(Summer 2013) Neighbor Roy & I enter Stables Ranch Grille at Tubac Golf Resort with just enough local historical knowledge to be dangerous. Once past the thick mesquite front door we are walking on a cobblestone floor that is well over 200 years old. Had we been here back in the day, we would be standing in one of the horse stables on the Otero family’s cattle ranch. Around here there’s lots of things “Otero”: Otero Road; Otero Hall; etc.
In 1691, Father Kino established a mission at Tumacácori 4 miles south of here on the Santa Cruz River. One mile south is the Village of Tubac, also on the Santa Cruz & once a Pima Indian* village that was colonized by the Spanish in the early 1700’s.
(* Some Pimas were called Papago Indians by the Spanish, essentially “bean eaters”. Now they are known as Tohono O’odham: Desert People, which is how they always referred to themselves.)
In 1751, the Indians revolted against the Spanish and wiped out the Tubac & Tumacácori settlements. Understandably, this upset the Spanish colonists.
The next year, 1752, Spanish conquistadors took their revenge & the Pimas surrendered. Determined not to permit any more Indian uprisings, the Spanish established El Presidio (fort) San Ignacio de Tubac to protect their people & property.
In 1787, with ever-more garrisoned soldiers at the fort, the commandant needed a sizeable and steady source of meat and produce. So, in January 1789, the commandant of the Tubac Presidio signed a land grant in the name of the Spanish king, Charles IV, that gave Don Toribio de Otero ownership of 400 acres adjacent to Tubac.
He was the first private landowner in the land the Spanish called Pimeria Alta: Land of the Upper Pimas. For generations, the Oteros raised cattle, fruit, & vegetables for the soldiers and colonists living at Tubac, & later for the presidio & growing village of Tuk-sohn on the Santa Cruz River 40 miles north.
There is no doubt in my mind that Apaches found Señor Otero’s livestock & gardens extremely attractive and that all who lived in and near Tubac had countless battles with relentless Apache raiders until the last of the renegades surrendered in 1886.
A hostess seats us at a table by floor-to-ceiling arched windows that allow us to look out over what was Señor Otero’s pasture. Now it’s a fine, 27-hole golf course. A foursome is teeing off. Just beyond them is a green protected by a sizable pond (aka water hazard). Just beyond the pond are 3 cows grazing lazily and several calves romping in the green grass like young children.
As he strolls nonchalantly out into the sunshine, he ignores the golfers, but notices the cows. He sniffs the air, perhaps to determine if one might have an interest in a brief, romantic interlude. The cows ignore him.
This 2,000 pounds of horn, hoof, and sirloin is master of all he surveys. With that certain knowledge reaffirmed, Ferdinand wanders off to graze alone.
While we were watching this moving panorama, our waiter had taken our drink order: the usual, hot Earl Grey tea for Roy; iced tea with lemon for Jim. Now it’s time for lunch.
Roy orders their Otero Ranch Club: slow roasted turkey breast, apple wood smoked bacon, guacamole, tomato, Butter Leaf & Jarlsberg Swiss Cheese on toasted wheat ($10).
I order the Pork Schnitzel with warm German potato salad, sautéed green beans & lemon caper butter ($18).
Roy declares his Club is one of the best sandwiches he’s ever enjoyed. He mentions that the wheat bread is exceptionally tasty.
I ordered the German dish because, living in Southern Arizona, it’s so easy to get in the habit of either steak or Mexican. My German schnitzel was not only delicious, but also a welcome change-of-pace.
You can find the rest of their current menu here. It is an eclectic mix, a.k.a. something for everyone.
I love the look & feel of Stables; the old world dining room with its big stone fireplace, the Western bar in which you can literally saddle-up for a drink, and the beautiful outdoor patios.
It had been several years since I had eaten at Stables. So Roy & I took a stroll around. Our hostess had suggested we wander into Pancho’s.
On the short walk to Pancho’s we passed a couple of tall, cylindrical silos, remnants of the original Otero ranch.
Pancho’s is in one of the historic buildings here at the Tubac Golf Resort. It’s a fairly large shop stuffed full of things Spanish, Mexican, & Western: antique furnishings, fine textiles & leathers, handcrafted Mexican tiles, window coverings, fountains, pottery, & other treasures that would go well in just about any Southwestern home or office. If Ms. Karen ever finds this place, some of this “stuff” is sure to be going home with us.