Tucson Meet Yourself Ricuras de Venezuela

Arepa Pabellón sandwich, of shredded beef, plantains and black beans on a deep fried masa cake from Ricuras de Venezuela food truck in 2016.

This story was produced for the Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival, Oct. 12-14 in downtown Tucson, by #ThisIsTucson. Thank you for supporting the local organizations that support us!

Here in Tucson, you can't do October without eating an octopus ball. 🐙 We've been counting down the days until the annual Tucson Meet Yourself festival this Friday, when the whole world stops to eat a savory snack.

In addition to those doughy Japanese takoyaki balls, this year's festival boasts 55 other food vendors serving delicacies from Poland, Colombia, Laos, Turkey and more.

What's new? Look out for Chilean food, empanadas and humitas from La Fondita Chilena. Nearby, Oaxacan-native José Toledo will dish out Oaxacan mole at his Holy Toledo Catering booth. And then there's Koshary, the national dish of Egypt made from rice, legumes, pasta, onions and more. You can find the spicy vegan platter at a booth called Masri, where it's adapted from a family recipe.  

Also on our plates this year: The Culture Kitchen food demo stage will return with demonstrations exploring culinary tradition. And for 2018, the Southwest Folklife Alliance is teaming up with UNESCO City of Gastronomy to present the first Food Justice Expo with information from local food organizations. 

Tucson Meet Yourself has gotten so big that it had to move out of El Presidio Park due to weight concerns with the underground parking garage. But don't worry, you won't miss it downtown. It will stay on Jácome Plaza and stretch along Stone Avenue, Church Avenue and Pennington Street. The free festival runs throughout the weekend, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday Oct. 12-13, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14. Go to tucsonmeetyourself.org for more information and a detailed map of the vendors. Salud! 

European and Middle Eastern

Turkish ice cream man Yasar Kurt came here from Turkey especially to demonstrate the art of Turkish ice cream serving during Tucson Meet Yourself at El Presidio Park in Tucson, AZ. Photo taken Friday, October 11, 2013.

• AHEPA/Daughters of Penelope: Greek food at booth C9

•  Lajkonik: Polish food at booth F6

•  Café Francais: French cuisine at booth F18

•  Arslan’s Grill: Bosnian food at booth F17

•  Sema Foundation: Turkish cuisine at booth F21

African food

•  NEW — Masri: Egyptian foods like Koshary, the national dish of Egypt at booth F39

•  NEW — Nur Market and Restaurant: East African and Somali cuisine at booth F15

Asian and Pacific

Pad thai, chow mein, beef and chicken kebab with fried rice from the Thai Tucson booth in 2016.

•  Saffron Indian Bistro: Indian food at booth F10

•  New Delhi Palace: Indian food at booth C8

•  Thri Ratana Buddhist Temple: at booth F14

•  Wat Buddhametta: Thai food at booth F3

•  Takoyaki Balls: Japanese octopus snacks at booth F48

•  Laos Academic Organization: at booth F46

•  Vietnamese Students Association: at booth F40

  Filipino American Students Association: at booth F23

•  Filipino American Sampaguita: at booth F43

Latin American

Chickens roast around lunchtime.

•  NEW — La Fondita Chilena: Chilean food at booth F16

•  Inca’s Peruvian cuisine: at booth F19

•  Ricuras de Venezuela: at booth F53

•  Club Costa Rica: at booth F4

•  Club Colombia:at booth F7


Jerk chicken from the CeeDee Jamaican Kitchen booth last year.

•  CeeDee’s Jamaican Kitchen: at booth C6

•  D’s Island Grill: Jamaican food at booth F12

•  Safe Mission: Jamaican food at booth F45

Patricia’s Cuban Kitchen: at booth F8

•  Caribbean Soul Cuisine: Virgin Islands cuisine at booth F38

Mexican food

Carne asada and chicken tacos from Los Chiquiles. Food from Mexico and other Latin American countries can be savored during the yearly Tucson Meet Yourself festival downtown.

NEW — Holy Toledo Oaxacan mole: at booth F44

NEW — Mariscos Chihuahua: at booth C10

NEW — BK Tacos: at booth C4

•  El Taco Rustico: at booth F13

•  Matilde’s Sonoran Kitchen: at booth F26

•  Santa Cruz Church/Little Mexico: at booth F5

•  Los Chiquilines: Aguas Frescas at booth F49

Native American

Helpers and staff of Tucson's Cafe Santa Rosa keep super busy making Indian Fry Bread during opening day of the 44th edition of Tucson Meet Yourself at El Presidio Park in Tucson, AZ. on October 13, 2017.

NEW — San Xavier Co-op Farm: cholla bud salsa, mesquite cookies and more at booth F35

• Café Santa Rosa: at booth F50

Yoeme Barrio Libre: at booth F11

The O’odham Ladies: at booth F25

San Ignacio Yaqui Council: at booth C7

African American soul food 

BBQ ribs, beans and cole slaw from the COGIC (Church of God in Christ) Women booth last year.

Gethsemane Cogic Women: at booth F36

Mama Carey’s Catering: at booth F24

Regional American food

We got the combo plate with Kalua pulled pork (top), katsu chicken (left) and kalbi beef short ribs, $11.50, during a visit to Solid Grindz in Craycroft Road in 2016. 

• NEW — Solid Grindz: Hawaiian food at booth F9

• NEW — Off The Hook Seafood: New England and Southern food at booth F37

Tucson Invitational Games: Ballpark Foods at booth C5

Mr. Tri Tip: Santa Maria Style at booth F1

World street snacks

Lines cue up early for refreshing Raspados.

• Sonoran Sno Cones: raspados at booth F34

The Corn Roasters: at booth F51

Frost Gelato: at booth F54

KoolTwists: soft serve ice cream at booth F52

Hawaiian Shave Ice: at booth C1

J’s Kettle Corn: at booth C3

Just Churros: at booth C2

Fruitshack Smoothies: at booth F55

King Corn: at booth F2

Lil’ Orbits: donuts at booth F20

Tucson Meet Yourself: Come for the food ... stay for the culture!

The 45th annual Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival — Oct. 12-14, 2018 in Jácome Plaza and the streets surrounding the downtown library — features all this delicious food PLUS amazing performers, folk artists, exhibits, and activities for all ages.

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You can find #ThisIsTucson's food writer Andi Berlin at a taqueria near you, taking tiny bites and furiously scribbling into an old notepad.