Graphic of Sonoran Restaurant Week logo

Sonoran Restaurant Week

Is there anything more fun that celebrating Tucson’s City of Gastronomy with 10 days dedicated to just doing that? I can’t think of much else that can top it.

Sonoran Restaurant Week, sponsored by Visit Tucson and produced by Storyteller PR & Events, runs from September 10-19 and for $25 or $35 you’ll savor a special three-course meal and also support San Xavier Co-op Farm, this year’s nonprofit beneficiary. With 47 participating restaurants, there’s truly something for everyone!

Fresh off her time on Food Network’s “Top Chef,” here’s Chef Maria Mazon’s BOCA Tacos y Tequila’s $35 menu: Coliflor Ahumado – smoked cauliflower steak served on a duo of moles; Machaca de Camaron – corn quesadillas with Oaxaca cheese stuffed with a shrimp machaca topped with organic lettuce, crema and chard tomato salsa; Choco Flan – coconut flan topped with chocolate cake crumbles drizzled with a salted caramel.

The HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery’s $35 menu: Fried Calamari – fried pepperoncini, pickled red onions, Parmesan, mixed greens, spicy tomato aioli or Roasted Corn and Avocado Salad – pistachios, queso fresco, tomatoes, mixed greens, chili-lime vinaigrette or Prime Fries – shaved prime rib, caramelized onions, HUB cheese; Shrimp Elote Pasta – sautéed shrimp, pico de gallo, roasted corn, sautéed spinach, elote cream sauce, fettuccine, queso fresco or Grilled Salmon – oven roasted fingerling potatoes, lemon-basil crema, arugula-pickled red onion salad or Chicken Pot Pie (can be vegetarian) – leeks, potatoes, peas, carrots, celery and mushrooms in a light cream baked in homemade pastry; choice of HUB ice cream.

Commoner & Co.’s $25 offering: September Harvest Panzanella; Stripped Zucchini & Sonoran Corn Carbonara – with smoked bacon and Hayden Mills pasta; Peach Olive Oil Cake – lemon prickly pear mascarpone, grilled peach, torn basil.

Next month, you can cook with Chef Marcus van Winden from The Dutch Eatery & Refuge and his $25 menu: Elote Avocado Toast – whole grain toast topped with smashed avocado, elote corn salad with cotija cheese and lime or Bang Bang Shrimp Po’Boy – Indonesian spiced fried shrimp, atjar tjampoer, spicy mayonnaise and tomato served on ciabatta with fries or Duck à l’Orange Tacos – slow braised duck, Brussels slaw, pickled red onion and cotija cheese, corn tortillas; Bread Pudding with Crème Anglaise; choice of Desert Sunrise Mimosa, Prickly Pear Margarita, Meyer Lemon Green Tea or soda.

News & Notes
Photo of Chef Carlotta Flores

Heartfelt congratulations to Chef Carlotta Flores, owner and matriarch of Flores Concepts, a company of restaurants (with El Charro Café at the core), airport cafes and a catering business, and a James Beard Award nominee, on being named to Forbes magazine’s 50 Over 50: The Visionary List for 2021.

“Armed with brilliant ideas, experience and a determination to disrupt, these 50 women are making an impact on society and culture through healthcare, robotics, music, dance and so much more,” according to Forbes.

Scrolling through Facebook this morning, I read this post by Chef Carlotta regarding a Yelp reviewer who wrote: “Bomb chimichangas I give this place 3 stars because it’s overpriced. You’re paying for the dining experience I suppose because the inside looks very elegant. But you can find authentic Mexican food elsewhere that’s just as good or better for half the cost.”

Here’s what she wrote in response: “Yes, it can be a little pricey to eat out and there are reasons for this. There is the cost of food, rent, utilities, insurance for the business and benefits for employees, along with paying into workers’ comp and matching social security. To enjoy your meal involves a server, busser, cooks and a dishwasher, all earning at least minimum wage (currently $13 an hour) and with everyone’s inability to hire enough staff, many working overtime. There are many more expenses, these are just the major ones.

“Over the last year we have lost so many of our favorite locally owned restaurants. We feel your pain at the cost of food, not only when you dine with us, but at the grocery store, too. Our locals don’t have corporate backing or purchasing power. Many of us will not compromise the quality of the food we serve our guests.

“It’s important to spend your entertainment dollars wisely. When you spend them locally you are not only supporting Tucson’s businesses, you are helping us to continue to be contributing members to the organizations that help us all to provide a better way of life in our community. Thank you for choosing our Si! Charro family of restaurants and many of the other wonderful family owned restaurants in the UNESCO City of Gastronomy.”

Wise words from a wise woman. Let me know where and what you ate during Sonoran Restaurant Week. A few spots remain for Friday’s Tucson After Dark: 23 Miles of the Best Mexican Food in the U.S. Tour with hosts KVOI’s Chris DeSimone and Visit Tucson’s Felipe Garcia; come join the fun and yummy eats.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen,


Real Deal Chile con QuesoPhoto of Chile con Queso
Serves 8

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ yellow onion, diced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
10 large green chile peppers, roasted, seeded and chopped
½ cup queso asadero (white Mexican cheese), shredded
¼ cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
¼ cup whole milk
Kosher salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat then add onion and tomato; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add chile peppers, cook for 2 minutes then stir in cheese and milk. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until cheese has melted.

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