Previews of upcoming events

JAN 15-16


The St. Lawrence String Quartet, which has played for AFCM numerous times, returns for two nights of different concerts, each celebrating the music of Beethoven. Jan. 15 will include Beethoven’s String Quartets No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 18 No. 4, and No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135. The group also will play John Adams’ String Quartet No. 2, written specifically for them, and referencing two of Beethoven’s piano works — the Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, Op. 110 and the Diabelli Variations. On Jan. 16, the program will be comprised of Beethoven’s String Quartets No. 10 in E-flat Major, Op. 74, “Harp” (so called because of the string plucking in the first movement), and No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131. The group also will perform Haydn’s String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 20 No. 5, an intense and dramatic work that prefigures the middle and later quartets of Beethoven. Leo Rich Theater. 577-3769.; .

JAN 19


The Bay Area-based group Agave Baroque, which specializes in string chamber music from the 17th and 18th centuries, has a long association with renowned countertenor Reginald Mobley.

The group has recorded several CDs with Mobley, including 2015’s Queen of Heaven, which features the music of Isabella Leonarda. Leonarda was a 17th century Italian nun who dedicated her compositions to the Virgin Mary. In 2018, Agave Baroque worked with Mobley again on the album Peace in Our Time — Music of Love and Loss in the Shadow of the Thirty Years War. The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) took place in Central Europe and involved numerous countries, including Denmark, Sweden, England, and nations from the Holy Roman Empire. The casualties from battle, disease and famine that resulted from the conflict topped eight million.

For the Tucson concert (which is part of the Tucson Desert Song Festival), Agave Baroque will perform a concert entitled American Originals, centering on composers born in the Americas, and including works by African American composers Florence Price (1887-1953) and Josiah Holland (1819-1881). 3 pm. Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

JAN 24, 26


Windows into Song

Part of the Tucson Desert Song Festival, this eclectic program will feature everything from 150-year-old choral works to Respighi’s instrumental interpretations that relate to passages in the Bible, to the world premiere of a work for chorus and orchestra by local composer Robert Lopez-Hanshaw.

One of the highlights of the concert will certainly be the opportunity to hear rising operatic star Federica Lombardi perform pieces by Gioachino Rossini. The Italianborn Lombardi says that her love of classical music began at an early age. “I have been studying opera since I was 16 years old as a result of the love I always had growing up for classical music. This journey took me to great experiences, such as master classes, competitions and then performing opera roles. It has been a beautiful process of continuous development and learning,” she enthuses.

The soprano studied at the Liceo Musicale Angelo Massini, as well as the Conseratorio Bruno Maderna. She was part of the Accademia di Perfezionamento per Cantanti Lirici of the Teatro alla Scala, and participated in the young singers program at the Salzburg Festival. Her recognitions have included being a two-time winner of the AsLiCo competition in Como, Italy.

Along with performing Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, she has performed the roles of the Countess Rosina in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Elettra in Idomeneo. Asked about some of her favorite parts to sing, she says, “Every time I sing a new role or a new piece I fall in love with every single part of it. Right now I’m fascinated by two of the characters I sing the most: Donna Elvira, and the Countess, both by Mozart; they are strong women who are in love and they fight in different ways for a love that has been betrayed, singing the most beautiful music. Aside from Mozart, I feel very confident with the role of Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello. I recently recorded this opera for a CD, and I can’t wait to bring this character to life on stage!”

For the TSO, she will perform selections from Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, Messa di Gloria and Stabat Mater. “I’m extremely happy to perform something new in my repertoire,” she comments. “I believe this music creates a glorious atmosphere, and it’s able to move my soul in a very intimate way.”

Speaking of atmosphere, Lombardi observes that she has been to the Old Pueblo before and loves it here. “I have been in Tucson twice already, and I’m always impressed by the beautiful landscape. The first time, I visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The second time I spent more time in the lively downtown, which is developing so quickly, and offers great entertainment options. It has that unique feeling that makes Tucson a very special place to be.”

This year, Lombardi also is slated to perform as Desdemona for Deutsche Oper Berlin, and she also will return to La Scala for a new production of Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre Rè. Fortunately, travel is one of the things she most enjoys doing. “Apart from using my free time to study and prepare for future engagements,” she says, “I like to visit and discover the places where I’m performing. I think it’s part of the good fortune of an opera singer!” Jan. 24, 7:30 pm; Jan. 26, 2 pm, TCC Music Hall. 882-8585.

JAN 24-26


America Sings!

When bass Morris Robinson returns to Tucson (he was previously here in 2013 to sing Verdi’s Requiem with the TSO)

Morris Robinson sings with True Concord, Jan.
24-26. Photo by Lawrence Brownlee

it will be to help bring to life music that is in our country’s DNA. The phenomenal singer, whose résumé includes roles such as Fasolt in Das Rheingold, Ferrando in Il Travatore, and concert performances of works such as Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, will take part in a program that’s part of the Tucson Desert Song Festival.

The mix will include spirituals, popular songs by Stephen Foster (the author of some 200 works, including “Beautiful Dreamer”), and Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs.

Written in two sets in 1950 and 1952, Old American Songs is a re-setting of a number of tunes from long ago, including the Shaker song “Simple Gifts” (also used in his Appalachian Spring Suite), the children’s song “I Bought Me a Cat,” and the hymn “At the River.” Jan. 24: 7 pm, St. Francis in the Valley Episcopal Church (Green Valley); Jan. 25: 7:30 pm, Catalina Foothills High School; Jan. 26: 3 pm, Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. 401-2651.

