Although Tucson’s gastronomy scene is weighted towards Sonoran and Mexican influences, it’s also iconic for its southwestern flair.
Jonathan’s Cork is filled with southwestern details, right down to Chef Jonathan Landeen’s handlebar mustache. The prominent beehive fireplaces and ornate bull skull bring in the wild west.
Distinct Tucson flavor, which includes local paintings, DeGrazia prints, and Native American art line the walls, illuminated by dim, warm lanterns.
Though Jonathan’s Cork identifies as a southwestern steakhouse and seafood restaurant, close inspection of the menu reveals strong Louisiana influence with various blackened items. New Orleans legendary chef Paul Prudhomme popularized the blackening technique, and as it turns out, Landeen trained with Prudhomme.
But enough about the Cork’s history. This is all about their happy hour, which includes bites ranging from $4 to $7 and draft beer at $1 off. Well drinks and house wines (chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon) are $5.
The Blackened Calamari ($6) isn’t served fried as it’s typically found in most restaurants. In this case, it’s a calamari steak with lemon butter that makes it dangerously easy to devour. The Blackened Twist ($6) is like a fancy rolled chicken quesadilla with tomatillo salsa. It’s worth the extra $2 to choose this over the Quesadilla ($4).
Jonathan’s Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp ($7) are stuffed with queso fresco, wrapped with jalapeño bacon, and topped with a red chile cream sauce.
For a Frenchier bite, try the Escargot ($6.50). The tender snails are simmered in garlic, shallots, and wine, then finished with butter for a velvety sauce. Don’t let any go to waste and soak every last drop with the grilled bread provided.
The Sautéed Mushrooms ($5), while simple, are rich and earthy with butter and spice, while red wine rounds out the dish with acidity and a hint of sweetness.
If you’re staying for dinner, the full menu features non-traditional items such as bison filet, venison, ostrich, and liver and onions.
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Just make sure to return during one of Jonathan’s well-known and loved Patio Pig events. They’re a chaotic and delicious spread of all kinds of food. But get there early – the events, which occur every Thursday in June – fill up quick.
Jonathan’s Cork is located at 6320 E. Tanque Verde Rd. and is open daily. They will be closed on Sundays from March 29 to September 5. Happy hour runs weekdays from 3-6:30 p.m. and weekends all day in the designated bar area. For more information, visit jonathanscork.com. To keep up with their specials, visit their Facebook page.