Festival celebrates role of corn in Tucson’s City of Gastronomy | Tucson Restaurant News

The historical role of corn in the heritage foods of Tucson and the region takes the spotlight at a new monthlong cross-border food festival celebrating three North American Cities of Gastronomy.

“The Pueblos del Maíz” festival kicks off May 5 in Tucson before moving on to San Antonio, and the Mexican cities of Merida and Puebla later in May.

Tucson opens the monthlong festival, which is apropos given we were the first American city to earn UNESCO’s City of Gastronomy designation in 2015. Ensenada, Mexico, earned its the same year, but Merida didn’t get its recognition until 2019, two years after San Antonio.

“Pueblos del Maíz,” produced by the nonprofit Tucson City of Gastronomy with support from Pima County’s American Rescue Plan for funding tourism recovery, runs May 5-8 with events being held at Hotel Congress and Fox Tucson Theater on East Congress Street; Mission Garden at 946 W Mission Lane; and San Xavier Co-op Farm, near the San Xavier Mission.

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The photo exhibit “Maize Traditions in Puebla” by Andrés Lobato will be on display as part of “The Pueblos del Maíz” festival.

Andres Lobato

Events include a block party with street food, cooking demonstrations, a chef showcase dinner, live music, a film screening, a photo exhibit and educational activities. Here’s the schedule:

May 5: Photographer/journalist Andres Lobato’s “Maize Traditions in Puebla” photo exhibit will be on display at The Citizen Hotel, 82 S. Stone Ave., beginning at 5 pm Admission is free.

Fox Tucson Theater, 17 W. Congress St., will host a movie screening for Alberto Cortés’ “Maize in the Times of War” from 6:30 to 9:30 pm; free. The film looks at the importance of corn and the dangers of the crop faces for Mexican farmers. Producer Carlos Rossini and Cinema Tropical director Carlos Figueroa will hold a Q&A following the screening.

May 6: Tucson City of Gastronomy will host the Maiz Showcase, a bocadito dinner experience featuring some of Tucson’s finest chefs at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The dinner will feature 10 Maiz-themed small plates created by local award-winning chefs, restaurateurs and food artisans including Carlotta Flores of El Charro; John Martinez of Tito & Pep; baker Don Guerra of Barrio Bread; James Beard Award winning chef Janos Wilder; Mateo Otero of Rollie’s Mexican Patio; Erika Munoz of Seis Kitchen; Borderlands Brewing chief brewer Ayla Kapahi; Kristel Johnson of Hub Creamery; and Adam Krantz of Monsoon Chocolate. The cost is $50 per person and that includes admission to El Tambo music festival at Congress. El Tambo Fest will include sets by Vox Urbana, El Santo Golpe and El Tambó DJs. It starts at 9:30pm and admission is $15.

May 7: “Pueblos del Maíz Fiesta,” a free block party at Hotel Congress, runs from 5 to 10 pm Gertie & the TO Boyz, Los Hermanos Cuatro, Las Trillizas y Dulce and Native Creed will perform outdoors while Juan Wauters of Uruguay and Los Velvets of Nogales are set to perform inside at Club Congress. The party also will feature more than 15 local food and artisan vendors and a panel conversation about Maiz and the Sonoran Desert; free.

“The Pueblos del Maíz” is a monthlong cross-border festival that starts in Tucson and goes to two Mexican cities and San Antonio.

Andres Lobato

Restaurants and bars that have opened in the Tucson area in 2022

Ren Bakery and Espresso Bar

Ren Bakery and Espresso Bar opened in the former 8 Degrees Ice Cream & Cookies, an 1,100-square-foot space that already had an oven.

Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

4320 N. Campbell Ave., #43


10 am to 8 pm Mondays through Fridays and from 9 am to 8 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

Baked goods from muffins and danish to scones and cinnamon rolls that are used in Ren Coffeehouse nearby, and of course, espresso.

Tanna’s Botannas

Marie and Buddy Lozano place their order at Tanna’s Botannas, 4426 S. 6th Ave.

Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

4426 S. Sixth Ave.



Spicy candies and snacks are on the menu.

Find spicy gushers and other Mexican-inspired snacks at this food truck and soon-to-open shop


Chris Ahlers gets some work done in the main dining room near the retractable doors to the patio after lunch at The Monica, 40 E. Congress St.

Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star

40 E. Congress St.



The Monica opened as an offshoot of El Charro Café. It is named for El Charro’s founder Monica Flin and includes a market along with the restaurant.

New restaurant The Monica, named after El Charro’s founder, is now open downtown

Pacaw’s Wings & Things

Pacaws via Facebook

6255 E. Golf Links Road



Opened March 17.


Bata takes up 6,000 square feet of the historic 1930s warehouse at 35 E. Toole Ave.

