the trip.
 
On to my first adventure
 

 
 
A beautiful trail  with unbelievably scenic desert flora and fauna and of course those Saguaro Cacti
The trail is driven, however there are pull offs where you can walk/hike or whatever..
 
I spent the whole morning here.
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
I made sure I had at least a couple of large bottles of water with me.
 
All of this walking around the desert made me hungry and it was time for lunch.
 

 
and they had the welcome mat out for me
 
Taqueria Pico De Gallo
 


 
 
Each table has a squeeze bottle of their hot sauce
 
 

 
And had probably some of the best carne asada tacos I've ever had
 

 
 
although the tacos were truly a highlight of the trip, unfortunately there was also a slight disappointment. They were out of the  Coctel de elote (corn cocktail) which I was so looking forward to try. I asked if they would have it later in the day, unfortunately I was told they wouldn't have it until the next day. Unfortunately I would be heading back to Phoenix. The first real disappointment of the trip.
 
However I did finish my meal with their namesake.
 
 
 
 
a refreshing pico de gallo - loaded with fruit loaded with lemon juice and tantalizing spices.
 
After lunch, more nature was on the way.
 
This time  at
 

 
 
Sabino Canyon.
 
A beautiful canyon nestled in the mountains. A shuttle takes you on a 4 mile ride with 8 or 9 stops. You can  get off at each stop, walk, hike for as long as you like and then wait for the next shuttle. The guide warned us however to watch out for rattlesnakes and mountain lions. That didn't stop me from getting off and doing a little rock climbing.
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 

 
 
Heading back to the visitors centers afterwards, there were a couple of cool short trails.
 

 
 
I opted to take one of the shorter ones
 

 
before leaving the shuttle bus, the guide pointed something out that was very unique about one of the Saguaros
and it's very very rare that something like this happens
 

 
can anyone tell me which Saguaro is unique, why it's unique and how did it happen?
 
After leaving Sabino Canyon, since the thermometer reached 100 degrees, I headed back to downtown Tucson for a refreshing brew at Barrio Brewing. 
 
I was looking forward to my dinner stop.
 

 
Mariscos Chihuahua
 
 
 
known for their Mexican Seafood dishes, I perused the menu on the internet prior to arriving but was torn as to what to order. My first gut decision was to order one of the fried fish dishes however the waitress recommended their shrimp dish and said their mild green sauce was very good.
 

 
 
I went with the waitress' recommendation and ordered the Shrimp Culichi. The creamy green sauce was good but probably a little to pedestrian. It came with fries which were forgettable as well as rice and salad (double starches!) 
I would return if I ever came back to Tucson but would probably go with one of their fish dishes and a more adventurous sauce.
 
After dinner, I was exhausted, it was back to the hotel for me for the evening..
 
Much more to come....
JRPfeff
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/10 21:50:13
ScreamingChicken

The cheese tostada from Mi Nidito looks fantastic!  I looked up the menu on its website and see that there are several versions...was yours the green chile one?  I think I see little pieces of something hiding under the cheese.

Brad,
 
We had the green chile version and that isn't it.  That version has several thin cuts of chile radiating like spokes from the center. Fabulous!
 
Jim
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/11 03:15:50
WJ,
Your Desert Pictures Really captured the true essence of the Sonoran Desert and dispelled some myths. Yes, the desert has greenery and is not all brown. Yes, flowers do bloom in the desert and yes, the desert is hilly and rocky and not just flat.
Beautiful Job!
 
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/11 07:25:09
I hope you had a chance to visit the Tucson desert zoo which is highly rated and overlooks the lush Sonoran valley desert. The landscaping is all native as well as all the animals there.  Outstanding.
 
The saguaro as I recall usually has only a couple of arms.  I have no idea how that occurred unless somehow it was damaged and grew additional arms.  As i recall, the cactus takes many years to grow additional arms.  I have seen some of them that appeared to be 40 feet tall.
 
Sorta funny that Tucson which is hot but not as  hot as Phoenix and it is further south.  Maybe because of the elevation.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/11 07:53:17
Theresa's Mosaic Cafe, Pico de Gallo and Mariscos Chihuahua all in one day?  Now that is some great eating.  And I agree with Foodbme, those are beautiful shots from the desert.
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/11 09:45:06
Foodbme
 I actually think the Arizona desert is prettier than New Mexico's which is mostly sagebrush and Yucca
 
Paul
I almost forgot to mention, you were correct about the mission's tower not being capped- believe it or not this was done for tax purposes - since it was deemed "an unfinished building"  there were no tax levies.
 