JAN 31- FEB 2


Made in America
Jenna Johnson, Vasily Boldin & Taylor Johnson
in “Unsquare”. Photo by Ed Flores Photography

Part of the Tucson Desert Song Festival, Ballet Tucson presents this showcase featuring a revered work by iconic chorographer George Balanchine, along with two premieres. The reprised work is Serenade, the first ballet created in the U.S. by the Russia-born Balanchine. Set to Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48 by Tchaikovsky, the work is especially haunting and beautiful. The new work Unsquare, by BT choreographer Chieko Imada, uses the music of jazz legend Dave Brubeck. The third piece, Recollections, was choreographed by Mark Schneider, and features popular turn-of-the-century American songs and period costumes. Jan. 31: 7:30 pm; Feb. 1: 2 pm and 7 pm; Feb. 2: 1 pm. PCC Center for the Arts. 903-1445.



La Bohème

Premiering in 1896 at the Teatro Regio (with a young Arturo Toscanini conducting), La Bohème was reportedly met with a lukewarm response, but the opera soon became a success throughout Italy. Today, it’s one of the most popular operas in the repertoire.

It’s easy to see — and hear — why. Puccini’s music is both romantic and heartbreaking, and the compelling story of the young lovers and their tragic fate has resonated throughout generations.

Though set in the 1840s, the opera is often updated to a different era. Director Baz Luhrmann transported it to 1950s Paris for one production, and the Broadway musical Rent transferred the storyline to New York’s East Village in the 1980s. The fluidity of the opera is just one of its many appeals. Observes soprano Ellie Dehn, who will be singing Mimi on Feb. 1, “I’ve done Bohème only in traditional productions, but I think of all operas, there’s a case for being able to update it, and doing it in all kinds of different periods and locales.”

Dehn has the advantage of knowing the work from several different angles, having sung the role of Musetta, as well. “I’ve done Mimi three times, but I’ve sung Musetta at all the major houses,” she relates. “Definitely Musetta is written in a more fun way, but Mimi has all the blood and guts — literally — written into the part. I think they’re both really fun to play, and it also keeps it fresh every time you do it when you can look at the opera through different perspectives.”

It may be difficult to picture the sunny and charming Dehn in a tragic work such as Massenet’s Manon, or Dvorak’s Rusalka, but Dehn reveals that what first draws her to an opera is the underlining qualities of the music. “For me it’s always the music first and foremost,” she says. “Using Rusalka as an example, you hear the score and immediately get goosebumps, and you feel this pain underneath the music. That’s what I need to get a sense of sometimes. And the storytelling is what completes the whole picture.”

Tucson audiences may recall that Dehn was in town to perform in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in 2018. Though that magnificent work doesn’t call upon the talents of vocal soloists until the end, Dehn says she doesn’t mind. “Usually we’re off stage until about halfway through the piece, so we can kind of do whatever we want — warm up, primp and get ready. In the case of Beethoven, I love sitting through the third movement, and then the finale is the finale. I love being on stage for the Ninth. Audiences just go wild. It’s written that way. It’s a really exciting piece.”

She says that the last time she was in town she was pregnant with her daughter Arabella (named for the Strauss opera). Being exposed to classical music both in the womb, and now in her toddler stage, has had an impact. “I sang Manon at five and a half months pregnant with her,” Dehn reveals. “When she was a newborn, she would calm down if I would play Manon for her, or Messiah, because I did a bunch of Messiah concerts in my sixth and seventh months. She recognizes opera and music from the womb. She sings constantly, so she definitely learned to have the music bug. She literally sings in perfect pitch. It’s incredible.”

Dehn’s parents, who will be wintering in Scottsdale, will join her in the Old Pueblo while she is here, and the soprano says that although her favorite downtime activities used to be yoga and reading, they are now often child-related. She hopes to get in some hiking while she in Arizona, however, though probably on a flat trail so that Arabella can enjoy it, too.

And soon after, Dehn will be jetting off to St. Louis for a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. “Now that I have a little one, concert work is good to find because it’s a shorter term,” she says. “Instead of a month to six weeks for an opera performance, you’re only gone four to seven days max. Doing a full opera is definitely my first passion, but I’m doing about half and half now.”

That variety of concert work and a wide range of operas definitely ices the cakes for Dehn. “Not only am I exploring different languages, but in different time periods,” she concludes. “I can do a score that’s very tonal, and then a newer work that’s completely atonal with different harmonies and orchestrations. Mozart is a completely different animal from some of the modern pieces, which always keeps it fresh. The same goes for languages and styles, too. It definitely never gets boring.” TCC Music Hall. 293-4336.;

Live help


Private Space II

A vignette from a barrio dwelling, this work was the beginning of my painting local scenes and adding colors that actually might not be there. That technique helps me to tell the story of how I feel about a place, rather than trying to exactly replicate it.



First Light

The Four Seasons in North Scottsdale commissioned this painting of Pinnacle Peak, and it has become one of my gallery’s most-popular images. In preparation for painting, my husband Miro and I spent the night at the hotel and began photographing at dawn to ensure we would capture the moment when the first light illuminated the top of the peak.




Greek Table

A painting trip to Greece in 1993 changed my life. It prompted me to sell my sports marketing company and become a full-time artist. I have never regretted that decision, and still get as excited about a blank canvas as I did all those years ago. Six years after that trip, Madaras Gallery opened.






Fly Me to the Moon

The Spirit Animal collection is my first extensive series, and creating these images has been joyous. I committed to painting 20 spirit animals to celebrate the gallery’s 20th anniversary, and have now completed 25. More are on the drawing board. Each one has five common elements including a tattoo. The original paintings are sold, so we now offer the entire collection in canvases, prints, coasters and ornaments.









Funky Cow Medina

This painting represented a breakthrough for me. For the first time, I gave myself permission to play and experiment, rather than trying to re-create a life-like scene. Having my own Gallery has afforded me the freedom to explore, whereas oftentimes, if an artist is successful with a certain look, the gallery will insist they continue to create in that style.



Afternoon Sun

One of 80 paintings selected as an award winner out of more than 1,000 entries in the Western Federation Show in 1998, held at the Tucson Museum of Art. This award helped give me the confidence to open my gallery.




