Cowboy Up!

With a history that dates to the 1860s, the Empire Ranch is one of the oldest working cattle ranches in the region. Its lineage includes ownership by such notable Tucsonans as Edward Nye Fish (a wealthy businessman who ran a number of shops), and rancher Walter L. Vail (Vail, Arizona, is named for Walter and his brother Edward). The Empire Ranch was used during the filming of numerous features, such as Red River (1948), Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) and Monte Walsh (1970).

Today, the ranch is publicly owned, overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), with the Tomlinson family leasing the land for grazing. The private non-profit Empire Ranch Foundation works with the BLM to help preserve the buildings and enhance the educational and recreational opportunities for the general public.

There are free, docent-led tours of Empire Ranch every second and fourth Saturday of the month, 11 a.m.-noon. On April 4, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., there will be a Spring Trail Ride, with horseback and wagon tours of the property, as well as music, lunch, raffles and more. For information call 888-364-2829 or visit

TOP: West view of Empire Ranch House, circa 1923; LEFT: Margie, Dusty, Bill and Tom Vail on “Molly” with dog “Buttons,” 1923; Frank Boice roping horses, circa 1940s. Photos courtesy of Empire Ranch Foundation.

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Capturing The Villain

A little more than 40 years ago, some of the biggest names in Hollywood — including legends Kirk Douglas and Ann-Margret, and the soon-to-be-a-megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger — descended on the dusty streets of Old Tucson to film a comedy Western with the simple title, The Villain.

Directed by Hal Needham — a former stunt coordinator who had filmed here before for Cannonball Run II — this live-action-cartoon Comedy-Western featured not only the talents of many famous faces (Ruth Buzzi, Paul Lynde, Foster Brooks, et al.), it also spotlighted epic scenery from the areas of Benson, Arizona; San Manuel, Arizona; Ironwood National Forest; and even Monument Valley.

For some behind-the-scenes photos from Old Tucson, please visit

Grape Expectations

Kimberly Schmitz

These six restaurants have all been recently honored by Wine Spectator, making them a must-visit for oenophiles.


Feast’s sautéed octopus and crawfish tails, served over fingerling potatoes and haricots verts in gremolata. Paired with 2017 Callaghan Vineyards “Greg’s” Chiricahua Ranch Vineyard, Petit Manseng,
Willcox. Photo by Robin Stancliff.

From humble beginnings as a carry-out restaurant, Feast has transformed into a 110-seat gourmet (our word, not theirs) restaurant, wine bar, and wine shop. They offer an ever-changing menu and sophisticated but approachable wine list that never disappoints. Wine Spectator has given an appreciative nod to Feast since 2015 with Best of Awards of Excellence highlighting California and France selections.

Owner/Chef/GM Doug Levy is a sommelier. In partnership with Wine Director Megan Nelson, Bottle Shop Director Kevin Anderson (former cellar master at AJ’s), and Lead Bartender Aly Carter, an enticing and varied offering is gathered from wineries in California, Oregon, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Croatia, Georgia (the country), and Brazil, to name a few. From the highlighted regions of California and France, Levy explains that the more pricefriendly options are in highest demand. “Wines from the Central Coast are big. Our guests lean toward Sonoma wines more than Napa. Field Recordings and Groundwork Winery varietals are particularly popular. Our menu tends not to drive people to the cabs.” Italian wine requests trend from the central and southern regions. Levy admits to a penchant for Nebbiolo and Barbaresco. Arizona wineries have gained a secure foothold on Feast’s list with a section of vintages from Callaghan, Dos Cabezas, Rune, Deep Sky, Kief- Joshua, Sand-Reckoner, and Page Spring Cellars. In all, 700 labels and approximately 7800 bottles are kept on hand.

Seared sea scallops with
wakame white polenta, baby root vegetables, lovage velouté, local mushrooms and fresh
tarragon from Feast. Paired with 2015 Château Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. Photo by Robin Stancliff.