You are also correct about the Saguaro and it's "multi armed" status- apparently no one knows the exact cause- it could have been a virus, genetic or a lightening strike among other reasons.
 
Unfortunately Sunday would be my last day in Tucson so I didn't have time to make it to the zoo.
 
Buffetbuster
 
And I thought you'd be upset because I didn't have any pie or dessert.
 
 
ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/11 10:13:42
As I have never been to a desert , much less Arizona, I am especially enjoying the scenery.And the food-it just seems to be getting better and better!
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/11 15:41:21
For those who are interested in the Saguaro Cactus:
http://www.desertusa.com/july96/du_saguaro.html
They only grow in the Sonoran Desert of AZ and Northern Mexico.
mr chips
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/12 16:12:34
On my last visit, I discovered (or realized) the saguaro cactus is a tree when seeing a a dead saguaro on the ground at the National park near Tucson. I loved the food in tucson and think a road food tour there and in Phoenix would be a great idea. Great report, WJ. Looking forward to more.
JRPfeff
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/12 18:23:43
WJ - This report got me into the Fry Bread House for the first time today.  I had the same taco that you had - fantastic.  Although the fry bread is so good I could go for a platter of plain fry bread.
 
I noticed several patrons ordering the cheese crisp at the Fry Bread House.  I don't know how it compares to this, but I will find out on my next visit.
 
 
jrp
post edited by JRPfeff - 2012/05/13 10:36:03
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/13 03:25:09
mr chips
On my last visit, I discovered (or realized) the saguaro cactus is a tree when seeing a a dead saguaro on the ground at the National park near Tucson. I loved the food in tucson and think a road food tour there and in Phoenix would be a great idea. Great report, WJ. Looking forward to more.

The ribs and spines of a dead Saguaro were used by the native tribes in many ways.
http://www.ehow.com/info_8317613_uses-saguaro-cactus-after-dies.html
leethebard
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/13 07:20:01
Super report...I had family who lived in Arizona for years...and this report brought back the wonders of the dessert...and food. Thanks!
mr chips
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/13 16:20:08
Foodbme

mr chips
On my last visit, I discovered (or realized) the saguaro cactus is a tree when seeing a a dead saguaro on the ground at the National park near Tucson. I loved the food in tucson and think a road food tour there and in Phoenix would be a great idea. Great report, WJ. Looking forward to more.

The ribs and spines of a dead Saguaro were used by the native tribes in many ways.
http://www.ehow.com/info_8317613_uses-saguaro-cactus-after-dies.html
Thanks for the link.

wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/13 18:16:51
Ann
 
The desert is absolutely beautiful. There were ATV tours to see the desert at night unfortunately it was just a little out of my price range.
 
Mr Chips
 
Thanks, I wish I had more time to explore the desert but temps were averaging 15 + degrees above normal, something I wasn't anticipating prior to starting the trip.
 
JRPfeff
 
Glad you enjoyed The Fry Bread House as much as I did. Since it was my first stop on the trip, it truly was a symbolic welcome to the desert southwest.
 
Although the trip itself is not even half way over, I will conclude this trip report tomorrow evening. I'll begin a new trip report for the second half of the trip (different state) sometime in  the middle of the week.
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/13 22:03:00
WJ - you covered a lot of ground in a short period of time...nice job! 
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/13 22:24:47
Sundancer7
Sorta funny that Tucson which is hot but not as  hot as Phoenix and it is further south.  Maybe because of the elevation.
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

Tucson is about 2600 ft Elevation, Phoenix 1100 ft. It's usually a little cooler down there, but not much. Mt Lemmon, outside Tucson, goes up to 9150 ft and there's a Space Observatory and Ski Area up there along with panoramic views.
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/14 13:14:01
ChiTownDiner

WJ - you covered a lot of ground in a short period of time...nice job! 


