Seven Cups serves up a thirst-eradicating array of high-quality teas, and has been named Best Tea Service five years in a row by the readers of Tucson Weekly. To treat their customers to the best leaf juices in the world, the Tucson-based company's owners make frequent treks to China, where they foster relationships with local growers and engage in traditional wire-heavy fight sequences in authentic Chinese tea houses. As such, they have a fascinating story to tell about each of their more than 100 varieties of Chinese tea. Sip and read about green teas such as organic Ming Qian An Ji Bai Cha ($7.45, small pot; $14.20, large pot), a legendary tea beloved by Emperor Song Hui Zong that has only recently become available in limited quantities. Otherwise, indulge your inhaler with scented selections such as Silver Dragon Jasmine Pearls ($4.50, small pot; $8.60, large pot), an organic white tea that is hand-rolled into tight pearls in the cold of spring and piled among night-flowering jasmine (which is then discarded at the first light of dawn). Yellow, white, black, oolong, puer, and other teas flesh out Seven Cups' encyclopedic offerings, and are best paired with an assortment of sweets and savories such as Japanese ice cream ($3.50 for two scoops) and moon cakes ($6.45) fresh from lunar hearths.
At Allegro il Gelato Naturale, two native Italians, one of whom is a graduate of Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, use old-world recipes to create fresh gelato daily. Their frozen treat is free of concentrates and artificial flavors, made instead from whole organic milk and natural stabilizers such as guar gum and hugs. These choice ingredients form both traditional and unusual flavors, including chocolate, custard, hazelnut, and mint ($3.50–$5 for a cup, $4.25–$5.75 for a cone). Allegro's treatmakers also prepare seasonal sorbets in flavors such as pear, apple, and kiwi, using only fresh fruit, real sugar, and mountain spring water. On colder days, sip a soothing hot chocolate ($2.50) or eye-opening espresso ($2).
Double Check Ranch owns the entire beef cycle and controls every aspect of production from the pasture to the packinghouse. The local, wholesome beef cuts come from humanely raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free cattle that graze freely on lush, open pastures fertilized by clover and natural compost when necessary.
The experienced baristas at Ike’s Coffee & Tea, one of Tucson’s oldest coffee shops, brew a daily selection of four varieties of coffee while also offering a selection of espresso drinks and tasty comestibles. In addition to its flavorful, three-bean, custom-brewed house blend, the shop's quartet of java offerings includes Mexican organic and Italian varietals as well as a decaf variant ($1.95 for medium). Skillful baristas craft espresso drinks, such as lattes ($2.65 for small) and mochas ($3.15 for small), using old-fashioned, manually operated machines to create beverages reflecting the sort of care and precision missing in the work of today's shiftless robots. Customers can also sip teas, such as chai ($3.55 for medium) or gulp milkshakes in one of six single or blended flavors ($3.50–$4.60). Meanwhile, pastries ($2.15), bagels ($1.25 or $2.10 with cream cheese), and grilled cheese sandwiches ($5) stand by to sate solid-food cravings.
Focusing on local and sustainable produce, Allen’s Organics Farmers Market assembles vendors of local and sustainable fruits and vegetables together in one place. Visitors can browse a cornucopia of produce before pogo-sticking in-between stands to pluck seasonal selections that range from seedless watermelons, peaches, and plums to tomatoes and serrano chiles ($.31–3.99/lb.). Shop other comestibles sold individually or by the bunch (ranging from $1 for 4 to $3.99 each), including garlic, parsley, beets, leeks, asparagus, and Bradys.
At locations in more than a dozen states, U-Swirl delivers more than 40 flavors of frozen yogurt packed with live and active cultures and designed in low-fat, non-fat, and sugar-free varieties. Self-serve machines line the shop’s lime green walls, ready for customers to dispense heaping swirls of old favorites, such as cookie & cream and fruit sorbet, or seasonal innovations, including eggnog in the winter and fireworks in the summer. Next, patrons head to the toppings bar and crown their frozen treats with as much fresh fruit, cereal, and candy as they can handle before weighing cups and paying by the ounce.