Traveling foodies, rejoice! Arizona is a delicious destination that speaks to your taste buds. Sample the food in Tucson to learn why it was given global culinary acclaim. Then take a tour to taste the rest of the state in guided food tours and self-guided trails.
Tucson is Food Central
Tucson is the only place in the United States named as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. It is part of the international organization’s 18-city Creative Cities Network that uses food as a way to grow and sustain urban lifestyles.
Tucson promotes itself as having the best 23 square miles of Mexican food. You can be the judge on a four-hour Best of the Barrio tour aboard a Gray Line luxury bus or van. Taste Sonoran hot dogs, tortillas, carne asada and Mexican pastries while you hear stories of local food lore and watch as dishes are prepared.
Celebrate the recent explosion of new casual and fine-dining restaurants in revived downtown Tucson. Two companies provide guides that lead tours to tastings at several restaurants interspersed with talks about historical points of interest.
Tucson Food Tours leads walks to such hot spots as Playground, The HUB, Caffe Lucce and long-time fav El Charro Café. The Taste of Tucson downtown or Fourth Avenue tours include rides on the modern streetcar to restaurants for Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese and pub fare.
Tasting Tours of Greater Phoenix
Enjoy dinner or lunch tours during three-hour walks around Old Town Scottsdale, the historical center of this tony town. Led by Arizona Food Tours, you’ll get a dose of history and entertainment along with cowboy and Thai cuisine, wine, sweets and olive oil tastings. The company also offers a lunch jaunt through college-cultured Tempe.
Taste It Tours takes you on foot through Phoenix’s compact downtown for either intense afternoon snacking or casual dinnertime noshing. The mid-afternoon Historic Downtown Phoenix Food Tour includes Italian, Thai and Mexican tastes. The Downtown Phoenix Evening Dine Around features trendy Hanny’s and iconic Tom’s Tavern & 1929 Grill, Phoenix’s second-oldest restaurant.
Yuma: America’s Winter Vegetable Capital
Yuma’s seasonal (January–March) Field to Feast Tours take you not to places to eat, but to places where you literally pick what you’ll eat. Led by a local grower, you’ll harvest the produce that culinary students will need to make your lunch. As they prep, you’ll tour working fields to witness the various stages of agriculture, including thinning, weeding, harvesting and packing. Cap the half-day, farm-to-fork event enjoying your specially prepared meal.
Foodie Trails Around Arizona
Mesa, Gilbert and Queen Creek may seem like part of the vast Phoenix metropolitan area, but its rural heart provides tasty agriculture adventures. The area’s Fresh Foodie Trail® includes The Orange Patch citrus grove, Superstition Farm dairy, Queen Creek Olive Mill grove and Hayden Flower Mills at Sossaman Farms, where you can see how food products are grown and made. Stop by family-run farms or the area’s collection of farmers markets to get a taste of locally grown food. You’ll find details in Visit Mesa’s Agritourism brochure, found at www.freshfoodietrail.com.
Twelve establishments make up the Arizona Salsa Trail, a tasty exploration of Mexican cuisine around Safford. They include venerable favorites El Charro Restaurant, opened in 1955, and Manor House & Rock ‘N Horse Saloon, serving since 1953 and four-time winner of the local best salsa contest.
Try the distinctive crepelike chiles rellenos at Gi’Mees Restaurant. Get a quick fix from the drive-thru at Taco Taste or relax at one of the full-service restaurants. Pick up a Salsa Trail Discount Card, which includes a map and special deals, from the Graham County Chamber of Commerce.