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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Crooked Tooth Brewing Co., Tucson

Tucson, a haven for craft beer, welcomes a new brewery

I’m a beer lover.

When we came back from Spain and Portugal this past September, I quickly dashed to the nearest bar at the airport where we had our layover, desperate for an ice-cold craft brew. It was probably one of the best beers I’ve ever had, considering I had spent weeks drinking Cruzcampo and Super Bock.

There are many things that the Spanish and the Portuguese do well—I did not find beer to be one of them.

Luckily, I live in a craft beer haven where a new local brewery opens approximately every half hour. The most recent being Crooked Tooth Brewing Co.

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Crooked Tooth Brewing Co., in Tucson

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9 Unexpected Things You Should Pack for a Long Vacation

Across 15 countries, I’ve picked up a thing or two. Read below for what’s always in the bag.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot in my life—trips that have been as short as less than a day and as long as a few weeks. In my years of packing, there are a few surprising items that I have learned I cannot travel without, no matter the destination. If you have a big trip coming up and are scrambling with what to bring along, read below for the 9 things I always take with me.

  1. A sarong/oversized scarf: This is the number one thing you need—use it as a blanket on a cold plane (or when you have to spend the night at a train station), as a towel on the beach, as a scarf to dress up a plain LBD for a night on the town, to wrap up the delicate items you’re bringing home as souvenirs, the uses are endless. Pictured below are a few times my lightweight scarves have come in handy: as a beach towel, a blanket for a chilly Santorini sunset (yes, they exist) and as, well, a scarf. I like this one from Mara Hoffman, because it’s pretty and the pattern has a lot of color, so it dresses up the neutrals you might have packed—of course, it’s $100 and rayon, so. This one’s neutral enough, and cheap enough, that it’ll definitely get its use.
  1. A baggy chambray shirt: Use it as a cover-up for the beach, an extra layer on chilly nights—heck, just a shirt!
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I wore this chambray shirt when visiting Parc Guell in Barcelona—and everywhere else.
  1. A big canvas bag: to hold all your items when you go to the beach; to serve as your carry-on; to hold dirty laundry; line it with a plastic bag and put ice in it for an impromptu cooler (don’t judge). This one has a lifetime guarantee and a zip-top for extra security.

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The Secret is Mine

Discover an abandoned gold mine, hidden in the hills of Boulder, CO.

If you’ve ever wondered why I drive a beaten up Volkswagen Jetta, it’s because I’m very rich. My family owns a gold mine in Boulder, Colorado.

I’m kidding about being rich. I’m not kidding about the gold mine.

It’s called the Pilot Mine. I can’t tell you where it is or how to get there; plus, it’s on private property so you’re not allowed to dig around (pun unintentional) and find it.

 

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The Pilot Mine in Boulder, Colorado

 

But, because there’s so little information on it on the Internet, I thought I’d share a few images of this red hidden gem. Who of you knew that Colorado was sprinkled with abandoned mines?

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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.

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Mac and cheese at Welcome Diner in Tucson

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Tucson: Romero Pools hike

One of Tucson’s favorite hikes, I write up my experience on a trek to the Romero Pools.

Name: Romero Pools

Location: within Catalina State Park

Total time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Length: 6.5 miles to the pools and back

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The views along the trail to the Romero Pools will take your breath away—if you have any breath left, that is. Steep ascents remind you how out of shape you are, while flat spaces between climbs provide a welcome respite (and also keep this hike ranked a 3 on trailvoyant.com, a local Tucson hiking resource).

Fueled by breakfast burritos from El Güero Canelo, Rob and I headed out on a beautiful 70-degree morning for Catalina State Park. We paid $7 for a day pass (check the calendar to time your visit with an event and get the most bang for your buck) and followed the road to the trail head. Dogs are allowed for the first mile or so, after which the trail runs through Bighorn Sheep wilderness, which is strictly protected and dogs are strictly forbidden. From there, we walked a little more than 3 miles. I’d estimate 1.8 of those were pure elevation gains, baby.

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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: bit.ly/RzfiLM
Photo via official restaurant page: bit.ly/RzfiLM. 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?”

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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].