Chef's Pick: TallBoys
TallBoys recently opened just a short walk away from my home on 4th Avenue and I must say... I'm so happy it did. First of all, it's a diner that's open until two in the morning. Second of all, they serve breakfast from open to close. Need I say more? Yes, it's also affordable.
My first visit to this "Breakfast AF" joint was to interview both the Head Cook, Kyle Araishi, as he prepared his favorite dish on the menu and the Owner, Ben Schneider, to write up a full feature. To be completely honest, I wasn't entirely sure what kind of food they served. So when Kyle said he'd be preparing the huevos rancheros, I was eager to try it (given that I grew up in Nogales, AZ/Sonora and my standards for Mexican food are pretty high up there).
I was beyond pleased to know that all their food is prepared fresh daily but what really caught my attention, specifically for the huevos rancheros, is the fact that they make and hand press their own corn tortillas. Also, that they have their own special, secret ranchero sauce.
For just ten dollars, you get: a handful of chunky, grilled potatoes, a generous amount of black beans, two homemade, grilled corn tortillas, and two eggs cooked over-medium (my personal preference) covered with their savory, Spanish ranchero sauce. At last, garnished with freshly chopped green onion, diced tomato, red onion, and sliced avocado.
The fact that the tortillas are made a little thicker and are grilled help avoid any sogginess from taking place. The fresh garnishing's balanced the seasoned potatoes, fried eggs, and ranchero sauce. The sauce itself isn't spicy. It more so has a smokiness to it with a hint of chipotle.
The dish was really delicious. There was a little voice in my head that thought I wasn't going to be able to finish the whole thing but there was no way I couldn't eat it all. Really, the only thing I'd want to do different next time I have their huevos rancheros is order a side of coffee, which they source from Hermosa Coffee Roasters.
The best part (for me, anyhow) is that it's still delicious dairy-free. Originally, the recipe includes melted cheese over the grilled potatoes and crema and sometimes asking for a dish without cheese kills the flavor but not in this case. I'd one hundred percent recommend the huevos rancheros. I'll have to make a visit very soon, as I'm eager to taste other dishes from their menu. I heard the Tallboy Burger is popular (which, to add to that, they grind their own meat).
P.S. Don't write a food review while your hungry. Or do, when the restaurant is open until two a.m.
Read my conversation below with Head Cook, Kyle Araishi on why he selected the huevos rancheros dish as his favorite and other food related questions. Founder, Ben Schneider, also chimes in on the Q&A.
Why are the huevos rancheros your favorite dish on your menu?
Kyle: Probably because we put the most effort into that one. It’s close to home cooking. Ben gave me an idea of his favorite ranchero sauce and we went off that.
Ben: I had that ranchero sauce on this farm in California. It’s a Spanish sauce, so it’s more so about caramelized onions, less tomatoes, salt and paprika. He added guajillo’s and chipotle, too. It’s like a smokey, rich, almost Spanish marinara sauce.
I also asked Kyle to make fresh, grilled corn tortillas. We hand press them every time we make the dish. It’s the only huevos rancheros I know of that are homemade like that with a thicker, gordita-style tortilla.
What is your favorite food memory?
Kyle: That’s a hard question. Going back to childhood… all the stuff I ate as a little kid. There was a small Chinese restaurant I used to live by that used to do these chicken wings. They just recently closed down last year. There’s also this meat market called, "Gartner's Country Meat Market," in Portland. They have these marinated beef short ribs and I’ve been eating those since I was a little kid.
Hardest ingredient to cook with:
Kyle: Rice. But now that we have a rice cooker it’s easy. (laughs)
Ben: I would say chicken. We can both cook good chicken but I think it’s the most troubling ingredient.
You’re eating at a restaurant other than yours, where is it?
Kyle: Here in Tucson, I don’t know. I’m a strong food critic. There’s no particular spot I like around here. Portland though… there’s Takahashi Sushi that I love and has been there since the ‘70s.
Ben: I would be at Four Seasons, which is a Thai food place on Miracle Mile. Their Thai food is bomb and their American breakfast is bomb, too. Or I'd be eating the poke bowl at Obon… or the buffet at Ghandi’s. I pretty much only eat Thai or Japanese or Indian or Mexican food. I think the American food here is pretty boring. There’s also no good barbecue around here, otherwise I’d go get that.
Kyle: Yeah that’s the thing that sucks. I love barbecue, too, but it’s so limited around here! In Portland, one of my favorite spots to eat at is Podnah's Pit Barbecue. It’s awesome, Texas-style barbecue.
Last weekend on Earth - what city are you eating in?
Kyle: Portland. I haven’t been to the East Coast at all. I heard New York food is amazing. I’m limited to where I’ve been. Maybe somewhere in Hawaii…
Ben: Last day on Earth… where the f*** am I going… I’d probably go to Japan for sushi, honestly.
Kyle: I was just thinking of America for some reason...
Ben: Somewhere in Asia for sure. I’d indulge in way too much sushi and ramen.
TallBoys, 600 N 4th Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85705
Stay tuned for a full featured interview with both Ben Schneider and Kyle Araishi.