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Olive R Twist


After reading our review on the Fort Lowell Depot, a reader wrote in to suggest that we might find what we were looking for at a place called Olive R' Twist. Despite the silly name, we decided it couldn't hurt to try it on for size and paid them a visit on a recent weekend night. What we found was a sprawling establishment that mostly delivers what a goliard needs from a hangout spot. 

Centrally located on east Speedway, Twist is spacious with multiple rooms, a large outside patio, a diverse menu featuring burgers, deli sandwiches, salads, loaded potatoes and bread bowl soups. Most importantly, they also feature
NTN Trivia, 30 TVs, and 20 or so beers on tap, many of which are local microbrews like Nimbus Palo Verde Pale and Gentle Ben's Blonde or tasty favorites like Red Hook IPA. The beer tasted fresh and cold, the service was friendly and prompt and the food pretty good. Granted this was only one visit, but the place had a pleasant feel to it and despite a full parking lot and several tables of people sucking in smoke while their spouses choked down some dinner, the air was circulating and not too stifling. 

What exactly is the law on smoking and food by the way?
One of the things that has always made serving time in Tucson worthwhile was the chance to sit outside on a perfect spring evening, sipping cool malted beverages and breathing in the orange blossoms and jasmine scents that permeate the air, especially during March and April in so many parts of town. Even without citrus trees in the near vicinity, the perfect temperatures, ruffling breezes, and glittering stars make patio sitting in the vernal months one of the Old Pueblo’s simple pleasures. It can almost make the winter snowbird traffic and the summer’s baking heat seem worth it. We remember not all that long ago when a good recipe for a perfect night’s sleep used to be to take a post prandial down 3rd street to the UA campus (both of which are lined with orange and tangerine trees), swing back past Bob Dobbs, tie the dog to the fence with a bowl of water, grab a pint and head out to the patio where you could throw your feet up on a table and ponder the fact that the perfect weather would be gone soon enough. We say used to be, because the law changed a few years ago and now the patios at places like Dobbs or Chuy's have become unpleasant smoky outposts. Yet while these places claim it's illegal to have smoking sections where they are serving food, most other establishments we walk into seem to be just as thick with smoke as before. Many Tucsonan's want to smoke obviously and don't particularly care if the rest of us smoke right along with them but it seems ironic that the places where we enjoyed sitting outside in the past seem to be enforcing the rules and driving the smokers out to join us and befoul the evening air and the places where we would want to sit inside to play trivia or watch a ball game are ignoring the ordinance all together. Up the road, the city of Tempe, by the way, passed a proposition a couple years back that bans smoking in all public buildings which may be another reason that it suddenly seems like an attractive destination.

This reminds us of another situation we encountered recently where a goliard staffer was plugging in a wad of chaw and some cow passing by with a lit cigarette in her hand felt it necessary to offer an opinion. 

"Ew that's gross." She said.

Gross it may be but it seems to us that until chewers start walking up to strangers and spitting juice all over their clothes and in their hair and eyes and in their food to the point where they are drenching all other patrons with brown expectorant, there is simply no comparison. Everyone in a room knows immediately when somebody lights up a putrid ciggy and is reminded of it for the rest of the night by the stench on their clothes that then accompanies them to all subsequent social engagements. If somebody had been peacefully chewing a wad of Bourbon soaked apple backy instead, most people wouldn't have even noticed and certainly would have nothing to complain about unless said chewer had come up and sloshed a spit cup in their face or something. Why people feel it's their right to foul up the air others have to breath has always escaped us but it's the American way apparently. Except in California and now Tempe.

Anyway, none of that has much to do with Olive R Twist even though they apparently do allow smoking and serve food at the same time which seems in open defiance of the law. It didn't effect us much however as we tried a loaded potato, a chicken philly, a side salad, the fries and several different draught ales. Despite this relatively small sample of the menu, everything was tasty and passable with the only disappointment being for one of us that they didn't offer anything for desert. All in all, the experience was a vast improvement over The Depot, with the beer selection, good service, and relatively fresh air making a return visit a no brainer. We'll add to the report if necessary as more information becomes available but as far as first impressions go, Olive R Twist's seems to have some good things going for it.

Olive R Twist
4915 East Speedway Blvd.
Tucson AZ 85712
(520) 319-8955

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