Archive for the Restaurants Category

NSX Visitors, TLX Video, & a Gas Station Called The Thumb

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants, TLX, Vehicle Reviews on October 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  72,211

You know when you’re at Chili’s and someone orders chicken fajitas that come out from the kitchen steaming sizzling and evoke interest from jealous onlookers at other tables?  That’s called the “fajita effect,” at least according to my friend John who was visiting from North Carolina this past week.  John was one of a few of my friends who joined for an evening at one of the American middle class’s favorite chain restaurants.  Since John was in his red 2000 NSX, my house that night looked a bit like an Acura dealership.  The other cars you see here are a loaner 2018 TLX, my friend Jack’s 2006 RSX, and my 2013 ILX.  Another friend commented, “All your exes (X’s) are home.”

John was in the middle of a monumental 8,000-mile road trip from coast to coast, and back.  He started out in NC around September 10 and made his way to San Francisco, California in time to participate in this year’s NSXPO.  From there, he spent additional time roaming around California, working his way south to spend time in Joshua Tree National Park before starting his eastbound return trip, which is what brought him through Phoenix.  He ended up staying 3 nights at my place and I was happy to have him around.

Joining the party was Trent Streeter from Tucson who you met in a recent AcuraConnected article, who drives a beautiful 1992 NSX in Berlina Black.  I made space in the garage for both to park indoors while they were at my house, and I must say I enjoyed having some nice looking eye candy in there!

We attended a Cars & Coffee event in Chandler, along with several other NSXs.

My NSX is running & driving in tip-top shape thanks to some extensive preventive maintenance performed at Acura of Tempe.  Here are the items that were addressed:  Replace timing belt, water pump, tensioners, cam sensor, outer belts, replace valve cover gaskets and cam seals, replace VTEC solenoid seals, replace coolant hoses, replace rear brake pads, resurface rear brake rotors.

While all of this was being done, I roamed around in a loaner 2018 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD.  I enjoyed it a lot – especially its all-wheel-drive and confidence-inspiring handling during a couple of unusually rainy days here in Phoenix.  I put together a 10-minute video showing some of the highlights.  I took the car to a couple of important destinations.

One was a gas station & restaurant called The Thumb in Scottsdale which has been featured on TV (Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives).  They have great BBQ – I went with the pork brisket breakfast tacos, which sound like an odd combination, but trust me – it works.  They also sell race gas (95 octane).  I did not fill up the TLX with that.

The other destination was a historically significant home on 2nd Street in Phoenix near my office.  It was the site of 2 murders in 1931 by a woman named Winnie Ruth Judd.  She gained national notoriety not just for the fact that she killed her two roommates over a love affair, but because she later dismembered their bodies and mailed them in luggage via train to Los Angeles with intent of dumping the bodies into the ocean.  She spent most of the rest of her life in & out of insane asylums and court rooms, but lived to the ripe old age of 93.  I saw a film about her at a cool spot called FilmBar.

This purple home is where Winnie’s crime was committed.  Today, 87 years later, it’s surrounded by high rise condominiums.  It’s the only original home left on the entire block.

Here’s FilmBar where I saw the flick.

Here’s the video I put together on the TLX.

Another interior shot of The Thumb; this one features the fish tank.

Delicious breakfast tacos + potato salad on the side.

Racing fuel sold here!

Trent’s custom NSX interior.

Tyson, Trent, John

John gave me a silver NSX to add to my collection of memorabilia.

I got the 1994 Legend GS out for a bit of fun in the sun.

Special shout-out to my friend Rick from Rick’s Audi Double YouTube channel for sharing some logo stickers with me.  If you’re into car detailing and have even the slightest obsessive-compulsive disorder, you’ll definitely want to subscribe.

The 1990 Honda Accord EX got some mechanical loving this week with a $1,200 timing belt & water pump service at Hon-Man in Tempe.  The car’s prior timing belt was 10 years old and due for replacement for a time-based interval.  It is running & driving perfectly.

For those who haven’t had enough YouTube yet, I have 2 more videos for you to check out.  The first was put together by my friend Dom when I let him drive my NSX back in September at NSXPO.

In this next one regarding Acura’s return to Precision Crafted Performance, I make an appearance at around 6:40 in.

Taco Tuesday in the Vigor, Literature Highlight, Gearbox Magazine Podcast Feature

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants, Vigor on June 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor): 111,196

Odometer (Million Mile Lexus):  975,453

I know, only 25,000 miles to go on Matt Farah’s old 1996 LS400!  Some of you may remember when I put a couple thousand miles on that car back in October 2015 when it only had 922,000 on the odometer.  My friend Adam ran into the car (well, not literally) in Colorado this weekend at a rally event.  I told him to check and see if my log book entry was still present in the glove compartment, and it was!  I wonder when and where the big event will take place.  Thanks for the update, Adam!

I’m a sucker for Mexican food.  Breakfast burrito in the morning, quesadilla at lunch, and tacos for dinner.  I could do that.  So every Taco Tuesday is a bit of a special day for me.  And check out these beauties I found:

Sometimes we get so focused on traveling beyond home that we forget to appreciate the destinations that are within arm’s reach.  I was just talking the other day with a friend about wanting to do a “staycation” sometime in the near future for those reasons.  For now, I satisfied my literal and figurative cravings for something new by trying a restaurant that opened last year in the lobby of the historic 1928 Hotel San Carlos in downtown Phoenix.

