It’s hard to choose restaurants while traveling. Ruth & I, dedicated road warriors, are not good at finding 5 Compass food randomly. Even when we apply a few basic rules–try to get recommendations at the hotel if they don’t have their own restaurant, pick the place with a full parking lot, ask a friendly local, take where you are into consideration (don’t order seafood in Omaha), try the new place–we often end up in 2 or 3 Compass losers. However, on a recent trip we found four 5 Compass places by chance.
We checked into a hotel in Tucson that was transitioning from private ownership to chain and things were a bit chaotic. We entered our assigned room to discover two very nice ladies already in it. After comparing identical numbers and being invited to party, Ruth & I went back to reception and were given another room. It was, frankly, not so nice. Back to see what else was available, I was lucky to meet the man in charge of the change-over. A problem solver type, he showed Ruth & me 3 more rooms until he found one he thought was satisfactory. It was.
Normally when you ask a hotel employee for a restaurant recommendation, they either discreetly refuse to discriminate or send you to their favorite spot. I totally understand why local restaurants wouldn’t like local hotels recommending their competition, but this man was from New York and there temporarily. He had been around long enough, however, to know about Michelangelo’s Ristorante where “the fine art of Italian Cuisine” is both a catch phrase and true. (420 West Magee Road).
After leaving Tucson’s Saguaro National Park the next day, we had no particular place in mind while inching down Speedway in rush hour traffic. I got on my iPhone, googled area dining spots, and we were within 3 blocks of feast. The name’s a bit generic but feast’s fare is 5 Compass, and the staff is especially welcoming and efficient. By the time we left, the parking lot was full. (3719 East Speedway).
The next day in Phoenix, we opted for a docent tour of the temporary pottery show at the fantastic Heard Museum. Afterwards, the docent from Vermont who spent her winters in Arizona immediately recommended Durant’s. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, she told us, but it’s a local institution. Only a couple of blocks from the museum, Durant’s, in the same location for 62 years, was one of those welcoming places that you’d never find on your own but where you linger, and linger. Other than its nostalgic decor, Durant’s doesn’t show it age. (2611 North Central Avenue).
On our last morning in Las Vegas, we tried a new place, eat. Again, a generic name but anything but generic. Opened only since September 15, 2012, eat is chef/owner Natalie Young’s dream project–her own place where she calls the shots after 25 years in the business. This means nothing ordinary on the menu, a super talented, live band, Sabriel, entertaining breakfasters, no wi-fi so people will interact, etc. This is simply the best place I’ve eaten in Las Vegas. (707 Carson at 7th).