Check out the Art Institute of Tucson's student-run restaurant, Ai Bistro (5099 E. Grant Road). Instructor Jenny MacArthur says the eatery/school serves lunch (reservations only) from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday. Three courses go for $10.95, and because the menu changes every week, and students are continuously graduating, "It's really a brand-new restaurant every five weeks," says MacArthur. MacArthur runs the front of the house; chef Odell Baskerville, the former executive chef at the Arizona Inn, handles things in the kitchen. Call 318-2726 (or 250-0845 after-hours), or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.
Pita Jungle, a popular restaurant with 10 locations in the Phoenix area and beyond, is opening a Tucson store in the old 58 Degrees and Holding Co. location at 5340 E. Broadway Blvd. "We like to categorize ourselves as a trendy, hip restaurant that serves food in large portions at a reasonable price," said Rick Howard, vice president of development and operations. Howard said the stores up north have won numerous awards since the business opened 15 years ago, including Best Place to Take a Tucsonan. The Tucson store is expected to open this spring; www.pitajungle.com.
Chef's Garden Tours
We got a glimpse into some innovative edible landscaping on the Chef's Garden Tour that takes place at 10 a.m., every Saturday, at Westward Look Resort (245 E. Ina Road; 297-1151). The garlic chives, bok choy, onions, basil and carrots used in dishes at Gold and the Lookout Bar and Grille were booming. Edible flowers were sampled, as were numerous spices and a curious citrus hybrid called a "limequat." The resort also has an avocado tree that recently produced more than 150 avocados.
Get Your New Year's Hangover Cures!
Maria Campas, daytime bartender at the Buffet Bar and Crockpot (538 E. Ninth St.), says just have another beer with lots of Clamato in it. If food is your day-after tonic, Ghini's French Café (1803 E. Prince Road) will have it from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on New Year's Day, serving breakfast the whole time and offering $1 off Endurox recovery beverages. Did somebody say menudo? Food City at 2950 S. Sixth Ave. will be serving it New Year's Day. Everyone else we talked to said pop an aspirin; have a Bloody Mary; and enjoy the holiday.