What Happened to Commoner & Co?

Sad to say the last time Mr. Sunny was home for the weekend (he works away from Tucson) we had two less than stellar experiences. I wanted to wait a little before I shared so I could be a bit more objective and less Debbie Downer. Today I’ll talk about Commoner & Co and maybe next time I’ll bring myself to tell you about the other disappointment.

trout at commoner
When we came out to Tucson for our house-hunting experience in June 2016 we “discovered” Commoner and Co on Sunrise and Kolb and we were wowed with the entire experience. From the friendly greeting to the top notch service to the ah-maz-ing real Southern fried chicken we were thrilled. We talked over our craft cocktails about this being our new favorite go-to once we moved.

Sadly, since then the service has taken a dive and the food is mediocre at best. The cocktails are hit or miss. This has been a slow decline and I’ve been holding a candle for them to turn it around for at least a year. Harboring the hope that we would be pleasantly surprised I charmed Mr. Sunny into heading over to Commoner on a recent Friday night.

We noted that the side porch was closed off and the dining room, while filling up, was not packed. The bar was full and the greeter told us we’d enjoy the dining room although we were leaning toward the bar area.

Our server was a pleasant young woman with a smile who took our drink orders and returned within a few minutes with them. No problems there and I was hopeful for a great meal.

I ordered the trout special and Mr. Sunny ordered “The Suit,” the Commoner’s name for a hamburger and fries. Mr. Sunny is a simple guy and always gets a plain burger, cooked Medium to Medium well with nothing on it except bacon. No mayo. No ketchup. No tomatoes….you get the picture.

Bread was served and finished quickly and when asked if we wanted more, we agreed that would be perfect. It never came.

The entrees were delivered in a reasonable time frame and my trout was fine but a bit salty and dry. As though it had been pre-cooked and then reheated. It wasn’t awful and although it wasn’t as innovative as I’d hoped it would be based on it’s delicious description I was happy to eat it. Mr. Sunny’s burger arrived with cold fries. As though they’d been on someone else’s plate, returned to the kitchen and then shifted to his as his burger was plated. The server came around to check on us about 5 minutes after the food’s arrival and we requested hot fries. She offered to just bring more fries but we asked that the meal be replated with fresh fries.

Fresh fries arrived and Mr. Sunny cut into his burger which was a perfect example of medium rare. This was a burger I probably would have loved (lots of red juice and a red middle) but definitely not a medium to medium well cook. Look, I hear that chef’s aren’t fond of cooking meat until it looks like shoe leather (and I feel that way too) but the man likes his burger to look like it’s not mooing.

We couldn’t find our server so we motioned to the — expediter? floor manager? person walking around the dining room filling water…and told her the burger needed to be re-fired. By now, I’ve been eating my trout without complaint, we’ve noted that we never received that refill of bread and I’m both frustrated and embarrassed by the whole situation. I don’t really like to cause a scene and have issues with asking for what I need, so this was a great opportunity to support Mr. Sunny as he asked for what he wanted (and was going to pay for). Sadly I realized this would likely be our last trip to Commoner, my high hopes had been shattered.

Eventually the burger returned with fresh fries and I waited as Mr Sunny ate half the burger and took the remaining portion home for the dog.

When it finally came the burger was fine. Our server was pleasant and did her best to accommodate our requests for the meal to be prepared as requested. Commoner comped the burger and we tipped based on what would have been the full amount of the meal. Still, with so many innovative and customer-obsessed options in town we won’t be spending time or money here for a long time to come.

Commoner and Co is located at 6960 E. Sunrise Drive. Call for hours, it’s often closed when you expect it will be open.

Lunch Bunch at The Dutch

It’s really cozy and industrial inside The Dutch Eatery and Refuge. What’s that? You say the two things don’t go together. You’re wrong.

Arriving about 30 minutes early, I was greeted by a positively fun young woman and shown to our table. Although the website states you’ll need your entire party to be present before seating, it wasn’t crowded at opening and our table for 10 was pre-set in the center of the restaurant. The tables are rustic and the chairs are solid and hard to slide in and out, which I’m guessing would be perfect if you had little ones along for your meal.


The menu is a perfect mix of specials, sandwiches and breakfast – but it’s not overwhelming. Which is good considering the kitchen appears to be just what you see at the end of the above picture.

Just behind the kitchen is a pot-washing spot and down the hall a bit you’ll find the restrooms. There were stairs leading up above the large refrigerated room (for their extensive craft beers) but since it included a steel, spiral stairway my guess is that there is no food coming down from there.

