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Cochise County, tucked into Arizona’s southeast corner, serves up a surprising array of chow, from high-brow cuisine to food truck fare—and plenty of award-winning wine and microbrews to wash it all down. Hip and trendy, traditional and international, Cochise County is earning a well-deserved reputation with foodies and wine aficionados alike.
The agricultural operations around Willcox contribute a mind-boggling volume to our nations’ food basket. From produce to legumes, nuts to dairy, this climate-perfect region has deep roots in farming and ranching. Recently, vintners have discovered that the climate is divine for wine grapes, and this quiet agricultural community is becoming a wine hot spot. Sample reds and whites in tasting rooms in the historic downtown or right at the vineyards; there are more than a dozen to choose from.
On the border, Douglas blends easily with neighboring Agua Prieta, Sonora, forming one large metro area sliced by the border. With a healthy influence from Sonora, Douglas serves some of the best Mexican fare north of the border. Breakfast or lunch at Maná is so authentic you’ll wonder if you need your passport. Grind a bit of chiltipin pepper on your meal for a fiery kick and be sure to sample the fresh-baked pastries. This place gets packed at lunch so if you don’t want to wait, head over to La Fiesta. Here, a taco isn’t just a taco—this is the real deal—and the soups are spot-on authentic.
Breakfast in Bisbee means the Bisbee Breakfast Club. This diner, tucked into the Lowell business district, is a throwback to the 1950s and plates all-American breakfasts all day. Cruise past the Lavender Pit, a gaping hole leftover from the town’s mining past, and into Old Bisbee. (The narrow, meandering streets are better explored on foot.) Stroll up Brewery Gulch to the Old Bisbee Brewing Company for a Copper City Ale, made in the original 1881 style, or savor a fine-dining experience at Café Roka (pictured). The restaurant sources local ingredients so the menu changes regularly, but Chef Rod Kass turns his passion for flavor and texture into sublime meals.
With a Spanish name and deep ties to Mexico, ironically Sierra Vista is best known for eats from other nations (although the Sonoran hotdogs from 143 Street Tacos are mighty fine). Home to the active Army base Fort Huachuca, Sierra Vista is a melting pot of world cultures and authentic international fare. Tuck into a schnitzel at the German Café, slurp a giant bowl of phó at Indochine, try the Korean bibimbap, and nosh on ocean-fresh sushi. Pizza, either Neapolitan or New York, and Philly cheesecake… check and check!
Just minutes from Sierra Vista, Tombstone is a real western treat. Push through the double swinging doors at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon and step back in time. This Wild West-style tavern sports an expansive bar (and pub fare to boot), a haunted cellar, and plenty of photo opps. Just off of Allen Street, the Tombstone Brewing Company offers a changing slate of half a dozen brews and cans and bottles to go, while the Sarsaparilla Emporium two blocks away sells “sodie-pop” by the bottle or four-pack for non-alcoholic whistle-wetting.
Luckily Highway 80 turns into Benson’s Fourth Street and fronts Mi Casa (pictured). This unassuming adobe building is set back from the roadway and easy to miss. Calling the place small is generous, but waiting for a table is worth it. With platter-size portions of authentic fare adorned with artistic garnishes, dinner at Mi Casa is bucket-list worthy. The menu includes the familiar taco and enchilada choices alongside Central American entrees and knock-your-socks-off Mexican options like spicy camarones al diabla (devil’s shrimp) and molcajete, a savory mix of grilled chicken breast, steak, cactus leaves, and shrimp.
Cochise County, steeped in the old West, is earning its chops in the new West, as a flavor-forward outpost in the Land of Legends. Learn more at www.ExploreCochise.com.