The Feast menus change monthly, not only as an outlet for Levy’s creativity, but to fuel the Feast culinary team for excellence. “Keeping the menu fresh and new, our staff remains engaged and the food tastes like someone who’s focused and excited has prepared it,” Levy says. There are some dishes that are asked for so often they are brought back. Hands down, the most requested dish is the lobster appetizer served with corn and scallion bread pudding and Parmesan cream sauce — a cross between a savory bread pudding and a soufflé. Another solid choice is the seared sea scallops with wakame white polenta, baby root vegetables, lovage velouté, local mushrooms and fresh tarragon. Levy suggests that crisp, minerally whites always play well with shellfish, so an excellent pairing for these would be Sand-Reckoner’s “W,” a blend of Malvasia, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and Picpoul. For diners looking to veer from the gifts of the sea, braised pork belly with cauliflower two ways: roasted cauliflower purée and a cauliflower- quinoa cake with golden raisins and micro mustard greens, pairs well with a 2015 Albert Boxler Pinot Gris, Réserve, Alsace.

Although the menu is a testament to ecstasy-inducing culinary adventure, Feast’s happy hour is designed to entice guests into sipping superb wines they’d normally skip over. “We do this by choosing four wines each month that normally would be second choices after chardonnay or cabernet or other more recognizable varietals. We knock a couple of dollars off the glass price and throw in an amuse bouche that’s specifically paired with each wine,” Levy reveals.

3719 E. Speedway Blvd. 326-9363

Bob’s Steak & Chop House — AWARD OF EXCELLENCE

The newest addition to Tucson’s esteemed Wine Spectator-recognized restaurants list is Bob’s Steak & Chop House at Omni Tucson National Resort. Having just celebrated its first decade in operation, this Oro Valley location also is the most recent of the national restaurant group to receive the recognition. Of the 16 “Bob’s” locations across the country, four boast Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence and five have received Best of Awards.

“It’s an amazing honor for us. We are a smaller establishment with a wine list that reflects that,” General Manager Peter Prassas explains. “We are simply unable to accommodate a large inventory, so the award really speaks to the particular selections of wines we offer.” On average, Bob’s keeps 1000-1200 bottles of approximately 250 labels. The bulk of the wines are from Napa and Sonoma counties, with other varietals hailing from Washington, Oregon, France, Argentina and Portugal. French champagne, domestic sparkling wines, and rieslings also make the list. Wine/Resort Food and Beverage Director Josh Rockwell and his team constantly tweak wine offerings in response to guest requests and trends.

The Wine Spectator designation specifically highlights the restaurant’s California varietals. According to Prassas, the most ordered labels are Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley, Napa Valley’s Silver Oak Cabernet, and Twomey Cellars Pinot Noir. “We are a classic steakhouse. Bold reds, strong babs, pinot noirs, and malbecs really go well with beef,” he explains. “Only two percent of beef cuts are prime. We serve only prime cuts, and Chef Evanoff is a master of preparation of these meats. Really nice reds create an amazing complement and layer the flavors of these premium meats prepared simply to let the quality shine.” As is par for the course for steakhouses, Bob’s most popular entrées are prime filet mignon, ribeye, and porterhouse cuts. The Australian rack of lamb and seared duck breast with Luxardo cherry sauce are serious contenders for the number one non-beef entrée. Diners seeking lighter fare opt for the fresh fish options, with salmon the most popular, or a crab cake or shrimp entrée. Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay and Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc are popular pairings with seafood and even the occasional vegetarian entrée.

Bob’s Steak & Chop House has been somewhat of a hidden jewel of the Tucson dining scene – tucked just off the hilly rough of the Omni Tucson National Resort golf course. Prassas and his team are thrilled with the recent Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and look forward to it casting a little more light on the steakhouse’s offerings. He says, “We’re really proud of this place, the excellent food and wine, and especially our amazing staff.”

Omni Tucson National Resort 2727 W. Club Drive 877-2377

Maynards Market & Kitchen — AWARD OF EXCELLENCE

The green chile roasted pork belly at Maynards
is served with tepary been purée, potato escabeche and young greens. Paired with Domaine Sigalas, Santorini, GR, ’18, Assyrtiko. Photo by
Robin Stancliff.

