Best Big City for Art is Tucson

Tucson Murals - Tucson Voted The Best Big City for Art
Tucson Murals - Tucson Voted The Best Big City for Art

The Best Big City for Art is Tucson Arizona!

American Style Ranks Tucson #18 Best Big City for Art and we couldn’t agree more!

Tucson is Covered in Artwork!

Murals, murals everywhere! The Tucson Mural Arts Program was created to help diminish property damage and vandalizing in Downtown Tucson.

These murals have not only brightened the community streets, it has given many artists the opportunity to showcase their work and talent to the public.

The City of Tucson Mural Program has attracted many new artists seeking their big break, as well as turning prior graffiti taggers into graffiti artists. Also many struggling artists can now have the chance to get paid and to be recognized.

Tucson assigns artists to the wall owners, allowing communication and planning for the outdoor gallery. This has been a great way for Tucson to showcase its cultural diversity, which has caught the attention of national press and media.

While you walk the streets of Downtown Tucson sometimes it feels as if you are walking through an art museum. Downtown is the best place to see a lot of murals in a small area.

So get you camera or cell phone ready because mosaic, hand painted and kiln fired tile murals are abundant and easy to find.

If you’re an aspiring artist and want to apply to paint a wall mural, email TMAP@TucsonArtsBrigade.org.

Have a great day,
Tony Ray
(520) 631-TONY (8669)
Free relocation package and Tucson fun info

Tucson Awarded City of Gastronomy

Tucson UNESCO Award for Creative City of Gastronomy
Tucson UNESCO Award for Creative City of Gastronomy

UNESCO Awards Little Ol’ Tucson as Creative City of Gastronomy

Darren and I have been saying it for years; Tucson has Outstanding, Amazing, Spectacular, Delicious, Unique, Hard to Find Anywhere Else, Marvelous, Take Your Breath Away, Extraordinary Food! Thanks UNESCO for agreeing, sort of.

UNESCO recently awarded Tucson with the highly prestigious honor of being the first and only city in the United States to earn the title of, “Creative City of Gastronomy.” Tucson has made the New York Times!

What is Gastronomy?

Gastronomy – gas·tron·o·my – ɡaˈstränəmē/ (noun)

No, it is not a hybrid of gas and astronomy. It’s true you can see the stars very clearly here from Tucson especially from Kitt Peak National Observatory which houses the largest and most diverse gathering of astronomical instruments in the world, and it’s also true we love our beans in Tucson– beans beans the magical fruit… very funny. No, GASTRONOMY is the practice or art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food and the cooking of a particular area.

After living here for most of my life, I have dined out a lot and here’s what I can tell you about Tucson food.

Tucson Food

We Love Calle Tepa, a Great Mexican Restaurant in Tucson, City of GastronomyFilled with mom and pop shops, one-of-a-kind eateries and unique hole-in-the-wall cafes, Tucson is a Foodie’s Paradise. This is especially true, if the delicious, hard-to-find-elsewhere, Southwest, Mexican culinary style lights you up! There’s no doubt about it, Mexican food is a specialty and treasure in the Sonoran Desert. The rich history of this area lends itself to many homemade restaurants (and Food trucks) that showcase traditional family recipes.

If that’s not enough, a surplus of quality places and a community of people who appreciate food has inspired people to be creative and innovative. No matter what preference, traditional or adventurous, all pallets can be satisfied in Tucson.

You can try all kinds different dishes here, many of which, explode with flavor from all the different kinds of chili peppers. Some of them are strange like eating nopalitos aka cactus and some of them are mouthwateringly bold and unique like our famous Sonoran Hot Dogs.

Note:

Do not try a Sonoran Hot Dog if you want to enjoy hot dogs the “ballpark way” again, these bad boys are wrapped in bacon, grilled and loaded with beans, grilled jalapenos, sour cream, salsas and I don’t even know what else but they are something to be experienced.

