The Arizona Inn is located at 2200 E. Elm Street in Tucson. For more information, call 520-325-1541 or visit www.arizonainn.com.
© Edward McCain
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Inn StyleIf the cliché "some things never change" has an appropriate place in Arizona, it's the Arizona Inn. Tucson's landmark hotel has been offering the same classic fare and vintage style for eight decades, and that's a good thing.
By Bruce Itule
Tucson In 1953, the Arizona Inn dinner menu featured fresh filet of English sole, baby lobster, Louisiana jumbo frog legs, roast turkey, prime rib and poached eggs on ham. Not much has changed at the Tucson landmark, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today's dinner menu includes Chilean sea bass, Scottish salmon, bouillabaisse, Colorado lamb chops, and a weekly tasting entrée in which executive chef Odell Baskerville says he and his staff can "show creativity."
The Arizona Inn is no eat-and-run joint. Stay long enough to dine in the AAA Four Diamond Main Dining Room, Catlin Room, or the Audubon Bar at the swimming pool, or one of the special-occasion rooms. Stay long enough to savor the history of this family owned inn, which has been managed and restored by generations of the Greenway family. And listen to the wood floors, even those covered by carpet. They creak. Oh, the stories they could tell.
The real story started in 1922 when Isabella Greenway came to Arizona with her second husband, John Campbell Greenway. Four years later, John died, and Isabella — also a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and later Arizona's first U.S. congresswoman — was once again a widow.
She initially opened The Arizona Hut furniture factory in downtown Tucson. After the 1929 stock market crash, Greenway built the Arizona Inn in a desert area northeast of downtown, in part to create demand for Hut furniture.
The inn opened on December 18, 1930, and people who made the bumpy, out-of-town ride were treated to country inn hospitality for about $12 a night. Those who make the paved, urban drive today pay more, but the hospitality remains. Isabella's granddaughter, Patty Doar, and Doar's son, Will Conroy, run the place.
"People have memories here," Doar says. "They were married here. They brought their children here. We want to keep their memories connected to a place that doesn't change."
Original Hut tables and ladder-back chairs are still used in the dining rooms, which offer breakfast, lunch and dinner on white tablecloths and china. Coffee comes in a cup, not a mug. Iced tea includes a lemon wedge and a fresh mint leaf.
The mint isn't grown at the inn, but "a lot of the time it comes from my garden at home," Baskerville says.
The breakfast menu offers omelets, smoked salmon, crepes and blue-corn pancakes. A hint: Order the freshly baked Arizona Inn banana bread with anything. It's that good.
At lunch there's the Arizona Inn cheeseburger and also duck confit, grilled shrimp, tuna-steak sandwich and crab cakes. Baskerville says that at lunch or any other time his staff is accommodating. "We have regular guests, and we know what they like."