In 2008, Hotel Congress owners Richard and Shana Oseran opened the downtown- chic Maynards Market. Like trains through the neighboring Amtrak station, this Tucson favorite hotspot remains on a roll — especially when it comes to accolades for their wines. First recognized by Wine Spectator in 2015, the Maynards team continues to refine the wine program and so enjoys a 2019 Award of Excellence. With approximately 300 wines available, Wine Spectator evaluators highlight Maynards’ Californian and French selections. California’s Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir is a top seller, as it rates as a solid option for most wine drinkers at a moderate price point. From France, classic reds Domaine Faiveley 1er Cru and Château Le Puy are incredibly popular, with Taittinger champagne corks also regularly popped. Director of Marketing Dalice Shepard notes that Southern Arizona wines are becoming common choices as established varietals continue to flourish. Maynards boasts an entire section in its wine shop for local vintages, some of which are on the restaurant wine list. Wines from Rune, Dos Cabezas, Flying Leap, and Sand-Reckoner Vineyards are available. Particular points of pride are the private label Maynards AZ Red and AZ White wines created in partnership with Sand-Reckoner. Shepard notes that this past summer there was an increase in rosé wine demand. “We offer the JP.Chenet French Brut sparkling rosé by the glass and bottle, and our guests love this wine. Since fall, we’ve seen reds take the front seat and our guests leaning toward the Old-World big reds,” she explains.

Executive Chef Brian Smith incorporates local and heritage ingredients throughout the Maynards Kitchen menus, which change with each season. “The focus on seasonal offerings allows our culinary team to be creative and thoughtful to what diners are looking for based on the time of the year,” Shepard explains. Throughout the summer and early fall, guest favorites included the short rib, braised with ancho chile and citrus and served with local roasted summer squash. The confit duck leg served with creamed corn, blackberries and pole beans quickly became a favorite, as well. The menu-mainstay steak tartare remains a front runner locals and visitors crave, with the latest version covered in a blanket of beer vinegar chips. Maynards, of course, offers a variety of wines to beautifully pair with each dish, but a consistent pairing is one of Chef Smith’s creative daily fish features with any of seven white wines by the glass. “Our guests can never go wrong choosing a staple like the Chalk Hill Chardonnay,” Shepard confirms.

Be sure to check out Maynard’s Wine Club. Members receive two bottles of wines per month, entry to monthly wine tastings, 10 percent discount on wine dinners and 25 percent off wine case purchases.

400 N. Toole Ave. 545-0577


Kingfisher, Tucson’s premier American regional grill specializing in seafood since 1993, has had an on-again/off-again relationship with the Wine Spectator Best of list. For numerous consecutive years, under the tutelage of the late Co-owner Tim Ivankovich, the restaurant held space on the list with its now-defunct sister spot Bluefin. After Ivankovich’s sudden passing in 2012, Kingfisher continued offering award-winning selections, but the attention to the award process fell by the wayside until Co-owner Jeff Azersky took up the reins four years ago. “Tim was in charge of front-of-house things, including the wine list. He laid an excellent foundation and created great relationships with the people we buy wine from.” Azersky comments, “I’m a chef by trade. Taking on the wine list was a fun new challenge. Murph [Co-owner Jim Murphy] has a great nose and sense of taste. With his help and input from General Manager Teddy Hall, our long-time servers and bartenders, and friends like Doug Levy and Megan Nelson, we’ve established a really nice offering.”

The Wine Spectator Award of Excellence designation highlights Kingfisher’s California offerings. Within the inventory of approximately 850 bottles, there are 130 selections — 98 percent of which are domestic. The remaining two percent are champagnes. “Because we serve all domestic wines, we like to feature varietals that you can’t find very often. American winemakers are bringing varietals from Europe and South America and they are doing well. So we’re able to get those lesser-known, high-quality wines,” says Azersky. Because of the seafood-centered cuisine, the Lieu-Dit Melon de Bourgogne is a favorite of Azersky’s and any guest who’s tried it. It’s a rich, dry, crisp white made with Melon grapes at a Santa Barbara County vineyard. Rhône-style whites and reds from Tablas Creek out of Paso Robles, California, are incredibly popular. Also from the reds side of the list, Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha (made from a Spanish red grape) from Lodi is a hit, with its lighter body, fruity notes and drinkability.

Azersky admits that a favorite aspect of his role as wine director is meeting winery owners and winemakers who visit the restaurant. He tends to steer away from larger, more commercial wineries, with the exception of a few highly requested labels. “We like to offer unusual wines by the glass just to get people to try them,” he adds. The boon in competitively good Arizona wineries has been exciting for the chef/wine curator. They carry labels from Keeling-Schaefer, Callaghan, Javelina Leap in Cornville, Dos Cabezas, and Flying Leap vineyards.

Kingfisher’s menu changes seasonally, so Azersky is hesitant to name a most popular dish but reveals that he’s always game to sit down to a bowl of steamed Littleneck clams bathed in garlic, white wine, fresh herbs and sweet butter with a glass of acid-driven Keeling-Schaefer Picpoul Blanc. He’s also partial to a Niner Winery sauvignon blanc and grilled whole ruby trout prepared with green apples, pecans, bacon and charred tomato vinaigrette.

