“Fresh” is a word that’s easy to toss around when describing food, but Pasco Kitchen & Lounge blows it out of the water.
Since opening in 2011, Pasco has specialized in “urban farm fare,” which they define as traditional comfort food and drink with mindfulness for modern techniques and fresh, local ingredients.
However, ‘local’ could even be considered broad with how close some ingredients are sourced. One ingredient supplier is the Food Conspiracy Co-op, which is less than a mile away. Using their urban micro-farm with a rainwater harvesting system, you really can taste the monsoon this time of year.
Even closer is the Main Gate Square Garden behind the restaurant, which supplies herbs to the kitchen. In fact, the Pasco team is so passionate about it, they share gardening information on their website with tips for things such as the right pH balance for soil that helps cilantro thrive.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a sad yellow leaf here. Aside from happy green leaves, you’ll also find happy hour specials, which include:
- $5 glasses of wine
- $3.50 for draft beer
- $5 appetizers
- Specialty drinks starting at $4
For Pasco’s flagship cocktail that has been there since the beginning, order the Father Kino ($5). It combines tequila, lime, and jalapeño spiced agave nectar for a margarita-like base, while the chili-tamarind rim accents the heat. The addition of muddled cucumber and cilantro balances the drink with coolness and herbaceousness, making it a Tucson classic.
Another cocktail that highlights Pasco’s focus on freshness is the Patio Herb Collins ($4), made with herbs grown only a few feet away. English gin, muddled cucumber, sweet basil syrup, and house-made sweet and sour combine for an invigorating libation.
The Hemingway ($5) is a classic daiquiri cocktail that features grapefruit. Here, it features their house-made grapefruit jam with Cubano white rum, lime, and Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur Rinse.
Their house-made strawberry cordial makes an appearance in the Boss Lady’s Strawberry Fields’ Shift Drink ($5) alongside gin, bubbles, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
The Goat Cheese with Herb Crusted Panko & Roasted Beets ($5, add chicken for an extra $2) features organic spring mix, chive vinaigrette, red pepper coulis, grilled red onions, and a poached farm-fresh egg. The earthy and sweet beets are a classic pair with the creamy, tangy goat cheese. The panko and egg yolk add texture and richness, making this vegetable dish especially gratifying.
The T-Town Nachos ($5) highlights tortilla chips from Anita’s Street Market towered with oaxaca cheese, salsa verde, green onion, cilantro, grilled onion, drunken beans, and your choice of heritage pork, shredded beef, free-range chicken, or organic vegetables.
The Chef’s Seasonal Rillette Bruschetta Spread ($5) changes often based on seasonality and availability, which makes it a great weekly pick. Traditional country meat, fish, or vegetable spread is served with freshly made sides and accoutrements. There’s always a variety of items pickling in-house, all of which balance the dish with acidity. Like pickles, rillettes were originally prepared since it preserved food for extended periods of time, but despite the advent of modern refrigeration, it still exists because it’s so tasty.
Even though the appetizers are comfort food, they’re chock-full with herbs and vegetables that only add to the enjoyment. Although owner and chef Ramiro Scavo has a way with plants, he also works magic with meats. For a more meat-centric experience, check out his other restaurant down the street, Red’s Smokehouse + Tap Room.
Pasco Kitchen & Lounge is located at 820 E. University Blvd. and is open daily. Happy hour runs 3 – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit pascokitchen.com. To keep up with specials, visit Pasco Kitchen & Lounge on Facebook. For a list of other hot happy hour picks, click here.