Wendy Garcia of Tumerico (Photo by Jackie Tran)

Tumerico charms locals with quality food & warm vibes (& free yoga)

August 6, 2019
a man wearing a hat
By Jackie Tran
By Jackie Tran

Both locations are fun, fresh, and community-focussed.

Garcia grew up on a farm in Northwest Mexico, helping the family cook as a child. She helped her father with the vegetables.

“I was always around when he was in the kitchen,” said Wendy Garcia, owner-chef of Tumerico. “They didn’t have any recipes but the food was so good. It reminds me of being little and having fun with the people you love.”

The recipe-less mentality clung to Garcia. Once she was 17, she moved to Tucson and worked in various kitchens. This included Taco Bell and Chipotle, where she was fired — she had trouble sticking to such precise measurements all the time.

However, her favorite jobs were at Feast and Primo. Feast changed (and still changes) their menu monthly, while Primo co-owner and executive chef Melissa Kelly is a two-time James Beard award winner.

Interior at Tumerico
Interior at Tumerico (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Where it all began

In 2014, Tumerico started as a stand selling healthy prepackaged vegetarian meals at farmers markets. Items ranged from butternut squash tamales to burritos.

In November 2016, Garcia opened the original brick-and-mortar location at 2526 E. Sixth St., across the street from Rincon Market.

Step into the humble space to find bright turmeric orange walls, complete with a painting of a turmeric root. Customers can help themselves at the self-serve station for a cup of coffee, which is included with the cost of the meal.

Interior at Tumerico
Interior at Tumerico (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The drink menu features kombucha and tepache on tap ($4), fresh juice blends ($7), aguas frescas, and an assortment of spiced lattes. For example, the Saffron Latte ($6) features saffron, coconut oil, turmeric, mesquite flour, and soy milk.

With Tumerico’s ever-changing blackboard menu, focusing on a particular dish would be tricky. However, if you’re lucky, you might find the Kristen Stewart Crush Tacos.

When inspiration strikes

“I read somewhere [that Kristen Stewart] likes carnitas and green chile, so I put them on a taco,” Garcia said. Garcia has a crush on Stewart, an actress best known for her work in the Twilight movie series.

The tacos, also topped with mushrooms and guacamole, are vegan. Garcia cooks mostly vegan, with eggs and cheese as exceptions for those who want it. She makes carnitas from the flesh of jackfruit, complete with a meaty texture and none of the oink.

The menu, inspired by global cuisines, is always changing

While the menu is primarily Mexican, past creations have drawn inspiration from countries such as Korea (Korean Rice Bowl), Cuba (Cuban Tacos), Spain (Paella), and more.

“I just don’t want to get bored,” Garcia said. “Otherwise it just feels the same. I’m afraid of feeling like I don’t want to do this anymore. That’s also why I don’t like to plan the menu. I want it to be fun for me.”

Once you’ve ordered and sat down, staff will bring you a bowl of soup, which changes daily. As you soothe your soul slurping soup, peek over the counter to see Garcia hustling in the kitchen. In the rare case it’s not crazy busy, she’ll hop out to chat.

“I want them to feel like they’re at home,” Garcia said. “That’s why we have an open kitchen and don’t hide anything. I want them to feel welcome. I want them to feel good after they eat our food.”

Ingredients are always exceptionally fresh and spicy salsas pack a punch. If a salsa is labeled with habanero, Garcia isn’t shy with the spice — taste with caution.


Five-stars reviews for quality eats

With warm vibes and quality eats, Tumerico quickly gained a loyal following. On Yelp, Tumerico has a five-star average with over 300 reviews. Food Network star Guy Fieri even swung by to film an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Tumerico also keeps busy with monthly cooking classes and catering.

The opening of their second location

In June 2019, Tumerico quietly opened a second location at 402 E. Fourth St. However, it isn’t a carbon copy; the location features a smaller menu and only 12 seats inside.

Additionally, the new location serves as more of a community space with free yoga every Saturday and Sunday starting at 9 a.m. In October, the new location will also offer Mysore Ashtanga yoga classes 6 – 9 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

“I just want to build community,” Garcia said. “I love Tucson because it’s a really nice community and we all get along. We get all sorts of backgrounds in here and we’re so nice to each other. You know?”

Spinach Salad at Tumerico (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Spinach Salad at Tumerico (Credit: Jackie Tran)
A twist on the beloved Tucson favorite

Also, Garcia’s signature vegetarian Sonoran hot dogs are only at the new location, where the hot dog cart now resides.

“Once things settle down on Fourth [Avenue], I want to focus on making more drinks,” Garcia said. “And my favorite thing is the salsas. I’m going to take it slow. I want to expand at one point. But right now, little by little.”

Hours and locations

The original Tumerico is located at 2526 E. Sixth St. and is open 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tuesday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday, and 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sunday.

The new location is located at 402 E. Fourth St. and is open 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sunday.

Tumerico also has a stand Sundays at the Rillito Park Farmers Market. For more information, visit tumerico.com.

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Article By

Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran’s Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...

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