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Presidio District Hosts New City of Gastronomy Tour

Spearheaded by the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum, the Presidio District in Downtown Tucson is hosting a new food tour to celebrate Tucson’s City of Gastronomy designation.  “The Presidio District Experience:  A Progressive Food Heritage and History Tour” will be offered this spring on March 25 and April 8, 15, and 29 from 1-4 pm and will focus on the very reasons that Tucson was designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.  The new program is a collaboration of District merchants with program supporters The Downtown Tucson Partnership and Visit Tucson and media sponsors Arizona Daily Star and Cox Communications.  The tour has also been endorsed by the local City of Gastronomy organization.

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“The Presidio District is the heart of historic Tucson and is a hidden gem in our community.  This tour shares great stories about Tucson’s history and great local ambiance while highlighting the complex food heritage that Tucson offers”, said Kathleen Ericksen, CEO of the Downtown Tucson Partnership.

Felipe Garcia, Executive Vice President of Visit Tucson and Board member for the City of Gastronomy said, “Tucson was honored with this UNESCO designation because of the longevity of our relationship with local ingredients.  But receiving it was just the first step. As an official UNESCO Creative City it is important for us to share and teach about our rich food culture and use it to attract business to our community. Both New World foods grown by the Tohono O’Odham and the Old World foods brought over initially by the Spanish can still be found on Tucson menus, and the restaurants in the Presidio District highlight these.”

“We had been hearing from the Downtown Tucson Partnership and Visit Tucson, our two title sponsors, that Tucson needed a regularly-scheduled City of Gastronomy tour,” said April Bourie, Presidio Museum director of marketing and sales.  “The Presidio District is the perfect place to hold a tour like this because we have so much authentic history in one small area, combined with restaurants that feature heritage ingredients on their menus every day.”

The tour is led by local ethnobotanist Martha Burgess, who has a deep knowledge of Old and New World foods taught to her by Tohono O’odham elders.  She has long promoted gardening, cultivating and cooking with heritage plants. 

Beginning at the Presidio Museum, participants learn about Tucson’s origins and the food fusions that occurred when the Spanish and Tohono O’Odham were first learning from each other.  In addition to tastings of Old and New World foods, participants also enjoy Three Wells Distillery’s Silver and Copper spirits made from prickly pear fruits.

The tour then moves on to El Charro, enjoying some of their most popular menu items and a margarita.  While sitting in their flagship restaurant, tour participants will learn the rich history of the Flores family from members of the family and hear stories such as how the chimichanga was created.

The next stop is La Cocina Restaurant/Old Town Artisans, located in the longest-inhabited block in Arizona.  Participants will enjoy an appetizer portion of menu items made with both Old and New World ingredients while they are told stories about the residents and businesses the building has hosted in the past.  Time for shopping at the many quaint shops in Old Town Artisans is also included.

The final stop on the tour is Café a la C’art, housed in the historic Fish-Stevens home at the Tucson Museum of Art.  Here, participants will enjoy a one of their many famous desserts made with historic regional ingredients and learn about the Fish and Stevens families that inhabited the home.

The cost of the tour is $50/person or $40/person for Presidio Museum members, and pre-registration is required at

The Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum is located on the northeast corner of the original Presidio at 196 N. Court Ave. The Presidio Museum is a reconstruction of the original Tucson Presidio built in 1775.  Docent tours give visitors a glimpse of what life in the Presidio was like for soldiers and other residents.  Additional highlights include an original 150-year-old Sonoran row house and a 2,000-year-old prehistoric pit house.  Living History Days are held on the second Saturday of the month from October through April to allow visitors to experience firsthand Tucson’s history. The Presidio Museum is managed by the Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation, a not-for-profit entity whose mission is to guide and aid in the interpretation of history at the Presidio San Agustín through research, education and living history experiences.