Local Altruism by Tucson OriginalsOn Dec. 18, two charities--the Community Food Bank and New Beginnings--were presented with checks for $18,000 each as the nonprofit beneficiaries from the Tucson Culinary Festival, held Oct. 6-8 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.
Christmas Eve DiningMost of the Tucson Originals restaurants have special Christmas Eve dinners planned, so check out www.tucsonoriginals.com and then call your favorite restaurant for reservations. Four-diamond dining happens at Primo in the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, featuring a family-style Feste dei Sette Pesci (Feast of the Seven Fishes) for $85 per person, or $110 with wine pairing. Call 791-6071 for reservations. RAZ Modern Riviera Cuisine has a three-course dinner with seatings at 5 and 7 p.m., at $42 per person, which includes a special dessert of chocolate-dipped pears and candy canes. Reservations recommended; 1929 E. Grant Road; 327-2223.
Christmas Day DiningSome of the Metro Group restaurants are open, so check out www.metrorestaurants.com. Most of the major hotels have Christmas Day brunches and dinners; these hotels include the Lodge on the Desert, Westin La Paloma, the Hilton El Conquistador and the serene Tubac Golf Resort. Dec. 25 always provides a big dilemma for people who don't celebrate Christmas or who simply don't want a big celebratory dinner. Benihana and Café Pacific open at 5 p.m.; Seri Melaka and Neo of Melaka open at 4 p.m.; Dao's Tai Pan's is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; T.G.I. Friday's on Oracle Road is open from 2 to 8 p.m., and on Broadway Boulevard from 2 to 10 p.m. Having eaten at Seri Melaka, Café Pacific and T.G.I. Friday's on Christmases past, I know these restaurants will be jamming with hordes of hungry people.
Grab-Bag Gift ExchangeOn Dec. 26, rewrap that unwanted gift and take it to Fuego Restaurant for the grab-bag gift exchange. From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Chef Zeman will be in the Chipolata Lounge preparing complimentary fresh mussels to order along with half-price appetizers and drink specials at 6958 E. Tanque Verde Road; 886-1745.