A City of Gastronomy in Tucson AZ

Frank Lococo and Christina Tierney


Tucson – A City of Gastronomy

Gastronomy is defined by the practice or art of cooking and eating good food.  Tucson’s 300-year agricultural heritage encompassing vineyards, orchards and ranching helped pave the way for a variety of local food ingredients.  Tucson’s support for artisanal local producers and sustainable local food production contributed to its prestigious title of “City of Gastronomy” from UNESCO, becoming the first city in the United States to receive this honor. 

Check out the official Tucson City of Gastronomy website for all local restaurants, wineries, farmers’ markets and more! This is a great resource to reference when thinking about where to dine and experience next!  Of course, there are many more great restaurants and culinary experiences in Tucson, but here are a few that have touched us recently.

5 Points Market & Restaurant

If you are looking for a cool relaxed vibe and amazing food with ingredients that are truly local, look no further than 5 Points Market & Restaurant.  Tucked into the historic Barrio just south of Downtown Tucson, this little gem just keeps getting better. Diners can enjoy meals on the patio at the building’s entrance or take in the lively, loft-like environment inside that includes a bar with stunning pastries, fun art, Arizona wines and a little market with essentials and some curated offerings. The food here is super fresh, thanks to the partner farms which are celebrated with names on display for visitors to see. While you can’t go wrong with any menu option, the Huevos Rancheros and giant pancake are classics! For a unique beverage, try the “shrub” of the day, a vinegar based effervescent drink. Not only are the owners committed to food quality, but also the experience of their team by paying a living wage and providing health insurance.

La Chaiteria & Tumerico

Many Tucsonans may know the vegan inspired Tumerico restaurant located on 6th Street within the historical Sam Hughes district, however, Wendy Garcia Chef & Owner quietly opened La Chaiteria on the West side at Congress and Grande.  You immediately feel a sense of community and people coming together to enjoy the smells and flavors of our region.  We would recommend for a casual breakfast or lunch option.  The chalkboard menu features Latin-inspired dishes, Garcia's signature vegetarian and vegan options, and an expanded latte menu with flavors such as Mole, Horchata, Lavender, Mazapan, CBD, Saffron, Chai, and more.

Additionally, the space offers assorted retail Mexican items for sale such as jarred pumpkin blossoms, huitlacoche, hot sauces, La Noria corn tortillas, and more.


The Monica

Inspired by current owner and chef, Carlotta Flores, the Monica is a tribute to her Aunt Monica Flin who founded one of Tucson’s oldest restaurants El Charro Cafe.  Located right downtown on Congress & Scott Ave.  The restaurant has a clean and modern feel with a comfortable outdoor courtyard providing shade in the warmer months.  The Monica serves all meal periods including brunch and is a perfect place for Happy Hour or a weekend outing.  The menu is robust with fresh salads, specialty pizzas made with heritage Barrio Bread grains, signature appetizers influenced by their other restaurants - El Charro and Charro Vida.

Barrio Bread

Wait, what is that line for? Oh, it’s just people waiting for bread. Not just any bread will invite a wait in the desert sun, but Barrio Bread is special. It’s about the ingredients, the process and honoring the heritage of the Sonoran Desert. 2022 James Beard award winner Don Guerra has made a mission of bringing heritage grains, and those who grow and mill them, into a new light. He is an ambassador for quality local ingredients and the “cultural preservation of food.” A signature saguaro cactus on the classic Barrio sourdough is a nod to the wheat that created the loaf. Since becoming a store front in Broadway Village in 2016, Barrio Bread has amended offerings to include a many gorgeous breads (pieces of art, really), tortillas, treats and packaged grains that home cooks can use to elevate their baking. The products truly are exceptional. Although Don continues to expand his business into restaurant concepts, cooking lessons, retail, and is nationally acclaimed, he can still be found in the shop assisting customers each day.  After all the word “Barrio” does mean neighborhood. 

Boarderlands Brewing Co.:

Boarderland’s flagship brewery is located in the Tucson Warehouse Arts District near Stone & Toole Ave in the former Tooley & Sons Produce building built in the early 1900s.  The large indoor taproom and open outdoor courtyard attracts larger groups and is appropriate for families.  A new Borderlands brewing experience was just launched in the Sam Hughes neighborhood close to the UofA.   In addition to the assortment of Borderlands Beers and Spiked Aguas Frescas the food menu is curated in collaboration with Chef Maria Mazon of Boca Tacos.  The brewery hosts many social events like Yoga + Beer, live Music and Karaoke.

Whiskey Del Bac:

A great story of Father (Stephen Paul) and Daughter (Amanda Paul) sharing the same passion for the Sonoran Desert and working to define a southwest style of an American Single Malt Whiskey. It all started on a cool desert evening on the patio grilling over a mesquite BBQ while drinking Scotch.  Elain posed the question to her husband Stephen “What if you made single malt whiskey with ‘mesquited’ malt instead of peated malt?”  The Whiskey Del Bac brand of whiskey’s is best known for its mesquited American Single Malt, Dorado and its Classic.

Distillery and Tasting Tours are offered every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 2106 Forbes Blvd near I-10 and Grant Road.  

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