Lauded as "Tucson's most celebrated chef" by the New York Times, and the Best Chef in the Southwest by the James Beard Foundation, Chef Janos Wilder has been perfecting his craft for more than 40 years, as evidenced by the simple, elegant cuisine at his latest venture, DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails. After cooking his way through high school and college, Wilder's travels whisked him to the mountains of Colorado, where a three-year residency as a chef at a historic inn propelled him into a lifelong appreciation of locally sourced ingredients. Sojourning to Bordeaux, France in the early ’80s, Janos worked among Michelin Guide Award–winning chefs, where he learned firsthand about French cuisine and techniques.
Returning to the States on a mission to put to his French experiences to work, Janos landed in Tucson. Quickly realizing that the local gardens produced chilies, beans, and squash, he explored ingredients such as prickly-pear cacti, mesquite flour, and Wily Coyotes native to the Southwest landscape. In 1983, his first restaurant, Janos, opened its doors, and there, Wilder pioneered a menu that fused southwestern ingredients with classic French dishes. Today, DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails employs some of those same techniques, drawing from other regions such as Asia to craft fish tacos drizzled with rémoulade, dark-chocolate-and-jalapeño ice-cream sundaes, and a host of imaginative cocktails.