Saguaro Matisse

This is the fourth painting I have done in the style of the masters, using subject matter I frequently paint. Preceding this were Saguaro Matisse, Saguaro Nieto, Saguaro Picasso, Saguaro Klee and most recently, Wildcat Picasso.

















A commissioned painting, this portrait incorporates the bird’s feathers and eggshells. The mixed media work later received national acclaim and was included in a book on the Best of Acrylic.




King of Sandibe

This was the first painting I finished after returning from a three-week African safari. I was sent there by Destination Southern Africa to shoot photo reference for a show to benefit charities in Africa and Tucson. This painting raised $10,000 for the charities, and it embodies the spirit of giving back that is a part of my gallery’s culture.


Meet Diana Madaras

Madaras earned a master’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1977. Before opening her art galleries, she operated a high-profile sports marketing company in Tucson, promoting major sporting events including LPGA and PGA golf tournaments. A month-long painting trip to Greece in 1993 changed her life, prompting her to sell her marketing company and devote her career to painting.

Her art has appeared on the covers of nine magazines, including Art Book of the West, The American Veterinary Hospital Journal, and Tucson Lifestyle. Her coffee table book Private Spaces includes 152 of her works, and her newest book, The Colors of Tucson, is a tour of “The Old Pueblo” through her imaginative paintings.

Madaras has completed commissions for all of the major resorts in Tucson, along with eight paintings for the estate of a former President of Mexico.

She is founder and president of the nonprofit Art for Animals Foundation, which has raised more than $200,000 to help abused, injured and orphaned animals. For the past several years, she has concentrated her fundraising efforts on the Tucson Wildlife Center and was the chair of their benefit in 2018. The event raised enough money to hire dedicated veterinarians for the first time in the Center’s 20-year history.

Live help

Each of these distinctive local restaurants could win awards for their mouth-watering pizza

by: Betsy Bruce

Scordato’s Pizzeria

It’s 10:50 on a Monday morning and cars are already pulling into the parking lot at Scordato’s Pizzeria, waiting for the 11 a.m. opening. It’s no surprise that an establishment bearing the name of legendary Tucson restaurateurs is so popular. The eatery, made of brick and beams, sits where Stone Avenue meets River Road on the near northwest side. Seating 130 guests, dining areas encircle the central bar, which features high-tops and cherry-wood stools to pull up to a granite slab bar. The dining areas are made intimate under corrugated low angled ceilings, dark wood tables and hardwood floors. Framed posters — Cinzano, Barrilla — adorn brick walls. Sporting events air on a pair of big screen TVs; cold drafts are pulled from a 12 spout tap.

Scordato’s Manager Jeff Happoldt says, “The key is using high-end ingredients and making everything from scratch.” Dough is made daily using imported Caputo flour and crafted with the same level of skill as the finest bread. Favorite pies include the house made sausage and roasted cippolini onion with mozzarella and fresh sage leaves; and the Japanese eggplant, zucchini and roasted red pepper with aromatic trugole cheese drizzled with pesto and finished with Pecorino Romano. Takeout is available, but it’s suggested that customers savor a Scordato masterpiece in house to ensure the perfect crunch of crust, bubbling cheese and piquant pepperoni. Says Happoldt, “Fresh out of our 620-degree oven is the best you can possibly get.”

Be sure to look up as you enter and exit to take in a gasp-inducing silver and crystal chandelier that Liberace himself would have lusted after … as well as the pizza, of course.

4911 N. Stone Ave., 529-2700


St. Philip is the patron Saint of Joy … so what better place to get a heavenly slice of pizza than “Proof” at St. Philip’s Plaza on Campbell and River. GM/Owner Grant Krueger says he and his partners dug the double meaning. “We not only liked the name due to the rise of bread, we wanted to highlight our bar with the proof in alcohol. We’re very proud of our house-made pizza dough, pasta and bread, amazing craft cocktails and eclectic wine menu.”

Southern Arizonans experience a good part of the year in temperate temps, so half of the tables at Proof are outside. Fourtops sit under a roan-colored planked canopy lit by firefly strings; a fire pit warms when fall arrives. Inside, a “sleek, modern feel with rustic ambience” was the goal, with whitewashed wood floors, and a granite bar surrounded by industrial stools.

Pasta, salads and sandwiches are offered, but artisanal pizza highlights the menu. The oven-charred crispy thin crusts accommodate heirloom tomatoes, housemade mozzarella and other premium toppings. “Our Margherita pizza is our most popular,” say Krueger. “If you are going to measure an Italian restaurant, go authentic.” The mushroom pie is another favorite, combining mushrooms, goat cheese, truffles and scallions. Krueger’s personal favorite? “It’s got to be the potato! It’s so simple, but it takes technique. I like to add some crispy prosciutto if I feel like spicing it up.”

Brunch is offered Sundays at “Proof,” and its St. Philip’s sisters, Union Public House and Reforma. Check for musical performances in the shared courtyard.

4340 N. Campbell Ave., 789-7447

Fiamme Pizza

The aromas of mesquite wood and oregano greet hungry guests ambling toward a sliver of restaurant in the foothills, Fiamme Pizza, tucked into a supermarket strip on the southeast corner of Swan and Sunrise. Once inside, guests glimpse the source of olfactory delight, the brick pizza oven at the front of the house, shooting sparks (fiamme is Italian for “flames”). An open marble-slabbed kitchen is adjacent to the oven, and this is where fresh dough is worked into rounds and embellished with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh Fior de latte mozzarella, full-leaf basil, 24-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a variety of locally sourced ingredients.“The pizza at Fiamme is unique because we use ingredients and cooking methods that create a product that is one of a kind,” says Owner/ Chef Scott Volpe, adding, “The pizza is made with naturally leavened dough and cooked to a light, airy, crispy yet soft finish.”

