Tucson, settled next to the imposing mountains filled with human-like Saguaros, has a long history with Spain and Mexico. The Spanish settled here in the 17th century and of course built some churches to convert the local Indians. San Xavier Mission is one of the most prominent. It is located on autonomous Native American land maintained by the Tohono O’Odom tribe. The chapel is a mix of old wood and stucco. Intricate Catholic details abound, as well as a scary wooden replica of St. Francis.
The “Old Pueblo” has been growing rapidly in recent years. Restaurants are everywhere, chains, casual, dive and strange. I only had one day, so we started out with the enormous portions of Bamboo Terrace (1754 W. Ajo Way). My grandma ordered her favorite, chicken egg foo young, and I had the won-ton soup and sesame chicken. The food was suitable for any palate, not spicy nor seasoned, just Chinese American food.
For dinner we wanted to go to Karichimaka (5252 S. Mission Way) for the famous cheese crisps, but alas, they were closed on Mondays. Instead, we went to the ultra casual El Guero Canelo (4519 S. 12th Ave). It’s counter service with cheap prices. The guacamole was outstanding and the carne asada tacos were decent, but as always with Mexican beef, every 4th bite required me to pull out a fatty piece. Their specialty was Sonoran hot dog, which is a bacon wrapped hot dog with beans and onions. For the price, it was good, although choice selection was too small with only cheese, chicken or beef fillings. (My grandma had a flashback to her first washing machine which was now used as a mere decoration.)
Night was settling in with the arrival of the cool desert air as the trailers began to glow from the lights of their TV sets.