But that’s not all, you can pair your food with local off-the-beaten-path tequilas and agave-derived liquors or with wine from the nearby vineyards in Soniota, AZ just minutes South of Tucson.

As a whole the Mexican food in Tucson in unparalleled with any part of the country including Southern California, New Mexico and Texas, Sorry other states but Tucson does Mexican food like no other! As good as it is, Mexican food is not the be all–end all for this little foodie mecca. There are many other food styles to be enjoyed from a wide array of different styles of Asian Cuisines, a plethora of Indian food places, BBQ, nice Sushi Restaurants, Italian food, Steak Houses and some vegan and vegetarian places as well.

The UNESCO City of Gastronomy Award

Tucson has always been a city of gastronomy but it was officially designated a World City of Gastronomy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and is the first city in the United States to receive such a designation.

There are eight Cities of Gastronomy worldwide—

  • Popayán, Colombia
  • Chengdu and Shunde, China
  • Östersund, Sweden
  • Tsuruoka, Japan
  • Jeonju, South Korea
  • Florianopolis, Brazil
  • Zahle, Lebanon
  • Tucson, United States

Some of Our Favorite Restaurants in Tucson

There are so many brilliant places to eat here and these are just some of our favorites:

We Love North, a Charming Restraunt in La Encantada Mall in Tucson, City of Gastronomy

ZinBurger

ZinBurger is one of the most happening restaurant development groups in town and all of their restaurants are wonderful. Specializing in burger sandwiches you can build your own creation with options such as organic beef, bison, chicken, ahi tuna and veggie burger served with french fries, sweet potato fries, fried zucchini and more. Everything here is yum and there are multiple locations around town!

Penca

Penca is one of my favorite fancy Mexican food places to eat. The food here is so creative and fresh. Homemade chips and 4+ different varieties of fresh salsa daily. Penca has all of your traditional dishes with a twist and the cocktail menu is amazing as well featuring fresh squeezed juices and homemade beers and sangria to delight.

Cafe Poca Cosa & The Little One

This family owned restaurant has 2 locations that are both downtown a few blocks from each other. I recommend the chef surprise dish which is a random sampler make of three of the chef’s nightly dishes. The Little One is a cash only breakfast and lunch cafe featuring some of the favorite menu items off of Cafe Poca Cosa’s menu.

Urban Fresh

Stop into Urban Fresh and be sure to try their freshly squeezed juices. Also, try the salads and wraps. Most of the food, if not all of it, is organic. Check out their rotating lunch special; always delicious. You could also grab a fancy salad or healthy wrap to go.

Ermanos

Ermanos is a wine and beer bar that also specializes in locally grown fresh foods. Everything on the menu is so fresh and mostly local. The wine and beer menu is expansive and it is right on 4th Avenue and open late!

Tucson wasRecently Named the First UNESCO City in North America for GastronomyThe Hub & The Hub Ice Creamery

The Hub boasts a diverse menu of homes style cuisine making this  a great selection for families, large groups or even a first date. After dinner enjoy as scoop of some of the best ice cream in town; it’s homemade!

Martines

Another of my favorite Mexican food restaurants featuring secret family recipes. This place is so charming and delicious. Filled with beautiful art, this place has some seriously cool vibes and it’s BYOB! I recommend trying the veggie tacos or veggie mole burrito but everything is mouth watering.

Time Market

Time market is a great coffee shop and small grocery store filled with healthy, hard to find items. The pizza and salad are to die for and so is everything else.

5 Points Market

This is a go to breakfast and lunch spot for us. Everything here is good: the salads, the sandwiches and the coffee. Plus, there’s a small healthy grocery market in the back with specialty selected items. It’s located downtown near the Ice House Lofts on Stone and 17th Street.

BK Tacos

This is one of our go-to’s for Sonoran Hot Dogs and tacos. This authentic taco shop features a ginormous, help yourself salsa and salad bar with every kind of salsa and taco fixing you could imagine. They also have homemade sangria and a fantastic drink menu. They are open late and it on 1st Ave just North of the University of Arizona.

