On a pleasant mid-day in January (2015) I had the pleasure of dining at Tohono Chul's Garden Bistro with good friend Ms. Marcia. For the shear joy of dining on a patio surrounded by beautiful gardens, serenading songbirds, and acrobatic hummingbirds, you cannot beat the Garden Bistro.
Two years ago, in our ranking of the Top Ten Burgers In Tucson, we ranked their Chul Burger #2. The day before I had dined with a dear friend at Proper and we both ordered their burger because almost nothing else on the menu was available. Come to find out that they had been slammed 24 hours earlier on MLK, Jr. Day. Most of the Proper burger was rather tasty, but the meat patty was dry and tasteless. I'm guessing it was the same ground beef as one gets at Diablo Burger, which is almost next door.
So ... I was looking forward to a Chul Burger, which I have not enjoyed in almost 2 years. However, in looking over their new seasonal menu called "The Tree", I was a bit overwhelmed by the offerings. Every dish on this menu looked really appealing.
Nevertheless, when our waitress came to take our order, I reverted to type and asked for a burger. Oddly, this prompted the waitress to glance at Ms. Marcia who was looking at me as if I had just uttered the ultimate faux pas.
She didn't say it quite like this, but what I heard was, "Dear, why don't you try the meatloaf?"
Now, I like meatloaf. Ms. Karen's is the best so I don't usually order it when dining out. However, given Ms. Marcia's exalted position, and the fact that she and husband Johnny are serious foodies, I turned to our waitress and said, "Yes, I believe I will have the Bistro Style Meatloaf: (glazed with sambal black mission fig ketchup, tumbleweed onions, and served with yukon gold potato, and wilted spinach mash. $16.)
You got that, right? FIG KETCHUP!!!
We continued catching up on old times and our meals were soon served. I was so focused on my meatloaf that I forget what Ms. Marcia had. But my meatloaf was superb ... best I have ever tasted. And the "tumbleweed onions" and potato / wilted spinach mash were excellent enhancements.
Tohono Chul Park is a wonderful public garden and they often have excellent exhibits in their galleries. Their retail greenhouse is a fine place to purchase desert plants for your garden. Throughout the year, Tohono Chul has special events, tours, classes and workshops. Membership is not expensive and gives you lots of privileges.
Do we recommend Tohono Chul Park and Garden Bistro to our friends and family? Indeed we do. Both are rated 5-Saguaro: Best of the Best.