BY Leah Cresswell
The Oy Vey Café is a hidden treasure of Tucson. Located within the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation (at the Second Street and Mountain Avenue intersection), it is downstairs and unknown to many students and local residents. That should not be the case.
I have been many times and am never disappointed. Oy Vey is a quaint little kosher restaurant that offers a range of options, including Italian, Israeli and Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian and American choices. Among them are the Moroccan spinach pie ($7) and a Mediterranean wrap with hummus, chopped salad, olives, sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese ($7.50).
My two favorites are the Thai salad ($6.50) and the “Italian” quesadilla ($8.50). The salad includes mixed greens with cabbage, red peppers carrots, cucumber and a delicious peanut dressing. It is exactly what I am looking for when I get those veggie salad cravings. As far as the quesadilla goes, I am always more than happy to devour it along with the rice, chips and salsa that it comes with. This combination of pesto, roasted bell peppers, spinach and mozzarella stuffed into a tortilla is the perfect way to go if Mexican is what you are in the mood for, even if it has an Italian name.
Though the prices may be high (up to $7.95 for a panini? Oy vey!), you get what you pay for: a scrumptious meal and plenty of it. The portions are large enough for leftovers, so it winds up being two meals for the price of one. This means that students grabbing a quick meal or employees who are stopping by for their lunch break can also have dinner for later.
What about the service? Well, it is excellent. The employees are a young, energetic bunch who always have smiles on their faces. When you walk in, you are greeted cordially, with a “How may I help you?” Yes, this may seem like what to expect anywhere, but how many times do you walk into a restaurant and they barely acknowledge your existence, let alone verbally greet you? The staff will go out of their way to make sure you are enjoying your experience by picking up your tray so that you don’t have to take it over and bringing your food to you rather than making you come to the counter. All of these things seem simple, but you really notice them here.
There are a lot of seating options and the tables are big enough to bring friends and have a group meal, but dining alone is always a comfortable option as well, even on the busiest of days. This is not always the case in popular restaurants.
On the north side, there is a calming baby blue wall that has abstract paintings hung in a random assortment from left to right. The east and south walls are of textured cinder block, a smooth contrast to the blue opposite and adjacent to them. To the west are the register and counter. Next to that, there is a large decorative chalkboard with the special of the day on it.
There is a small, enclosed outside seating area where you can eat as well. The surrounding cinder block walls in the area make for a private, intimate feeling. There are also tables and outdoor lounge chairs.
You could even say the restaurant has a homelike feeling; there really is no other way to describe it. The café has such a nice vibe that people chose to hang out there several minutes after they finish eating. If you are looking for a decent place to dine, Oy Vey will give you exactly that, no matter what you choose to eat.
This is a very good dining experience, to which I say Mazel Tov! ♦
- Location: University of Arizona Hillel Foundation 1245 E. Second St. Tucson, Ariz. 85719
- Prices: Lunch ranges from $6 to $8.50; Breakfast ranges from $2.95 to $7.95 (served 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
- Menu: Breakfast, Salads, Quesadillas, Pasta, Sandwiches, Paninis, Wraps, Israeli Food (everything Kosher) (Vegan and Vegetarian options available)
- Hours: (Monday-Thursday) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Friday) 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Phone: (520) 512-5013
- Owner: Asher Amar
- Under the Supervision of: Rabbi Israel Becker and Rabbi Yossi Shemtov