UA area gets Mutts
for hot dogs, breakfast
A decade-old University of Arizona-area bistro has called it quits, opening the door for an innovative hot dog purveyor with a penchant for flipping eggs.
Joel’s Bistro ended its residence at Geronimo Plaza, 806 E. University Blvd., on Aug. 19, when owner Joel Suire sold the business. The new owners spent a couple of days last week cleaning up before reopening the restaurant Friday as Mutts, a gourmet hot dog and breakfast joint.
Executive chef/general manager Michael Wilson said the menu includes more than 20 signature hot dogs and sausages, using all-beef hot dogs and meats imported from Wisconsin.
The menu includes the classic Chicago dog, brats, a chili dog and Wilson’s rendition of a Sonoran hot dog.
You may want to head straight to the more adventurous side of the doghouse, where you’ll find a chicken Andouille with feta cheese and spinach topped with a creamy tzatziki sauce.
Hot dogs run $3 to $5.50. Breakfast averages $6.
Mutts held over a couple of Joel’s specialties, including the lobster benedict and lobster omelet, Wilson said.
Mutts is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Foreign students flock to China Szechwan
The reviews for one of Tucson’s newest Chinese restaurants are nothing shy of gushing:
“Oh. My. Gosh. Oh. My. Gosh. Oh. My. Gosh. Wow!” Brad H. said at the beginning of his Yelp review last week for China Szechwan, which he proclaimed was Tucson’s best Chinese restaurant.
“I mean knock-your-socks-off-it’s-so-good-I-could-eat-there-every-day-of-my-life,” he wrote in one of nearly two dozen Yelp reviews posted.
“I honestly can’t remember how many times my bf and I ate here since they opened but we just can’t get enough,” chimed in Claire S.
China Szechwan is the maiden solo venture for husband and wife Renee and Richard Liu, who were part owners of Dragon Palace on Tucson’s east side.
China Szechwan focuses on authentic Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine, which tends to be boldly spiced with liberal doses of garlic and chiles.
Renee Liu said the restaurant has attracted a large audience of international students since opening in early July. Lunch specials start at $5.25 and dinner averages $8 and under.
China Szechwan, 1800 E. Fort Lowell Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
El Fidel sandwich
draws food-truck fans
An upstart Latin-Caribbean food truck is quickly gaining a reputation for its authentic Cuban sandwich.
“Oh my! Pure deliciousness,” raved Yelp reviewer Jennifer L., who gave DC Jumbie five stars.
DC Jumbie calls its 8-inch grilled sandwich El Fidel and stuffs it with Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, pickles and house-roasted pork and bone-in ham, which is glazed with a mango sauce. A slick of mayo and yellow mustard completes it.
“No shortcuts,” says DC Jumbie chef Daniel Figueroa, who owns the truck with his wife, Chandra.
The couple rolled out DC Jumbie last spring. Since then, word-of-mouth has propelled the El Fidel to become one of DC Jumbie’s biggest sellers.
“This is original,” said Figueroa, a native of Puerto Rico who lived for several years in Miami. “Even in Miami where the Cuban is famous, it cannot beat me.”
Figueroa and his wife joined Tucson’s food truck community not long before Jamie’s Bitchin’ Kitchen Caribbean food truck called it quits last spring. Jamie’s appeared to have cornered the Tucson market on the Cuban. But that title might be headed to Figueroa.
He said the sandwich is fast becoming his top seller.
The couple’s menu includes flavors borrowed from his native Puerto Rico and Chandra’s native U.S. Virgin Islands, including a Calypso burger and a tropical-seasoned chicken sandwich dubbed Pancho Villa that is dressed with a peppery chipotle pepper adobo spread. Prices run $6 to $8.
DC Jumbie will be parked from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today at Pima Community College East Campus, 8181 E. Irvington Road.
Lapa Lapa satisfying Sonoran cravings
A former Dairy Queen in the Flowing Wells neighborhood hasn’t lost its frosty heritage.
The 985-square-foot building is now home to Lapa Lapa, a restaurant that specializes in raspados and Mexican food described by its owner as “cravings.”
“It’s food that people crave, like Tostitos” — think nachos made with salsa verde Tostitos chips — said Osvaldo Silva .
Silva opened Lapa Lapa on Aug. 1 after spending the summer renovating the former ice-cream shop. Because of its size, the building didn’t come with a kitchen, so Silva is cooking in an adjacent food truck that anchors a tropical-themed palm-frond-covered patio.
The décor is Silva’s attempt to make diners feel like they have left the desert for a tropical Mexican seaside.
“In Tucson it’s so hot. Let’s give them a feel that they can think they’re not in Tucson,” he explained.
Lapa Lapa’s raspados — icy Mexican snow cones made with fresh fruit including pineapple, coconut, banana and mango — are $4.50 and $5.50. They anchor a menu of tacos, quesadillas and grilled burritos, including the popular Percheron, a half-pound carne asada burro with avocado and a chipotle mayo, with a chipotle sauce on the side. A half-dozen tosti combos including ones topped with beef or seafood run $3.50 to $7.75.
Lapa Lapa, 2120 W. Ruthrauff Road, is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 8 a.m. until midnight on Fridays, from 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and from noon to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Cathalena E. Burch