Innovative farm-to-table cuisine in Tucson
When Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort was rescued from decline, the new owners’ goal was not only to revamp the historic desert property, but also to build a standalone restaurant that featured innovative cuisine and an extensive wine list. Judging by its accolades and the 16 years of Wine Spectator awards, The Grill at Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort has more than met the goal.
Today, executive chef Bruce Yim, a James Beard House honoree, steers The Grill as well as the resort’s casual Terraza Garden Patio & Lounge. His background includes stints at 21 Club in New York, Harry’s Bar in Venice and Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio in San Francisco, so the chef is no stranger to top-of-the-line dining.
Hacienda Del Sol was once a girls’ boarding school, and fittingly, The Grill rises in the spot that once housed the school cafeteria. Don’t look for lunch ladies, though. The elegant adobe-style building features high, wood-beamed ceilings, richly carved furnishings and Oriental-style carpeting.
Large windows on the north and west sides capture views of the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains, a golf course and, at the end of the day, sunsets and city lights. Tables near the entrance offer peeks into the exhibition kitchen.
The Tucson restaurant has been at the fore of the farm-to-table movement, buying from local purveyors and growers and long ago establishing a sizable chef’s garden on property in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Weil, the noted health guru. The organic garden produces everything from arugula to zucchini, while dozens of citrus trees dotting the resort property yield oranges, grapefruit, lemons and more.
The Grill has made a point of sourcing such items as heritage beans from Native Seeds/SEARCH, an Arizona nonprofit that champions traditional Southwest and Mexican crops; cornmeal and barley from local Hayden Flour Mills; and honey from a nearby apiary.
The menu changes seasonally, but starters can include corn scallion cakes drizzled with buttermilk dressing, or pan-seared foie gras accompanied by brown butter brioche and a chunk of local honeycomb.
Entrées run the gamut from ancient barley risotto, flecked with heirloom tomatoes and acorn squash, to pork belly served with grilled lemon, Swiss chard and heirloom beans. For something seemingly daring, the sous vide chicken comes with a “rattlesnake egg” (a shrimp- and cheese-stuffed chile). Steaks, fish and lamb round out the offerings.
Sweet treats are also locally inspired. A Mexican chocolate cake comes with housemade tequila ice cream, while the fresh fig tart is topped with a dollop of rosemary whipped cream (figs and rosemary are common in desert gardens).
The Wine and Drinks
With more than 700 selections available, The Grill’s wine program is one of the best in the state. You’ll find selections from Argentina to New Zealand and everywhere in between, plus an impressive array of local vintages culled from Arizona’s three distinct wine regions.
If you’re not into vino, the full bar has you covered, providing local, national and international craft beers, and signature cocktails like the chipotle-cilantro margarita or the original recipe Manhattan.
The Grill boasts a team of sommeliers who are more than happy to answer questions or recommend the right wine with each course. The low-key, friendly servers also know their food, sampling each dish with every new menu introduction and having regularly attended staff-training sessions.
Water glasses are refilled, plates are cleared and new silverware appears as if by magic.