Matt’s Organics eliminates shopping-cart rage by delivering boxes of freshly harvested organic produce directly to customers' doors. Receive the $36 produce box of farmed bounty designed to fulfill nutrition needs for a single person, a small family, or a coterie of prairie dogs. The box bestows equal attention on fruits, vegetables, and salad fixings, giving each the deed to one-third of its square footage. Though undiscriminating grazers will relish the surprise of discovering previously unknown provisions, particular eaters can use the preference form to indicate five foods denied admission to the mouth and five foods on the preferred guest list.
An annual jaunt through a labyrinth of agriculture, Apple Annie's Produce and Pumpkins pits prescient guests young and old against a pasture of sizable stalks. As young ones and inner children sift their way through sky-high garrisons of corn, they must answer questions about the farming lesson that begins the maze. Correct answers will lead them out, and incorrect answers will lead them further into the maze’s cinnamon-scented core.
Donna DiFiore's metaphorical journey into the restaurant business began with an actual journey. When her friend Elissa told her she was going on a road trip across the country from her hometown in chilly Massachusetts, Donna agreed to join—unaware that she was about discover her life's calling and a new home.
When the women stopped in Tucson, Donna didn't want to leave. As she explained to reporters from Tucson Weekly, "I arrived here—it was Halloween Eve in '76—and everybody was wearing shorts, and it was just gorgeous." Donna took a job at a local eatery, working the floor, serving customers, and eventually rising to the head of the restaurant.
Thirty-eight years later, Donna continues to captain Delectables, which has become a bit of an iconic gathering spot for old and young alike. Returning visitors linger over glasses of wine at the rustic wooden bar, reminiscing over the crème brûlée and live jazz they enjoyed from that very same spot years ago. University students bask beneath the lush foliage of the outdoor patio, awaiting meals of Mexican enchiladas, Italian pastas, and French bistro specialties. Chefs bustle about the kitchen seven days a week, beginning each day by whipping up hearty egg breakfasts before moving onto internationally inspired lunches and dinners. Late in the night on Friday and Saturday, they simmer up an after-dark menu of eclectic nibbles and entrees.
The restaurant is housed in a historical, renovated Harley-Davidson showroom and abounds with unusual knickknacks and antiques, from a cash register from an old hotel in Santa Cruz to a walk-in refrigerator from 1898. Many of the wares and coffee mugs were created by local artists, and the mesquite planks that serve as plates were carved by local craftsmen. The airy space plays hosts to special events throughout the week, including live music from local artists, poetry slams with local poets, and boxing matches between local librarians.
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.
Owner and chef Allen Yap began his culinary career in 1991, cooking alongside his mother and father at the family's first restaurant, which they founded after relocating to Tucson from Malaysia. Inspired by his childhood in Asia and driven by a desire to innovate, he took the reins at Neo Malaysian Kitchen and designed a menu that incorporates the spices, cooking methods, and flavors of Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Malaysian cuisine. The resulting blend of sushi, spicy noodle dishes, and aromatic curries earned his restaurant the award for Best Asian Cuisine & Sushi from Arizona Foothills magazine in 2011.
Along with the inventive brand of fusion fare, bartenders keep spirits high by mixing potent cocktails, pouring glasses of sake, and disguising bottles of domestic and imported beers as adorable kittens. The wine cellar brims with hand-selected varietals from the vineyards of Italy, Washington, and Napa Valley, including the Uppercut cabernet sauvignon, which teems with notes of dark fruit, expresso, violet, and spices.
The restaurant's theme of updating the traditional carries over into its decor, which features stone walls inlaid with small statues. Towering bamboo shoots coil beneath modern, curved lanterns that hang from the ceiling and light the dining room as delicately as a beach ball hosting a firefly high-school reunion.
Tom and Kenny Lam's recipe for delectable banh mi—Vietnamese sandwiches on a baguette—is a matter of public record. The Arizona Daily Star sought out the father-and-son team to publish their techniques, guiding readers through prepping the bread, pickling the vegetables, and marinating the pork. The instructions stem from the kitchens of iLuv Pho, the restaurant owned by Tom and managed by Kenny, where their variations of banh mi comprise a popular lunchtime segment of the menu.
The sandwiches have been labeled "out of sight" by Tucson Weekly, though they only cover a small subheading of the Lams' authentic Vietnamese plates. Also on the list are hearty bowls of pho, dappled with rice noodles, beef, and seasonings. Curries and stir-fries imbue entrees with fiery aftertastes, combated by the cool sips of slushes in flavors such as mango, red bean, and coconut. Chewy balls of tapioca—or boba—hide inside the frosty drinks, waiting to be slurped through straws or launched into a free-for-all game of marbles.