I opted for Uitmijiter, aka the Dutch Breakfast and although I also wanted the Poffertjes (Dutch Pancakes which sounded a great deal like Swedish pancakes – a family favorite) and the Patat Oorlog (war fries) — why are they war fries? Would you go to war for the fries?

I was very happy with my selection. The eggs were over medium piled on top of thinly sliced ham and multigrain bread. (My bread didn’t seem toasted, which was okay with me, but if you prefer toast, you might want to specify that.) All this was topped with seriously fresh tomatoes (where do they get them?!) and melted cheese. I managed to eat a third of the meal and brought the rest home. (by the way, the leftovers were awesome warmed up on the grill on a sheet of aluminum foil).


Here are just a couple of other meals ordered by my table- mates.

On the left, the Breakfast Flatbread with salmon, avocado and herbed cheese, and on the right the Cubano Sandwich loaded with pork, ham gruyere and pickles.

All the portions were oversized and every person in our group was happy with their selection.

Having only eaten a third of my meal I had plenty of room for dessert. Which was a problem because once again I wanted one of everything.  I opted for the Authentic Stroopwafels which came with a side of ice cream. They were warm from the … what does one make a stroopwafel in? A stroopwafel maker? Anyway they were warm, appropriately gooey in the center and the powdered sugar was literally melting into the waffle grooves. Others at the table ordered the Caramelized French Toast Ice Cream sandwich. (OMG! so good) and The Dutch Apple Pie, complete with a shortbread like crust and raisins. I did have a taste of each and I can assure you that any one of those options is the right choice. (Yes, that’s a piece of caramelized french toast on top of my stroopwafel).

Top off the meal with the fact that the service was stellar, the decor was delightful and Turner Classic Movies was playing North by Northwest on the bar TV and I can assure you I’m looking forward to another trip to The Dutch Tucson!

The Dutch Tucson is located in Main Gate Square 943 E. University Blvd. (right by the streetcar stop and across from the UofA campus)
Check out the seasonal menu on their website.

Open M-F 10 am til and Saturday and Sunday from 8am until late.

Parking can be a bit iffy in the area – there are meters nearby and the restaurant validates the Tyndall parking lot after 5pm.




Arizona Biennial 2018 at TMA

Why haven’t I been here yet? That was my first thought when I walked in on a rainy Sunday.

Tucson locals have been recommending a trip to TMA for as long as I have lived here and for one reason or another I hadn’t gone. Maybe I didn’t want to pay the $12 admission (for adults, it’s less for kids, seniors and students)? I know, I know, I’ve been spoiled in DC with all their free museums! Maybe I was worried that parking would be difficult? It’s not, in fact, on Sunday street parking is free and if you get there early, like I did, there are dozens of open spots less than a block from the lower entrance – added bonus, I parked next to the Old Town Artisans building so I could have lunch and shopping after my time in the museum.


I owe big thanks to Tucson Weekly  and Margaret Regan’s July 12 cover story, “From Ordinary to Transcendent” for getting me to the Museum. I was drawn immediately to their cover photo of Papay Solomon’s self-portrait.

As Regan states, “It’s a beautifully rendered oil of his face in close-up, but something is off: a turban wrapped around his head is punctured with holes. Peek into the holes and you’ll see yourself in a mirror behind the canvas.”

It’s truly a powerful piece and no photo can adequately capture the detail and the depth of feeling as you merge into the painting – seeing yourself in the mirror in the turban.


Solomon’s painting is one of the 85 pieces in the Arizona Biennial 2018 exhibit. There are 70 artists from across Arizona and 37 Tucson artists, represented in this juried exhibition. “Guest curator Rebecca R. Hart, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum, culled the winners from 1,507 entries,” states Regan.

I’m only sad that I missed the performance piece, “Mansplaining Help Desk.”!


I was particularly moved by Christopher Jagmin’s piece, “I Will Sleep Tonight.” created with a label maker and black push pins. As someone who has had my share of sleepless  nights, brought on by own nocturnal worries, this piece captured that sense exactly.

The color and detail in Bill Dambrova’s “You Are The Next to be Eaten,” a mixed media on canvas piece really caught my attention.

The texture and the depth of feeling in “Cloth” by Kareem Ferreira, had my attention for a good 15 minutes before I was able to move on.

To be honest, I was moved by nearly every piece in the show.  Some photograph better than others but all are worth seeing and experiencing for yourself.

Have you been to see this exhibit  yet? What are your favorites?



