A Taste of Tucson

Food, culture, history

Mary L. Peachin, Jacob Chinn photos


Gathering at Agustín Kitchen, our group listened intently as Chef de Cuisine Brandon Dillon described the “smears” served in small canning jars: roasted jam and whipped pork belly, Swiss chard and goat cheese, raw walnuts with honey and fig, smoked salmon with capers, and homemade Arizona burrata. 

Crossing Avenida del Convento, we hopped on Tucson’s modern streetcar and rode to the La Placita station. Walking along Church Avenue we passed the life-size sculpture of Pancho Villa and admired Pima County Courthouse’s Moroccan-style mosaic dome, atop Spanish Colonial architecture designed by Roy Place. 

After seeing a courtyard replica of the Presidio and David Black’s red sculpture, Sonora, in Jácome Plaza, we walked east along Congress Street for a brief stop at the art-deco Fox Tucson Theatre, built in 1930 and formerly home to the Saturday Mickey Mouse Club. 

We stopped for culinary delights at many of the new downtown restaurants along the way before concluding our journey at Maynard’s Kitchen, where in 1880 the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad put Tucson on the map. Now a Tucson hotspot, the popular contemporary restaurant (named for artist Maynard Dixon and Southern Pacific engineer Maynard Flood) and the adjacent Maynard’s Market are sister destinations across from Hotel Congress. 

On Jan. 22, 1934, a fire engulfed Hotel Congress. The infamous John Dillinger gang, lying low there, offered a generous tip to firefighters to retrieve their luggage. Following a five-hour stakeout, John Dillinger was captured at a nearby home. 

Our three-hour, two-mile Taste of Tucson Downtown tour, co-ownwed by UA alumna Sherry Weiss '68, had taken us through the city’s culture and history, introduced us to its new modern streetcar, and filled our bellies with creative cuisine. 

Learn more about the many dining options in downtown Tucson as well as its history and culture at tasteoftucsondowntown.com.