If you’re in the mood to sample some simple, but exquisitely prepared dishes with thoughtfully selected wine offerings imagined by two chefs who have been cooking together longer than they’ve been married to their spouses, Kingfisher is your new go-to spot.

2564 E. Grant Road 323-7739


Whether gambling is your forte or not, it’s a safe bet that a visit to Casino Del Sol Resort’s PY Steakhouse for a wine and dine experience will be a winner. The signature dining destination at the Pasqua Yaqui Tribe’s casino welcomed its first diners in 2011, and in 2012 began racking up accolades for its strategically gathered wine list. The 2019 Award of Excellence highlights the California and France selections at PY. According to Restaurant Manager Jennifer Aspery, the most requested of the highlighted offerings are California cabernets, especially Napa Valley varietals, and French Bordeaux wines from the right and left banks. “We have some highly allocated Napa cabernets and some Burgundy wines that are quite sought-after and a bit hard to get your hands on,” Aspery observes. “We also focus on verticals (one bottling from one winery over the course of years, with multiple vintages). Our vertical collection is mostly California cabernets, but there are some unusual offerings like Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard.” PY proudly offers numerous Arizona wines and is particularly partial to the Keeling- Schaefer Vineyards’ Casino Del Sol 25th Anniversary label developed for the new hotel expansion. All told, PY Steakhouse keeps 460 labels and around 3,400 bottles available to please just about any palate.

Of course, no one can live on wine alone, and PY guests with appetites for big servings and bold wines lean toward the 22-ounce, USDA prime cut Cowboy Ribeye, rubbed with Del Bac Whiskey and dry aged in-house for 25-30 days, served with a California Cab to complement the complex flavors. Those interested in leaving more room for more wine opt for the center cut filet mignon (11 or 7 ounces) with a rich pinot noir or the always-fresh halibut (delivered within 72 hours of being caught) with a crisp sauvignon blanc. “Chef Ryan Clark focuses on incorporating the highest quality ingredients, including seasonal produce from local purveyors and Southern Arizona beef from ranches like Double Check, Black Mesa or Hayden Mills whenever possible,” notes Aspery. These ingredients are showcased in the ever-popular, constantly changing Chef’s Menu — a five- or eight-course menu with wine pairings customized to guests’ tastes.

With 16 sommeliers of different levels across eight dining outlets, wine is celebrated, honored, taught, and promoted in a number of ways throughout the Casino del Sol property. On Wine Wednesdays, Players Club members may take home several bottles of wine from a selected offering. Members of culinary teams may attend introductory level sommelier classes on property. For the last five years, Casino Del Sol hosted the Court of Master Sommeliers. At this event, nearly 80 people from around the country attend two days of lectures, take introductory testing, and complete certification evaluation to become sommeliers. Staff members receive training for 16 weeks to prepare for the Court. It’s fair to say, and Wine Spectator agrees, that Casino Del Sol’s PY Steakhouse is a win-win for fans of the fermented grape.

Casino Del Sol Resort 5655 W. Valencia Road (520) 324-9350

The Grill at Hacienda del Sol — BEST OF AWARD OF EXCELLENCE

Herb Garlic Rack of Lamb with parsnip potato purée, haricot verts, baby carrot, lamb bordelaise and purple potato chip from The Grill at Hacienda del Sol. Paired with Pascal Jolivet Sancerre from Loire Valley, France 2018. Photo by James Patrick.

Enjoying Tucson’s longest concurrent (21-year) run on the Wine Spectator list with a Best of Award of Excellence, The Grill at Hacienda del Sol hasn’t missed a beat or a season of offering one of the most comprehensive and refined wine selections in the city. Of course, it helps that Owner/General Manager Tom Firth is a former executive chef and current wine connoisseur. Firth and Director of Wine and Spirits John Kulikowski are passionate about exploring a variety of wines from around the world, with guests’ preferences in mind. The team’s dedication to sharing all things grape is demonstrated by regular wine events and tastings. Adding to the talent and the deep well of knowledge offered by the two are usually at least three sommeliers on staff — drawn there to expand their knowledge of, and experience with, the myriad vintages available.

