Review of TallBoys—Tucson

You’ll want to try the TallBoy Tots. And everything else.


I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

TallBoys, a breakfast (af) and lunch spot, opened mere blocks from my house.


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The menu is filled with bites that taste better at 2am post-drinks and the next morning (TallBoy Tots, BAT-LEG), and fun twists on favorites, like goat cheese, lox, egg, and balsamic-topped toast.

TallBoy Tots from TallBoys in Tucson.

I had gone out the night before, so the TallBoy Tots called my name. They’re incredible. One of the best breakfast/brunch items in the entire city of Tucson. And I believe this statement holds true even if I hadn’t had drinks the night before.

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Tucson: Welcome Diner

A much-loved Phoenix restaurant comes to Tucson—Welcome Diner has a fan in me.

I have to admit that I was a little sour on Welcome Diner when it first came to town from Phoenix. It took the place of Chaffin’s, a beloved breakfast spot of mine that served inhumane amounts of food for about $8 (their hash browns were the best—crispy, fluffy in the middle, yum!).

And then I tasted Welcome Diner’s mac and cheese. Oh, how quickly we forget.

Mac and cheese at Welcome Diner in Tucson

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Maynards Market & Kitchen

Tucson Chicken
Tucson Chicken “Cheesesteak”—the subject of many of my dreams

I worked at an American Eagle Outfitters in the mall for two years while in college. The only thing that kept me going during six-hour shifts were these chicken cheesesteak sandwiches from Charley’s Grilled Subs, in the food court. I would hunker in the stock room, drowning annoying customer needs in cheesy goodness. I work in downtown Tucson now, with no mall in sight (good riddance). Lucky for me, the best part of the mall still isn’t too far away.

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Tucson: NoRTH

*Note: This is a continuing series on dining in Tucson, where I live. My hope is to prevent visitors from asking, “What is there to eat here?”

Photo via official restaurant page:
Photo via official restaurant page: I would take my own photos, but I’m too busy stuffing my face. This is The Pig pizza, another winner.

NoRTH is where my boyfriend and I go when we’re feeling fancy; it’s perfect for Date Night. It’s a little more pricey (entrée’s average about $22), but the nighttime views of Tucson below make it worth the splurge. NoRTH markets itself as a modern take on traditional Italian cooking, which is a little hard to define—there’s classic Italian appetizers, such as arancini and calamari; there’s pizzas, pastas and salads, as well as entrées.

Possibly the best meal I’ve ever eaten, in Tucson, was at NoRTH: Pork tenderloin served over creamy white polenta. It wasn’t easy to forget. The pork was perfectly colored, the polenta was swirled with a dark balsamic sauce that was just, ugh. It was so good. This is a pretty major statement, but if I knew that I was near the end of my life, I would order that damn pork tenderloin.

Unfortunately, it’s been substituted with a different version of pork tenderloin that I have yet to try (wrapped in prosciutto, mmm mmm mmmm). For now, I order the spicy shrimp pasta.

My recommendations: Now, LET ME TELL YA about the Salted Caramel Budino. It’s spectacular. Salted caramel’s overdone? Don’t care! It’s like a warm hug, with a pudding consistency, topped with course-ground salt that balances the sweetness. I don’t even LIKE dessert and I loooove this thing.

Tucson: Wings Over Broadway

*Note: This is a continuing series on dining in Tucson, where I live. My hope is to prevent visitors from asking, “What is there to eat here?”

An actual chicken wing from Wings Over Broadway. This really happened. It's like the Snitch in Harry Potter.
An actual chicken wing from Wings Over Broadway. This really happened. It’s like the Snitch in Harry Potter.

Wings Over Broadway probably got its name after a customer took a bite of a wing, died of love (or something), became an angel and went to heaven. The 15 sauce flavors range from child friendly to “oh my god, I’m crying in a restaurant and everyone can see me. Server, please bring me a bucket of ice water”: White Wings, Garlic Parm, Teriyaki, Sweet Heat Asian, Lemon Pepper, Honey Gold, Mild Buffalo, Honey BBQ, Honey Hot, Medium Buffalo, Cajun Spice, Golden Hot, Habanero Heat, Hot Buffalo, No Mercy. Their 40¢ Wing Tuesday specials pack the restaurant to capacity, with a line out the door. WOB is filled Wednesday through Monday, as well—I can’t imagine the volume of napkins they go through. Wash the sweet, the garlicky, the burning, down with a stein of beer for the ultimate party.