Rebecca Sasnett photos, Arizona Daily Star

35 E. Toole Ave.


Bata is owned by Tyler Fenton, who, with two siblings, also owns Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink. The menu will consist of foods touched by fire, whether being grilled, charred, flame dried or burned (on purpose).

New restaurant Bata, from the owners of Reilly Pizza, brings a fire-kissed menu to downtown

Guadalajara cricket

Guadalajara’s in Marana has opened with the same classic Mexican dishes as its sister locations in Tucson.

Cathalena E Burch, Arizona Daily Star

5955 W Arizona Pavilions Drive



This Mexican restaurant at 5955 W. Arizona Pavilions Drive is the third location for chef-owner Seth Holzman, which include Guadalajara Grill Mexican, 4901 E. Broadway, and Guadalajara Grill Fiesta, 750 N. Kolb Road. It has the same menu of classic Mexican food.

This long-awaited Mexican restaurant has opened its doors in Marana

Cruda Mariscos & Oyster Bar

Server Lili Garcia brings drinks to the outdoor dining area in front of the new restaurant Cruda, 31 N. Scott Ave., Tucson, Ariz., Feb. 10, 2022.

Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star

31 N. Scott Ave.


Cruda is the newest in a slew of opulent, Mexican-influenced restaurants across Tucson. It was opened by Danny Cordova in the space left when his first downtown venture, La Chingada, moved into the former location of the now-closed restaurant Cafe Poca Cosa.

Oysters and ceviche micheladas: New restaurant Cruda just opened downtown

The Delta

Owners of the newest downtown restaurant, The Delta. From left, Steve Dunn, Travis Peters and Bryce Zeagler hope to create a “libation and culinary thrill ride.”

Courtesy of The Delta

135 S. Sixth Ave.



The Delta officially opened on New Year’s Day. It is the downtown sister project of local favorite The Parish.

Tucsonans might recognize The Parish as a restaurant that transforms an Oro Valley strip mall into a shot of New Orleans. The Delta will feature the same Southern Hospitality it will be a bar with a grill menu instead of the Parish’s gumbo.

‘Rock star meets Southern belle’: Long-awaited restaurant The Delta is now open downtown

Midtown Vegan Deli and Market

Midtown Vegan Deli and Market wants to make veganism more accessible for all.

Ellice Lueders photos, Arizona Daily Star

5071 E. Fifth St.



Tanya Barnett started her deli and market out of a desire to make veganism more accessible — for meat eaters and die-hard vegans alike. She asked vegans what ingredients they needed to find and placed them on her first order.

This new restaurant and market aspires to be a one-stop shop for all kinds of vegan food

BoSa donuts

6872 E. Tanque Verde Road



BoSa Donuts serves more than donuts and coffee. You can get lunch there with sandwiches and other drinks.

The Century Room at Hotel Congress

Shana Oseran spearheaded the idea of ​​opening a jazz club called the Century Room inside Hotel Congress’ former Copper Hall. The borderlands jazz and mezcal tasting lounge will open on Feb 4.

Mamta Popat, Arizona Daily Star

311 E. Congress St.



Tucson’s only jazz club, The Century Room borderlands jazz club and mezcal tasting lounge, is in the former Copper Hall banquet space at Hotel Congress.

This new downtown club will serve as a home for jazz in Tucson


Pictured is half of the V-Licious Vegan Burger and veggie chips from Fullylove’s now in Main Gate Square

Gloria Knott, Arizona Daily Star

994 E University Blvd.



This lunch to late-night munchies spot has classic and vegan burgers and sandwiches and sides and a considerable dessert menu.

Ni Hao Tea

2800 N Campbell Ave.


Ni Hao Tea, with this new location, serves Boba tea and smoothies.

Frida’s Cafe

Frida’s Cafe’s Diego Rivera sandwich is a spin on a BLT, with a chile relleno instead of bacon, plus some avocado.

Ellice Lueders

5526 E Grant Rd



Menu items are inspired by the famous painter couple, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

Bun Dock Vietnamese Noodle

3225 N Swan Road, Suite 111



The restaurant specializes in Vietnamese Bún (Vermicelli Salad Bowls)

Squared Up Pizza

Squared Up Pizza uses fresh pepperoni and co-owner Mario Badali’s family recipe for Sicilian pies.

Ellice Lueders photos, Arizona Daily Star

5870E Broadway



This pizza spot presents Sicilian pies like you get in New York. Their pies are in the traditional Sicilian square, with a thicker base and crunchy crust.

New pizza spot Squared Up brings a slice of Sicily (and New York) to Tucson

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at [email protected] On Twitter @Starburch

APR 27 (WED) / 4 PM



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