Thanks, I did but I also realize compared to your pace it all "finger food"  " />
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/14 18:44:46
Monday April 23
 
Starting out the day at the Tucson location of the Phoenix mini- chain Cartel Coffee lab- made me realize something.
Coffee snobbery may exist.  Cartel Coffee is one of those new third wave coffee houses (aka pour over) that I wish would just "go away" Cartel coffee goes a step almost ridiculing you for putting any type of cream, milk of sweetener in their coffee.  Those of you (I'm assuming the majority of you) that are satisfied with their maxwell house and Mr. Coffee and don't get my going "ga ga"  for coffee houses (probably the same way I don't get your going "ga ga" over bacon) probably understand where I'm coming from . 

Anyway, enough ranting, yes the coffee was outstanding at at $3 per 16 oz cup and $3 for each refill it should be!
 
I made the 90 minute  jaunt back to Phoenix and actually had another decent cuppa coffee at Copper Star Coffee a few miles north of Downtown.
 
After taking care of some personal business it was time for lunch
 

 
 
Carolina's Mexican Kitchen
 
A cement square of a structure that has even less atmosphere inside than it does outside. But what it lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in what it delivers.
 
Carolina's Mexican Kitchen  means alot to me from a Roadfood perspective . Some of you may remember that when I first started taking digital photos on my trip reports, 6 years ago, Carolina's was the first place I started doing so.
 
And like 6 years ago, I ordered the same thing.
 

 
 
Their fantastic loaded Chimichanga. For those who don't know, the Chimichanga was invented in Arizona, actually it was invented in Tucson at El Charro back in the 1920's. Well, I couldn't tell you about the one one there, but the Chimichanga at Carolina's offered a hot crunchy exterior and a very flavorful and not overly spicy interior. 

It went well with a respectable horchata (free refills too)
 
 
 
 
After lunch, I had another stop to make. My plans  were to hit the Tamale Store out on Cave Creek Road in Phoenix and compare their green corn tamales  to the ones I enjoyed in Tucson. I made a call in advance when I first arrived on Friday and the lady I spoke to assured me they would have some green corn tamales when I visited on Monday afternoon. Well when I got their, they were closed, no explanation.   I called and the recording confirmed their hours.  What a bummer- Travelin Manned- for the first and last time on this trip.
 
 
The rest of the day was wide open, my initial plans were to do some more outdoor sightseeing but with temps expected to soar past 100 degrees I had enough of the desert heat  Before starting this trip, I had no idea  the temps 
courtesy of good ol' global warming were going to  average 15-20 degrees above average.
 
I opted instead to head to Old Town Tempe first. Home to ASU, Old Town Tempe caters to college students
 
In fact 
 

 
I stopped here at Sparky's Old Town Creamery where they were passing out samples.
 
I went for something very unique- The Raspberry Dark Chocolate Habanero - a free topping was included- I added peanuts to this interesting combination, they warned me this would be spicy, and although the ice cream itself did not wow me-  yes, it definitely had a kick- enough to make my eyes water- unfortunately I forgot to get a photo.
 
I continued on people watching and noticed these interesting signs right next door to eachother
 
 
Thinking like a student, I figured I would begin here.
 

 
 
And immediately afterwards go here,  right next door 
 

 
 
Makes sense?
 
Afterwards I drove to one of my favorite brew pubs- Four Peaks in Tempe- and ordered the best beer on the trip, the Kilt Lifter- a refreshing Scottish Ale- one of my favorite beers in the country.
 
After enjoying my beer, I continued on to Old Town Scottsdale where I was greeted by this cowboy
 

 
 
 
Old town had some pretty cool shops-
 

 
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
and some great scenery as well.
 

 
 

 
 
I tried to ask these folks for help in finding a good western wear shop but they weren't much help- all they did was just sit there.
 

 

 
 

 
 
After checking into The Scottsdale Cottonwood Resorts (a steal for $50 on priceline) I was ready to head back to the Barrio in inner city Phoenix for some more eats.
 
Since I was green corn tamale deprived from earlier in the afternoon, I decided to head to the place where I would have had breakfast (if I decided to)  two days earlier prior to heading to Tucson.
 

 
La Tolteca
 
A bakery, market and restaurant all rolled up into one- Receiving accolades on both Yelp and Urbanspoon, when, I walked in I could see why.
 