Now dwarfed by modern skyscrapers on all sides, the elaborate San Carlos was once one of Phoenix’s most elaborate and high class destinations for the elites who visited the area.  Some say it’s haunted – and for good reason.  An actress plunged to her death from the rooftop not long after the hotel first opened, and to this day it’s said that her spirit inhabits the premises.  I didn’t go in search of any ghost-hunting.  I went for the tacos – and they were worth it!

I parked my 1994 Vigor about a block east of San Carlos along Monroe & 1st Street for $4 (photo above taken at the top level of the garage) and wandered around the downtown district a little.  “Centrico” is accessed from street level and has a small bar inside along with a few tables.  I seated myself at the bar – as the only person there – and ordered up a set of 4 chicken tinga tacos for $10.  They most definitely hit the spot.

Here are some other updates for the week:  Recently, I was featured by Brian Driggs of Gearbox Magazine on an hour-long Podcast discussing this and that about how he and I got into the automotive hobby and what we are doing with it.  If you want to check out the ramblings, here’s the link!  Thanks Brian for the opportunity.

The Integra GS got some lovin’, including replacement of this discolored passenger sideview mirror with a replacement unit which I got from a friend (off a junkyard car) and had repainted at Fix Auto Phoenix for $96 in the correct Torino Red paint.

This car is looking mighty fine!  From a dinner outing last Friday evening:

Here’s the latest on it from my YouTube channel:

I took the other Integra, my GS-R, up to Flagstaff, Arizona yesterday afternoon to beat the heat.  In just a 2-hour drive, the temperature drops about 20 or more degrees.  The car did great for the 300 or so mile round trip.  I’m at around 248,700 on that one and anxious to see it crest 250,000.

The new 2019 RDX selection was on sale at the local dealer when I stopped by as well.

You all know I’m crazy about car literature.  I can get lost going through my boxes and boxes of car magazines from the 1980s and 1990s.  Below is a pic of envelopes with just a handful of the items.  In all I have 57 pieces of literature or brochures specific to just the Acura Legend.  I also have 151 items of ‘generic’ Acura interest, in about 6 boxes in my laundry room.  Yes it’s all categorized in an Excel spreadsheet too.  Shocker.

I came across a few cool pieces, including an article from February 1992’s Road & Track where six sedans were tested against each other:  Acura Legend LS, Audi 100, Mazda 929, Acura Vigor GS, Lexus ES300, and Mistubishi Diamante LS.  I loved a few phrases in particular about the Legend.

This is the instrument by which the other sedans in this category have been setting their watches… Still the dictionary definition of smooth, refined, and reliable, the new Legend LS remains the benchmark.  Consider a zero-to-60-mph time where the next best competitor is more than a full second slower.  The others begin to close the gap at the quarter-mile mark, but by that time, the big Acura’s powerplant has established itself as the powerhouse of record, without a hint of strain.

Love that!  From a 1994 “New Cars” magazine issue:

Did you know that across the entire model lineup, there were 22 colors offered in 1994?

And I thought this was kind of interesting.  On January 6, 1998 – just a little over 20 years ago – I pulled a Kelley Blue Book valuation of my mom’s then 1993 Legend L sedan with 64,000 miles on it.  Suggested retail was $21,200.

That’s it for the archive preview today.  Few more shots from my Vigor / taco outing:

Hope you’ve had a great weekend!

Final Visit: Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse in Scottsdale, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants on June 26, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  533,806


Odometer (Legend Sedan):  146,900


Odometer (ILX):  132,419


Trip Distance:  42 Miles


I got my necktie chopped off last night at dinner.  Ever heard of a restaurant that does such a thing?


I’m on a roll here with visiting the “endangered species” of local restaurants.  Just a few weeks ago, my friends Kevin, James, Devan, and I visited historic Bill Johnson’s Big Apple in Phoenix the day before it closed for good after being in business for 59 years.  This time, Kevin and James and I wanted to check out another long-lived Phoenix landmark on the brink of extinction:  Pinnacle Peak Patio.


PPP opened in 1957 in what was then a very remote part of town far north of Scottsdale, Arizona.  Back in those days, it was a rest stop and general store, mostly visited by people headed to the nearby lakes.  Oddly enough, there are cows perched on roof, just like Bill Johnson’s had.  The restaurant’s last day open will be this Sunday.


Even today, the location of the restaurant feels way out there.  It’s a solid 20 miles from “downtown” Scottsdale and I can only imagine how much further it must have felt 58 years ago, before urban development encroached upon it.  The homes in the surrounding area are high-dollar estates with names like DC Ranch and Troon, a luxurious master-planned golf community.  That’s why Pinnacle Peak Patio is so refreshing — in a sea of hoity-toity high-class homes, it’s a place that embraces a kick-back attitude.  Which is why, as you’ll understand, neckties are outlawed.


