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.

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