We’re used to Tucson mainstays like El Charro being brought up in national publication as must-taste Tucson destinations, but a recent entry in the Forbes magazine travel blog encourages travelers to go beyond the historic downtown restaurant.
Canadian travel writer Carolyn B. Heller’s “Five Don’t-Miss Local Tastes in Tucson” steers visitors mostly to the southside, where she raves about the classic cheesy caramelos — Tucson’s version of the quesadilla — at Tacos Apson, 3501 S. 12th Ave.; and suggests that two bakeries — El Rio Bakery at 901 N. Grande Ave. and La Estrella Bakery at 5266 S. 12th Ave. — offer the city’s best variety of empanadas.
Tucson’s also known for its raspados and Heller suggests you can’t beat the fruity, icey selection or quality of Sonoran Delights, 921 W. Congress St. south of downtown; and Juice N' Fruit Raspados, 3502 S. Sixth Ave., Suite 100.
For green corn tamales, Heller touts Tucson Tamale Co.’s version that is “filled with gooey cheese and mild chiles, making a substantial — and scrumptious — vegetarian lunch.” The shop’s original location is at 2545 E. Broadway and a second location is at 7159 E. tanque Verde Road.
Not surprisingly, Heller taps the carne seca from El Charro, 311 N. Court Ave., as one of Tucson’s most distinctive flavors. Her suggestion: “Try it stuffed into a crisp corn taco, wrapped into an enchilada and topped with piquant green tomatillo sauce, or grilled with green chilies, tomatoes, and onions, then piled on a platter overflowing with guacamole, rice, beans, and calabacitas (squash).”