Just before the authentic and stylish Tucson motel, The Downtown Clifton, opened to the public, I received an email from Local First Arizona’s Erika Mitnik-White requesting assistance in curating a locally produced snack selection for the rooms.
While there’s a ton of great local food available in and around Tucson in the form of restaurant offerings, produce, salsas, grains, and the like, there’s actually a sparse amount of items available that are non-perishable. Of that sparse list of items, only a handful are a good fit for a hip, renovated, and rebranded motor lodge.
Working with Erika, Downtown Clifton owner Moniqua Lane, and the Downtown Clifton’s namesake, designer Clif Taylor, we hunkered down on an afternoon in one of the Clifton’s tastefully curated rooms.
“You can go to any hotel and get M&M’s and a Coke,” said Downtown Clifton owner Moniqua Lane, “but why not have an experience that gives you the flavor of Arizona?”
Although I pointed Erika in a number of directions for my snack suggestions, she found a solid portion of the items we sampled on her own. Between the both of us, these included:
- Borderlands Brewing’s Noche Dulce
- Regular and Chiltepin Cold Brew from Exo Roast
- Pecans from Green Valley Pecan Company
- A banana based energy bar named Oh! Bars from OhGanics
- Grassfed Beef Crisps from Double Check Ranch
- Zesty Queso Kale Chips from My Rawsome Foods
- Gourmet White Popcorn from Popcorn Country
- Prickly Pear Cactus Candy from Cheri’s Desert Harvest
- Desert Diamond Distillery Gold Miner Dark and Agave Rum
- Cranberry Fax Granola from Bird’s Nest Baking Company
- A number of packaged snacks such as Chile Mangos and Corn Nuts from Incredible Snacks
- Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt bars, olive oils caramels, and Chocolate covered Tiramisu Caramel from Queen Creek Olive Mill
- RBar Energy bars
- Diego Session IPA from Iron John’s Brewing
- Sweet Energy Trail Mix
Based on the sheer number of items we needed to sample, we made a calculated decision to start off with the beer and rum.
While most of the items we sampled were downright tasty, unfortunately, they weren’t all going to make the cut.
Some of the more notable items included Double Check’s Grassfed Beef Crisps, Chile Mangos from Incredible Snacks, and Prickly Pear Cactus Candy from Cheri’s Desert Harvest.
And, I even learned something. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen those Prickly Pear Cactus Candies on shelves in tourist traps all over town and never tried them. It’s a shame really. All these years I’ve missed out on a truly delicious, locally produced gummy candy. And, I love gummy candy.
So, what did make the cut? Exo Coffee’s bottled cold brew, RBar Energy Bars, Double Check’s Grassfed Beef Crisps, Bird’s Nest Granola, Zesty Queso Kale Chips from My Rawsome Foods, and the Gourmet Popcorn.
We’re lucky in general to have Exo Roast in town, let alone their cold brew. Bottled cold brew and coffee has become quite plentiful in mainstream stores, so it’s great to have a local option, especially one with a chiltepin kick.
If you missed our recent feature on RBar, check it out here. A solid local variety of energy bar that’s seeing major growth, RBar is a delicious bar with a higher moisture content made with simple ingredients.
While you might expect beef jerky from Double Check’s Grassfed Beef Crisps, it’s actually much thinner and lighter, hence the name “crisp”.
For some of the items, the fact that a local variety exists makes it wonderful. While popcorn is available all over the place, why not use a local company? Same goes for the granola.
The key takeaway is that it’s possible to source non-perishable snacks locally, but slightly more challenging than sourcing fresh ingredients. If a business owner had a very specific product in mind, sourcing locally would be more challenging, but depending on the product – and budget – it’s highly likely that a company would step up to the plate.
Read all about Erika’s Downtown Clifton tasting experience at localfirstaz.com.
For more information about The Downtown Clifton, visit downtowntucsonhotel.com.