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There's real Arizona history here, with black booths that once seated stars like Billy Martin, Harry Caray, John McNamara and Stan Musial. The jerseys on the walls are from the greatest players, autographed by the best, and hung alongside World Series-issue bats signed by modern-day teams.
There's also welcome value at lunch and dinner: The Pink Pony Special, a hefty sirloin steak complete with soup or salad, baked or French fried potatoes or rice pilaf, hot biscuits and honey, is just $15. Main courses remind us of Sunday dinner at Grandma's: golden pan-fried chicken, genuine calf's liver with bacon and onion, and -- for a fancy treat -- prime rib or barbecued pork ribs.
When you want to remember old-time Arizona, ride on over to the Pink Pony.
The menu offers some notable Mediterranean-influenced favorites: jumbo shrimp slicked in a delightfully wicked lemon-habanero glaze, teamed with glazed mushrooms and roasted pancetta sauce; or ravioli stuffed with ample butter-braised lobster and caramelized shallots in a ghostly rich beurre blanc. Fish, too, is fantastic, such as buttery Coast Chilean sea bass sided with cranberry beans, pequillo peppers and a smoked bacon-lobster jus. Still, in this setting, food is almost an afterthought. Surrounded by such natural, pure Arizona beauty, even cardboard would taste good.
Originally a seafood restaurant, the property wraps around a Disney-style "pier" overlooking an "ocean" that's more blue-painted concrete moat than splashing shore. Thick, tall stucco walls seclude the patio in a cozy, quiet courtyard decorated with wagon wheels, hanging chiles and a fountain.
It's a fine, fair-weather spot to kick back and sip on a major margarita and enjoy specialty dishes like Santa Fe duck ravioli (crispy chipotle pasta with smoked duck and Brie cream sauce), carne adovada or a searingly spicy habanero cheeseburger (with a free glass of milk to extinguish the flames). For a comfortable price -- about $8 at lunch, $15 at dinner -- and a laid-back outdoor experience, park it at Carlsbad Tavern.
Once we're stuffed, we summon strength for a quick shopping spree through this wood-floored, cottage-decorated eatery, filling our bags with cozy antique knickknacks. Then, it's home for a nice, long nap.
For breakfast, Kiss the Cook smacks of the best.
Marquesa is definitely the best of the brunch bunch.
This place has excellent bar food, most items priced at less than $6. Onion soup is a smooth starter, the beefy, not-too-sweet broth buried under mounds of soft, hot provolone. A cheese steak is terrific, too, packed with quality, lacy-thin beef and buckets of melted provolone on a soft hoagie roll that's been grilled to a wonderful crust.
Ah, now that's what we need to cure those big boss blues.
An early arrival is well worth it. (The cafe opens at 7:30 a.m., and breakfast, by the way, is served all day.) Service is quick and the menu complete -- from complimentary chips and salsa, through à la carte regulars such as tacos, burros and tostadas and combination plates with treats such as beef machaca. Drink refills arrive before you even ask, and if you're lucky, Mary Rose herself will bring your meal to the table.
Now that's what we call a good public servant!