The wide variety of pies include the Pizza Picante, a white pizza with Calabrese salami, Calabrian chiles, onion and mozzarella; and the “Grandma,” with family recipe sauce, garlic, olive oil, mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta and basil.

Two-tops progress along the pristine white walls, which are adorned with framed travel shots of both mother Italy and beloved Tucson. Grandmother Volpe is framed, pink-cheeked and 1930s coiffed, next to the myriad medals awarded grandson Scott, the six-time gold medalist at “Campionato Mondiale della Pizza,” in other words, the best pizza dough tossing artist on the planet.

An open ceiling soars above pewter-colored, wood-planked floors. Frank Sinatra segues into “Sh-Boom” and a vintage poster of Sophia Loren gazes at diners from the wall, her elegant fingers holding a margherita pizza, no doubt almost as delicious as can be had at Fiamme.

4704 E. Sunrise Blvd., 529-5777

Renee’s Organic Oven

What has blonde spikes, a big appetite and drives across the country in a vintage Camaro SS? Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri, of course, host of the Food Network’s wildly popular Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. That famous rag-top pulled up to Renee’s Organic Oven right here in Tucson last year, and Renee and husband/chef Steve have been surfing tsunamis of tourists and Tucsonans when it re-airs — a dozen times so far. The obvious query is which Triple D designation does Renee’s fit? “That’s what we said,” responds Renee. Her conclusion simply stated is, “This is a guy, no pun intended, who just wants to highlight what people do really well.” Fieri joined Steve in the kitchen to make The Tailored Tony, “Our kind of foodie version of a Sloppy Joe,” according to Renee, using organic grass-fed beef, marinara, roasted red pepper, fresh basil and mozzarella on house-made organic focaccia. “When the episode airs, we have focaccia stacked from tabletop to ceiling.” Also composed for the affable television personalitywas the signature Spinach Dip Calzone, with creamy spinach, artichokes, organic free-range chicken, roasted green chiles and cream cheese wrapped in a flaky, browned crust. Guy’s first-bite review? “This is dangerous Bro.”

The star of Renee’s is the pizza, despite the worldwide publicity for the sandwich and calzone. “We’ve been perfecting the all-organic pizza crust for as long as we’ve been open,” says Renee. “The key, however, is not being too fussy. We are not jamming to Beethoven in the morning, doing exacting science; it’s about the integrity of the ingredients.” No matter what area of the country a guest is from they find something about the pizza, which has a local flair, to love. “I truly feel we make a Tucson pizza,” remarks Renee. Favorites include the “Old Town,” elegant in its simple composition: fresh basil, Parmesan and Bacio Mozzarella (with a kiss of Buffalo milk). The sausage and roasted red pepper pie is a new addition and an instant favorite. “Jeff’s II” is named after the couple’s 17-year-old son, and it features organic free-range chicken (moist and flavorful), pesto, mozzarella, feta and pine nuts.

The 40-seat establishment, (mostly inside, with outdoor seating for 12), has been celebrating innovative, delicious, healthy food on the southwest corner of Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon for 15 years, earning more than 160 five-star reviews on Yelp. Cement floors and honeycomb light cylinders brighten and warm, while the tangerine walls display art and expressions of encouragement. Renee invites diners to make reservations, and adds, “We are grateful we are loved and filled!” Fingers crossed, Renee’s will double in size next year, as the neighboring business plans to move one door down. 7065 E Tanque Verde Rd., 886-0484


The incandescent Anello doesn’t take reservations for parties under five, or even have a phone number. Look for the redbrick façade on Sixth Street, illuminated after sundown by an ebony cylinder, just across the alley from Crooked Tooth Brewery. Owner Scott Girod indicates he’s really too busy to answer the phone; too busy keeping his promise to his wife and young sons to make this enterprise soar. Anello means “promise” in Italian, as well as “ring,” the shape of a pizza.

Slight of build and inky maned, the now 33-year-old Girod wanted to “see what Neapolitan pizza was all about.” He spent three months cycling across Italy from Rome to Tuscany, to Sienna to Florence, “eating as much pizza as I could.” Naples found him perfecting his talents at pizzeria La Notizia, “The News.”

The kitchen at Anello occupies a full third of restaurant space and a third of that third is lorded over by the Ferrari of pizza ovens, a Ferrara, introduced to Girod in Italy. At 2 p.m., the beast is already growling, turning pecan wood into glowing coals. Crates of fresh herbs and tomatoes from local purveyors have just arrived, waiting to be composed.

Feasting at Anello, on any given day, is decided by the bounty that arrives through the massive blonde wood front door (there is no backdoor). This evening’s menu includes Asian pears shaved thin, pecorino, pistachios, thyme, pickled jalapeno, drizzled with honey and lemon. “Fresh, bright, not what you’d think of as a salad,” says Girod. “The starter is to kind get your appetite going.”

Headlines on the dynamic menu are more abbreviated than Haiku: “Bite … Pizza … Sweet,” a Trip Advisor review mirrors the poetry — “Small place, incredible pizza, delicious deserts.” House favorites include: Bianca, with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, olive, basil and chiltepin; and Margherita, featuring tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, olive oil and basil. Guests may add a curated protein to any pizza. Among the sweet finishes is a olive oil cake.

It takes just 30 humans to fill Anello’s blonde wood communal table and twotops. Polished cement floors reflect the warmth cast by spiraling gold lights, a pink accent wall peeks out from behind the Ferrara. A Chandler native, Girod offers words as delicious as his food when asked why he chose the Old Pueblo to open his business. “I was over Phoenix. Tucson offers so much more. For me it’s all about food and pizza and bringing people together. I hope people see something familiar, but taste it in a new way, and how flavorful a few things can be when done well.” Reservations for parties of five or more can indeed be made on line.


Tucson Lifestyle Magazine Burger Masters

There are lots of places to go for a good burger in this town, but these six spots are a cut above.


