At Ticoz Resto-Bar, the chefs draw from traditional Central American, South American, and Mexican recipes to whip up modern interpretations of authentic dishes such as tamales and enchiladas. Their menu includes grilled chicken doused in sherry chipotle sauce, street-style corn and flour tacos, and the cheesy housemade corn chips of Nachos Montana, named for the state's cheese-covered founder. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends, Ticoz Resto-Bar treats the brunch crowd to a lineup that the Phoenix New Times named the Best Latin Brunch of 2011. Behind the bar, Justin Bolotnik crafts signature cocktails and martinis to complement the menu's innovative Latin flavors. Meals and merriment unfold in an intimate lounge outfitted with dark woods, earth tones, and scarlet chairs and booths. Candles and a string of overhead lights illuminate a relaxing outdoor patio warmed by a space heater.
Dancing flames erupt from teppan grills, illuminating the captivated faces of diners seated around the tabletop grill. The roaring fires are tamed by Sakura's highly skilled chefs, who playfully flip spatulas in the air before sizzling up plump morsels of teppanyaki steak, chicken, and seafood. Behind the sushi bar, chefs fold fresh fish into both raw and cooked specialty rolls, which reporters from Tucson Weekly lauded as "some of the most delicious seaweed, sweet vinegar rice and raw fish concoctions imaginable."
Kimono-clad waitresses glide through the lively dining rooms, bearing plates of sushi, vegetarian and vegan dishes, and colorful specialty cocktails. In the sports bar, the walls grasp massive flat screens and hundreds of pictures of the owner posing with local celebrities—from weather girls to the neighborhood grocery’s bag boy of the month. Towering chrome heaters warm the tabletops of the expansive outdoor patio, where colorful lights and hanging flags set the stage for live music performances each night.
Hidden behind an unassuming A-frame exterior, The Original Blue Adobe Grille surprises guests with colorful decor and a variety of innovative twists on New Mexican cuisine. From appetizers such as green chile lobster dip to entrees such as the Blue Adobe burger cooked over a pecan-wood grill, the restaurant's surprising eats earned them a mention in Jane and Michael Stern's survey of American cuisine, 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late. Other menu favorites include shrimp enchiladas stuffed into blue corn tortillas and rims of salt served with margaritas to wash it down. Composed of a blue peaked roof and white stucco siding, The Original Blue Adobe Grille's outside belies its more exciting interior, where stained glass windows and colorful chandeliers illuminate a room filled with reds, oranges, and pinks—a spectrum reflected in the handwritten chalkboard menu announcing the daily specials.
Several times a week, local bands showcase their soaring melodies and heavy riffs at Tonic Tavern & Kitchen. Adorning the tavern's exposed brick interior, the collection of framed electric guitars and autographs reminds patrons of the now-famous bands who once rocked the bar.
A passion for music and its history isn't just apparent on Tonic's walls—it's all over the tavern's rock-themed menu. Here, grilled cheeses on parmesan-crusted challah bread are named after the famous CGBG rock club, while a pound-plus of wings is called a drum set in honor of the chicken that was the original drummer of the Beatles. The theme continues with a selection of handcrafted pizzas such as the Fleetwood Mac, a medley of ribeye steak, thousand island dressing, and dill pickles.
Besides the guitar wall-of-fame, feasts at Tonic unfold among pool tables and flat-screen TVs tuned to the latest sports. A secluded outdoor patio features misters and fans yo keep guests cool in the summer, while heaters thaw visitors during the winter. Along with concerts, Tonic hosts events ranging from team trivia nights to live comedy.
Calico Jack's Cantina blends Tex-Mex cuisine with an atmosphere of all-night dance parties and music-fueled celebrations. Murals of Mexican calaveras dot the yellow walls as diners sup on hearty meals of carnitas, burgers, tacos, and salsas and dips. Revelers crowd the floor to rhythmically move to tracks from a live DJ or step up on one of the two full-service bars for delivering raucous toasts or taking first place in a height contest.
The bride stood under the photographer’s lights, resplendent in her wedding gown, as her family looked on from a distance. As she and her photographer, M. Chen, prepared for the shoot, she was handed a package—a prewedding gift from her soon-to-be husband. When she lifted the lid, she immediately burst into tears. Inside laid a photo of a great dane puppy—the dog she’d always wanted, which her husband planned to give her on their wedding day. As she ran to hug her mother, Mr. Chen ran after, shooting image after image, capturing the exact moment she fell into her mother’s arms. These quick reflexes have been honed through his nearly 30 years as a sports photographer and professional fly swatter, and he draws on photojournalistic techniques to compose a traditional portrait or snap once-in-a-lifetime, candid moments.
Regardless of specific approaches, he consistently draws from the landscape style of Ansel Adams and the dramatic lighting techniques of Monte Zucker. His work as a photojournalist and private portrait photographer has earned him more than 300 publications in the glossy pages of New York Daily News, Popular Photography, ESPN Magazine, and Professional Photographers of America magazine. When not snapping on-location engagement shoots, family portraits, or boudoir sessions, he passes on his technique through traveling photography seminars, hands-on workshops, and by gently tapping the heads of his students. Though formerly designed only for professional-level photographers, these classes instill confidence and camera basics in beginners. As he frequently finds new class examples and takes feedback from his students, Mr. Chen frequently fine-tunes the curriculum after each seminar.