We asked chefs: what dish from a defunct restaurant do you miss the most?

We asked 15 Tucson chefs this question and let them answer as briefly or in as much detail as they wanted

Last modified on June 21st, 2018 at 9:55 pm

“What dish from a defunct restaurant do you miss the most?”

We asked 15 Tucson chefs this question and let them answer as briefly or in as much detail as they wanted. If they weren’t in Tucson long enough for one, they were free to choose another city’s restaurant. Here are their responses.

Tommy Begay

Sushi on Oracle
Sushi Chef Tommy Begay III at Sushi on Oracle (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Sushi Chef Tommy Begay III at Sushi on Oracle (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“Joel’s on University had the most amazing breakfasts. Everything on the menu was on point. Best Eggs Benedict. I remember either being stressed from school or hungover from drinking at No Anchovies after pulling a double on the line at Pei Wei and shooting the breeze with Joel at 6 a.m. while he cooked me what ever he wanted.”

View our October 2017 Nine on the Line with Tommy Begay.

Dee Buizer

Senae Thai Bistro
Dee Buizer, chef and owner of Senae Thai Bistro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Dee Buizer, chef and owner of Senae Thai Bistro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“Before opening Senae Thai Bistro, my family and I would spend significant time every summer in Washington state. I miss the fresh seafood we can get up there, especially the PEI mussels from Taylor Shellfish’s Oyster Bars in Seattle.”

View our October 2017 Nine on the Line with Dee Buizer.

Ryan Clark

Casino Del Sol Resort
Executive chef Ryan Clark at PY Steakhouse (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Casino Del Sol Resort executive chef Ryan Clark at PY Steakhouse (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“No question the Lamb Roti Canai at Seri Melaka. The Yap family is certainly missed in the Tucson community who turned out amazing restaurants that also included Neo and Om Modern Asian Kitchen. In a time that ethnic restaurants are booming across the country, they would have certainly been a star. Their Roti Canai was a house-made Malaysian flat bread that was studded with tender lamb and served with the most amazing curry sauce. I remember talking with the family about how they would travel to Malaysia to hand pick their spices for their curries and blends. You are all certainly missed… maybe the most by me. Here’s to Tucson turning out some more memorable dishes that we never want to leave us.”

Riley Chandler

Pop-Up Tucson
Pop-Up Tucson and Barrio Sandwiches chef Riley Chandler (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Pop-Up Tucson and Barrio Sandwiches chef Riley Chandler (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“Janos,

Hey Chef plz bring back your
Lamb Tongue Tacos!!!

Sincerely
RC”

View our June 2017 Nine on the Line with Riley Chandler.

Michael Elefante

Mama Louisa’s
Executive Chef Michael Elefante at Mama Louisa's (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive Chef Michael Elefante at Mama Louisa’s (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Snow Peas. 🙁 I miss Erik’s Food for the soul. I could go there any day and just say to Erik, ‘my soul is tired or my soul needs some love.’ He would whip up the most incredible things. Also I miss the wings he did. They where the best in town.”

View our November 2016 Tools They Use with Michael Elefante.

Tyler Fenton

Reilly Craft Drink & Pizza
Chef Tyler Fenton at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Chef Tyler Fenton at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“My answer may sound funny, given that I’m surrounded by and work with pizza everyday, but I would have to say the Rosa pizza from Pizzeria Bianco. Chris Bianco hits a home run with that pizza, and it is easily my favorite pizza to eat. Having him in town saved me a drive to Phoenix.”

View our February 2017 Nine on the Line with Tyler Fenton.

Doug Levy

Feast
Executive chef Doug Levy at Feast (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive chef Doug Levy at Feast (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“Recent past: the lemongrass pork at Neo of Melaka (and before that, Seri Melaka)

Middle past: the fish sandwich at Cuvee

Distant past: the herbed cheeseburger at Helen Street Cafe”

View our September 2017 Nine on the Line with Doug Levy.

Roderick LeDesma

PY Steakhouse at Casino Del Sol Resort
PY Steakhouse chef de cuisine Roderick LeDesma (Credit: Jackie Tran)

PY Steakhouse chef de cuisine Roderick LeDesma (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“I honestly never even thought of these till I saw this question, but the first thing that came to my head was tater tots with creamy pesto from the Grill.

I don’t necessarily miss or crave them, but it made me think of my younger days as a cook, drinking all night with friends, scrambling to get one last shot from the bar before they started kicking everyone out, laughing and stumbling across the street to the Grill. It was pretty much the only 24-hour place around and always packed after the bars closed. We’d cram as many of us as possible into a booth, scarfing our face with whatever, but the tots and pesto were always ordered. We’d stay till five in the morning before heading home to get a couple hours of sleep before work the next day.”