From the company’s website:

The “no necktie” tradition was started one night when a Phoenix executive came in for dinner. The original owner, wanting to keep the atmosphere in his restaurant casual, told the executive, “Either you take that tie off, or I’ll cut it off.” The executive did not take heed and was appalled when the owner pulled out a butcher knife and promptly cut off the offending cravat.

We headed out around 7:00 p.m. in the ILX and took Loop 101, then Pima Rd, and then eastward on Happy Valley Road (had to put a smile on our faces as we rounded the corner).  It’s pretty easy to spot the location of Pinnacle Peak Patio at the intersection of Thompson Peak Rd & Alma School:  It feels like you’re back in the wild west.  Even the parking lot remains unpaved after all these years.


Right at the entrance to the swinging wooden doors, a hand-painted sign gives a warning:  BEWARE:  WEAR TIES AT YOUR OWN RISK.  I wasn’t (that) afraid.  We were seated right away by the hostess in a back room and started admiring some of the artifacts on the walls:  Rodeo trophies from years gone by, sheriff badge collections in display cases, wall after wall covered with license plates, and oh — the severed ties:  hundreds and hundreds of neckties of every size and color were stapled to the wooden rafters above us.  Most of them had small yellow tags on them indicating the wearer and the date it was collected.


Our server, Tanner, recommended the “Wrangler” 10 oz. Top Sirloin for $17.95 and that’s the selection I went with.  It was absolutely one of the juiciest steaks I’ve ever eaten.  It came with homemade wheat bread, a side salad, and a baked potato which I paid a little extra for.  Meal quality = top tier.  Our meal was accompanied by a live musician in the other room, playing twangy honky-tonk country which was especially fitting for a venue of this type.



It wasn’t until we were almost ready to get our checks that I realized the waitstaff hadn’t seemed to take note that I was wearing a tie.  Tanner came over to see how things were going and I replied, taking a tug at my collar and loosening the tie a notch, “It’s a little warm in here, to be honest.”  “Ohhh!” he exclaimed, and he scampered off to get his pair of scissors.  “I didn’t even realize you had that on!”  So, in a ceremonial ritual as I’m sure has taken place thousands of times before, Tanner took the clippers to my silk blue tie and sliced it in two.


It’s too bad that places like PPP are a dying breed these days.  I really enjoyed the vibe of eating at a non-chain place that teleports you away from the hustle and bustle of 2015 and feels more like 1985.  The last thing you see as you depart the restaurant is the phrase “Y’all come back now, ya hear?” painted on the backside of courtyard entrance sign.  Well, Pinnacle Peak Patio, unfortunately I won’t be going back.  You won’t be there.


Thanks for joining on this Thursday night adventure!

And thanks to Kevin and James for being good sports and giving this place a whirl with me.


Happy Valley Road eastbound


Entering the restaurant courtyard from the parking lot


Checking in at the front desk.  There’s a gift shop area and a mechanical riding horse for kids.


If you’re local to Phoenix and you get this message in the next 48 hours before it shuts down permanently, go check this place out!

“Bill Johnson’s Big Apple” Restaurant – Final Visit

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants on May 25, 2015 by tysonhugie

Busy holiday weekend, travels underway, and you’ll read more about them soon!

But here’s a quick story about a short breakfast meet-up on Saturday morning that might be of interest.


It’s the end of an era:  This little neon sign in the front window of a landmark Phoenix restaurant has been turned off for the last time as of yesterday.  After 59 years, one of the only remaining “original” businesses from historic Van Buren Street has shuttered its windows and will be paved over to make way for a parking lot for the nearby community college.


You may recall my restaurant write-up about Bill Johnson’s from last year.  At that time, I noticed just how quiet the place was, customer-wise.  It’s no wonder that with decreased traffic and increased expenses, general manager Randi Beswick said they just couldn’t hang on any longer.  It’s sad that the dining tastes of Phoenix residents have shifted away from such a historic and unique place.

Since the final closure date was announced last week, people started coming out in droves to support the restaurant.  Upwards of 3,000 visitors per day were willing to wait up to 2 hours for a table so they could enjoy some of Bill Johnson’s BBQ for the last time before the restaurant closed on Sunday.  Here were some of the headlines in the news:




The Bill Johnson’s sign has been impossible to miss for nearly 6 decades on the south side of Van Buren at 38th Street.


The building itself embraces the Wild West theme with its cows perched at each end of the rooftop.


On Saturday morning bright and early, I met up with 3 friends to sample the breakfast fare.  The restaurant had opened at 6:00 a.m. and I arrived around 6:15.  I was able to get seated right away, but there was a steady stream of incoming customers and it wasn’t long until they started having to wait to be seated.  Devan, Kevin, and James joined me.  Our waittress, Bonnie, told us that she’d worked an 18-hour day the day prior.


This is a letter posted at the entrance to the restaurant.


Menu.  I went with the Bill’s Breakfast Omelette.


It didn’t look like much but it was tasty as can be, and it came with a side of wheat toast.


Afterward, it seemed only fitting that we grab a picture of Devan’s silver Acura TL and my Acura ILX with the sign out front.



Thanks for coming along to enjoy some tasty grub with us.