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The Condé Nast Traveler

Condé Nast Traveler Logo
The logo of the Condé Nast Traveler Magazine
We all know Tucson is pretty amazing but, it’s always nice to see others recognize it too. In April Tucson received some well-deserved attention from Condé Nast Traveler. If you don’t know what the Condé Nast Traveler is or why we should care let me tell you.

The Condé Nast Traveler

This worldwide magazine is filled with high luxury and lifestyle as well as hard reporting. Originally the magazine was originally bought by Condé Nast in 1987 and has gone on to win over 25 National Magazine Awards. It’s kind of a big deal to be mentioned by them. They published a list of 11 must-see destinations around the world. Taking that into consideration we think that makes this honor even more prestigious.

What They Said

It goes without saying that Tucson is known for its food. We have tons of accolades and it’s no surprise that most of them revolve around our food. There’s a reason we were UNESCO’s first city of gastronomy. So, it is no surprise to us that the very first thing they mentioned was our food.
Image of 2 Sonoran Hotdogs
Condé Nast Traveler mentions sonoran dogs.
Specifically, they mentioned the hotdogs of El Güero Canelo which won the coveted James Beard Award back in 2018. If you are wondering what is so special about a Sonoran Dog? Well, for starters, it’s wrapped in BACON! From there you pile on beans, sour cream, caramelized onions… No words we have will do this hotdog justice. If you ever find yourself in the Old Pueblo you simply must try one.
Image of the Saguaro National Park
Condé Nast Traveler tips its hat to the Saguaro National Park.
Condé Nast Traveler also mentioned the Saguaro National Park, highlighting the majestic cactus and the abundance of beautiful wildflowers we see every spring. You may think you’ve seen flowers in spring before but the blooms of cacti and succulents you will find here are truly spectacular.
Boldly colored Tucson sunset
Condé Nast Traveler mentioned our beautiful sunsets.
And lastly, they rounded out the article mentioning our sunsets. We can’t blame them, it would really be a shame to not mention them. In fact, we’d wager that we have the most dazzling sunsets in the 50 states. Come to Tucson and find out for yourself!

Catalina Foothills Unified School District is #1 in Arizona

We’ve got a lot of great things going on in Tucson, but I’m here to tell you about one specifically, the Catalina Foothills Unified School District. You might not be aware but birth rates in the USA are declining

Catalina Foothills High School Student Plaza
Catalina Foothills High School Student Plaza

And in our beloved home state of Arizona, that number has declined almost 22% in the last decade. While that figure may sound shocking to you, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually not a bad thing. It’s common knowledge that our teachers are burdened with disproportionate class sizes to what a single teacher can effectively handle. 

Where am I going with this? I’m so glad you asked. Kids need teachers, teachers need schools, schools have districts, and some are better than others. This is why we are so very happy to inform you that one of ours has been ranked the TOP school district in all of Arizona.

Drumroll, please! If you live in Tucson you may have already guessed but for those of you looking to move here with kids, pay attention. The Catalina Foothills Unified School District has been rated #1 in Arizona according to Newsweek!

Catalina Foothills School District
Catalina Foothills School District

Let’s look at some of the statistics.

What You Need To Know

  1. It’s located in Tucson, obviously the best city in Arizona by far. 
  2. CFUSD has a teacher to student ratio of 1:19, while not ideal it’s comparatively better than the competition. The next jump in other districts is 1 teacher to 23 or more students. Sometimes even 35 students are being wrangled by 1 teacher.
  3. Catalina also boasts a 98% graduation rate, that’s the highest in the state!
  4. According to Zip Recruiter, “As of July 2021 the average annual pay for a teacher in AZ is $26,553 a year.” For Catalina Unified they pay their teachers an average of $45,311 a year. That’s an extra $18,000 for our educators and we believe they deserve every penny and then some.

So, there you have it. If you live in Arizona and have children, you might want to consider relocating to Tucson. Parents should always want the best for their children, Catalina Foothills Unified School District is the best in Arizona, hands down.

IFEA Award Kudos to Tucson, AZ

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IFEA Award Kudos to Tucson, AZ!

IFEA Award Luncheon in Tucson, AZ
IFEA Award Luncheon in Tucson, AZ Photo: Dawn Vandaveer www.Prototypes-v3.com

Congratulations are in order, once again, for Tucson, Arizona! Winning the IFEA Award (International Festivals & Events Association) for 2017.

Recently, FEATSAZ (Festival & Events Association of Tucson & Southern Arizona) submitted the video (above) to the IFEA for review.

After reviewing the video, beautiful Tucson, Arizona has met the IFEA’s most highest standards. And in doing so, on Thursday, September 14th, at 1:30 PM the IFEA officially designated Tucson as a World Festival & Event City!

This event took place at the 62nd Annual IFEA Convention, Expo & Retreat at the prestigious J.W. Marriott Starr Pass. This is the third year in a row Tucson has been host to the IFEA Convention and most likely the last in the region for some time to come.

Nevertheless, on top of Tucson becoming the first city in the United States to be recognized as a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy, winning the IFEA Award, for 2017, is a great honor and another huge success for our city! We love you, Tucson!

More about the IFEA:

The main focus of the IFEA is to identify and provide services for those organizations that put on festivals.   More specifically, organizations that create and run quality festivals and events that support their communities in a positive way.

In Tucson, that organization is FEATSAZ (Festival & Events Association of Tucson & Southern Arizona).  FEATSAZ deserves a big kudos for their ongoing work for our community.  They should get an even bigger high five for their video and pdf submission to the IFEA that helped Tucson win the renowned award.

Great job to everyone at FEATSAZ and thank you.

Have a great day,
Tony Ray

P.S. Shout out to my ghost-writer “Gonzo” for writing up this piece.
Also, Please check out these other great Tucson Accolades.

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.