Divine Bovine

Super new on Tucson’s burger scene, Divine Bovine bursts out of the gate like a bucking bull with a mission. Though it’s only eight months into the game, don’t dare discount this hot new spot owned and operated by Ben Rine, former owner of BrushFire BBQ Co. With around 15 pre-conceived options or a deep well of build-it-yourself ingredients from which to choose, guests can order a highly anticipated delight and watch it come to fruition in the open kitchen.

The scratch kitchen offers beef patties that are house ground with brisket, chuck and short rib; buttermilk fried or seared chicken breast; Arizona-farm raised bison; or the Impossible 2.0 veggie burger. Any one of these tantalizing offerings may be placed between a fresh La Baguette Parisienne bun, under a mountain of house-made mac & cheese, triple-fried fries, or cradled in a bed of greens. Rine’s playful passion for building a bodacious burger experience is apparent in the wickedly fun and dutifully scratch-made delights. He explains, “I always wanted a burger joint. There is so much you can do with this medium. I can really play and goof-off with this.” After pulling together the Funny Farm Hand, resplendent with creamy peanut butter, jalapeño raspberry jam, candied bacon, sweet hot pickles and white cheddar, Rine recalls, “I had to rest against the table for a minute. I needed a picture of this — it’s pretty amazing!”

Rine recognizes and respects that food is a personal thing, so whether you dare to devour one of his creations or build your own delicious concoction, belly up to the counter and order away. Under no circumstances, however, should you forget to grab at least one amazing side. A weeks-long experiment led to the perfectly prepared Pure Gold Potato French fries, punched, brined, and triple-fried daily to order. If you’re determined to go somewhat rogue, the heavenly mac & cheese or near sinful hushpuppies with jalapeño raspberry jam perfectly complement any of Rine’s or your own creations. Wash down the indulgence with a local soda or one of more than 40 beer options served individually or by multiples packed in a bucket of ice.

1021 N. Wilmot Rd.; 203-8884

Charro Steak

Picture of The Charro Burger
The Charro Burger, available at Charro Steak.

The Flores family has served Tucsonans and visitors iconic Sonoran-style Mexican food since 1922 at El Charro Café. More recently, the city’s longest-running culinary legacy expanded to include pub, seafood, and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine spots. One of the latest additions to the Flores restaurant concepts is Charro Steak, with Executive Chef Gary Hickey at the helm. With an eye to purity of their main ingredient, Ray Flores explains, “We only buy grass-fed meat. No hormones, no antibiotics. The animals drink from natural springs. These are important details.”

The best bits and pieces trimmed from the naturally raised Arizona and Montana grass-fed beef are ground and formed into delectable half-pound patties known as Charro Burgers. Grilled to order over a hybrid mesquite fire/gas grill, and stacked with Willcox tomato, queso Manchengo, and Charro sauce, they are encased in Sunrise Bakery heritage Sonoran wheat buns. Oh, but wait, the Charro Burger fun isn’t over just yet. Add an over-easy cagefree egg, avocado, charred poblano, bleu cheese, pork belly or grass-fed chorizo (or any combination therein) for a blow-your mind, taste-bud-blasting experience. Pair the Charro Burger with hand-cut French fries, the Sonoran Au Gratin-style Papas de la Casa, or an order of classic Charro beans and prepare to stare down a serious case of food coma. Insider tip: Do not succumb to the coma before topping off the meal with a little dulce (sweet). Will it be the margarita lime flan, the tamal del Nutella or the PB&C (peanut butter & chocolate) tres leches cake? Maybe throw caution (and your top button) to the wind and go for the Dulceria Sample Board.

Naturally, working one’s way through all these amazing offerings will create a hearty thirst. Sip a glass or flight of red, white or rosé from the chef-curated wine menu. Choose from more than 25 whiskey, bourbon and scotch options, 20-plus beer labels, or an array of unique cocktails. Keep an eye out for one of the many local brands offered. Designated drivers and teetotalers may indulge in a non-alcoholic brew or the Charro Steak peach tea served with grilled peaches. With so many options, there’s one thing each and every diner will have — an unmistakably Old Pueblo dining tradition experience that won’t disappoint.

188 E. Broadway Blvd. (520) 485-1922

Truland Burgers & Greens

Photo of Truland Burgers & Greens’ Western Bleu Cheese Burger
Truland Burgers & Greens’ Western Bleu Cheese Burger.

Co-owners Jeff Katz and Paolo DeFilipis combined the concepts of Graze Premium Burgers and Choice Greens to serve Tucson’s north-siders with Truland Burgers & Greens, with a new location slated to open in Chandler in early 2020. Now in its fourth year, it’s humbly upscale with the heartbeat of a true “joint,” evidenced by the availability of canned beer, and beer and wine on tap. Certainly, we appreciate the delectable green offerings, of which Truland has many, but our gaze is on the plethora of things served in a bun. For vegetarians, there’s the locally sourced, smokey tepary bean and superfood veggie burger, which is pretty scrumptious by all measure. Chef strongly suggests burger fans enjoy two patties of Niman Ranch hormone/antibiotic-free beef or locally sourced Double Check Ranch grass-fed beef seared to medium well. The Truland Classic sports two slices of American cheese, lettuce, caramelized onions and Tru-sauce, and there are 15 available addons such as grilled crimini mushrooms. Maybe a double-patty chorizo burger with pepper jack cheese and Hatch green chiles tempts you, or perhaps you want to check out Katz’s fave, the Early Riser, with two slices of American cheese, a cage-free fried egg, all-natural nitrate/nitrate-free bacon and organic ketchup. The magnum opus of Truland’s burger offerings is the Western Bleu Cheese burger, adorned with bleu cheese, bacon, crispy onions, and barbecue sauce.

