- 7366 N. Paseo Del Norte, Tucson, AZ, 85704
- Overall User Rating:
- (1 rating)
- Daily 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Breakfast daily 8-11 a.m., Lunch Mon.-Fri.11 a.m.-4 p.m., Brunch Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Tea daily 2:30-5 p.m.
- Official Web Site:
What we ordered: one iced coffee ($2), one bowl of granola ($8.50) and one eggs benedict ($9.50) for a total of exactly $20, just making our Cheap Eats goal of $20 for two people.
Comments: Eating outside is a troubling predicament in southern Arizona during the summer, but the Tohono Chul Park Tea Room is one place where it’s actually worth it. That is, if you like staring at snakes while you eat your eggs benedict. The patio at Tohono Chul boasts a cadre of wildlife (hummingbirds, butterflies, etc.), but also a blossoming of rare and beautiful plants. According to Travel and Leisure Magazine, Tohono Chul Park is one of the 10 best botanical gardens in the entire world.
While this doesn’t make for edible entrees, the Tea Room has a new addition that suggests primo cuisine as well. Locally famed chef Albert Hall (owner of Acacia), as well as his partner and wife Lila Yamashiro, took over management of the restaurant in early July. Hall was the first-ever winner of Tucson’s Iron Chef contest, and runs the kitchen of one of Tucson’s snazziest restaurants.
The food: In the press release for the tea room, Hall said he was going to focus more on local ingredients (including some from Tohono Chul Park) and add a few dishes. But the breakfast menu looked basically the same as it did earlier in the summer online. With what we ordered, it was difficult to see Hall’s ingenuity come out in the cooking. The stuff on the menu was pretty standard, and our breakfast basically looked like something from a greasy spoon.
But that didn’t make it bad. The bowl of house-made granola (although a little overpriced at $8.50) had a generous mix of tangy yogurt, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. It was good but was pretty standard, and the granola got a little mushy after a bit.
As far as fruit goes, the side I received with my eggs benedict was probably better. It was just interesting how the melon and fruit medley came drizzled with a little bit of yogurt and coconut shavings. It’s a small thing, but small things are what often separate a gourmet restaurant from normal dining.
Unfortunately, the eggs benedict ($9.50) was a bit anti-climactic. (This, despite the waiter noting a king snake coming out of nowhere.) The eggs, Canadian bacon and English muffin were delicious, but they were smothered by a thicker-than-normal hollandaise sauce. The sauce was gloopy and, to be honest, tasted kind of artificial. A small amount of hollandaise goes a long way, especially when it’s going to be mixed with the amazing texture of egg yolk. This was just too much.
Service: Service is prompt and friendly.
Bar: They serve wine.
Bottom line: I would definitely like to return to Tohono Chul for lunch. (The Southwestern-inspired lunch menu includes steak tacos and a Sonoran BLT with roasted green chilies and avocado.) But as it was, the beautiful desert garden atmosphere was more than enough to keep me coming back. The food was nothing special and the menu was small, but there really is nothing like a garden full of hummingbirds and a snake next to your foot to start off the day!