The University of Arizona is deeply embedded in its home city of Tucson.
UA alumna Sherry Weiss, co-owner of Taste of Tucson Downtown, recently provided a culinary tour of the downtown Tucson hub to the UA Alumni Association.
Here, Alumni Association writer Mary L. Peachin shares a bit about the food scene that sits just beyond the boundaries of the campus:
Gathering at Agustín Kitchen, our group listened intently as Chef de Cuisine Brandon Dillon described the "smears" served in small canning jars: roasted jam and whipped pork belly, Swiss chard and goat cheese, raw walnuts with honey and fig, smoked salmon with capers, and homemade Arizona burrata.
Crossing Avenida del Convento, we hopped on Tucson’s streetcar and rode to the La Placita station. Walking along Church Avenue, we passed the life-size sculpture of Pancho Villa and admired Pima County Courthouse’s Moroccan-style mosaic dome, atop Spanish Colonial architecture designed by Roy Place.
After seeing a courtyard replica of the Presidio and David Black's red sculpture, "Sonora," in Jácome Plaza, we walked east along Congress Street for a brief stop at the art-deco Fox Tucson Theatre, built in 1930 and formerly home to the Saturday Mickey Mouse Club.
We stopped for culinary delights at many of the new downtown restaurants along the way before concluding our journey at Maynard's Kitchen, where in 1880 the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad put Tucson on the map. Now a Tucson hotspot, the popular contemporary restaurant, named for artist Maynard Dixon and Southern Pacific engineer Maynard Flood, and the adjacent Maynard’s Market are sister destinations across from the Hotel Congress.
On Jan. 22, 1934, a fire engulfed the Hotel Congress. The infamous John Dillinger gang, lying low there, offered a generous tip to firefighters to retrieve their luggage. Following a five-hour stakeout, Dillinger was captured at a nearby home.
On our three-hour, two-mile Taste of Tucson Downtown tour, Weiss (a 1968 UA graduate) had taken us through the city's culture and history, introduced us to its new streetcar and filled our bellies with creative cuisine.
Photography: Jacob Chinn/UA Alumni Association