Without doubt, a perfect side for every Truland burger is an order of Kennebec potato French fries. They’re Belgian-style, twice-fried in non-GMO rice bran oil, and seasoned with kosher salt. Take it up a notch with the truffle fries treated with truffle oil, Parmesan, pecorino, parsley, and served with truffle mayo. If you manage to get a hand free from your burger of choice, wrap it around a Dragoon IPA or Barrio Blonde from the tap, or a can of Guinness or Bells Two Hearted Ale. A really nice assortment of wines is on tap or by the bottle if a little natural sulfite infusion is more to your liking. If, by some miracle, there is room for dessert, top off your Truland experience with a piece of their legendary carrot cake or an ambrosial all-natural ice cream milkshake. Warning, one or two bites or sips just won’t do — you’ll go big and go home super satisfied and planning another visit.

7332 N. Oracle Rd.; 395-2975

Beaut Burger

Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike are flocking to the Mercado San Agustín (MSA) Annex for a feel good/tastes good meat-free burger bite. Five years ago, a seed was planted when vegan cuisine chef Kerry Lane and serial entrepreneur Ari Shapiro were on a hike in Canada and jonesing for a quick and good veggie burger. Not long after, the concept of Beaut Burger was born and realized by the duo — a no-frills lower-price-point veggie burger joint with cheap beer. It’s an everyman/ woman spot where people can enjoy a primal burger and fries experience minus the animal product.

Having recently celebrated its oneyear anniversary, Beaut has been warmly embraced by Tucson, and the people of the westside in particular. Shapiro admits that he, a vegetarian, and Lane, a vegan, are very particular about their food. Therefore, the vast majority of menu items were conceived by Lane and made inhouse daily, by hand — including buns, pickled poblanos, tamarind chutney, radish sauce, barbecue sauce, slaw and burger patties. “I’m not a culinarian. Kerry is the mind and hands-on genius behind the menu. I’m just a scrappy entrepreneur who wanted to be able to get a veggie burger minus a linen napkin and steep price tag,” Shapiro explains.

Loath to pick a favorite of Beaut’s fabulous fare, Shapiro points to the B4 as the best-selling burger, proudly proclaiming it as his late-game contribution. Piled atop a proprietary hand-formed patty of grains, walnuts, beans, vegetables, and spices, the griddled mushrooms and caramelized onions harken back to a favorite of the entrepreneur’s youth. Beaut fanatics also are partial to the B9, a near-heavenly compilation of roasted eggplant, pepita pesto, and house-made mozzarella. And for the chile-pepper-loving and socially sensitive veggie burger connoisseur, the B Kind burger stacked with jalapeño and roasted zucchini, slathered with vegan sour cream also offers proceeds donated to Ben’s Bells. A side of the hand-cut russet fries are always an amazing bet, but beer-battered cauliflower bites or some zippy housemade coleslaw won’t be regretted, either. Between cow-friendly bites, wrap your hand around house-made limeade, a $2 Miller High Life, or a 12-ounce can of wine. Oh, and don’t forget to grab Fido a homemade dog-biscuit. High-style, out-of-sight flavor combinations, and delightfully industrial- chic atmosphere make Beaut Burger Tucson’s every-man, -woman, and -dog spot for a quick, tasty, healthy, burger bite.

267 South Avenida del Convento 344-5907;

Lindy’s on 4th

The OMG Burger, a 12-patty, threepound monolith of insane indulgence and bragging rights, may have put Lindy’s on the national foodie radar with appearances on Man v. Food, Meat & Potatoes, the Travel Channel, and Food Network’s Ginormous Foods. But since opening in 2005, Lindy’s has been considered a daytime or late-night hot spot to grab a bite for Tucsonans, especially UA students. Originally more of a sandwich spot, owner Lindon Reilly proves it pays to play with your food. With a menu eventually skewing toward the burger bandwagon, Lindy’s has become a favored new/old burger joint in Tucson.

Even after moving across the street, burger lovers still flock to Lindy’s on Fourth, some for the burger challenge, but most for the scandalously delicious seven-ounce (base) patty creations. Use a BUSS pass (Build Up Something Special) by choosing a beef or black bean patty, or fried or seared chicken breast. Select a “holding medium” — salad bowl, lettuce wrap or brioche, gluten-free, or honey bun (to name a few). Then get to building — fries, tots, grilled veggies, Lil’ Smokies, bacon … you name it. You can leave the stress of so many choices behind by picking one of Lindy’s own concoctions. The OG, a classic with lettuce, tomato, onion, and Lindy’s sauce stands strong, but if you really want to arouse your senses, opt for the Big Bang, with homemade jalapeño macaroni salad, Lil’ Smokies, potato chips, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and sour cream n’ onion spread. One of their signature burgers is for pyromaniacs only, with green chile, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, guacamole and ghost pepper sauce. Of course, no man or woman can live on burgers alone, so a Lindy’s side is a must. The Phat chips — house-fried and smothered with mac & cheese, sour cream, chives and bacon bits is a popular choice, but there’s also French fries or tater tots fighting for breath under guac, green chiles, jalapeños and pepper jack. Whet your whistle with dollar-off craft draft or a $5 signature cocktail during happy hour or $5 Mimosas and Bloody Marys all day on the weekends. If you can still walk comfortably after your meal, be sure to work off some of those calories with a stroll around Fourth Avenue. The walk will help you decide which of Lindy’s burgers to tackle on your next visit.

500 N. Fourth Ave.; 207-6970

Union Public House

A Foothills staple since October 31, 2011, Union Public House has been an anchor for good eats in St. Philip’s Plaza since its opening. Aside from the superstitiously macabre opening date, the only thing scary about the cornerstone eatery is the frightful decadence of its offerings. As many dishes as possible are infused with Chef Tony Coluci’s version of “flavor crystals” — bacon. From the beginning the Union Burger has been a constant menu item and far-and-away fan favorite.

Photo of Union Burger
Union Public House’s famed Union Burger.