Arizona Biennial 2018 is at the TMA through 9/16.
TMA is located 140 N. Main Ave. 10am-5pm Tuesday through Sunday.
First Thursdays hours extended 5-8pm
$12 adults; $10 seniors 65+; $7 college students and kids 13-17; free for kids under 12, veterans and members.
First Thursdays are free to all from 5-8. Free for Arizona and Sonora residents on 2nd Sunday of the month from 10am – 5pm.
TMA Website

Bye-Bye 30


Before I left Virginia I weighed 35 pounds more than I do today. I’m not saying that to imply that simply moving to Tucson was a magic elixir that melted away that weight.

The connection exists though.

Although I had long dreamed of moving to Tucson (the mountain,she called to me) when the time finally came I froze. I’d spent 30 something years in the DC metro area and everything I knew was there. There were so many memories there that it was hard to imagine a life where I had to start over – mountain notwithstanding.

Mr. Sunny pointed out that we’d made a commitment to ourselves and it was time to choose to stick to it. He had a point. I did my part to pack and sell and get in the car with a dog (he took the other in his car) and drive out here.

That was the big choice.

To stay put where it was comfortable – surrounded by the people and places I knew or to pack it up and head out to live a dream.

When it came time to face my health and vanity I knew I had to make some choices and I could hang out with the excuses and the comfort in being uncomfortable in my body or I could choose another option.

A year into life here in Tucson and I chose something different. (It took nearly that long to face and reject my excuses.) I reminded myself that I could do hard things and that I could choose a different lifestyle.

Still, I wanted to eat what I wanted and more or less when I wanted. I needed the flexibility to go out to all the amazing restaurants and bars that Tucson has to offer without feeling guilty or “bad” for eating out.I did my research and found a lifestyle that works for me and I’ve made new and different choices along the way.

Mostly I choose to save my points for wine 🙂 but I still get to choose.

One of the things I most want to share here are the ways you can enjoy all the food and drink offered in The Old Pueblo even if you’re trying to keep your figure.

I’m excited to share the journey as I maintain my current weight no matter where I go or what I eat!

Javelina Leap Winery & Cafe

One of the things I miss the most about Northern Virginia is the plethora of accessible wineries. They are plentiful and set up in a such a way that everyone can head out to a winery or two and make a day of it.

Hubby and I loved to while away a Sunday sitting on the porch of  a favorite winery and listen to the live music while looking out over acres of vines and horse farms.  Not a bad life.

While there aren’t as many wineries around Tucson as there are in Northern Virginia, we’ve managed to find some favorites. Our idea of a good winery day is a place where you can kick back and relax, drink great wine and nibble on snacks with good friends. Of course a view is pretty nice too.

Javelina Leap is one of our favorites – our only complaint is that it’s all the way up in Cornville so we don’t get there as often as we like.

I’m a fan of dry red wine and Javelina Leap has plenty of them to make me happy. In fact, after my tasting I had a hard time deciding what wine I wanted to bring home! On our recent visit some of my favorites were Sangiovese,  Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Tempranillo.

The white wine drinkers in our group were pleased with the Sauvignon Blanc.

The tasting room is spacious enough for a few large parties to stand around the bar and the back event room has seating for groups up to 50. (I’m guestimating, you’ll have to call them to find out the exact specs). The property is well-decorated and comfy – just the kind of place we like to hang out with friends and family. Now, if only they’d have live music we’d be set.

To learn more about Javelina Leap, their wines and banquet space,  check out their website here.


As a girl growing up in New Jersey I was intrigued by stories of the “wild west.” I wondered what it would be like to walk through the desert and step into old mining towns. I read books and watched TV shows and movies that featured the mysterious landscape of saguaros and rattlesnakes.

Those young imaginings certainly played a part in getting me to Tucson many years later. I’m still intrigued and captivated by all the desert has to offer.

It’s no wonder then that I couldn’t wait to make a day trip to Tombstone and learn about the history of the OK Corral and the storied gunfight that took place there.

I’d been warned that Tombstone was “touristy” and sort of old-fashioned. However the people warning me had no idea it sounded like my perfect jaunt. I’m all for modern technology and new ways of learning, but there is always a part of me that yearns for the simplicity of my childhood. Soul-searching requires a bit of the new mixed in with nostalgia and memories, right?

My honey and I took off for Tombstone from Tucson on a recent Saturday and I was practically bouncing in my seat the whole way there. It was a pretty drive, through some wide open spaces and I spent some time imagining what it was like before modern roads and cars. What would it have been like to travel by horse or foot that distance? What would encourage a person to venture their way out to the dry and dusty town of Tombstone?

Upon arrival we picked up a tourist map and plotted our day. I couldn’t wait to participate in the theatrical re-enactment of the famous gunfight.  We bought our tickets to the show and got to see the amazing Historama in the theater in the middle of town.