 
 

 
I approached the counter, checking their website before arriving, they had exactly what I was looking for. 
I gave my order, and when it arrived I sat down in the dining room
 
I ordered two Green Corn Tamales (I had to save room for dinner which was immediately afterwards)
 
 
 
If I knew how big they were going to be, I would have ordered one- they were hum-on-gous and incredibly good.
I'm not sure if they were better that that at the Tucson Tamale Company but they were at least just as good. If I have the opportunity to ever return to Phoenix again, I would certainly return and try their other items as well. Truly a fantastic find.
 
Immediately after my snack, I made my final stop for the evening.
 

 
 
 
Rosita's Place
 
Like La Tolteca, there were nothing but glowing reviews on yelp and urbanspoon. So I was set on Rosita's.
Once again, I had the opportunity to share a meal with foodbme who was there when I arrived.
Fresh and hot chips arrived at the table- and when I mean hot and fresh- I don't think they could have been any fresher- I declare the chips at Rosita's  Place the best of the trip.
 
And the red and green couldn't have been any better- in fact the red really had  kick to it.
 

 
I ordered the Machaca plate
 

 
I never had Machaca before. It was tender and juicy and served with flour tortillas on the side.
 
I heard great things about Rosita's horchata on the web.
 

 
Not only was it the largest glass of Horchata on the trip, I also declare it the best- not too sweet but packed with "cinnamony" flavor.
 
Rosita's place was another great find, and I would certainly return again.
 
It was a pleasure dining with foodbme once again. He is a great ambassador to his adopted city.
 
Afterwards I headed back to my hotel in Scottsdale as I had an early day to look forward to.
 
Tuesday April 24
 
Flying out of Phoenix this morning, I really wanted to head back to Copper Star for coffee but decided to get coffee in Scottsdale since I didn't know what traffic would be like heading back to the Airport. I unknowingly ended up at another "pour over" coffee house  called Echo- voted best in Scottsdale for obvious reasons- good, yes, expensive yes. I asked  the barista why pourover coffee was so popular in Arizona, she didn't know, she assumed it was popular everywhere.  Well as it turns out there was very little traffic heading back to the Airport. 
 
I arrived and departed Phoenix for new adventures.
 
This is the end of this trip report, however the trip continues with a new trip report beginning sometime in the middle of the week.
 
 
post edited by wanderingjew - 2012/05/14 19:42:51
tcrouzer
Cheeseburger
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/14 20:32:11
Great food, fabulous photos! I'd go your route just to see all those wonderful statues and the beautiful desert. But I'd have to stop for tamales! Fantastic trip report, WJ......as usual.
billyboy
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/14 20:49:17
WJ, terrific report, good sir.  I spent some time in AZ years ago and I crave that food!  Tamales, machaca, huevos rancheros, etc...  Thanks for those incredible views.
ScreamingChicken
Filet Mignon
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/15 09:17:02
Wow...this could've been an even greater report if WJ had done a better job of focusing on regionally appropriate food.  That plate of machaca and beans looks mighty tasty!
 
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/15 17:50:59
ScreamingChicken
Wow...this could've been an even greater report if WJ had done a better job of focusing on regionally appropriate food.  That plate of machaca and beans looks mighty tasty!

The problem is that there aren't very many Mexican Restaurants in Phoenix & Tucson!!!!
In Phoenix:
Urbanspoon says there are only 924 of them!
www.azcentral.com only lists 677 of them but they exclude chains like Taco Bell and Del Taco.
In Tucson:
Urbanspoon says there's only 296 of them! Probably doesn't include the street carts.
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/15 18:21:31
tcrouzer
 
thanks - I forgot how beautiful the desert can be
 
Billyboy
 
I bet if you search- you can find a place in NYC that serves a fine Machaca, you'll just have to pretend the pavement is desert and the skyscrapers are Saguaros.
 
Brad
 
I know, I should have concentrated more on Brats and Cheesecurds considering I didn't get enough of it in Wisconsin last June ! 
pnwchef
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Saguaros, Sonoran Surprises and other Desert Delights 2012/05/20 13:31:44
WJ, Great report, thanks for all the great food and scenic pictures. Question on  the The Green corn Tamale ???????/ is that a Green Chili layered in the tamale........I'll be in Phoenix/Scottsdale this coming winter, thanks for all the great tips.............pnwc
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