Step aside, Phoenix. Your little compadre Tucson has officially emerged as Arizona's top culinary whiz kid, and you better believe it took more than Sonoran hot dogs to earn the esteemed title (though, truth be told, they're game-changers). Located in the Southwest's deep south, the Old Pueblo has long been a crossroad for many different cultures, making the city of just under half a million an ideal place to stuff your face.
For starters, you’ve got James Beard Award-winning chef Janos Wilder over at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails, where multi-ethnic cuisine is prepared with locally grown -- as in, from a garden around the way -- ingredients. Offering over 25 creatively-stuffed and perfectly-steamed tamales at any given time, Tucson Tamale Company also tops the list, especially after a few Tecates. Meat-lovers can get their deliciously greasy fill and then some at Ten55 Brewing and Sausage House’s two-story, 3,880-square-foot complex and for the off days, don’t sleep on the surprisingly-satisfying vegan fare at Beaut Burger. Serial Grillers, a semi-terrifying food truck serving sandwiches, salads, and craft beer-friendly pizzas worth facing your fears for, is, of course, a cult favorite. For something a little more romantic, try the eclectic, family-owned Cafe à la C'Art inside the Tucson Museum of Art, pair your meal with sweeping desert views (and 800+ wines) at the historic Grill at Hacienda Del Sol, or head to the timeless Coronet for a Thursday evening prix-fixe to remember. Phoenix is great. But Tucson, well, that's how you rise.