This Just In

29 Oct

For those who cannot await the next downtown opening, Barrio Cuisine, at Broadway and Fifth, plans a soft opening Thursday with a Native Blessing at 6 PM.  They officially open on Friday, Halloween, at 4.

Housed in the Julian Drew Building in former digs of O2 Fitness and non-profit space, they have worked feverishly for the last ten weeks to prep for opening.  Owner Kelly promises contemporary Native American cuisine grounded in the roots of Yaqui and Tohono O’Odham tradition.

She gave me a sneak peek tonight.  Art and craft are evident throughout.  I continue to highly appreciate restauranteurs’ support of local work to add to the aesthetic and specialness of where we are and who we are.  Welders were working on new windows tonight.  Kelly has created lots of places for community gathering for food, drink and conversation.

Check out their Facebook page to see some of head chef Eduardo Leon’s creations.

And It’s Ours

29 Oct

IMG_4299I finally found some time to head down to R Bar.  With my visiting sister in tow, we headed to Herbert Alley to find this uniquely Tucson two-story gem.  If you love the copper penny floor at the Cup or marvel at the thousands of faces that are Tucson (mine included!) at the Fourth Avenue underpass, you will love this place.

The work of local designer Gary Patch and my faves Repp Design is evident in every inch of this space.  From the ultra cool mural to the trippy video wall to the prickly pair cactus lamps – these designers’ hands create a loving homage to this place we call home – Tucson.

We were greeted at the door (opened for us), given a menu and invited into this glowing red room.  We found ourselves a spot and poured over the drink menu.  Rory O’Rear has lovingly created some craft cocktails, and smartly includes a cocktail chart for those less aware (like me).  Moments after we sat, we were warmly greeted by staff and given two ice waters.  Now, that’s service!

My sister ordered the Rhum With a View while I partook of Flamingo Cocktail.  We were both quite pleased, taking in the flavors of the drink and the room.  They serve a nice selection of beer and wine, too.  While several patrons were clearly awaiting their show at The Rialto, it was evident that we were most welcome guests, too.

It is truly special.  You need to check it out.  This will be on the short list of places I must take visitors.  And, I can’t wait to go back myself.

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Taking the Ride

29 Jul

IMG_4104Well, I’ve ridden the streetcar four times now. Twice on Friday, once Sunday, then again yesterday. The weekend rides were packed – like sardines. News reports anywhere from 60-70K riders through Sunday!

On Friday, I parked on Fourth Avenue, where I lunched @ Delectables. Then I boarded the streetcar and rode to Mercado San Agustin, where I stopped by La Estrella Bakery for some cochitos and sugar cookies (using my Connect in the City card for a 10% discount). I can see myself taking the car to get to the Thursday afternoon Farmer’s Markets in the very near future.

On my later trip, I met up with my friend who was volunteering at a stop that evening. This car was so packed, I had to get off! Upon conclusion of her stint, we strolled over to Congress Street. We were both giddy at the sight of hundreds of people walking the streets. Each restaurant and bar filled (including the just opened Bianco) with patrons. We sauntered over to the pop-up beach park on Fifth to find a live band, kids playing volleyball, hula hoops, badminton and making sand castles. Food trucks lined the edge – foods you might find at a beach park – hot dog trucks, sno cones and more.

We decided we wanted to dine outside to watch the hubbub at Hub. While we sat, we met a lovely couple visiting from California. Janet grew up here. She was thrilled with the streets teeming with life and let us know that, as a child, she saw The Wizard of Oz in 1939 @ the Rialto!  Then we caught the Car to the University District, opting for a leisurely drink on the patio at Pasco, where the waitress was very sweet and attentive.

On Sunday, I started the route @ UMC to travel to Maker House for Sacred Space. The ride took about thirty minutes. Then I walked a couple of blocks to the House. I didn’t have to find a place to park, I didn’t have to use gas, I was green.

What I’ve found on these rides is the enthusiasm & friendliness of people – a sense of community that the Car has brought to Tucsonans. Each time, I’ve had opportunity to educate and inform people about the Streetcar, and all things downtown.  There’s already talk of where it might go next.

How would you used the streetcar? Hope to see you on a future ride!

Enjoy the Ride

26 Jul

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So, I managed to cycle to all FIVE ribbon-cutting ceremonies this morning. The trek began @ the Mercado District, on land where people have inhabited for more than 4000 years. Approximately 150 people were there. Speakers included Mayor Rothschild, Regina Romero and Kira Dixon Weinstein, developer/owner of Mercado San Agustin.

