When you think “KOA,” it’s pretty much a given that you’re not thinking tikka masala.
But at Lazydays KOA RV Resort, hidden down by the Tucson airport, sandwiched between $500,000 recreational vehicles, and adjacent to a small chlorinated swimming pool and a Southwest-style gift shop, is a barbecue restaurant.
And within that barbecue restaurant is Twisted Tandoor.
Owner Roop Singh serves the quality Indian cuisine that Tucson’s known and loved since she and her late husband Mukhi dished it out of a food truck starting in 2012.
BBQ Rush, the enveloping restaurant, used to be a food truck, too. It behooved both Singh and BBQ Rush owner Jason Scott to share the added expenses involved in operating a brick-and-mortar facility, so they teamed up.
“We always wanted to do something together,” Singh said. “Jason is a very good friend, and I trust him.”
It must be working well, because Singh and Scott are embarking on a new adventure together. They’re about to sell fresh, pre-packaged food from both of their culinary traditions for people for take home or delivery.
“We should have that running within a few months,” Singh said. The partners will use the extant kitchen and, for now, the large space they’re currently in will serve as a storefront.
“The location is not ideal,” Singh noted, but as they begin this new endeavor they don’t want to “pay expensive Midtown rents.”
There’s no doubt the current setup is a bit confusing. Yet somehow it works.
To set the scene: after parking in the gigantic lot designed to accommodate Class A rigs, you walk into a vast, lodge-like space. Contempo-country music blares and paper towel rolls await on the wooden tables — per a typical barbecue joint anywhere in the country. Diners run the gamut from Davis-Monthan soldiers to #vanlife digital nomads to winter visitors who’ve been eating here every day since they parked their Winnebago in September.
The aroma is at first distracting: mint chutney meets hickory wood smoke meets Coors Light meets Old Spice.
A server, maybe the very sweet Linda or Monica, asks if you want to see both menus, meaning Texas-style barbecue and … Indian? Yes, you do.
Singh crafts Twisted Tandoor’s rather limited menu. Only eight fusion-style items are served. There’s no naan because there’s no tandoor oven, but you’ll find a mozzarella-topped Indian pizza and a tandoori chicken quesadilla. There’s feta in the ground beef keema samosas, and a chunky salsa accompanies most every menu item.
Nontraditional, yes, but the results are as delicious as we’ve come to expect from the Twisted Tandoor brand. Singh keeps her cilantro mint chutney as bright as ever. Her samosas are never soggy, even though they’re full of saucy ingredients. She doesn’t skimp on the spice on the chickpea Chana Masala, which is gluten free and vegan.
“No quality is compromised,” Singh said.
Singh and Scott’s menus somewhat overlap in that they share some core ingredients, such as ground beef, and technologies like a deep fryer.
There’s a full bar, and while beer is a great accompaniment to both cuisines, the selection of brews cater to the barbecue crowd. While a local IPA rotates through the tap, for example, there’s no Kingfisher or any other representation from the Subcontinent.
“In the summer it’s very slow here, partially due to the location,” Singh said. But in the winter, KOA residents “can have two or three meals a week at the restaurant and not get bored.”
And with the upcoming prepackaged meals in their freezer, they’ll be able to cook Singh and Scott’s creations wherever they should roam.
BBQ Rush and Twisted Tandoor share the same hours in the Lazydays KOA RV Resort at 5151 South Country Club Road. The kitchen is open from 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. every day and the bar stays open an extra hour on Fridays and Saturdays.