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.
The Empire Pizza & Pub staff assembles a mix and match of 23 ingredients?including barbecue sauce and genoa salami?atop 13 New York-style pizzas. Their efforts helped earn the eatery a Best Pizza nod in 2011 by Metromix. They name their specialty pies after notable places in New York, such as Soho?s white pizza with tomatoes, basil, and parmesan and the Jackson Heights slathered in barbecue sauce and sprinkled with chicken, green pepper, and onion. By preparing the pies, subs, and salads for carry-out, delivery, or serving them at the restaurant as late as 3 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday (11 p.m. other days) and as early as 835 B.C.E., the staff accommodates diners of many tastes and schedules.
The arena in which the team?s servers operate features exposed-brick walls lining the narrow layout. A bar at the back pairs libations with pizzas, while vintage lights illuminate the copper ceiling.
By hosting haunted houses and spooky events, The Slaughterhouse has raised more than $40,000 for organizations such as the American Diabetes Association. Visitors interested in befriending the venue?s mischievous specters can embark on ghost tours, which explore the premise?s haunted depths. Alternatively, on-the-go partiers can select from a rental fleet of trailers packed with haunted-house-style frights or sound-system-equipped hearses, ideal for proving coolness to judgmental teenage vampires.
Passionate about food ever since he was a youngster, Stephen Hurd began his culinary career in his teens, working his way up the ladder with jobs at various restaurants. So began a 25-year career at country clubs and restaurants such as Washington D.C.?s Watergate Hotel, where Richard Nixon famously declared, ?I am not a crook!? while stuffing his pockets with another table?s dinner rolls.
These days, Stephen showcases his culinary talents at his own eatery, Relish Kitchen and Wine Bar, where he crafts a global menu from scratch with locally sourced ingredients. Said global flavors range from blackened mahi served over sweet cornbread pudding to Mediterranean pasta chock-full of grilled chicken, artichokes, and cilantro pesto. On Sunday, Stephen even puts his own spin on brunch favorites such as French toast stuffed with cream cheese, sliced strawberries, and candied pecans. Open for lunch six days a week, he assembles made-to-order sandwiches, salads, and dressing made from scratch.
To complement Stephen?s feast, bartenders pour local and familiar wines by the glass, fill pints with regional beers, and mix classic cocktails. Sports games stream on the dining room?s four large flat-screen TVs, and stunning views of the Catalina Mountains await on a spacious outdoor patio.
Dante's Fire takes its name from the tale of a fiery inferno, but for Tucson foodies, a trip to the restaurant could be downright heavenly. "This is a small plate lover's paradise," wrote one 10Best contributor of the spot's mostly tapas-style menu. Creative flavor pairings shine in dishes such as chilled corn bisque with preserved tomatoes, crab salad, and basil oil, and the charcuterie plate, which features drunken apricots and house-made bread alongside artisanal meats and cheeses. Chef Ken Foy rounds out the menu with heartier entrees such as brie-topped burgers and truffled chicken marsala.
The cocktail list here is similarly creative. Drink options range from the Tamarind Tiger, made with jalape?o tequila, tamarind syrup, and Averna, to a refreshing martini topped with cucumber foam. For a memorable dessert, try the Foie Pops Deux?an unusual treat made with chocolate streusel, Fireball-vanilla mangoes, coffee reduction, and local honey from the most avant garde beehive in town.
The chefs at Aussie Cantina serve up authentic Australian eats and American favorites with Southwestern flavors in a friendly pub setting. Specialties from the land Down Under include traditional sausage rolls and meat pies, Australian lamb, and dingo dogs, in addition to build-your-own burgers that may be adorned with such toppings as cheese, egg, beet root, or Hatch green chili. Kangaroo tacos are available seasonally, and cantina cocktails, a wine list, and 24 beers on tap, including Coopers, quench thirsts from lengthy walkabouts. Aussie Cantina, which was built using repurposed materials such as bait barge timber and rusted tin, is located just south of the University of Arizona.