In 2015, Tucson was designated as an official City of Gastronomy by UNESCO, the first city in the United States to earn such a recognition. Tucson earned this designation due to having the “longest agriculture history of any city in the United States.”
Seeing as Tucson has such a rich culinary heritage, it’s only fitting that southern Arizona’s largest city would be home to a plethora of farm-to-table restaurants. Here are four that you should consider checking out.
All of the restaurants we’ve mentioned in this article are certified artisan by the Tucson City of Gastronomy. In order to obtain this certification, these local food businesses must demonstrate that they have a “commitment to the Southern Arizona foodshed, use of heritage ingredients, sustainable and responsible business practices, and giving back to the community.” Read more about this certification here and view the complete list of restaurants with this certification here.
533 N. 4th Ave.
Boca Tacos & Tequila is renowned for its gourmet, made-to-order tacos. Look forward to digging into elevated Mexican cuisine at Boca, where the kitchen is led by Tucson-born, James Beard Award semifinalist Maria Mazon.
Mazon was raised in Sonora, Mexico, and carries inspirations from both her home country and current state of Arizona. She’s built a menu of meat, seafood, and veggie taco options. Seafood tacos include citrus-marinated salmon and beer-battered, fried white fish. Veggie tacos include the AM, which features hash browns topped with a fried egg and a basil cilantro jalapeno crema. All tacos come with a choice of homemade flour or corn tortilla or a cabbage wrap and are served with guacamole, cabbage, and salsa.
Hot tip: Consider pairing your food with a local craft beer or cocktail; Boca stocks more than 40 tequilas. And don’t miss out on the freshly fried chips and original house-made salsa.
4340 N. Campbell Ave., Ste. 100
Overlooking St. Philip’s Plaza, Union Public House is known for serving all-American fare using local, sustainable ingredients. Look forward to a variety of hearty fare that includes pretzels, poutine fries, salmon cakes, boards topped with a variety of meats and cheeses, salads, flatbreads, and sandwiches.
As the name suggests, this is also a pub; Union Public House lays claim to the largest whiskey selection of any restaurant in town to wet your whistle with.
Local dishes: Some Southwestern takes on the menu include La Torta—coffee- and achiote chili-rubbed tri tip steak with avocado smash, cheddar cheese, smoked cascabel aioli, and escabeche on a telera roll.
1803 E. Prince Road
On the Ghini’s French Caffe & Bistro website homepage, you’ll see a pink heart with the words “Made with heart daily. Frenchness guaranteed.” Marseilles, France, native Coralie Satta (her nickname is Ghini) studied cooking in France and brought her knowledge to Tucson. Her restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and tapas dishes that are all made from scratch.
Ghini’s is also home to a French bakery serving traditional French pastries and desserts. Some of her best-known dishes are eggs provencal, fresh strawberry crepes, and omelette du soliel. For lunch, note the hearty and decadent croque madame and croque monsieur.
Fun fact: Ghini’s is pet-friendly, as it has been since opening in 1992.
40 E. Congress St. in downtown Tucson
Downtown Tucson’s The Monica has a fascinating history. The restaurant is named after Monica Flin, who opened El Charro Café in 1922. When Flin’s health faltered, her great niece Carlotta Flores took over. Flores now runs the kitchen at The Monica, making the local family part of the city’s restaurant scene for more than a century.
The Monica serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch, always including items on the menu that are plant-based, gluten-free, and keto-friendly for those with dietary restrictions. All of the food here is made to order. One highlight includes the pizzetta recipes, which always incorporate local Barrio Grains.
Diners can order dynamic pizzas like meatball and margherita or prickly pear BBQ chicken. Burgers are dubbed “responsible burgers” and are made with 70% grass-fed beef and 30% shiitake mushrooms. Dog owners are welcome to dine with their pets on the restaurant’s pet-friendly patio.
Take note: The restaurant also carries a selection of fresh-baked bread from Barrio Bread, helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Don Guerra.
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