Looking back on 2014, it seems a more mature Tucson has blossomed. The momentum downtown is still strong, but it’s a ‘settled’ strong. Parking meters now take credit cards. The streetcar zips along its route. Foot traffic is heavy yet feels normal. And, growth is still happening.
Downtown gained Hi-Fi Kitchen & Cocktails, R Bar, Barrio Cuisine, Fired Pie, Planet Smoothie, Pueblo Vida, Miss Saigon, and Pizzeria Bianco. And, although 4th Avenue is not technically considered downtown, it’s close enough to include The Coronet, and ahem, US Fries. I predict Ermanos, the new beer garden going in between The Coronet and US Fries will be a much welcomed hot spot in 2015, as will the February slated breakfast joint, Nook. Downtown also gained the Reilly Basement Bar, but with a New Years Eve opening, its pretty unfair to lump it into a notable 2014 opening. Sure to be a hot spot, however in 2015.
Things aren’t only happening downtown. The foothills gained Nox, Poppy Kitchen, a new Whole Foods, a new Tucson Tamale, and Reforma Cocina Y Cantina. Central and east Tucson gained Jackson Tavern, a new Poco & Mom’s, Baja Cafe, Sidecar, Cashew Cow, Goodness Fresh Food & Juice Bar, and another new Tucson Tamale at Sabino Canyon and Tanque Verde.
But, the food scene in Tucson isn’t only about restaurants. The Food Conspiracy’s Chicken Coop tour continues to sell out regularly. The Santa Cruz River Farmers Market feels perfectly at home at Mercado san Agustín. And, Heirloom Farmers Markets’ move of their wildly popular St. Phillips Plaza farmers market to a more permanent location with much more parking and a Pima County partnership produced pavilion at Rillito Park is a sure testament to the strength of the local foods movement. The fact that St. Phillip’s Plaza continues to run a farmers market (managed by FoodInRoot) only solidifies the demand for local produce.
Speaking of Heirloom Farmers Markets, the inaugural Viva La Local Food Festival in April followed by the second Viva event in November brought nearly 15,000 visitors to Rillito Park. Judging by the second event, I’d say it’s safe to assume that Heirloom will step it up even more in 2015.
And finally, we learned that someone, somewhere really loves Tucson Foodie. A whole bunch of someones. After all, we won Tucson Weekly’s award for Best Blog of 2014. For that, we thank you. Even if we now refer to it as a regional online food magazine.