Food shapes any culture and here in Tucson we have a handful of dishes that we like to say represent our city and our people. A melting pot of Paleo-Indian, Spanish, Mexican and American culture, the cuisine in Tucson is diverse as its people taking classic dishes and giving them a unique Arizona spin. Adapted from Monica Spencer’s article about iconic Arizona food, here are 10 foods you need to try while in Tucson.
Perhaps the most famous dish derived right here in Tucson is the chimichanga. Originating in the 1920’s this deep-fried burrito which features a perfect combination of flavourful ingredients topped with a chimi sauce can be found all over Tucson. Legend has it that the original chimichanga was first whipped up at Tucson’s El Charro Café on N Court Ave.
Perhaps not the healthiest item on the menu, Cheese Crisps are an Arizona speciality and can be found throughout Tucson. This dish is similar to a quesadilla however is baked on a pan and is served open face (essentially cheese melted on a tortilla wrap), yum.
Think a tostada but served on fry bread and you have the Navajo Taco. The Navajo people are a group of Native American people who inhabited the Southwestern United States and are the second largest tribe in the US. The Navajo people around Arizona have blessed us with the delicious (and indulgent) Navajo taco!
Another indigenous culinary creation, Piki bread is brought to us from the Hopi people and is a staple in their diet. This bread is corn-based and has a light and crispy texture. The bread is blue in colour (made from blue corn) and is almost weightless.
Pozole is a spicy soup which is a traditional food of Mexico and is popular in the Tucson area. The soup uses hominy which is similar to corn and is often enjoyed during celebrations. The soup usually contains meat and is garnished with cabbage, chilies, peppers, onions and more.
Red Chili Stew
The bright red and spicy chili stew is a popular dish in O’odham and Pueblo communities around Tucson. Hot and fiery this local dish is for those who like to feel the heat of what they eat.
Although Tucson can’t claim the invention of salsa we can claim the celebration of it. There are several festivals that take place in Arizona throughout the year celebrating salsa including festivals and celebrations right here in Tucson.
Sonoran Hot dog
You have never had a hot dog until you have tried the Sonoran hot dog. This drool-worthy dish involves a hot dog wrapped in bacon and stuffed with chili. The explosion of flavour will have you coming back for more.
Sun tea, also known as iced tea, is the hot weather beverage of choice for many residents of Tucson. For most of the year it simply gets too hot to enjoy warm tea and the making of Sun Tea involves placing a jug of cold water with 6-8 tea bags in the sun for a few hours until the tea is steeped. Some people add lemon or mint for garnish. This is the ultimate drink to enjoy on a hot Tucson day.
These moist and spicy Spanish snacks can be found everywhere in Tucson. Tamales can be stuffed with a range of flavours inside including meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and more. This traditional Mesoamerican dish is the perfect item to ward off hunger or satisfy a craving.
Now you have it, the 10 must-try foods here in Tucson! Here at Stargate West we have many short-term tenants who stay with us while working or visiting Tucson for an extended period of time. This list is a great way to familiarise them and yourself with the cuisines here in Tucson. If you are looking for an apartment to rent in Tucson check out Stargate West Luxury Apartments.