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MAMMA LLAMA COMEBACK

Phoenix might have their llama drama, but down here in Tucson we have Mamma Llama back again. About two years ago, Mamma Llama Empanadas closed the door to the brick-and-mortar operation off of Craycroft and Grant roads. Vicki Sims and Kris Masalsky, the duo behind Mamma Llama, recently decided to license their empanadas to Todd Martin at Tucson Tamale. "We trained the staff to carry on our tradition," she says. "We'll still be involved."

Tucson Tamale is offering packs of two frozen empanadas to take and bake or a hot empanada of the day plate ($6.79), which comes with two sides. The following four flavors are currently available:

Viva Argentina: beef, tomato, raisins, green chile, cinnamon and other spices ($4.49)

Peruvian Twist: artichokes, green chile, mayo, cheese ($4.99)

Peachy Keen: peaches, cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon ($3.99)

Buenos Dias: egg, Tucson Tamale's Sherry salsa, green chile, mozzarella ($3.99)

Masalsky says that though the crew launched those four empanada flavors initially, chances are that they will have more variety in the future. You can buy Mamma Llama Empanadas now at Tucson Tamale locations.

THE DISH IS DONE

Owner Tom Smith is the first to say that he's not the same 37-year-old he was when The Dish started dishing out plates of upscale fare in 1997. Now nearly 20 years later, Smith says its time to say goodbye to The Dish as we know it on Saturday, March 14.

For the last six years, chef Michael Muthart took charge of the kitchen's operations, serving up options like Moroccan spiced grilled rack of lamb and steamed mussels with a saffron broth. Muthart has also been running a poultry and fowl ranch called Top Knot Farms in Benson. Now that his ranch is taking off, he's stepping out of the kitchen and into a role as a rancher. 

However, that's not the end of the story for the space. After a break for "retooling," The Dish will be transformed into a bar and tasting room area with small dishes like charcuterie boards. About once every three months, Smith plans on bringing Muthart back into the kitchen for special theme or wine dinners. The first one, he says, is slotted for May 17 and will likely feature Top Knot's chicken and eggs.

RENEE'S BREAKFAST

Owner Renee Kreager announced that her small, locally focused restaurant is expanding its hours on the weekdays to include breakfast from 8 until 10:45 a.m.

Renee's Organic Oven, located at 7065 E. Tanque Verde Road, will be serving breakfast boards featuring local and organic wares (think morning charcuterie), rustic casserole-like quiches with meat or veggies, a savory millet porridge, biscuits and gravy with made-in-house sausage, breakfast pizza and more. That gravy, by the way, is available as a side that can (and probably should) be poured over all of the menu items.

While Kreager's husband cooks all that up, she says she's excited to present her cocktail menu. The seven-drink menu features sangria using Dish from Dosha Ayurvedic juice, a tincture-like house Bloody Mary with beet and carrot juice, a Yellow Brick cold brew concentrate cocktail and more. Kreager says she hopes to start serving her drinks as a flight. 

You can find the full menu and stay up-to-date with Tucson's food scene by visiting www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/chow.

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More by Heather Hoch

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