Chef Miciah Beard of Bob's Steak and Chop House at Omni Tucson National Resort beat Chef Ramiro Scavo of Zona 78 and Harvest Restaurant to earn the title of Iron Chef Tucson 2010. The secret ingredient at the Jan. 17 competition was pork bratwurst, which Beard incorporated into four Pacific Rim-inspired dishes. He made a spicy sweet-and-sour soup; a bratwurst-laden shrimp mousse crusted with macadamia nuts and skewered with lemongrass; egg-roll wrappers stuffed with purple Peruvian potatoes, sweet potatoes and bratwurst; and a stuffed roasted onion served with a honey-tomato-chili gastrique. Beard said it was the first competition he'd participated in during his 18-year cooking career.
The open sign is on at El Coqui, the new Puerto Rican restaurant at 5443 E. 22nd St. We stopped in for an afternoon Malta India and a plate of tostones rellenos—fried plantain cups filled with delightfully seasoned chicken—and found hopping Latin music, a simple décor and an outdoor seating area. Expect pork, beef, tilapia and chicken dishes served with white or pigeon-pea rice, sandwiches, salads, soups and plantain-based entrées. For desserts, think guava puff pastries, bread pudding and flan. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday; 790-5357.
Barrio Brewing Company (800 E. 16th St.) has sold about half of the 750 gallons of Father Joe's Penitential Ale that it brewed to benefit Caridad de Porres, an organization that serves about 100,000 meals to hungry Pima County residents each year. Manager Ian Matti says the goal is to raise $100,000 through sales of the dry-hopped English-style pale ale. Each pint sold ($4.25) provides four meals for the hungry, which is one of the best excuses we've ever heard for a bout of bacchanalia. Call 791-2739 for more information.
Southern Arizona gained three new restaurants when the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain opened late last year at 15000 N. Secret Springs Drive in Marana. Core Kitchen and Wine Bar serves American food with a Southwestern twist. Ignite, a fire-themed lounge that pours a flaming ginger margarita and a Cholula martini, also serves crab cakes, pulled-pork sliders and other items. Finally, there's Turquesa Latin Grill, a poolside spot specializing in casual, Latin-themed fare, margaritas and signature cocktails. Call 572-3000 for more information.