In Tucson, everybody has an Eegee’s memory.
For me there were the scorching summer afternoons waiting in the drive-through for a Styrofoam cup of watermelon ice. Sharing a tub of ranch fries with a close friend, attempting not to consume all of them myself. And on the flipside, having a difficult day and halting in the parking lot to cry, and then driving away devoid of even ordering everything.
In The Old Pueblo there’s always an Eegee’s about to decide on you up. The sandwich chain is in practically every single community at this level, with more than 25 places scattered in the course of Arizona’s 2nd major town. Over the earlier 50 years this locally started manufacturer has develop into synonymous with Tucson, a image of the city’s vintage treasures and its raging heat. To criticize Eegee’s is to criticize Tucson alone.
At the threat of remaining labeled a traitor to my previous home, where I lived for 15 a long time, I am here now to criticize Eegee’s.
As the chain begins its 2021 expansion into Gilbert with five total locations across the Valley, I really feel the have to have to notify my Phoenix neighbors the fact: Eegee’s is not normally value the hoopla. Much of the chain’s allure is based mostly on savvy social media marketing and advertising and nostalgia for the experience — and most absolutely not on the sub sandwiches or quickly-meals salads that make up the menu.
Let’s be actual: Eegee’s charm is in the beverages, not the food items
In 2019 when Eegee’s was named the ideal quick food stuff restaurant in Arizona by Foodstuff & Wine Magazine, my mothers and fathers were being so intrigued they drove from Phoenix to meet up with me and examine it out. Snubbing the chimichangas at El Charro Café, we invested the afternoon splitting affordable grinders and chopped Italian salads with a chocolate chip cookie at the restaurant on Valencia Street, just down the street from New Mexico icon Blake’s Lotaburger.
The verdict from two Phoenicians? Meh.
“I assumed the sandwiches had been mediocre and the fries were being overrated,” my dad explained to me this 7 days. “The fries were much better than In-N-Out fries which are mediocre, but they were not great fries.”
I only partially concur, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
He and my stepmom concluded that the chain was really about its icy beverages, which are a little bit thicker than slushies and element creative flavors this sort of as orange aspiration or piña colada. Back in 1971 when original entrepreneurs Ed Irving and Bob Greenberg began their Eegee’s foods truck, they primarily based the drinks off of an East Coastline-style Italian ice that you dig into with a spoon.
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Now, with several flavors of the thirty day period and concoctions like Eegee’s fizz and Teagee’s, the drinks slay on social media. The chain has 14,000 followers on Twitter, like former Tucson mayor Jonathan Rothschild who after tweeted at the chain to launch their particular watermelon Eegee’s early.
Though I recognize his enthusiasm, I generally observed the drinks a bit sweet and artificial tasting. I might typically have a couple spoonfuls and then give it up, wishing I’d purchased an iced tea.
That stated, serious kinds know the ranch fries are legit
Then, there are the sandwiches, which simply do not contend with the array of rapidly meals options in the Phoenix area.
When I arrived in Tucson in 2004, I had difficulty being familiar with why Tucsonans appreciated them. They paled in comparison to the freshly-sliced deli meats at well known national chains like Goodcents. Eegee’s does bake their individual bread, but it can often be way too fluffy without the need of substantially taste, a step up from Subway. Some of the sandwiches are greater than others, like the warm pastrami on rye, but never even feel about finding the spicy grinder with jalapeños. It really is just gross, sorry.
But I do disagree with my family on the fries assessment. In the entire world of loaded fries, Eegee’s has arrive up with a actual zinger that speaks to the Southwest. The Eegee’s ranch fry is a easy tub of perfectly crisp crinkle fries, topped with a zig-zag of the chain’s proprietary ranch mix, a thick and flavorful choose on the creamy dip. A lot of relaxed shops make their possess ranch, but Eegee’s does it greater than most. And when they toss some bacon bits on there? Gorgeous.
Do I feel Eegee’s will succeed in the family-oriented stronghold of the East Valley and other suburbs? Most likely. Their product is inexpensive and their promoting crew has appear a long way considering that they unsuccessfully tried to split into the Valley in the ’80s. But will I be waiting in line that very first 7 days throughout the scorching Arizona summer time for a turkey sub and a strawberry Teagee? No. But please explain to me if you go. At the really least, it’ll make for a fantastic tale. And maybe sometime, it’s going to be a pleasant memory, way too.