Insider Guides

Ask a Local: Chef Maria Mazon

If you want to know what makes Arizona such a special place to visit, ask a local—so we did. Join us as we explore beautiful Arizona with Tucson Chef Maria Mazon who lives, works, plays, and creates here.

Chef Maria Mazon, BOCA Tacos y Tequila

Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?

Well, that can take days! I'm a wife of a firefighter and a mother to the coolest 11-year-old boy ever. I’m a chef and restaurant owner of BOCA Tacos y Tequila. I have been doing it for 10 years (even though it feels like 100). I was born in Tucson, Arizona, but raised in Navojoa, Sonora. I'm the middle child (that explains a ton). I love to cook! I can't imagine doing anything else. I have an amazing team at work and at home, and also I love wine.

How long have you been living in Tucson?

Well, I was born here but raised in Sonora. I came back for high school at 15, and now I'm 38, so you do the math!

If you moved from somewhere else, what influenced your move?

The food! Honestly, Tucson is beautiful beyond words. Yes, we get a brutal summer, but that is only three months out of the year—nothing a trip to Mount Lemmon can't cure. Tucson is the biggest little city I know. We are kind, fun and love the desert.

Mount Lemmon, Credit: Visit Tucson

What are some of your favorite places to go for a cocktail and/or dinner?

Besides BOCA Tacos y Tequila, and my own home, my wife and I love Kingfisher, Anello, Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink, Penca, Saffron Indian Bistro, and Cafe Desta.

What cultural attractions are a must-see for visitors to Tucson?

We have the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum of course, Mission San Xavier del Bac, Mount Lemmon, and Sabino Canyon to name a few.

A friend is coming to Tucson for the first time… Please describe the perfect weekend.

Wow! Start with a good breakfast at Baja Café, Prep & Pastry, and definitely the brunch at Loews Ventana Canyon. Then it's time to explore Fourth Avenue, baby! The next morning, start with a nice hike at Sabino Canyon then cool off with a cold beer at Borderlands or Pueblo Vida—two of my absolute favorite breweries—and eat your way through my beautiful city!

Pueblo Vida Brewing Company, Credit: Kat Peterson

What is your favorite time of year in Tucson and why?

The Fall (from October to May, LOL), because of the beautiful weather, and it's our busy season.

What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?

Tumamoc Hill, also Gates Pass, and any of the amazing area gardens like Mission Garden or the Tucson Botanical Garden.

Tucson Botanical Garden, Credit: Andres Lobato

What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?

That is a hard one! Barrio Bread, and any Tucson beer for sure. Also, Del Bac Whiskey, and some local succulents.

Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Tucson without…

Eating At BOCA Tacos y Tequila and enjoying our sunsets!

Originally produced through a partnership with PASSPORT Magazine. It was published in the April 2020 printed issue and online at PassionMagazine.com.

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