From there, I booked it to the University Medical Center, the end of the streetcar line. UA President Ann Hart praised and welcomed the streetcar and spoke of the collaboration that includes UA. The University has committed to paying 50% of Sun Go card costs to University students to encourage them to ride. I saw many of them on board today.

The UA Pep Band greeted us @ Main Gate Square with musical excitement, where folks from the Marshall Foundation spoke. Louise Marshall, in 1901, saw a future in this place and bought three shares of railway stock. The first building went up in 1922.

On Fourth Avenue, we were hosted by the owners of United Fire and Delectables, currently the President and VP of Fourth Avenue Merchants.

The main event took place downtown at Congress and Fifth Avenue. A color guard and former American Idol singer Crystal Stark sang the national anthem. Dignitaries included folks from the federal government, City Council, Pima County, and state senators and representatives. Speakers included outgoing City Manager and former Police Chief Richard Miranda, UA President Ann Hart, Norvill Carter, from federal DOT, State Senator Steve Farley, former auto retailer and current city cheerleader Steve Christie and former mayor Bob Walkup. Christie shared the most informed and impassioned words and would make a fine elected official. He truly gets it!

Walkup reminded us that the cars are MADE IN THE USA, putting many people to work in the midst of the countries greatest recession.

I’m grateful for the Sun Link Ambassador who, in the heat and humidity, was passing out cold water with a big smile to Tucsonans who came to celebrate. And blessings to Danielle Lerner, KVOA morning co-anchor, who was in the midst of the festivities in the sweltering sun at 5 AM (I saw her on TV before I left on my bike) until the event closed moments after 10. She was still smiling and looked untouched by the heat. A real trooper. Thank you, Danielle!

So many folks have ventured to take a free ride that all eight cars were out today. Even buses got in on the action to handle the overflow. Free rides continue all weekend long. And don’t forget that festivities abound in each region through Sunday. Stop by the Friends booth on Congress and let them know where you want the train to go next. Get a free SunGO card. Go to the Living Streets Alliance booth for more fun.

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We’re almost there

23 Jul

Signs are at the stops. Waste receptacles – trash AND recycling. Sand has come in at 5th and Congress for a beach party and more. The public space has become a pop-up park for the summer!  Cool locally designed and created posters grace our downtown poles.  The street sweepers were out.  Shop owners were beautifying their store fronts.  Rumor has it that a long-awaited restaurant opening may happen this weekend as well!

Don’t forget to stop by the Fox to view Meet Me in St. Louis (and sing The Trolley Song along with Judy!)

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This is it!

21 Jul

IMG_2980The time has come. If, for some reason you haven’t heard, the streetcar celebration takes place this coming weekend. It begins Friday, with a ribbon cutting celebration @ the West End @ Mercado San Agustin. Celebrations take place @ each region along the route on Friday morning. Then, FREE rides begin at 10 AM and last all weekend long.

Are you itching for a ride before then? If you agree to volunteer a 2-hour shift, you can ride Tuesday or Wednesday! Check it out at friendsoftucsonstreetcar.com.  Should I do it?!  Should I wait?!

You can also find details of each event throughout the weekend on the same site. Or visit yesterday’s Arizona Daily Star – a pull out & editorials can be found there.

You know what else is cool? There’s already talk about what’s next! Supporters are seeking private funding to continue the line up to Tucson Mall and down to the airport as the second phase.  Yes!

A Kind of Blu…

4 Jul

While Blu is known for their delectable choices of cheeses, they also serve food (and drink). Menu choices include salads, small bites, cheese and charcuterie plates and sandwiches. I happened by for a summer afternoon bite. I chose the Unexpected panini (camembert, pear, thyme, blue cheese and caramelized onions) and dry Meyer lemon Gus “grown-up” soda for refreshment. They inform you that it may take some time, as they prepare everything fresh from your order. It was worth the wait.  My food and drink were a perfect light and tasty refreshment!

Despite the warm sun of a Tucson June, I opted to sit alfresco. It was pleasant neath the large covered patio of Mercado San Agustin. Others braved the warmth, too, in satisfying conversation regarding all things downtown – the new restaurants & shops and the forthcoming streetcar. It was clear these tables of patrons join my enthusiasm! Yes, I used my connect city card and saved some dough!

No plans for the fourth? Food trucks will join the Mercado restaurants (including a roast pig from Agustin Kitchen) to celebrate the sights of the fireworks from Tumamoc Hill. 5-10 PM tonight!

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