Downtown Tucson’s newest food tour takes patrons on a walking tour that stretches back centuries.
“The Presidio District Experience: A Progressive Food Heritage and History Tour” will be offered from 1-4 p.m. on March 25, April 8, 15 and 29 and will focus on the reasons that Tucson was designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
“This tour shares great stories about Tucson’s history and great local ambiance while highlighting the complex food heritage that Tucson offers,” Kathleen Ericksen, CEO of the Downtown Tucson Partnership, said in a prepared release.
New World foods grown by the Tohono O’Odham and the Old World foods brought over initially by the Spanish can still be found on Tucson menus.
“As an official UNESCO Creative City it is important for us to share and teach about our rich food culture and use it to attract business to our community.” said Felipe Garcia, the executive vice president of Visit Tucson and a board member for the City of Gastronomy.
“We had been hearing from the Downtown Tucson Partnership and Visit Tucson, our two title sponsors, that Tucson needed a regularly scheduled City of Gastronomy tour,” said April Bourie, the Presidio Museum’s director of marketing. “The Presidio District is the perfect place to hold a tour like this because we have so much authentic history in one small area, combined with restaurants that feature heritage ingredients on their menus every day.”
The tour is led by local ethnobotanist Martha Burgess, who has a deep knowledge of Old and New World foods taught to her by Tohono O’odham elders. She has long promoted gardening, cultivating and cooking with heritage plants.
Beginning at the Presidio Museum, participants learn about Tucson’s origins and the food fusions that occurred when the Spanish and Tohono O’Odham were first learning from each other. In addition to tastings of Old and New World foods, participants also enjoy Three Wells Distillery’s Silver and Copper spirits made from prickly pear fruits.
The tour moves on to El Charro, enjoying some of their most popular menu items and a margarita. While sitting in the family’s flagship restaurant, tour participants will learn the history of the family along with stories such as how the chimichanga was created.
The next stop is La Cocina Restaurant/Old Town Artisans, located in the longest-inhabited block in Arizona. Participants can enjoy an appetizer portion of menu items made with both Old and New World ingredients while they are told stories about the residents and businesses the building has hosted in the past. Time for shopping at the many shops in Old Town Artisans is also included.
The final stop is Café a la C’art, housed in the historic Fish-Stevens home at the Tucson Museum of Art. The Café is known for decadent desserts made with regional ingredients. Patrons will also learn about the Fish and Stevens families who once lived there.