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The First American UNESCO City of Gastronomy – Now Home to Two 2019 James Beard Semifinalists

Following an America’s Classic award win last year for Sonoran hot dog legend El Guero Canelo, Tucson’s culinary scene has been honored with two James Beard Award semifinalist nods this morning – Don Guerra of Barrio Bread in the Outstanding Baker category, and El Charro Café in the Outstanding Restaurant category.

They are both among 20 semifinalists in their respective fields, those categories will be trimmed to five finalists each on Wednesday, March 27 at a press conference in Houston. The winners of the Beards will be announced at a ceremony in Chicago on Monday, May 6.

Since 2009, operated first out of owner/baker Don Guerra’s garage, Barrio Bread has been dedicated to local grains, wild yeast cultures, long fermentation, hearth baking and Tucson’s food economy. Turning out incredible loaves out of his small Broadway Village space, Guerra is also an educator and incubator, helping other local bakers to incorporate local grains into their products, whether that’s Iraqi naan or flour tortillas.

El Charro Café has been a Tucson staple since 1922 and female-owned (now by just-as-vibrant-as-ever matriarch Carlotta Flores) just as long. With hand-crafted recipes reflecting classic and modern views on Sonoran cuisine, El Charro is the restaurant to which every Tucson takes their visitors – as well as one locals can count on for an amazing meal year-round. The Flores family has expanded their reach to multiple new concepts, but El Charro Café will always be an icon of what food in Tucson really means.

“Visit Tucson is proud to help tell the stories of these great Tucsonans and their great culinary businesses,” said Dan Gibson, director of communications at Visit Tucson. “Barrio Bread and El Charro aren’t just semifinalists because they make delicious food, but also because they’re an active part of the Tucson gastronomical narrative – Tucson is a great place to eat because food in Tucson tastes unlike anywhere else.”

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