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Restaurants, artisans land Tucson City of Gastronomy certificates
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Restaurants, artisans land Tucson City of Gastronomy certificates

As it starts its sixth year as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, the city of Tucson is upping its culinary game, encouraging locally owned restaurants to focus even more attention on the core ideals that put the Old Pueblo on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s radar in 2015.

Last week, the nonprofit Tucson City of Gastronomy, which manages the UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation, announced its second annual list of Certified Restaurants. And in Year 2 of the program to recognize restaurants, the group added two new categories: Certified Food Artisans and Certified Beverage Artisans.

Businesses that landed in those categories include wineries, breweries and distilleries, and producers including a chocolatier and bakers.

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More than 50 restaurants and artisans from throughout the city and region applied for the certification, which was established last year “to leverage the international brand of the designation and to recognize restaurants and other locally owned independent food businesses that we see as setting examples in terms of keeping our food heritage alive,” said Jonathan Mabry, executive director of the Tucson City of Gastronomy.

Criteria include that the businesses support the local food economy, take care of their employees and employ sustainable business practices throughout their operations.

“These certificates are not about how popular they are; it’s about them setting great examples for our culinary industries,” he said.

Twenty-five restaurants were selected for the 2021 certificates, along with 15 artisans for the new categories. Two of the restaurants — The Parish and Tucson Tamale Co. — were also recognized as food artisans.

The last of the lunch-rush diners finish their meals at The Parish restaurant, 6453 N. Oracle Road.

The certified restaurants are: 5 Points Market & Restaurant; Aqui Con El Nene; Aravaipa Farms Orchard & Inn; Barrio Brewing Co.; Barrio Charro; Blue Willow; Boca Tacos; The Carriage House; Charro Steak & Del Rey; Charro Vida; Cup Café; El Charro Café; El Guero Canelo; The Grill at Hacienda Del Sol; The Little One; Mama Louisa’s; The Parish; PY Steakhouse; Rollies Mexican Patio; Seis Kitchen; Taco Fish; Tacos Apson; Taqueria Pico de Gallo; Tito and Pep; and Tucson Tamale Co.

The certified food artisans are: Arizona Baking Co.; Barrio Bread; Carlotta’s Kitchen; Cheri’s Desert Harvest; Chilttepica Salsa; La Estrella Bakery; Maiz Tucson; Monsoon Chocolate; The Parish; and Tucson Tamale Co.

The certified beverage artisans are: Borderlands Brewing Co.; Callaghan Vineyards; Whiskey del Bac; Ten 55 Brewing Co.; and Town Under Black Distillery.

Mabry said Tucson is the only City of Gastronomy that has a program to certify restaurants.

Everything on the menu at Barrio Charro can be eaten on the go. A number of high-top tables are available for dining in.

The certificate program “is us trying to be creative and use the designation to benefit the local food economy and the local food system,” Mabry said.

“All of these restaurants source ingredients locally. The more restaurants that do that helps support more local food production in both the Tucson urban area and Southern Arizona.”

Tucson landed the City of Gastronomy designation in 2015 — the first American city to do so — and last year, had the designation reaffirmed after UNESCO approved its detailed report in 2019 that showed how the city was using the UNESCO designation to support local creators of the food heritage.

Restaurants that opened in Tucson in 2020:

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at On Twitter @Starburch

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