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Restaurants & Bars 1

Low Brow Tucson Trip Report (exec summary at top)

Jase | May 21, 200803:27 PM

This isn’t for someone looking for a high end trip report. I was in Tucson for a weekend and stopped at East Coast Super Subs, Little Café Poco Cosa and Lil Abner’s.

Short report, East Coast, never again. Little Café, definite yes. Lil Abner’s, qualified yes.

East Coast Super Subs. This is supposed to be the sub and hoagie shop from a real Philly person. You walk in and the place is covered wall to wall with Philadelphia memorabilia, the rest room has every inch except the floor covered with baseball cards. I had a lot of high hopes for this place.

I saw the Taylor Pork roll sandwich and had always wanted to try it. My friend got the Irish sub with extra meat. We both got the 8 inch subs and also split an order of the hot wings, hotter than Brad Pitt. Service was quick if a bit abrupt, but I wasn’t looking for over the top friendliness. The wings arrived quickly and very hot. But if there was any spice to them I couldn’t detect it. If this was hotter than Brad Pitt, his career must be worse than I thought. The wings were juicy but overall the flavor was mediocre, it came with a small prepackaged plastic cup of blue cheese, nothing special.

Still I held out hope for the subs. It was in vain. My 8 inch pork roll had a few shreds of meat sprinkled on top of all the vegetation. It was like a salad where the meat were garnished like croutons. And even with that, everything barely filled half way up the bun. If I took a bite straight down instead of from the side, all I got was some bread, that’s how little filling there was. This was definitely not a stereotypical overstuffed sandwich. My friend’s double meat barely filled his roll. He did have more meat though. But how was the taste you ask? Maybe I’m a west coast heathen, but the Taylor Pork was nothing special. I felt like I was eating a veggie sandwich with the occasional hit of saltiness from the pork. Where was this magnificent pork product flavor I’ve heard so much of?

The Irish sub was basic ham and cheese melt. Nothing outstanding either. We definitely wouldn’t return. It was expensive for what you got but more importantly the food just wasn’t that good.

Little Café Poco Cosa. We loved this place. We both ordered the combo with chili relleno, tamale and the pork so we could try a bit of everything. The salsa for the chips was very fresh. We both had an iced coffee with horchata. I’ve had horchata before but never with coffee. I liked the combo and sweetness, it reminded me of Thai iced coffee which I like a lot.

Most of the food was excellent, came with beans, rice and some fruit. The beans and rice were average. The chili relleno was a bit soggy and probably could have been fried better but the overall taste was still very good. The tamale was very good, well cooked masa and the green chili was blended in well. But the absolute highlight of the plate was the pork. I loved the red sauce, smoky, deep, complex. The pork was tender yet just that bit of chew and resistance for a pleasant texture.

All in all a very good meal and inexpensive, approximately $25 after tip and a 20% tip.

Lil Abner’s. I have to preface this by disclosing I’ve been coming here for over 20 years at least once a year whenever I’m in town to visit. There’s a lot of nostalgia of coming here with old friends and it tinges my experience. I still find it a fun place with the band playing, the rough hewn tables, the outside patio under the desert sky next to the roaring open pit cooking the steaks. Two decades ago as broke college students, this was a special ocassion place and there was no development around. It was magical to sit and imagine you were in the middle of the dessert all alone and it was fun to celebrate getting together. We would listen to the band that was supposedly made up of retired Grand Ole Opry performers and it was one of the best steaks I’d ever had.

Two decades later with a much more jaded steak palate and brand new cookie cutter houses surrounding the restaurant, it’s not that magical anymore. But it’s still a fun steakhouse to go get a solid steak. We started out with the pork ribs as an appetizer. Sauce on the side and we didn’t need it. Solid bbq with smokiness and just enough pull but not falling off the bones which I hate. We both had the one t-bone. The salad was pretty ordinary iceberg lettuce with some tomatoes. In the past, the meat could have some gristle and inevitably in a big group, one of us would have to send it back. This time with just the two of us, there was no problems. My rare was cooked just right with a cool center. Steak quality was average. The salsa that came with it was fresh as usual. Garlic toast and usual pinto beans.

In the end Lil Abner’s is all about nostalgia for me. The steak is middle of the road and there’s nothing outstanding about the sides. The atmosphere isn’t as cozy and magical but it’s still fun with the tables. The cost isn’t too bad especially from an adult standpoint instead of a college student. We had a few beers each also so I don’t quite remember exactly what the food itself cost. But we were around $85 after tip

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