On hand at The Grill are approximately 750 labels and an inventory of 4,800 bottles of wine. Wine Spectator notes offerings of California, French, and Italian wines as the strengths of the list. The Hacienda del Sol wine cellar is a temporary home to varietals with origins ranging from Chile’s Biobío Valley, to Bordeaux, France, and even Arizona and Maine. Kulikowski is quick to point out the popularity of West Coast wines, “Since we are ‘The Grill,’ California cabernets are in high demand. They pair perfectly with wood-fired steaks. French Bordeauxs and Italian Barolos also are often requested,” he explains. He also notes that red wines outsell whites three to one, leaning on heavier styles like cabernets, syrahs and merlots. Red and white Arizona wines have a strong presence at the pour. “The Arizona selection varies, but always includes vintages by Callaghan, Chateau Tumbleweed, and Dos Cabezas. Many visitors want to try our local wines,” Kulikowski elaborates.

The Grill at Hacienda del Sol serves New American cuisine imagined by Executive Chef Bruce Yim. His inspiration for each seasonal menu is based on ingredients available in the property’s chef’s garden and from local purveyors. “My team and I collaborate on dishes that will please yet push our guests’ culinary comfort zone,” says Yim. Some of the most oft-ordered pairings are the mesquite-grilled New York steak with smoked tomato demiglace, nasturtium butter, asparagus, and truffled fingerling potato fries with Caymus Cabernet (Napa Valley); or large sea scallops over chickpea purée, with Roma tomato ragout, gremolata, and roasted summer squash with Sancerre (Loire Valley, France).

Every night of the week, guests can enjoy a glass of wine and live music at Terazza Bar & Grill, the patio extension of The Grill. Fun fact: If you were to try a different wine each night of the week, every week of the year, it would take just under three years to try all the wines in the cellar! Or, check out Hacienda del Sol Resort’s Special Events page to learn about seasonal wine events and tastings:

Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort 5501 N. Hacienda del Sol Road 529-3500

Special Events

In the following story, we highlight two high-profile galas and an outdoor family fun event that are not to be missed.

DEC 14

The Angel Ball Hollywood — Now and Forever

Pianist Jeff Haskell “tickles the ivories” for Paige Cogdall, Angel Charity for Children’s General Chair (left) and Shawndee Berwick, Angel Charity Vice Chair, in preparation for the Angel Ball: Hollywood — Now and Forever. Photographed by Tom Spitz at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa. Décor by Events Made Special.

On Dec. 14, travel back in time to the Golden Age of Tinsel Town for Angel Charity for Children’s annual gala fundraiser.

The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa will be transformed with sumptuous décor in palettes of black, gold and silver, and the ballroom will sparkle with an art deco ambience of smoky lilac, rose gold, and shimmery gold and silver accented with rich red velvets. Guests are requested to dress in black or white tie, or Hollywood glamour to enjoy an evening of festivities that will include:

La La Land-inspired dancers Celebrity red carpet interviews Studio dressing room photos Chateau Marmont cocktail bar Star-studded casino and gift boutiques Silent auction Seated, multicourse dinner Dancing to Hollywood’s Midnight Special Showband Illuminated champagne bars “The Envelope, Please” $10,000 prize drawings The Beverly Hills Style Polo Lounge Jazz club piano and vocalist performances Late night after-glow dining selections

The beneficiaries from this year’s fundraising will be: Children’s Clinics for Rehabilitative Services; Therapeutic Ranch for Animals & Kids (TRAK); along with eight additional organizations.

The Angel Ball Hollywood — Now and Forever

Dec. 14, 5:30 p.m.-midnight

The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa Tickets: $375 each Respond by Nov. 24 to attend. Call 326-3686 or email Olivia Sethi at

Pianist Jeff Haskell “tickles the ivories” for Paige Cogdall, Angel Charity for Children’s General Chair (left) and Shawndee Berwick, Angel Charity Vice Chair, in preparation for the Angel Ball: Hollywood — Now and Forever.

Photographed by Tom Spitz at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa. Décor by Events Made Special.


MHC Hot-Air BalloonFest Photo

This casual, family oriented event will feature jumping castles and obstacle courses for the children, a classic car show, tethered hot-air balloon rides, a balloon glow from 7 to 8 p.m., live musical entertainment, and a ball drop with cash prizes. Guests will enjoy the food trucks and eating area, Coca-Cola products, beer garden with beverages supplied by Hensley Beverage Company, and wine-tasting with vineyards from Southern Arizona. Dress is casual (wear walking shoes and bring a sweater or jacket, as the evening may be cool).

