United States of America
Tucson is getting back to its culinary roots.
In the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and northern Mexico, Tucson is rediscovering ancient food knowledge and reinventing farming traditions long used by local indigenous people. Cactus fruits and other edible native foods are making a comeback, a wine grape planted here by Spanish missionaries in the 16th century is being cultivated. With a rich agricultural heritage dating back 4,000 years and a 300-year tradition of orchards, vineyards, and livestock ranching, Tucson earned a UNESCO “City of Gastronomy” title in 2015. Today, creative farmers and chefs including three James Beard award-winners are fusing old and new flavors, and Tucson tastes like nowhere else.
Mission Garden is a living agricultural museum of Sonoran Desert-adapted heritage fruit-trees, traditional local heirloom crops, and edible native plants. Garden plots represent more than 4,000 years of continuous cultivation in the Tucson area. The garden hosts speakers, workshops, and bird watching, and visitors can look, touch, and taste on guided tours.
Historic buildings and districts, museums, historical re-creations, and businesses adapted in older buildings give Tucson’s downtown area its unique character. A streetcar connects four dining-and-entertainment districts along its four-mile route. The city’s greatest concentration of locally owned, innovative restaurants, bars, and breweries are concentrated here in a pedestrian-friendly setting.
Tucson is an IFEA World Festival and Event City with over 80 annual events, many featuring food. The Tucson Festival of Books hosts cookbook authors and chef demonstrations; Agave Heritage Festival explores the source of tequila and mezcal; and Tucson Meet Yourself showcases Tucson-based food entrepreneurs and local folk and ethnic artisans.