Just how far will a nice female foodie like me drive to celebrate her birthday? We urban women think Oro Valley is a foreign country or a far far away burb. Nevertheless everyone was game to celebrate me, and find our way to Noble Hops. I had read good reviews, know the Mussman brothers restaurant track record with Vero Amore, and with triple digits, was thirsty for bountiful beer choices.
Noble Hops is a hip, happening place known for craft beer and fine fare, Tucson’s original gastropub. The venue is owned by brothers, Aric and Josh Mussman. Even though it was 105 in the shade, the patio was bustling with 30-somethings socializing. Since we’re a tad older and wiser, we sat inside in a somewhat more quiet corner indoors.
First the beer – an extensive list of 50 or 60 draft and bottled choices. I opted for a San Tan Devil pale ale with citrus hops. Refreshing. It paired well with our food choices.
As for the food we shared (you can have appetizers and small plates and/or big plates, food from the grill), the fabulous pretzel buns resemble voluptuous hot dog buns but are in a class by themselves. Think over-sized pretzel bread – crispy on the outside/soft on the inside – generously sprinkled with sea salt plus two sauces for dipping. That nosh alone might be worth the schlep from Midtown to Oro Valley.
Our sharing included grilled shrimp satay skewers that arrived at the table looking like birds in flight, the tuna tower which was more like a mound of raw diced tuna with jalapenos, and flat bread with rustic Italian toppings.
Everything was enjoyed immensely by the four of us.
That brought us to dessert – the chocolate tray. Chocolate! Picture a rich chocolate mousse slice, flourless chocolate cake with raspberry puree, chocolate truffles, tiny malted balls on a whipped cream cloud, and Happy Birthday written in a flourish of whipped cream. Smile.
A word about our server: Kyle — loved his enthusiasm and knowledge about the food and beer.
Aside from spending quality time with my fellow foodie obsessed friends, we talked to Josh and Aric. They are part of the younger generation who has infused Tucson’s local food scene with some delicious changes and styles. Out with the Old World formalities and in with a wave of creative casual fare.
The average restaurant customer might only be thinking about what’s on the plate or in their glass but restaurateurs have so many challenges from all the permits, bureaucratic demands, insurance costs, employment issues, purveyor problems, and more. Owning an independent restaurant and running it successfully is no small feat. Aric said that he tries to treat every customer like his mother, “What makes her happy?”
I do agree that restaurants should be in the business of making their customers happy (within reason, of course). Too many diners spew and repeat their negative experiences, I thought Circle of Food should praise and repeat a positive experience. I’m happy.
Noble Hops is located at 1335 W. Lambert Lane, Oro Valley, 520-797-HOPS
You might also consider trying their other brand, Vero Amore, authentic Neapolitan pizza.