50 Over 50 Accomplished Women

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Congratulations to Carlotta Flores who made this year’s “50 Over 50: Vision“ in Forbes Magazine! Carlotta is the visionary owner of El Charro Café in downtown Tucson. You may have heard that Tucson is a Unesco City of Gastronomy. Carlotta Flores is a big part of what makes us the best 23 miles of Mexican Food in the States. Flores took the reins from its founder in 1972 and grew the business from a single café to multiple restaurants, over 400 employees, and a licensing and branding deal with MGM Grand in Las Vegas! That takes vision, dedication, and planning. In addition to all that Flores is an integral part of the Tucson community. She has a pay-it-forward mindset and according to her son Ray she reminds people that “sometimes you need to give more than you get to get somewhere.” Flores has been volunteering for over 20 years in Tucson and has served on several boards. She met the woman who nominated her, Rosalie Crowe, through the University of Arizona’s Chicano/Hispanic Student Affairs & Resource Center.

Unbelievable

El Charro Cafe
El Charro Cafe
Flores told the Arizona Daily Star that even though she spoke with the editor of the list, Maggie McGrath, a couple of days before the announcement she still didn’t believe it. Flores kept waiting for someone to ask for money to finalize the nomination but it never came. When the 50 over 50 news hit Tucson social media it began to sink in that the honor was actually real. No one around Flores has any doubt that she deserves the award. In 2019 the heart of the operation, El Charro Café, was a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Award. That award recognized exceptional talent and vision in the culinary world. She may not have won that one (even though we believe she should have,) being on the Forbes list of 50 over 50 is nothing to slouch about. Congratulations Carlotta, you deserve all the goodness that comes your way. Download A PDF Copy of the Article “50 Over 50: Vision” From Forbes.com

Tubac Nominated a Top-10 Small Town for Art by USA Today

Tubac Nominated a Top-10 Small Town for Art by USA Today
Tubac Nominated a Top-10 Small Town for Art by USA Today

I have always been very fond of the adorable historic village of Tubac. Finally, the rest of the world seems to be catching up! In fact, Tubac has been nominated by the esteemed editors at USA Today as a favorite small town for art. The art colony joins other luminaries like Carmel-by-the-Sea in California or Marfa in Texas. Keep reading to learn why Tubac is a favorite for art lovers and how you can vote for this prestigious award!

Tubac is for Art Lovers

Historically, the town is the site of the original Spanish colonial garrison in Arizona. The land originally belonged to the Tohono O’odham tribe and the name is a derivation of he original native name, Cuwak. The town changed hands numerous times until Union troops, upon advancing towards Tucson, caused the Confederate troops stationed there to retreat.

The town of today came about between the 1930’s and the 1960’s. Painter Dale Nichols opened the first art school (in 1948) and began restoring the dilapidated buildings. The school enlisted numerous high-profile artists. In 1964, the students and other residents founded the Tubac Festival of the Arts, thus charting the future for the small desert village.

USA Today 10 Best
USA Today 10 Best

Vote Today for Tubac to be a Top-10 Small Town for Art

USA Today 10Best is well-regarded for their wonderfully insightful lists. If you are planning your educational trip, check out their list of the 10 Best Free Museums. Additionally, if you are looking for a bite to eat check out  their 10 Best Meal Delivery Services. There is something for everyone at 10Best. The greatest part of the lists is the user-interaction. This allows you to weigh in on any of their popular lists and affect the placement of your favorites.

If you have read this far, I encourage you to take a trip to Tubac today. Experience the sights, sounds, and culture offered by the wonderful art colony. Once you have been struck by the magic, please visit 10Best Vote for Tubac. As the title says, vote for Tubac to be one of the 10 Best Small Town Art Scenes in the country. We can help bring even more visitors and share this artistic treasure found just outside Tucson.