Parking is free, and free taxi rides home will be available.

This is a fundraising event with all proceeds going to support graduate medical education programming for new doctors and healthcare professionals in the Tucson area.

Media partners include and Fox 11 KMSB TV.

MHC Hot-Air BalloonFest Saturday, Nov. 9, 3-9 p.m. MHC Healthcare Campus 13395 N. Marana Main St. Tickets: $5; children under 5, active military and veterans, free

NOV 16

Salud! A Night to Remember Gala

Scenes from last year’s event. Photos by Kevin Van Rensselaer.

Join the TMC Foundation for a night to remember, as the non-profit organization celebrates life and honors the past by giving to the future. This is an exclusive invitation to an evening of sumptuous food, chilled libations, and amazing entertainment. Dance to the music of the LA ALLstars, a nationally acclaimed band specializing in highenergy performances of your favorite hits from all genres. Witness a spectacular performance from Cirque Roots, and purchase a raffle ticket to win a trip of a lifetime valued at $10,000.

This year’s TMC Foundation Gala is all about men, including an all-men’s gala committee, to help support men’s health in our community. Some of the health issues that concern men most are cardiac services, neurological services, urology and orthopedics. is a media partner.

Salud! A Night to Remember Gala Saturday Nov. 16 6 p.m. cocktail hour; 7 p.m. ballroom doors open The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa Tickets: $300 each For more information call 324-3116 or visit

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Tucson Lifestyle Magazine Restaurant Paintings Wall

Putting the Art in RestAuRanT

September is the perfect month to enjoy viewing artworks while you dine at a Tucson eatery. Here are six places to experience culinary and visual creativity.

Sarah Burton

Gusto Osteria

On Tucson’s eastside, tucked into a shopping center at Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon, sits a cozy Italian restaurant known for both hearty dishes and walls that display local artists’ work. Gusto’s décor is tastefully minimal (polished concrete floors, finished exposed ductwork, simple tables and banquet seating), which only further drives diners’ focus to the pops of color in the artwork.

For nearly 10 years now, Stacy Beste and her husband Gus Gerson (as well as son, Jack) have owned and operated Gusto. After working in several well-known Tucson kitchens, including Bobby McGee’s, Olson’s, Scordato’s and Giuseppe’s, and impressing many with his cooking style, he finally opened his own take on traditional Italian fare. Gusto offers the classic go-tos like manicotti, eggplant Parmesan, shrimp scampi, many salads, pizza and pasta dishes.

“The lead artist involved, Anita Pinkerton, is in charge of the gallery, which changes several times a year,” explains Beste. “We’re proud to display local artists and help in that way, and they sell their own pieces. We do not take any fee or commission.” To go even further, Gusto hosts live painting events a few times a week, where you can watch an artist work on something right there while you enjoy your veal Parmesan.

7153 E. Tanque Verde Road, 722-9487,





Artfully crafted fare deserves a thoughtful artistic environment, a point not lost on Feast’s Owner and Executive Chef Doug Levy. Since opening in 2001, Feast has championed a seasonal, rotating menu designed around the very best ingredients available based on the time of year. This careful planning spills over into the ambience of the place.

“The art at Feast is curated by David Adix, a talented and prolific local artist himself, who’s well connected with the art community in Tucson,” Levy points out. Adix, who also is responsible for the art displayed at Tucson eatery Pastiche, is well known for his sculptures made with salvaged and found materials. “I usually rotate the art every three months,” Adix shares. “I have local art and artists lined up six months in advance.”

You can come back each month to an entirely different menu (except, of course, Feast’s favorite that’s almost always in the mix, the seared Halloumi grilled cheese), and you can count on a consistent stream of local art to enjoy with your meal. Art, ingredients chosen and used at the peak of their season, an on-site herb garden, and a wine shop — Feast has all angles covered.

3719 E. Speedway Blvd., 326-9363,


Café 54

This downtown café is not only a charming and bright lunch spot, but also happens to be part of Coyote TaskForce, a unique training program for adults in mental-health recovery. Participants in the program receive on-the-job training as everything from cooks and pastry chefs to cashiers and dishwashers.

Since opening in 2004, Café 54 has served up lunch favorites, such as tuna melt, beef gyros, meatloaf, and campanelle pasta with pesto. Keep your eyes out for their specials board for a real treat. And although they do an impressive amount of takeout business and catering, those who dine in have the benefit of enjoying the parade of local art rotated throughout the restaurant.

