Since the pandemic, Jim and I have been meaning to get back to downtown Tucson and enjoy the changes to the city center. Hotel Congress holds a weekly music venue Sundays on the patio between the Hotel Congress and Maynards Market and Kitchen, from 5 – 8. There is a cover charge of $10 per person. So this past Sunday we gathered our friends who were staying in the guest house and headed on downtown for the Congress Cookout.
We had no idea what to expect. The first thing we noticed is that Downtown Tucson is now Hoppin’ on Sunday afternoons, or at least this one. There was no parking anywhere, so we paid for Valet service over at Maynard’s. I supposed that since they belong to the same company, the valet would accept our car as well. They said it was fine. So we let them park our car in the Maynards parking lot and headed across the street.
The next thing I noticed was the music was loud. After 3 years of fairly low-key decibels, this was a change. Although it was difficult to talk over, the band was enjoyable.
I had paid our cover fee, oddly $8 today, rather than $10, and used a new-to-me App “DICE” to hold our tickets. I am still getting used to ticketing apps. It was not immediately obvious where to present the “Tickets” so I headed into the Hotel’s Cup Café to be told there was a stand or podium near the food truck. So the food served at the music venue and makeshift bar are different than the Cup Café. Okay.
Gus, who introduces himself as Stephen, went to find out how to get food from the cafe while I wandered over to the food truck to determine what they were serving for dinner. As Gus found out, to get food from the cafe, you had to order TO GO and then fetch it out to the patio. So we ordered from the truck. The food was just okay, The french fries HOT and crispy. Delicious. Linda shared with us.
Karen’s nachos were mushy. Total waste.
Long story short. We determined that next time, we would make reservations at the Cup for the patio, save the cover charge, get waited on, and eat well. We will let you know how that goes in a few weeks.
After a couple of hours, we headed back to the car, grabbed our keys, and pointed the red beast back to the freeway. Downtown was still busy. While the Congress Cookout had a real lack of paying fans, the Cup Café was full; The Century Room, the hotel’s newest Jazz Cocktail bar was also packed, the music coming from the Playground took over Congress Street, and there was a 3-day event that I had forgotten about, even though I had posted this event on our Calendar. Cinco de Mayo en el Barrio appeared to be at the Scott Street stage, across from the Monica, which was also packed. It was sponsored by O’Reilly Chevrolet on the east side of town on Broadway. There have been a few more of these privately funded events in the past couple of years, as I recall. Not much like our downtown community-sponsored events, such as “Tucson Meet Yourself” and TKM’s “Folk Festival” which passed last month, or the TMA Arts Festivals. How many does one need anyway? I’m thinking overkill.
Makes me wish for the relative quiet of summer. Schools will be out soon. Snowbirds are already gone. Sanity will be back downtown.I recall when you could go downtown on a Sunday and no restaurants were open. Don’t get me wrong. It is probably good for the city, and thoroughly enjoyable if that is your cup of tea. I am not so sure that the people who moved downtown before Tucson became “The City of Gastronomy” and a go-to place would agree, however. It will be interesting to see how it pans out in the future. Our Town is growing up. Be careful what you wish for.