Let me tell you – do NOT miss this! If you’re into nostalgia, like to learn about history and have a great sense of humor, you will love this brief tour of the history of Tombstone, narrated by none other than Vincent Price. I’m not gonna lie, this was possibly my favorite part of the day. (and not just because the theater was air conditioned and it was a brutally hot and somewhat humid day)

The audience was full of energy and willing to participate in the outdoor show re-enacting the 30 second shootout between the Lawmen and the Cowboys – made famous in movies starring the likes of Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott.

ok corral gunfight With our tickets we also were able to visit the photo shop of C.S. Fly and read about the history of the town, with photographs of the people in and around town, and visit the stables and other buildings with facts and information about the time period.

Not only that – but we got a free copy of the Tombstone Epitaph Newspaper with the reports from the gunfight. (super cool, especially for this journalism junkie!)

Overall this was a great day trip and one I’d highly recommend to out-of-towners and locals alike. In fact, I can’t wait to head back there soon!

Want to plan your trip to Tombstone? Check out the OK Corral Website here.

Hotel Congress – Midweek Lunch

We took a jaunt downtown to get a feel for the area and to finally visit the historic Hotel Congress.

I’m a sucker for old hotels, may be a throw back to my years in hospitality sales and marketing – I’d love to go see the old properties that had been abandoned and were in the midst of major renovations. Such a cool sense of “if these walls could talk” you know?

There always seems to be some energy hanging around in old buildings and Hotel Congress is no different. Do I think it’s haunted? No idea. But like I said, old buildings, with old furnishings pique my imagination and being so close to Halloween, I wasn’t against imagining the building in an earlier time, filled with visitors passing through Tucson via the train that stops across the street.

Alas, there were no ghosts to be found in the Cup Cafe during lunch. Which is fine since I had no desire to share my Rachel sandwich!

The Space


Before I tell you about my meal let me share a bit about the ambience in the Cafe. Despite the modern touches – metal shelves behind the bar with a nice rusty patina, and the super cool wine bottle chandeliers, you can still feel the bones of the Hotel Congress Cafe as it stood in the 1940s. The space is actually two separate rooms, with a step down in between. When you walk in you get to ogle the pie and dessert case that is filled with temptation. The dining is space is tight, definitely not where I’d go for a romantic tete a tete, but perfect to get a feel for the variety of patrons that frequent this landmark.

Oh, and don’t forget to look down that delightful copper penny floor that made it’s debut around 2005.

The Food


I’m a quest for the best pastrami every where I go and I was not disappointed at Hotel Congress.

The Rachel is described on the menu as “house-cured pastrami, Gruyere cheese, pepper slaw and Russian dressing on marble rye.” What they don’t tell you is that that whatever they’re doing to cure their pastrami is like a bit of magic that comes from a smoker. This was one of the best tasting pastrami sandwiches I’ve ever had – and I grew up in Jersey, spending plenty of time in New York City’s delis

The fries were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and seasoned perfectly.

The only thing I’d do differently is order a Bloody Mary the next time I’m there. I watched the bartender make a few and I was sorry that I stuck to water. But there’s always next time!

The Hotel Congress is located at 311 E Congress Street, Tucson 85701

The Cup Cafe opens at 7am and prices range from $5.00 – $14.00 for breakfast and lunch.

What’s your favorite thing about Hotel Congress? I’d love to hear.

Why It’s Always Sunny in Tucson?

Or Why I started WIASIT.

I have wanted to live in Tucson since the late 90s when I made my first trip from DC to Tucson for a convention.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. A Jersey-born girl in the desert? An East coast lover through and through, I was smitten as my cab pulled into the Foothills and I haven’t looked back since.

It’s been a journey to get here, but this past August my hubby, two pups and I pulled into our garage and started life over in Tucson.

Before arriving for good, we’ve visited many times and each time I’ve found something new to love – from food, to history, to the pure beauty of the landscape. Never mind the hiking, the wildlife and the expansiveness of a city like Tucson.

This blog is my love letter to my new city.

In it you’ll find Events & News, Food & Drink reviews and opinions, Lifestyle and Community announcements, Information for Pets and their owners and of course conversations with people who make Tucson their home.

Although I’m calling it a love letter, don’t expect this to be a place where I pander to the status quo. I know full well how hard it can be to break into the established mindset of Tusconans. That’s not a bad thing, but I will cast an eye on how “old” and “new” Tucson can play well together.

Above all, I want this to be a place where locals and visitors can have a good time, get to know each other and learn something new about this jewel of the southwest.