Saturday, June 14, 2014

Eating Gluten-Free at Pasco Kitchen and Lounge

Farm Fresh Food in the Desert

I was off traveling again. Another trip to Tucson, Arizona.

What do you think of when you read 'Arizona'?

Desert? Yep.

Southwest? Yep.

Dry? Yep.

Hot? Usually.

Farms? Not so much.

Yet, there is farm-fresh produce to be had. So one would like to conclude that farms are in the area.

This is a good thing.

It is an especially good thing when that farm-fresh food lands squarely in front of you at a restaurant. In the city where you traveling. Where you don't have a kitchen in your hotel room. When you didn't happen to bring your favorite set of pots and utensils to use in the kitchen you don't have in your hotel room in the city in the desert.

Farm fresh food served to your table in the desert. Wonderful!

This is exactly what I got here.

Pasco Kitchen & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Pasco Kitchen and Lounge

First things first. I needed a libation.

Translation: potation. I needed a potation.

A drink. They offer a nice list of unique drink options. And I didn't immediately seek out the tequila section.  I browsed all the selections. Considered the options. Looked at the variety.

And ended up at the tequila selections.

I love lemon and I almost got sucked into trying the Mt. Lemmon. It was tempting, but I'm a bit sour on muddled mint.

Alright, alright, I stop with the puns.

I was feeling mildly adventurous and was willing to try a doctored up version of the tried and true margarita. Margaritas are definitely the thing to be had when in the Southwest.

I don't usually do doctored. Tried and true works for me, time and again. Tried and true is authentic. Authentic works because it was right to begin with.

But adventure awaited me. Adventure and the foul-mouthed, loudly-spouting-off, not-so-gentlemanly guy sitting at the next table, far too close to mine, with his maybe girlfriend.

This guy overheard -- how could he not, he was sitting mere inches from me -- my questions to my server regarding this particular libation. He promptly and "strongly" interjected his unsolicited recommendation for this doctored version of a margarita. [Insert translation for "strongly": some inappropriately foul language, applied in this particular case to positively endorse this particular libation.]

This individual didn't skip a beat in using foul language both negatively and positively, based on what I couldn't help but to overhear, as he broadcasted his own conversation to nearest half dozen tables. Annoying.

It was probably just an indication of a limited vernacular. But I digress.

Regardless of, or in spite of, the interjection, I had already made up my mind. I would try the Father Kino Margarita.

There it is, in all its glory. Muddled fresh cilantro and cucumber. Chili on the rim. 

I expected this to light a fire inside of me. It did not. It was more cool and crisp than hot and spicy. Maybe there was a bit of warmth when drinking from the chili-laced rim, but not a lot. 

Very unfortunately, it was very light on the tequila. When the cilantro comes across prominently, but I can't find much tequila, my margarita isn't much of a margarita. It's more like limey cilantro.

Very unfortunate. This is why I prefer to stick to authentic.

Then again, it was happy hour. Are all happy hour drinks made weaker than the full price versions? I might have to embark on a scientific study of this some time.

To add to this, the drink delivery was slow, arriving mere moments before my food.

Food? Oh, right. The food.

In order to order food, I needed to examine the menu. And this menu was noteworthy.

You probably can't see it in the picture above, but right below PASCO are the hours of operation. And right below those is a key that identifies which menu items can be made gluten-free and which items can be made vegetarian.

Perfect. I immediately browsed for the gluten-free items. There seemed to be slightly more vegetarian options than gluten-free, but there were still plenty of gluten-free options for me to find something that sounded good.

I ordered the Vegetable Enchiladas with added Chicken, gluten-free.

From the menu: Vegetable Enchiladas with Oaxaca Cheese & Salsa Verde with added Chicken. Roasted Green Chili Crema Salsa, Summer Squash, Spanish Rice and Veggies, Refried Beans, Cilantro, and Pico de Gallo.

Immediately upon having the food set in front of me, it was obvious that the food was very fresh. Nothing had been sitting around under a heat lamp. The refried beans didn't have a crust across the top. Nice!

Each thing had very nice flavors, crisp and distinct from each other. Not muddled together. The refried beans had a very unique flavor that I could not place. Different. Interesting.

My only criticism of the food was that it was not cheesy enough. I should be clear that I like cheese. Of almost any kind. And a lot of it. So when I order enchiladas, I'm expecting plenty of cheese. These did not come with enough cheese for me. What there was of it was good, very good. It just needed more.

Always more cheese.

The food was very good over all. Good flavors. Nice portion size, which actually means that it was much smaller than any common Mexican restaurant. But this is no Mexican restaurant. This is a straight-from-the-farm-to-the-table restaurant.

Unfortunately, the service was slow. I've read some reviews and the service was mentioned more than once.

I enjoyed my farm-fresh dinner, in spite of the next-table neighbor and the doctored margarita and the slow service. I was able to eat outside and the weather was fantastic! I was even treated to a great sunset, albeit somewhat obscured by the trees.

Yes! Trees. Trees in the desert!

I would recommend Pasco for the food, but maybe stick to the regular margarita and don't be in a rush. And definitely sit outside if the weather is tolerable.

Farm fresh food in the desert is good!

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