Staycations in Tucson (El Charro/Saigon Pho/Los Portales) and Phoenix (The Clarendon/Gallo Blanco), Hazelwoods First Place, The Stand, Essence, Cowboy Ciao and Piggly’s

6 Sep

It’s been a nice summer (actually with our weather it still feels like summer). We’re thankful to have been able to take some relaxing staycations right here in AZ.
The Clarendon, close to us in Central Phoenix, is my new favorite hotel/resort. What a relaxing time we had! They have an amazing pool, comfortable rooms and a great restaurant, Gallo Blanco. It has a very organic and simple environment. We started our staycation by eating there right away.
We enjoyed the ceviche, inca salad and tacos.
At The Clarendon, they have a saltwater pool, with cabanas and little shade “pagodas.”
My Dad and sister Fran showed up so we could all partake of strong/fruity drinks and the cool water.
And they have free snacks at the front desk. Candy bars, chips, sodas and water. You just have to ask. 🙂 We are all about the “free.”
Just recently we made it to Cowboy Ciao’s for lunch. I love that area in Scottsdale next to Barrio Queen and Herb Box. The reuben sandwich made with short rib and chopped salad disappeared quickly.
I look forward to going back and trying their fried green tomatoes and hawaiian bread pudding.
Dad and I enjoy our weekly breakfasts. It had been awhile since we were at Essence and a couple weeks back we were both craving croissants and french toast. They make a banana caramel sauce for the french toast that is not too sweet.
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From the pictures you can see why we like going there so much. Also, I love the architecture and natural light that comes inside. It is a relaxing spot.
Piggly’s is a place that Jack really likes because of their “fair food.” All fried things. For lunch a couple of weeks back we shared fried zucchini and an enormous corn dog.
They have cute artwork, mostly related to pigs. I liked this picture of a cute pig jumping into a lake.
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We like dinner at The Stand a couple of times a month because their burgers are really fresh and they are within walking distance. The last time we visited, Jack tried the tacos and Mexican corn.
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I’m a purist, so I stayed with the burger. They also make hand spun milkshakes, which I’m dying to try.
Last weekend we were in Tucson, we had both been wanting to go for awhile now and the universe was working with us. Great food in Tucson. We started out on Saturday at El Charro for lunch. Look at this enormous ceviche.
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It was very fresh and delicious. We both love marinated fish/shrimp with soda crackers and tortilla chips. Then our entrees arrived. A “G” burrito for me (it had grilled veggies, avocados and green corn tamal) and a Jack chose the original El Charro taco x 2 – described on their website as “Seasoned ground beef patty prepared original style in a crisp shell,with salsa basico, peas, radish & Queso Casero.”
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Delicious food with a great environment and friendly service. We simply could not move after lunch.
We checked into our hotel and took a long nap.
In the evening we headed to Sentinel Peak, for a hike to “A” Mountain. It was almost sunset. We took some beautiful pictures. No, we didn’t paint the “A.”
It’s really something to get away out of the city and see nature. We needed it.
After our hike we drove to Main Gate Square, an outdoor shopping area right outside of the U of A campus. It’s a great spot because there are shops and restaurants side by side. Very independent/local feeling. I spotted Saigon Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant and by that time we were hungry again (shocker!) so we decided to give it a try.
One of Jack’s favorite meals is soup. He had a big bowl of pho, and really liked it.
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Sometimes I want something a little lighter so I picked a bowl of vermicelli with bbq pork. It came with little bits of spring roll and crunchy herbs/vegetables that gave a nice contrast to the noodles.
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We both felt the food was very fresh, reasonable and authentic.
Sometimes you want your vacation to last and sometimes you are just ready to get back home. We decided to leave our hotel early on Sunday so we could get a good breakfast and beat the holiday traffic. We stumbled upon a fabulous place – Los Portales. I’m so glad we did. When we walked in there was a group of mariachis playing, mostly very young people in beautiful turquoise outfits. The music and singing was so inspiring and it really added to a great meal. I ordered cocido – a soup with beef ribs, cabbage, corn, zucchini and carrots. The broth was not overly salty and tasted like something my mother would have made, if she were to make cocido.
Jack is a menudo fan, so when he found out their buffet included it, he dove in, so he could also get a full monty of chorizo/eggs, a tiny tamale (the cutest tamale I have ever seen, even wrapped in the husk and tied with a tiny husk string), mini chimi and beans/rice.
I wish I had gotten a picture of that mini tamale for you, unfortunately it’s just his mendo. In my defense I was distracted by my enormous bowl of cocido.
Breakfast, being the most important meal of the day, is something we will mention again here (segue). We didn’t even realize until this morning that Hazelwoods (First Place) makes breakfast. A $5.00 breakfast with bacon, eggs, potatoes and english muffin no less. And they have a $3.00 bloody mary bar. And, they will make you a blt (not on the breakfast menu) if you ask for it. So that’s what we did this morning. Jack bellied up to the bar and shook me up a great bloody mary.

It was a thing of beauty. Was as in past tense. Long gone!


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