A little bit of walking, a little bit more storytelling and a lot of food.
That’s what you can expect from the Presidio District Gastronomy Tours, which start up this month and continue through November. The 18-person walking tours, hosted by the Presidio Museum, celebrate Tucson’s UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation, which the Old Pueblo received in 2015.
“We wanted to celebrate Tucson’s designation as the City of Gastronomy and we thought this tour was a really good fit for our mission,” said April Bourie, the museum’s marketing and sales director, adding that the tours were first introduced six months after the designation. “It seemed like a good tie-in.”
Each tour makes a pit stop at four spots in the historic Presidio District downtown. Not only will participants leave with food in their bellies, they’ll learn about Tucson’s food heritage and history.
“It’s a fun thing to do because everyone loves food,” Bourie said. “But it’s a great way to experience the fusion of cultures.”
Here’s a glimpse into the tour:
The first stop is at none other than the Presidio Museum, where participants will eat finger foods and hear about Tucson’s origins and food fusions between Old and New World ingredients.
And just when your stomach starts grumbling even more, the tour will move down the street to El Charro Cafe. Sip on a margarita and nibble on some of the decades-old restaurant’s most popular items.
The Flores family, the masterminds behind El Charro, will be at the tour to tell the best story of all: how the chimichanga was created.
And just when you fall into chimichanga heaven, the tour group will take another short walk to La Cocina, which is located in what’s said to be the longest-inhabited block in the state of Arizona.
Participants will get an appetizer portion of menu items, while listening to stories of residents and businesses that were once housed in the building. And the Presidio Museum could never forget about everyone’s favorite meal: Dessert.
The final stop of the tour is Cafe a la C’Art, which sits in the Tucson Museum of Art and is located in the historic Fish-Stevens home. Participants will get to indulge in something sweet, while learning about the Fish and Stevens families.
OTHER WALKING TOURS
Beyond the food tour, the Presidio Museum hosts three other tours during the fall season.
One tour takes participants through the 2½-mile Turquoise Trail downtown, where participants will learn history facts and see local architecture, from statues in Presidio Park to the historic train station.
“The Turquoise Trail Tour is more focused on the history of Tucson — what was and what still is historic to Tucson,” Bourie said.
The tour, which is offered through December, costs $15 for members and $20 for non-members.
Then there’s the Presidio Block History Tour on Nov. 15, which begins in the museum at the excavation of a Native American pit house.
Participants will get to sit in on demonstrations, which could include anything from blacksmithing to food tastings.
After a tour of the museum, lunch will be served at La Cocina, followed by a look at five historic houses in the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block.
The tour costs $55 for members and $60 for non-members. And right in time for Dia de los Muertos, the Presidio Museum will also host a tour, appropriately named “The Dead of Downtown Tucson Walking Tour,” on Oct. 27.
Historian Homer Thiel will show participants where old cemeteries were located and where Arizona personalities were buried. The tour costs $25 for members and $35 for non-members.