My recommendations: Lemon Pepper, Honey Gold and Cajun Spice

Tucson: Sushi Garden

*Note: This is a continuing series on dining in Tucson, where I live. My hope is to prevent visitors from asking, “What is there to eat here?”

Screen shot 2014-05-22 at 3.13.09 PM

Tucson residents are bombarded with Sushi Garden commercials, but even their constant presence between drama on The Bachelorette isn’t enough to lessen my love. Now, this town is passionate about its sushi restaurants—I’m sure some people are upset by my decision to recommend Sushi Garden. It’s just, I know I’m not alone; Sushi Garden has multiple locations that often have a wait list, as well as good Yelp reviews. The fish tastes fresh, the recipes contain creative combinations and the ambiance is lively and bright. The best deal is the all-you-can-eat menu: this green sheet generously allows guests to order round after round after round of a huge selection of rolls, nigiri, sashimi and more for about $20 per person. The catch: If you don’t eat it all, you could incur a fee, so GO!SLOW! It’s torture, as well as a #firstworldproblem, finishing two more rolls when you’re already about to burst. Trust me.

Recommendations: Salmon and Albacore nigiri, S.G. Roll (Deluxe) and Spicy Yellowtail roll [pictured].

Downtown Phoenix

Before I lived in Mesa, I lived in downtown Phoenix; I was forced to by Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. One girl at my orientation discovered this and was so appalled she immediately changed her major. My dorms were brand spanking new, which was nice, but the security measures (identification necessary to enter, no more than five people in a room at a time including two roommates), prevented a lot of “the dorm experience”. Not to mention, ASU students living in my dorm were asked to call a security escort when walking to the parking lot and back. My parents bought me pepper spray and wished me luck.

I wasn’t living in the slums, but downtown Phoenix is much different from the main ASU campus in Tempe. Downtown Phoenix is hip, unique and urban. The tall skyscrapers are contrasted by small, independent shops and restaurants. Homeless people (hence the security measures) and residents from all over the Valley flock here for the atmosphere. Bars, restaurants and shops keep people who come to the main attractions – huge concerts, the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks – interested in downtown Phoenix’s appeal. Continue reading “Downtown Phoenix”

Top Eats According to Ivy

I didn’t go anywhere this weekend because my priorities are mixed up; you see, I’m looking to spend about $50 on white feather boas for my Halloween costume… don’t ask, which means my travel fund is severly depleated. I have, however, been living in the Phoenix area for about two and a half years now, so I compiled a list of my nine favorite Valley restaurants. Before I begin, I should repeat that these are MY favorite restaurants, and although it may shock you that I didn’t put your favorite restaurants on here – this was difficult, and I probably thought about doing so. Feel free to agree, disagree and add your own personal recommendations in the comments. Also, these are in no particular order of favoritism, and no one asked to be put on this list. Oh, and if you know where I can buy white feather boas for less than $10, let me know!

1. The Breakfast Club in Scottsdale is usually packed with fans. Offering up a variety of breakfast foods as simple as a two eggs, bacon toast and fruit for $5.95 or as delectable as eggs Benedict made topped with crab meat for $13.95, there’s sure to be something for everyone. The Breakfast Club also serves lunch and is open until 3 p.m.
– Try: The Bello Bene – Eggs benedict with portabella mushrooms; I also add tomato and avocado

2. Featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” Chino Bandido is a unique fusion of Chinese and Mexican foods, orange chicken quesadilla anyone? It sounds strange but trust me, it definitely works, it has been since it opened in 1990.
– Try: Jade red chicken with white rice and black beans

3. The Chuckbox is a dirty, hot mess, nothing fancy here. Chefs cook burgers on an indoor grill that warms the entire one-room restaurant and you take care of the rest. They’re artery clogging and the perfect hangover food. A real burger with no more, no less and all the deliciousness.
– Try: The Big One, 1/3 of burger Continue reading “Top Eats According to Ivy”