‘Tis the season for shopping, drinking, and eating, and here are some of my favorites for all three in Tucson. (Anna, my dear friend and Tucson local, was my tour guide.)
Fourth Avenue is a fun and funky neighborhood with plenty of opportunities to spend your cash. Visit Pop-Cycle for “recycled, upcycled, green and sustainable gifts, accessories, apparel and furniture.” I especially loved the kitschy belt buckles, and western-style shirts with snaps and animal appliqués.
Then cruise to the Sky Bar and congratulate yourself on your eco-friendly purchases with a $4 margarita and magnified view of the night sky through the jumbo telescope on the patio. Anna and I saw our moon’s craters up close, and Jupiter and four of its many moons from further away:
Or check out the Surly Wench Pub, which in addition to pool, shuffleboard, and video games, is home to Black Cherry Burlesque, which sadly wasn’t happening the night Anna and I were there. We were lucky enough to see Santa take a break from his worldwide good deeds and stop in to take pictures with the bar patrons. Which got more creative the later it got. (Let’s just say that since Santa has laid off the sugar cookies, his energy has gone through the roof.)
Lastly, don’t miss the Hotel Congress – it’s a beauty. It’s a club, hotel (with no TVs in the rooms!), and restaurant, with a relatively inexpensive locally influenced menu. I asked what the specialty was, and both the waiter and Anna agreed I had to try the Sonoran Dog, which is pretty much a hot dog on steroids. Tasty, tasty steroids. The dog is wrapped in bacon, served on a fluffy bun, and topped with cowboy beans, aioli, salsa, chilies, mustard, and a heap of fried onions. Served with a side of French fries, it’s another of those heart-attack-on-a-plate meals you simply have to try. But not if you’re keeping kosher.