General Manager David Serafin explains that the staple is “an exquisite creation exactly the way it is served. It’s not made to put a bunch of sauces on and cover up.” A half-pound Union Grind patty of 80/20-ground grass-fed beef is perfectly seared to taste and dressed with English Red Dragon cheddar, house-made bacon jam (i.e., Flavor crystals reduced with sugar, vinegar and apples), and red winepickled red onions. All this deliciousness is surrounded top and bottom by a brioche bun made in house by baker Travis Evans. Serafin explains that it’s a burger made for a purist — pure ingredients, scratch made, to order. If hoisting this massive feast is a little scary, opt for the sliders instead. Union Sliders are smaller-in-stature, spicy offerings of the Union Grind topped with bacon (of course), cheddar, and house-pickled jalapeños. For the burger lover unwilling to buck tradition, the All-American burger sporting the more traditional costuming of lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar, mustard, and mayo inside a house-baked sesame bun awaits.

Whichever amazing burger is chosen, make sure it doesn’t come to the party alone. Invite some of the house-punched Chipperbec French fries or hand-sliced potato chips along. Or pick the insanely amazing Poutine fries bathed in housemade gravy, white cheddar cheese curds, and chives, or a cup of Yesterday’s Soup (house-made soup given time for the flavors to marry and blossom). Stop into Union Public House anytime for an amazing burger or slider, but make a point of dropping in for the joint Halloween/anniversary party complete with live music, spirits (of all kinds), and a costume contest. 4340 N Campbell Ave., Ste. 103; 329-8575

Live help

Keeping your feet healthy involves preventive care, and knowing when to see a professional.

by Kimberly Schmitz

Think about feet for a moment. They are really quite a marvel. Twenty-six bones, 30 joints, more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, and nearly 7,000 nerve endings all work together to get us where we want to go, test the water, cut a rug, or shut the door when our hands are full. So why is it that so many people dismiss, ignore, self-diagnose or You-Tubetreat foot pain?

Dr. Glesinger
Photo by Thomas Veneklasen



Tucson native April Ross Glesinger, DPM, of Arizona Podiatry Associates, understands the struggle. She regularly shares with her patients the reason she went into podiatry — her “terrible feet.” She has flat feet, suffers from plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and neuromas (painful nerve bundles), and has worn orthotics most of her life. Dr. Glesinger has dedicated her career to ensuring people are able to lead active, pain-free lives. She shed some light on why many patients hesitate to see a podiatrist when issues arise. “Feet are such a personal issue. Patients tell me all the time that they were afraid to come in because they didn’t want to hear that they needed some painful procedure or would have to wear unflattering ‘old-lady’ shoes.”

Simple, painless and non-invasive solutions are available to treat many foot and lower leg issues to help people return to their favored activities. Often the causes of foot complications are as individual as the patient and may require a specific combination of treatments for resolution. Yet, some conditions, left untreated or treated incorrectly, may become life threatening. Fortunately, Tucson-based podiatric physicians, as well as interdisciplinary teams of practitioners and researchers throughout the country, are dedicated to diagnosing, treating and resolving minor and severe maladies below the knee.

Take The First Step

Dr. Aung, Bob Hitchcock, Design Photography

Undoubtedly, feet take the brunt of daily living, especially here in the desert. Toes get stubbed, Legos are stepped on, and stickers or cactus spines find their way into feet one way or another. Even just a long day of standing or exploring a new desert trail may leave our “dogs” feeling a little more beat up than usual. So how do we know when it’s time to consult a professional with a foot problem?

Barbara Aung, DPM, DABPM, CWS, CPMA, CSFAC, of Aung FootHealth Clinic, suggests people imagine whatever problem they suffer on their feet is happening to their eyes. “If people have a recurring lesion on their eye, they’re not going to perform some procedure they see on an infomercial,” reasons Dr. Aung. “They’re going to go to a professional to have it treated properly. The same should be true with foot issues.” She suggests paying attention to warning signs such as pain, swelling, sores, or any deformation or sudden change in the feet. “That’s your body telling you that something is wrong, and you should see a professional.”

When patients visit a podiatrist they should be prepared to provide as much information about their medical history, lifestyle, and current condition as possible. Prepare a list of questions about your physician’s diagnosis of your foot problems, and ask about available treatment options to create a partnership with a practitioner. Patients also should be open to learn preventive self-care and address problems in other areas of the body that may be manifesting in the feet.

“A good biomechanical evaluation of patients is important,” Dr. Glesinger explains. “We watch patients walk and ask a lot of questions about lifestyle — what surfaces they usually stand on, what kind of shoes they wear, etcetera. Sometimes issues like leg-length discrepancy or shoulder tilt may be affecting the gait and causing problems in the feet. We’ll treat the immediate issue and recommend a good physical therapist to create an exercise regimen to prevent the issue from recurring.”

“We don’t just trim toenails all day. We really are looking at the function of the foot to help people move and walk better. Sometimes with minimal intervention, or otherwise with drastic action,” Dr. Aung adds.

The most common issues podiatrists treat include ingrown toenails, plantar fasciitis, corns, bunions, and diabetes-related ulcers and neuropathy.

Nailed It

Most people can identify an ingrown toenail. Children as well as adults may experience them. It’s a common condition that occurs when the toenail grows into the soft flesh around the nail bed. The imbedded nail causes the surrounding skin to become red, tender, and may even result in an infection. In minor cases, a quick, precise trim of the nail will resolve the issue. However, if the issue is recurrent, or the affected skin is hot, draining, or there are red streaks originating in the affected area, further treatment is required. A podiatrist may remove part of the nail and apply a chemical to prevent that section from regrowing.

Podiatrists also will offer to train their patients on how to trim nails properly to prevent recurrence. Some feet are genetically predisposed to have ingrown nails. In other instances, the condition may be caused by gait mechanics or improperly fitting shoes. Often, by the time adults seek professional treatment for ingrown toenails, they have become a recurrent issue. In these cases, orthotics or physical therapy may be part of a treatment plan.

