Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Well, I'll Be Damned!

I've lived in Tucson, Arizona off and on for 38 years.  And in that time, I've never been to the much talked about, much written about, much loved Cup Cafe at The Hotel Congress.  Hell, even the Food Network has been there!
Mostly I've stayed away because, as always with anything downtown, the parking is terrible and I dislike the inconvenience of getting there.  But, yesterday Ed and I went for our biennial DOT physicals, both passed (as expected) and decided to celebrate with breakfast at a place we've never been.

I'm so glad we went!  

Located within the historic Hotel Congress, Cup Cafe isn't fancy.  Wooden tables and chairs, bottle chandeliers, and local artwork comprise the decor.  A copper penny floor is one of its most unique features.  
Ed ordered a cup of coffee and I settled on a nice creamy latte.  The coffee was hot and delicious.  A good start.  
The menu was wonderful and making a choice was going to be difficult.

Ed ordered the Creole Breakfast (two eggs any style, andouille sausage, buttermilk biscuits, sausage gravy, hotel potatoes...$12).  His meal is at the top of the photo below.  You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can't take biscuit-and-gravy-eating out of the boy.

The bottom of the photo shows what I ordered - the Braveheart (smoked beef brisket, sourdough, grilled tomatoes, sautéed spinach, gruyère cheese, two poached eggs, sausage gravy, hotel potatoes...$12).

I wasn't sure about the brisket, but I knew I wanted the sourdough, the spinach, the gruyère, and those hotel potatoes!

The eggs were poached to perfection.  When I cut through the first one with my knife, the yolk flowed out of the egg like liquid gold.  It was as if I were watching a close-up shot on a food show.  Just gorgeous.  The sourdough was crisp and everything was piled on top.  If I ordered this again, I'd omit the sausage gravy.  It was good, but with the cheese and the poached egg, I didn't need the extra goop.

The hotel potatoes were not only gorgeous, they were delicious!  Roasted (crisp outside, fluffy inside) perfectly, tossed with red, yellow, and green bell peppers.  I could have eaten another helping of these. 
We were there on a Tuesday, late morning, and waited approximately 15 minutes for a table.  They only have seating for about 50 people inside, with a few more on the patio, and I'm pretty sure the wait on the weekends would be far too long for my liking.  But I'd definitely go back.
I have my eye on the Chilaquiles Verde (braised pork, two poached eggs, corn tortilla, tomatillo sauce, asadero and cotija cheese, cilantro, fresh fruit...$11.50) for a breakfast meal, a burger for a lunch visit, and the dinner menu looks fantastic (omg, the appetizers!).

I picked up a flyer, The Hotel Congress Gazette, that had a little piece titled "The Tucson Capture of John Dillinger".  It said:

In 1919, Hotel Congress was built to serve the growing cattle industry and railroad passengers of the Southern Pacific Line.  The Congress of the 1920s was the perfect shelter for genteek travelers and high-rollers fresh from the East.  Hotel Congress could have continued its charming existence as just another place of lodging for road weary guests, except that the date of January 22, 1934 has forever stamped its historical mark upon this edifice.

A fire started in the basement of the hotel and spread up the elevator to the third floor.  This fire led to the capture of one of the country's most notorious criminals - John Dillinger.  After a series of bank robberies, the Dillinger  gang came to Tucson to "lay low".  The gange resided on the third floor under aliases.  After the desk clerk contacted them through the switchboard (still in operation) the incognito gang escaped by aerial ladders.  On the urgent request of the gang, and encouraged by a generous tip, two firemen retrieved their heavy luggage.  It was later discovered that the bags contained a small arsenal and $23,816 in cash.

Later, this astute fireman recognized the gang in True Detective magazine.  A stakeout ensued and they were captured at a house on North Second Avenue.  In the space of five hours, without firing a single shot, the police of small town Tucson had done what the combined forces of several states and the FBI had tried so long to do.

When captured, Dillinger simply muttered, "Well, I'll be damned!"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My Sentiments Exactly
Ed's Last Look

2015: The Lido Line
2014: Puttin' On The Fritz
2013: Proof That A Snowball Does Have A Chance In Hell
2012: I Just Want Tiny Little Elephants To Massage My Earlobes
2011: App-solutely Crazy
2010: NCIS Investigates The Kitchen Aftermath
2009: Sometimes There Are FOUR Sides To A Story
2008: Made With Pride
2007: Coke Crushes The Competition
2006: Tired And Mute
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

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