View our April 2017 Nine on the Line with Roderick LeDesma.

David Martin

Red Desert BBQ & Catering
David Martin, owner and pitmaster of Red Desert BBQ (Credit: Jackie Tran)

David Martin, owner and pitmaster of Red Desert BBQ (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“Well I know I have mentioned this dish before, Bouillabaisse from Bluefin. Just something about that dish that will always put a smile on my face. Fresh seafood in a saffron broth and a crusty piece of a baguette to soak up said broth. I also miss the catfish and red beans and rice from Po’ Folks. All of Po’ Folks’ food was comforting and tasty.”

View our December 2017 Nine on the Line with David Martin.

Travis Peters

The Parish
Executive chef Travis Peters at the Parish (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive chef Travis Peters at the Parish (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“The collard greens from Rod’s KC Barbecue on 4th Ave. These were magic, perfectly balanced and seasoned greens that just brought a smile to your face when you had them, goddammit they were good. The first time I tasted them I lost my mind, I hadn’t ever had anything like them before. I still remember how my heart sank the day I went there to get some greens and saw a ‘closed for business’ sign on the door. It’s probably been 18 years since they closed, but I still think about them and even tried to honor them by modeling our collard greens at the Parish after them. Our greens are quite good and we get lots of compliments on them, but I still think Rod’s were better. RIP Rod’s.”

View our April 2017 Nine on the Line with Travis Peters.

Brian Smith

Maynards Market & Kitchen
Maynards Market & Kitchen executive chef Brian Smith (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Maynards Market & Kitchen executive chef Brian Smith (Credit: Jackie Tran)

When I was a kid my family and I would go to the El Taco on 22nd and Kolb which is now the home of Poco and Mom’s. Although the tacos and burros were always delicious, the thing that I remember the most was the fruit chimichangas. A flour tortilla filled with cherry or apple pie filling, deep fried, and tossed in cinnamon sugar. So simple yet so amazing. No matter what, every time I went, this was something I had to have. R.I.P El Taco.”

View our May 2017 Tools They Use with Brian Smith.

David Solorzano

Ume at Casino Del Sol Resort
Chefs plating at a Gastronomic Union of Tucson (GUT) dinner at the Carriage House (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Chef David Solorzano (left) plating at a Gastronomic Union of Tucson (GUT) dinner at the Carriage House (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“After a night out downtown, I really miss the deep fried ravioli from the Grill. It was definitely not homemade, it was really greasy, it was not haute cuisine and the server could care less about you. But after a long night on the line and a few drinks after, that was exactly what I wanted.

Sidenote – I wouldn’t have recommended that dish in a sober situation, completely different experience.”

View our July 2017 Nine on the Line with David Solorzano.

Matt Thompson

Nook
Nook's Matt & Nikki Thompson (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Nook’s Matt & Nikki Thompson (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

“We used to go to this place called Asian Bistro on Campbell and Ft. Lowell every Friday after work. Their Mongolian beef was the best in town. It’s been closed for a couple of years now, but I still compare every Mongolian beef to the one I remember and nothing has come close.”

View our September 2015 Nine on the Line with Nikki & Matt Thompson.

Marcus van Winden

The Dutch Eatery & Refuge
The Dutch Eatery & Refuge executive chef and co-owner Marcus van Winden (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The Dutch Eatery & Refuge executive chef and co-owner Marcus van Winden (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“I haven’t been in Tucson all that long, however my wife is a Tucson native. She talked so much about missing Daggwood’s B.A.C.T.L.T. sandwich, that we actually serve our own version of it called The Dutch Club. It’s hard to go wrong with bacon, avocado, cheese, turkey, lettuce and tomato on fresh sourdough.”

View our July 2017 Nine on the Line with Marcus van Winden.

Scott Volpe

Fiamme Pizza
Scott Volpe at Fiamme Pizza (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Scott Volpe at Fiamme Pizza (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“I wouldn’t say it’s a dish itself, but I really miss the old Zachary’s on 6th Ave. I used to go there with my family as a kid before U of A basketball or football games. Or even off days just to get a hearty, fulfilling giant slice of pizza. It was awesome, I miss that restaurant so much.”

View our March 2017 Nine on the Line with Scott Volpe.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com.
  • The_Basseteer

    The mesquite broiled trout at The Nantucket Lobster Trap.

  • DuirMan

    Recent past: Vegetable fritters at Yogi’s Indian Cafe & Market.

  • dd36

    Jersey Joe’s! The vodka sauce. Everything there was top notch.

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