Regional ingredients, new menu, new chef at Lodge on the Desert (SLIDESHOW)

Newly-appointed executive chef Adrian Castillo brings new flavors to Lodge on the Desert menu.


Adrian Castillo washed dishes for Lodge on the Desert years ago, never realizing he’d return to take the culinary reins.

After attending culinary school and serving stints as chef de cuisine at Elvira’s downtown and BIRD Bar & Chicken (formerly known as BIRD Modern Provisions & Bar), his career came full circle to become the executive chef at Cielos at Lodge on the Desert.

Castillo grew up making tortillas and simmering mole with his grandma. The influence shows in Cielos’ new menu, which includes various mole sauces and prized Mexican ingredients.

The Huitlacoche & Squash Blossom Tamales is one of the most satisfying vegetarian dishes I’ve had in months — the namesake ingredients are hearty, while the salsa tatemada and chipotle bean puree provide bursts of spice.

House-made Mexican chorizo complements the texture of quinoa in the Prince Edward Island Mussels. Nopales strips add a kiss of brightness.

Moles appear in two forms: Mole Poblano at lunch and Chicken Mole Manchamanteles at dinner. The mole poblano sauce featured an earthy, rich mole with chocolate, while the manchamanteles sauce featured bright, fruity notes of pineapple and apricot.

Executive chef Adrian Castillo at Cielos and Toast Trio at Lodge on the Desert (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive chef Adrian Castillo at Cielos and Toast Trio at Lodge on the Desert (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Lastly, don’t miss out on the paletas. Flavors such as hibiscus-chile-orange and coconut-lechera-lime are fabulous after dinner or by the pool.

Chef Castillo’s elegant and modern presentation draws inspiration from Rosio Sánchez of Hija de Sanchez.

Lodge on the Desert is located at 306 N. Alvernon Way. For more information, call (520) 320-2000 or visit

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 and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.