Lindon "Lindy" Reilly is the man down on 4th Avenue. Lindy's on 4th has been serving the most creative and exciting burgers in Tucson going on nine years. Lindy's should be credited with (at least a big part of) putting Tucson on the national foodie map, appearing in at least three national shows on the Food Network and Travel Channel. Mr. Reilly comes from deep Tucson food linage, with his family previously owning Sausage Deli and Enoteca. He has also made his cooking bones on the line of many of restaurants in town. You can find Lindy's, for a ribaldly named burger like the "Donkey Punch," at 431 N. Fourth Ave. or online at www.lo4th.com.
What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?
My grandfather used to make this sandwich with toasted bread, peanut butter, mustard, dill pickle, spam and potato chips. I used to cringe when I'd watch him put this thing together. I finally tried it when I was 5 or 6 years old, and I LOVED it! I have been messing with food combinations ever since.
What are you eating these days?
I am really on a pho kick. Miss Saigon's pho to be exact. The veggies, with that rich broth, meat and spice punch, really touches my whole palate. I love that spice.
What was the first dish you remember cooking?
My mom used to make simply done dishes with humble ingredients that really came out great. I remember this one casserole of hers I tried to make as my first dish. It had ground beef, salsa, cream cheese and rice. I burnt the hell out of the rice. I still ate it, just left the rice out.
What concept, ingredient or food trend does everyone seem to love, but you just can't stomach?
I don't want to sound insensitive, but the onslaught of the gluten free movement. I definitely understand people with the allergy, I have friends that have gluten allergies. It just seems like all of a sudden, everyone has to eat gluten free. I do not carry gluten free buns, but I will use them if someone brings them in. So far, I haven't had enough demand to carry them. I think if you do not have a gluten allergy and remove it completely from your diet, that can not be good for you either. On another note, I really hope the bacon trend lives on forever!
What chef, with us or passed on, would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?
Mario Batali. I really love his joy for cooking and passion for food in general. I admire the fact that he took some years off to travel and explore food around the globe.
Also, Anthony Bourdain. I love that guy. His book, "Kitchen Confidential" was amazing. The fact that he started as a dish washer and moved all the way up to where he is today is inspiring. I started as a dishwasher myself at Big A (where Trident is today), a total burger joint.
What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?
San Francisco. You can eat anywhere, the Pier, Downtown, all over town. There is one restaurant named The Stinking Rose that is all about garlic and it is great. They have this half baked chicken dish with veggie and garlic mashed potatoes and it comes with 26 roasted garlic cloves. Outrageously good.
Also, Ocean Beach, San Diego. Mostly for Hodad's, but there is also this little hole in the wall taco shop that I always pop into when I am down there.
Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
When I can get down there, Pat's Chili Dogs. I can put down a family meal.
Top three Tucson restaurants?
Well it changes often. But right now I would go with The Parish, Proper and Martin's Comida Casera.
With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?
Man, I am not sure I can answer this question properly. I'll tell you what I would do. I have a really good friend who is a chef here in town, Justin Stewart. I love this guy's cooking. We do a "Misfit Thanksgiving" for our friends who do not have family in town. Last year I had over 30 people at my house. We do all the cooking together, and we throw down! I would tell Justin to whip up a 20 course meal, touching every part of the world, and I would have at it! Justin is that good.