A Weekend in State Forty-Eight

This weekend we did a mini trip to Arizona. The main event was to see UCLA play against University of Arizona in Tucson. But we were also celebrating my mom’s birthday!

Friday

We left Cali Friday morning, driving into some rain. For those not from the west coast, rain in September isn’t normal, but always welcomed.

We were pretty set on just getting to Arizona in one go, stopping for a bathroom break and to refill on gas. I recently bought a car, a 2016 Honda Civic Touring and let me tell you, it has been a dream driving it. (Coming from driving at 2003 Honda Civic.)

After arriving in Chandler, AZ, we dropped our stuff off at the place we were staying and then headed to the local casino called Gila River Hotel & Casino. They had a very nice lobby and casino area where I lost $10 and then won it back again. (For me, coming out even is winning when it comes to gambling.)

We came across this little gift shop and cafe upstairs, accessible by stairs or escalator. And OMG this cafe. It had some of the most beautiful pastries. There were these mini chocolate cakes decorated with flowers and shimmering with glitter. And these cute strawberry shortcake cakes. And carrot cakes. Cannolis. Just so much to look at and take in.

Since we were going to have dinner in a few hours, I settled on an almond croissant, some apple slices, and an iced chai tea latte. We sat near the window, overlooking a nice water feature down below and the white puffy clouds above.

We hung out for a bit, taking a chance to relax from the drive and then took a walk around the casino.

When we were ready for dinner, we walked over to Downtown Chandler where there’s a selection of restaurants and gift shops. We chose a brewery called San Tan and after being told it was to be a 45 min wait, decided to browse through a nearby gift shop.

After only 10 minutes, our table was ready and we headed over. I ordered the house lager, which reminded me of an 805 and had onion rings and the pulled pork sandwich. It hit the spot!

I had a little bit of a sweet tooth after dinner so we stopped by this new-ish ice cream place called Screamery, which makes homemade ice cream. I taste-tested the banana cream pie and I was sold! Promptly ordered a scoop of that and tried to enjoy it as long as I could.

The walk back was pleasant and warm. I was pretty set to just kick back and knock out, which I did.

Saturday

Started the morning off with breakfast on the brain. We walked back to downtown Chandler and ate at a restaurant called Downtown Chandler Cafe and Bakery. I ordered the French toast platter and was not disappointed. Holy moly, those French toast pieces were huge! I only wished I had more syrup (see the little cup it came in).

After breakfast we headed toward the outlets, which are also by the casino we went to on Friday. They are outdoors, so be weary if you decided to go during one of those hot summer months.

But there’s a good selection of stores that strongly reminded me of the outdoor outlets in Vegas.

A couple of hours later, we decided to head back and get ready for the game.

After a snack and a nap, we made our hour and a half drive to Tucson where the University of Arizona is located.

For dinner, we went to a restaurant that was recommended to us by my dad’s coworker called Cafe Poca Cosa.

And let me tell you, there is no small thing about this restaurant.

For one thing, the menu changes every day. Every. Day. So the waiters have to remember a new detailed description of each dish every day. And there are like, 10 dishes to choose from. I was impressed. Literally, my jaw was dropping throughout this whole meal, starting with the delish margarita I ordered. Can’t remember what was in it, but believe me, it was the best I ever had. 

I’m a sucker for molé, so if it’s on the menu, you better bet I’m ordering it. This dish had two types of molé: a red, more spicy version, and the darker, more sweet version. Both were out of this world but I had to go with the sweeter molé. This also came with corn tortillas, rice and beans. And can we take a moment to appreciate this presentation?! Amazing! 

After this spectacular dinner, I found out that Tucson had their own Screamery, so we headed there for dessert. This time I ordered a flavor called Game Day: A chocolate based ice cream, infused with Guinness beer, mixed with chocolate covered pretzels. Guys, I was in heaven. My tolerance for chocolate-y things has gone down over the years; after a few bites, I have to stop from a chocolate overload. But this was an easy, breezy chocolate-y flavor and it made me feel so happy and comforted. It was the perfect end to dinner. 

BUT not the end of the night! Because we still had a football game to get to!

I have to admit, I respect the U of A fans: they really know how to show up for their team. (Which is true of most out of state teams, but this was my first time being a visitor.)

I enjoyed their band’s half time show: Hella Good by No Doubt. Their stand tunes were also fun, one of them being the theme from Avengers!

But it was also fun being the underdog fan in the audience. And let me tell you, there really was just a handful of us rooting for UCLA. 

After a grueling but close game, the Bruins unfortunately lost to the Wildcats, 20-17. 

At least it wasn’t a runaway game. 

Sunday

We were focused on getting on the road home back to California, but before we left, we went back to Downtown Chandler Cafe and Bakery. This time I ordered the chilaquiles. Just let the picture on the right speak for itself. 

We had a six hour drive back home but I had just enough time to put the finishing touches on this post.

This was a fun short rip, with lots of yummy food. Next time I’m in Arizona, I would like to check out the hiking spots and enjoy the desert scenery. Leave a comment for any must-do hiking trails (or food spots) please!

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