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- More from Where to Smoke
McMahon's Steak House, Arizona
Delayed cigar gratification in Tucson.
Posted: February 6, 2008
Before I get into the meat of the matter (pun intended), allow me to share the crux of a debate I have going on with many of my friends. I believe there are too many steak houses in this nation. My friends, including some who run this Web site, believe there are not enough meals in the day and that all of them should include steak. One thing on which we all agree is that going out for a great steak is a celebration, especially when paired with a great cigar. So it was that I attempted to produce such a moment in Tucson, Arizona, on New Year's Eve day.
Arizona recently passed a law that prohibits smoking indoors and in many public places. Still, some businesses have made a point out of creating an environment where cigars are welcome. McMahon's Steak House is one such restaurant. The Tucson restaurant has a patio in back, just outside the bar, where meals are served, TV can be watched and cigars can be smoked. They'll even sell you a very good cigar if you forgot your own.
I was in Tucson to celebrate the entry of 2008 with friends from New York who have a beautiful house in which they are planning to live in retirement. Now that I live on the West Coast, I rarely see these friends. I was looking forward to spending time with them and having a cigar. So two weeks earlier, I searched for a place that would accommodate us with a meal and an ashtray. McMahon's seemed as if it would work.
Of course, we ended up ordering only one steak, a large rib eye. The rest of the meal consisted of chicken sandwiches and burgers, mine being one that combined the ground beef with porcini mushrooms and topped with morels. Had to try that. The other burger was of the "Kobe" variety.
An hour later, the food arrived. The burgers and the rib eye were so beyond the medium-rare we had requested that they were all sent back. The new manager apologized. I asked if the restaurant managers had anticipated far fewer customers this day. He admitted they had and were significantly understaffed. I didn't dare ask if their grill guy was in the kitchen this shift.
The burgers and the steak came back about 15 minutes later. They were closer to medium-rare, the ribeye being a little undercooked and absolutely delicious. I think I mentioned it was huge.
We finished lunch with an order of the restaurant's signature dessert, Champagne Fried Strawberries. Way too sweet for me and a deceptive name. The strawberries are battered and have a lot of cinnamon and sugar in the mix. They are then quickly deep-fried. The Champagne is in a creamy sauce on the side. Not even close to providing the satisfaction that the La Flor Dominicana Coronado Double Corona I had in my pocket would have delivered.
Ultimately, this was just a bad day for McMahon's. The steaks are good, the management is responsive, and cigar smokers are welcome. McMahon's is worth giving a second chance.
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