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Last modified on February 14th, 2019 at 10:11 am
Located in a historic railway station next to the Downtown tracks, Maynards Market & Kitchen represents Tucson to travelers and locals alike.
This is the business’ tenth year in operation, and while there have been some integral changes during the course of the decade, the core mission continues, full steam.
According to owner Todd Hanley, Maynards’ premise is to provide simple, classic dishes with an elevated twist.
“There is a shared passion at Maynards to offer an understated, special dining experience to our guests,” Hanley said.
The family-owned business has had three executive chefs over the past 10 years. The current chef, Brian Smith, is “the mastermind behind the menus at Maynards,” according to Dalice Shepard, Maynards’ and Hotel Congress’ Marketing Director. “And with the support of his team [he] develops a menu that is both intriguing and fitting for the season.”
“Brian (Smith) has been instrumental in developing our locally sourced and heritage-inspired menu,” Hanley said.
Smith and his team change Maynards Kitchen’s menus seasonally and just released a new one.
Shepard noted that seasonal menus not only highlight fresh, local ingredients, but that the evolving menus are “a great way for our culinary team to express their creativity in new dishes.”
Smith, who earned a culinary degree from Pima Community College, and who is reigning Iron Chef Tucson, said he derives inspiration from many sources.
“I follow my intuition,” Smith said. “If I have a craving or a dish that I can’t get off my mind, I use that energy to help (me) create.”
He said he keeps a close watch on food trends, follows chefs on social media, and “constantly” buys cookbooks.
After graduating from Pima, Smith worked with Chef Albert Hall for nine years at the now-shuttered, Tucson-located Acacia restaurant.
After that, he staged for a month at Coi in San Francisco, and then for a month at McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina, gaining confidence and knowledge about diverse foodways and approaches to cheffery.
“I also enjoy the brainstorming process with my team. The ideas that come together when we are all thinking creatively are crucial to my menu design process,” Smith said.
“The team here are who keep this train on the tracks, no pun intended! Watching our cooks grow and seeing them progress in their skills is what makes this business so fulfilling to me.”
Smith has traveled the world representing Tucson’s status as the United States’ first UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
“I’ve been to Belem, Brazil, and to Parma, Italy (in that ambassador role),” Smith said. “Being able to share the food from our Sonoran region and to meet new people and try the food from other countries has had a remarkable impression on my approach in the kitchen.”
Some items have remained constant throughout Maynards’ operational years, notably the Prince Edwards Island Mussels in their perfectly balanced tarragon-infused broth. But each menu features new dishes and themes.
“Our approach to food and wine has stayed the same over the past ten years,” Hanley said, but “one thing that has changed is adding an emphasis on heritage ingredients. There is something really special about foods that come from our region and seeing them in a new and refined light.”
“Root vegetables are the star of this new menu,” Shepard said. “I have never seen a more beautiful dish than the new Roasted Beet Risotto. The rich merlot color of the dish comes only second to the delicious and complex taste and texture of the dish. The menu also features Chiltepin Glazed Carrots. This spicy and sweet dish is a nod to one of our favorite heritage ingredients: chiltepins.”
Maynards Market fast-casual dining concept is adjacent to the finer-dining Kitchen.
The Market offers breakfast and lunch, fun snacks to go, locally roasted Caffe Luce coffee, and gourmet sandwiches, all centered inside a sommelier-selected wine bar.
“We have also made a pretty massive change to our happy hour,” Hanley said. “We now offer happy hour drinks – all day, every day, with $4 rotating local draught beers, $6 sommelier-selected glasses of wine, and $6 cocktails.” Maynards’ happy hour food menu offers upscale items like steak tartare, panisse, and pizzas from 4 to 8 p.m. every day.
The Market has recently redesigned its wine shelves, making it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for.
“You can come in with a desire for an Argentinian Malbec, a crisp Pinot Grigio, or a local favorite, and find them with true ease,” Hanley said.
One such local favorite is Maynards’ AZ Red. For the last five years, the Market and Kitchen have poured Maynards’ private label AZ Red Wine, regionally grown, produced, and bottled in partnership with Sand-Reckoner. The fourth edition of the wine just came out.
“We have spent $100,000 in the local wine economy with more than 1,000 cases of wine,” Shepard said. “This relationship with Sand-Reckoner is in line with our mission to support local businesses and create thoughtful and lasting relationships with local producers.”
“As far as I know, we are the only restaurant in Tucson with a private label wine that showcases locally grown grapes,” Hanley added.
Service ethos is key to both the Market and the Kitchen.
“We work to hire seasoned servers who have a background in upscale dining and a broad knowledge of wine pairing,” Hanley said. “We focus on extensive menu training so that our servers are well versed in our menus, and are aware of possible dietary restriction concerns.”
“Maynards means hard work and collaboration. The team here works very hard to make sure that all aspects of the guest experience are stellar,” Smith said.
The Market is open from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
The Kitchen is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5 – midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays for brunch.
Maynards Market & Kitchen is located at 400 N. Toole Ave. For more information, visit maynardstucson.com.