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It’s a Sonoran Thing

In Tucson, we take our street food seriously, even beyond the taco.

“Street food” is all the rage, but we’ve enjoyed a smorgasbord of curbside cuisine for decades. Tucson stakes claim to the “Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food” north of the border—a 23-mile section of the city boasting the highest concentration of authentic Mexican eateries. Whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack, Tucson street vendors have plenty to offer. You may not need a fork, but we suggest plenty of napkins.

Of course, we have our world-famous Sonoran hot dogs, and soft tacos are sold all over town, but to taste more diverse offerings of this area, try one or two of the following:

Empanadas are miniature handheld pies filled with fruit (or savory delights). With an empanada in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, you’re ready to take on the world. To cool down on a hot summer day, a frosty raspado will surely satisfy. These shaved ice treats are soaked in fruit syrup and topped with fresh fruit, nuts, or just about anything imaginable. Sometimes a scoop of ice cream is tucked into the bottom of the cup or cream is drizzled on top. Raspado shops are found all over town and offer plenty of street food choices, all with a south-of-the-border twist.

To go with your raspado, ask for tostitos. The person behind the counter will open a bag of corn chips and then pour on house toppings: carne asada, pork skins, jicama, lime— the list is only limited by what the restaurant has on hand.

For lighter fare, pico de gallo is the way to go. We’re not talking about the chunky salsa here. Pico de gallo, in this case, is a fresh fruit salad doused with lime juice, salt, and chili powder. Another choice is a cup of elote, roasted corn nibs tossed with butter, mayo, and Mexican cheese.

To finish off your day, a couple of churros make the ideal dessert. Long twists of sweet dough are fried and then tossed in cinnamon sugar. Perfecto!

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