A Time for Heeling

Plantar fasciitis, most common among women and very active people, is inflammation of the soft tissue, or fascia, that connects the calcaneus (heel bone) to the toes. Symptoms may range from an irritating dull ache in the heel to extreme, debilitating pain when active or at rest.

The pain is caused when ligaments become taut and pull so hard the pressure creates micro-tears and swelling at the anchor point in the heel. Dr. Aung sees many plantar fasciitis cases. She notes the condition usually results from body form and mechanics, and 90 percent of the time, it can be resolved with anti-inflammatory drugs, stretching, icing, and use of orthotics. Although over-the-counter “quick-fix” solutions abound, Dr. Aung explains that patients often come in after they’ve tried many of them to no avail. “Custom-made orthotics are the key,” she states. “Something hard that won’t lose its shape should be created for each foot. One-size-fits-all arch supports or shoes with built-in support may not control the arch enough.”

Slightly more invasive plantar fasciitis treatment may include injections to the affected area. Dr. Aung is currently participating in a clinical trial of a procedure to apply Botox directly to pain receptors to relieve symptoms. More extreme cases of plantar fasciitis may require a minimally invasive surgery. The plantar fasciotomy procedure involves surgically releasing tight fascia tissue through a small incision in the bottom of the foot. Patients may bear weight right after surgery and can fully recover and return to previous activities in several weeks.

Where the Corn(s) Grow

Corns on the feet are hardened layers of skin that develop on pressure points to protect the deeper tissue from friction or pressure. They generally develop on the bottom or side of the foot and have a central core. Improperly fitted shoes and biomechanical imbalances are most often the cause of corns and calluses. Dr. Glesinger vehemently discourages patients from purchasing and applying over-the-counter medicated pads to corns. “People usually spend a lot of money and order the wrong treatment for specific issues,” she states. Often the medication or acid in these remedies is too strong and burns holes in the area that can become a much larger problem. Patients are urged not to pick, cut, or peel corns, but rather to have them treated by a professional.

Treatments may include application of topical medication or precise shaving of the built-up, hardened skin. Per a biomechanical analysis, orthotics use or a change of footwear may be recommended to keep the issue from recurring.

Out of Joint

Bunions are a deformity of the big toe joint causing the toe to lean at an angle toward the outside of the foot. They develop slowly and are not always painful. The condition may become painful if the toe places pressure on, or even dislocates, the adjacent toes. Tight shoes can exacerbate pain in the joint and may contribute to the condition, but bunions generally are structural defects. Treatments range from proper shoe fitting, to orthotics, to joint replacement surgery.

Experts recommend seeking professional care long before bunions become painful. Most over-the-counter fixes, which include toe separators and bunion-adapted shoes, will not hurt or exacerbate the condition, but they won’t repair it, either. Without proper treatment, bunions will get worse, placing pressure on the joint cartilage and even damaging nerves. “If you treat the problem when it’s a smaller one, you don’t have to be so invasive. Orthotics don’t reverse the issue, but they help people function better and keep things from getting worse,” explains Dr. Aung.

Struck a Nerve

Dr. Armstrong Photo by Kris Hanning

Taking excellent care of our feet is important for everyone. However, for people with diabetes, it can be a matter of life or death. Diabetes affects 30 million people in the U.S., and 415 million worldwide. Diabetic foot complications cost more than the five most-costly cancers in the U.S. today. According to David Armstrong, Ph.D., DPM, UA Professor of Surgery and author of more than 240 research papers on the subject, every 1.2 seconds someone in America gets a diabetic foot ulcer or wound. Every 20 seconds someone gets a diabetes-related amputation. After an amputation, 50-75 percent of patients die within five years.

In diabetic patients, a pro-inflammatory state created by high blood sugar and resultant high triglycerides deadens the nerve response in lower legs and feet, often called neuropathy. This condition causes numbness, or “loss of the gift of pain,” as Dr. Armstrong describes it. “These patients literally can wear a hole in their foot. They can’t feel it. It’s akin to walking on a broken leg that you didn’t know was broken.” Injuries sustained to neuropathic limbs can develop devastating infections that can necessitate, in extreme circumstances, amputation of the foot or even the leg.

Experts agree that people with diabetes should include a podiatrist in their treatment team and be examined by them at least annually. Diabetics should always take any foot issue very seriously (whether it is painful or not) and consult a medical professional as soon as one is noted. Regular podiatric care can reduce a patient’s risk of developing complications 20-80 percent according to Dr. Armstrong.

In 2008 Dr. Armstrong established the Southwestern Academic Limb Salvage Alliance, and more recently became the co-director of the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA). He joined the University of Arizona’s Department of Surgery to build an advanced clinic for wound care as a part of an interdisciplinary team there.

“Feet are an anatomic peninsula. This forces us to team up with colleagues in other disciplines to solve problems,” Armstrong observes. “We have the team, and we are building the technology.”

There are currently more than 30 clinical trials SALSA-associated clinicians and researchers are conducting to investigate seemingly futuristic treatments, such as stem cell wound care, spreadable skin graft paste, and in-shoe exoskeletons to offload foot pressure. All are focused on saving limbs and lives.

However, Dr. Armstrong’s most prominent message, aligning with the sentiments of Drs. Glesinger and Aung, is that prevention pays. Don’t wait. Don’t perform a procedure from the Internet to cure foot issues. Collaborate with a podiatric physician to alleviate issues and learn how to keep your feet in optimal condition so they can keep you healthy, active, and moving well through life.

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Tucson Lifestyle

Tucson Lifestyle Magazine is Tucson's only glossy, monthly city magazine, targeting Southern Arizona’s affluent residents. With over 35 years of publishing experience, Tucson Lifestyle is committed to showcasing the people, places, local flavors, and attractions that make our city unique.


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