Celebrate the holidays in style with these special dining events at resorts around town.
For some folks, the holidays just aren’t the same without days of prep and hours in the kitchen. For the rest of us, there are several simpler options if you and the family prefer to let someone else do the work. Your go-to special-occasion spots around town also are offering traditional, as well as innovative, fare for the holiday season. Here’s a look at some of the menu selections at local resorts.
El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort
On the northwest side, El Conquistador Tucson also will tempt Tucsonans and tourists with a special holiday brunch on Christmas Day. There’s a reason locals have long counted on this particular spot for holiday celebrations — when a resort dedicates a whole ballroom to brunch, you know they mean business. Expect seasonal dishes, along with the Southwestern-inspired fare of Executive Chef Jan Osipowicz. This year’s signature offerings will include a slow-roasted leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic, sea salt-crusted prime rib, and baked salmon en croute. Holiday goodies such as spiced chocolate yule log will be in good company among the myriad other desserts and treats that the resort’s pastry crew bakes for this brunch. To keep the holiday spirit going after feasting, head to the resort’s lobby to marvel at a life-sized gingerbread house, which is open to the public. This is the fourth year El Conquistador has unveiled this specially crafted creation for the holiday season, bringing new meaning to “sweet digs!” 10000 N. Oracle Rd., (520) 544-5000, hiltonelconquistador.com
Loews Ventana Canyon
Loews will continue a longstanding tradition of bringing cheer to locals and visitors alike with a lineup of festivities, including free community events for all ages, and special fare in the resort’s restaurants. For the entire month of December, visit the resort on Fridays and Saturdays for their three-course afternoon Holiday Tea. If not already part of your family’s traditions, expect to add it after leisurely sipping tea or champagne, and nibbling on scones, finger sandwiches, and special holiday pastries. In addition, Executive Chef Ken Harvey of the Flying V Bar & Grill goes all out to create special dinner menus for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, while the Canyon Café puts out quite a spread for Christmas brunch. 7000 N. Resort Dr., (520) 299-2020, loewshotels.com/ventana-canyon
PY Steakhouse may be best known for their perfectly aged, prime cut meat and fresh seafood, but they also take great pride in their seasonally inspired menus. And for December, Executive Chef Ryan Clark incorporates pumpkin in his dishes, using those locally harvested from Tucson’s Pivot Produce. Chef Clark works his magic with this Chef’s Seasonal Selections menu, taking the familiar squash to new heights with courses of roasted pumpkin bisque, seared scallops served with pumpkin risotto and pepitas, and finishing off with pumpkin fluffernutter for dessert (made with pumpkin-peanut mousse, whipped marshmallow, and bread crumbs). On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in addition to their regular menu service, PY Steakhouse will offer a few more holiday-inspired specials. First is an herb-salt-rubbed prime rib roast with rosemary jus and cream horseradish, accompanied by mashed potatoes and butter-roasted baby carrots. Also available will be house-brined and smoked Japanese kurobuta ham with grilled pineapple jam and a fresh-juiced cherry reduction, alongside butter whipped potatoes and winter vegetables. 5655 W. Valencia Rd., (520) 324-9350, casinodelsol.com
The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa
Another time-honored Tucson tradition for sumptuous meals, La Paloma’s fine dining restaurant Azul offers a special holiday dinner menu this year. Among other tried-and-true seasonal dishes, look for Executive Chef Russel Michel’s artful Southwest-infused offerings with that extra festive twist. Year-round, Azul’s menu reflects the seasons, highlighting locally sourced ingredients. For December, Chef Michel puts a spotlight on one of his very favorite flavors with an aromatic heirloom squash bisque served in roasted acorn squash bowls. Another special entrée is sterling salmon dusted with a house-made 12-spice adobo rub, served with an herb and pomegranate pico de gallo. Keeping it all well-balanced, a special dessert also will be available — a caramel spiced-pear cheesecake trifle. 3800 E. Sunrise Dr., (520) 742-6000, westinlapalomaresort.com
Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort
Head to this picturesque and historic spot in the heart of the Catalina Foothills to dine in style. Every year, Hacienda del Sol’s indulgent Christmas Day Buffet features an array of seasonal favorites and traditional fare. Choose from stations ready to serve up roast turkey with stuffing and thyme-andgarlic gravy, prime rib, or country ham. Dive into a seafood display or a variety of savory salads and sides like minted green beans, roasted beets with orange and horseradish, and cinnamon-cayenne sweet potatoes. With so many options, it may be difficult to leave room for dessert, but make the effort! Of course, there will be fresh donuts, cheesecake and fruit tarts, but to get into the season indulge in gingerbread mousse, figgy pudding, and chocolate cupcakes with peppermint buttercream. 5501 N. Hacienda del Sol Rd., (520) 529-3500, haciendadelsol.com TL