Tucson Food Tour: Taste of Tucson Downtown

You all know by now that food tours are my favorite thing to do! I’ve enjoyed food tours in New York, Siem Reap, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Mexico City and Reykjavik! Naturally, when I landed in Tucson, the first thing I looked for was a food tour! Thanks to the Google, I stumbled upon the lovely ladies of Taste of Tucson Downtown and immediately signed up for the Historic Downtown Tour. With so many places to eat in Tucson, this is a great intro to the best downtown Tucson restaurants. The tour is offered every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 1-5pm. Taste of Tucson Downtown also offers a Downtown & 4th Avenue tour every Thursday from 1-5pm.

The historic tour meets at Mercado San Augustin, a cool space that incorporates several eating spaces, a central courtyard and a even a community kitchen. Located in the heart of Tucson’s west side, free parking and easy access to the street car make this an ideal starting point.

Taste of Tucson Downtown

Sherry and Lysa are cousins who decided to start a food tour company after experiencing food tours in their travels. Both former teachers, they also make sure to incorporate lots of local knowledge in between food stops. They work closely with the restaurant community to feature a rotating selection of Tucson’s best restaurants.

Augustin Kitchen

Our first food stop is Augustin Kitchen, nestled in the corner of the Mercado. The space is open and light, with vintage decor set against the white tile. The chef gave us an overview of the kitchen’s philosophy, which focuses heavily on sustainability and locality. Our samples here included a goat cheese brulee with mulberries and a cheese & fruit plate. According to those in the know, the calamari is a must-try, but was not available when we visited. (I’ve since returned and can confirm – the calamari is ah-mazing!)

From here, we jump on the streetcar (24-hour pass included in your $65 food tour ticket) and head over to the downtown area. Between food stops, we learned a lot about the history of Tucson and were given insider tours of the Congress Hotel and the art deco Fox Theater.

Caffe Milano

Our second food stop is La Fufi Caffe Milano, a cozy Italian joint in the heart of downtown. The Chef, La Fufi, served us a penne pasta dish. Penne Arrabiata looks like your average pasta with red sauce…ho, hum…but this sauce had a spicy kick to it that was super unique and delicious! I knew I shouldn’t eat all the pasta with 3 more food stops, but I just couldn’t help myself!

tucson italian restaurant

The Caffe also offers cooking classes on Monday evenings, which include a visit from La Fufi’s husband, the sommelier! Sounds like I need to sign up for one of those!

Elliott’s On Congress

Our third food stop is Elliott’s on Congress, a family restaurant serving American fare and the largest selection of infused vodka flavors in Tucson. There are over 30 vodka flavors, but since this is a food tour, not a drinking tour, vodka tasting will have to wait for my next visit. At Elliott’s, we had duck sliders and jicama cole slaw. The duck sliders (delicious!) had crunchy fried onions that really added to the texture of the slider. Definitely want to come back here for a full meal!

Charro Steak

Food stop #4 is Charro Steak, upscale cousin of the El Charro chain of Mexican restaurants. Charro Steak focuses on ranch to table cuisine, and the chef here is very passionate about the quality of his food! At Charro Steak, we were served a trio of deliciousness that included a shredded beef chimichanga (El Charro is the supposed inventor of the chimichanga), a stuffed mushroom and a BBQ meatball. All delicious! This spot is definitely going on my return list of Tucson restaurants.

The Screamery

Continuing our grass-fed theme, we ended our tour at The Screamery for a sweet end to a savory afternoon. We were given the chance to sample many of their unique flavors such as Bacon & Bourbon, Cowboy Cookie and Sweet Cream Honeycomb.  I opted for Pumpkin Pie, which did not disappoint with chunks of graham cracker crust hidden in the creamy pumpkin flavor. Someday, I’ll return and try the Ice Cream Nachos or a flight of ice cream!

Ready to book your Tucson Food Tour? Check their Facebook page for the latest updates and special offers!

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Want to craft your own Tucson food tour based on your taste and schedule? Check out The Food Lover’s Guide to Tucson.

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I was a guest of Taste of Tucson Downtown. These are solely my personal opinions and I was not financially compensated for this post.

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