“We only accept original pieces by adults who identify as individuals living with mental illness,” explains Coyote TaskForce Development Coordinator Joanna Keyl. Artists work with the art program coordinator and bring in several works, with a handful selected for display. “Artists determine the prices for their art, and all proceeds are directly reimbursed to them.”

54 E. Pennington St., 622-1907,


Café à la C’Art

If the clever punctuation in its name doesn’t give it away, the location of Café à la C’Art affirms a strong connection to the arts. This picturesque café actually is located on the grounds of the Tucson Museum of Art in the historic Stevens House, an adobe built in 1865 by a local politician. To further punctuate the point, Food & Wine magazine even included it in a list of top 10 museum restaurants in the U.S. Stepping through the Monet-inspired garden patio into the restaurant sets the stage for a casual and charming dining experience.

“We’re fortunate to be a part of Tucson Museum of Art, so we are able to feature in our restaurant some of the area’s best artists and have it curated by Etherton Gallery,” explains Owner/Executive Chef Mark Jorbin. “Most of the

work is on display for a good length of time, and some of it is semi-permanent. New items come in as pieces are sold or replaced with something new.” When he first opened the spot in 1998, they were a small lunch spot and catering company, and have grown tremendously to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner — not to mention baked goods and artful indulgences made in-house by a fulltime pastry chef.

Enjoy a lemon poppy waffle with fresh ricotta and berry compote during the café’s weekend brunch, or dine on achiote citrus barbecue baby back ribs after a stroll through TMA. In either case, be sure to take a look around the four rooms of Café à la C’Art. “For quite some time we have had pieces by Gayle Orlen-Marcus in our main dining room and entryway. Her work is amazingly colorful and whimsical and a perfect fit for our restaurant,” Jorbin shares. “We also have paintings by Jim Waid in two of our smaller dining rooms — his work is part of the museum’s collection as well. Jim and his family actually lived here in the Stevens House many years ago, so it’s appropriate that his work is on display.”

150 N. Main Ave., 628-8533,


Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails

Location is everything when you boil down what makes Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails a well-balanced dining experience. Not only does the very name of the place celebrate its location in a century- old building at the heart of Tucson’s now-bustling downtown scene, but similarly, the menu is assembled around seasonally changing ingredients from a network of local farmers and gardeners.

Sense of place rules here, thanks to Janos Wilder, the celebrated James Beard Award-winning chef and owner in the culinary driver’s seat. And location chimes in again, when the restaurant can tap the talent of its renowned neighbor for direction when it comes to art. “We work with Etherton Gallery, which is upstairs, to curate our art,” Wilder shares. “Hannah Glasston selects the art from artists they represent, and we make the final decisions. We change it up about four times a year.”

Wilder’s menu serves up American dishes, woven with flavors and traditions brought to this country by those who have come from afar and made it their home. That plays out in dishes like pan-seared cabrilla with passion fruit and coconut milk sauce; fried plantain chips with Panamanian-style shrimp; or steak served with mole and street vendor-style corn.

135 S. 6th Ave., 623-7700,


Blue Willow

Since 1978, Blue Willow has offered a respite from the chaos of everyday life for its loyal customers.

Sitting along the Campbell Avenue corridor, the rooms of this 1940 adobe home make for several comfortable and cozy dining rooms complete with working fireplace. Add to that a large all-season, plant-lined enclosed patio and vibrant local art, and understand how they’ve become a Tucson favorite.

While digging into fresh fruit crepes or Sonoran carnitas for brunch, or an oversized blackened salmon Caesar or the Blue Willow club sandwich at lunch, make sure to peruse the work of local artists that flank the walls. “We choose art that represents Tucson and who we are,” explains Co-owner Rebecca Ramey. “We have a kind of garden and homey theme, we serve American comfort foods, so we like to use art that goes along with that feeling.”

For years, the only art that graced the Blue Willow’s walls were cactus oil paintings done by Ramey’s stepfather Mark Seidler, but the decision was made to incorporate other local artists. “We like things that are different and speak to us, but we’re really super picky to ensure we represent who we are,” Ramey notes. Some who have made the cut include the vibrant hanging ceramic heart sculptures by Lisa Agababian of Fuchsia Designs, and the colorful hand-glazed tile mural artwork of Carly Quinn.

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Tucson Lifestyle

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Address: 7000 E Tanque Verde Rd # 11,
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