Craft beer scene

The local microbrew scene promises to get a bit bigger this spring when the locally owned Thunder Canyon Brewery, which has served pub fare and craft beers on the northwest side since 1997, plans to expand to Tucson's downtown.

The new brewery will be housed in a former charter school on the southeast corner of East Broadway and South Fifth Avenue - not far from Barrio Brewing Co., at 800 E. 16th St., which also serves craft beers and meals.

Borderlands Brewing Co., at 119 E. Toole Ave. in the Warehouse Arts District, recently started making beer. The brewery opens for public tastings and tours from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, and you can also find its beers at Hotel Congress and Maynards Market and Kitchen.

Tucson's brewery scene also includes Nimbus Brewing Company, and BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse.

The increase fits a statewide trend, according to a recent story by the Cronkite News Service out of Arizona State University, which found there were 39 microbreweries in Arizona in the 2011 fiscal year, which ended in June. That's up from 36 in fiscal 2010 and 31 in fiscal 2009.

We predict at least one more to start locally in the year ahead.

More Korean food

Late in 2010, there was a discussion on Yelp bemoaning a scarcity of Korean restaurants in Tucson.

Since then, Takamatsu reopened at 5532 E. Speedway (after a devastating fire more than a year earlier) with a tweaked menu that includes Korean barbecue.

Last month Azian, a Korean-Japanese fusion concept that offers all-you-can-eat sushi and Korean barbecue, opened at 15 N. Alvernon Way in the former home of Sushi Garden.

Charles and Bok Kim believe there is a bigger appetite for Korean food in Tucson.

The couple plan to open Kimchi Time Korean Restaurant at 2900 E. Broadway by mid-March.

"It's very flavorful, with a lot of spices. People, once they try it they seem to either really love it or hate it," said Charles Kim, who was born in Korea but grew up in the United States. "Eighty percent love it."

One of the longest lines at the most recent Tucson Food Truck Roundup was at MaFooCo, which serves a Mexican-Asian fusion that includes Korean tacos and kimchi quesadillas.

"Korean food is very spicy, just like Mexican food. I think it is the perfect marriage," said owner José Merino, the former editor of the Star's Spanish-language newspaper La Estrella.

The fusion emerged from Los Angeles as a result of the blending of Korean and Mexican communities.

Look for MaFooCo (Mexican Asian Food Company) to serve up interesting and delicious new dishes (noodles!) in the year ahead.

Eating local

Look for more menus to provide more information on where your meals come from in the year ahead.

One of the most thorough has been Pasco Kitchen & Lounge, which opened last year in Main Gate Square. Pasco, after all, is derived from the Latin word for pasture.

The lamb bolognese with house-made papparedelle pasta and mozzarella (made in-house), for example, is made with Southern Arizona-raised black belly sheep.

The menu also tells you the beef is grass-fed. The olive oil is from Queen Creek. The bread for the bruschetta is from Small Planet Bakery and the chips are from Anita Street Market. And much more.