June 18th was a hot day in Arizona with searing triple digit temperatures, and it brought many looking for a cooler days to the Tucson Convention Center.  It was truly a big day for hockey in Tucson, with the unveiling of the new AHL team name and logo at the Tucson Convention Center.  The dawning of the AHL Roadrunners in the summer heat will bring local and surrounding area hockey fans to Tucson this upcoming fall and winter.

All that hockey action will make for some hungry fans, and nearby Mama’s Hawaiian BBQ will bring a satisfactory island taste after the big game.  I decided to try the popular spot after the open house event at the Convention Center.  While those unfamiliar with traditional Hawaiian fare may expect such items as pineapple, coconut and fish to be on the menu; customary Hawaiian fare actually includes many items that may seem odd for an island locale. However, Mama’s knows true Hawaiian tradition, and gazing over the menu, I found their traditional specialties of the house prominently featured.  Spam and Eggs  and “Loco Moco”, a half-pound of specially seasoned ground beef grilled and covered with a fried egg, white rice, and two scoops of white rice smothered in beef gravy.  The menu offered a wide variety of other selections as well, such as salads, vegetarian items, Beef or Chicken Teriyaki, Kalbi Short Ribs, Chicken Katsu, as well as wings and burgers. It wasn’t easy to make my choice, but I finally selected the Kalua Pork.  The menu promised traditional style island pork slowed cooked until it falls apart, and the dish delivered on its promise.  The plate lunch feature offered a choice of two sides, and I chose the traditional white rice and macaroni salad. For those looking for more seasoning, the restaurant offers soy , teriyaki, or barbecue sauce; and for those who like heat, a thick and spicy hot sauce that offered a sweet tang, and required a frequent replenishment of some ice cold tea.  For those looking for a bit lighter fare, the Mahi Mahi plate lunch was a welcome bite of moist and tender fish seasoned in lemon and paper with a light glaze of teriyaki.

But it was the desserts that stole the show.  While I don’t have a sweet tooth by nature, it was difficult to choose between the homemade desserts that were displayed on the counter.  So difficult in fact, I choose three to enjoy later that evening:  a cheesecake brownie, pineapple upside down cake, and an oversized lemon macadamia nut bar. These desserts are worth the trip alone.  The lemon macadamia nut bar had just the right amount of tang, the macadamias added a rich buttery flavor, and flakey layers of shortbread crust melted in my mouth.  The pineapple upside down cake was a heavy, moist sumptuous cake with the flavor of pineapple permeating every bite. The brownie too was huge with a rich moist homemade chewy chocolate flavor with magnificent creamy swirls of cheesecake winding through the top of the dessert to add a creamy flair.  These desserts are shareable, but I can guarantee you won’t want too!

I ate at the University location on 850 East Speedway Boulevard in Tucson, near the University of Arizona.  This location offers late night hours until 3:00AM for those getting the munchies after late night studying, or partying.  The restaurant also specializes in catering that is truly affordable, starting at only $7.00 per person.  There are also three other Tucson locations, as well as a new location in Anthem, Arizona.