From Hermosillo to Tucson: A vegan traveler’s guide to the Old Pueblo

A fantastic voyage through Tucson's vegan scene

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With the weather warming up, spring in all its glory, vacation days ahead, and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, it’s possible you’re planning a getaway to Tucson.

Tucson Vegan

Photos by Xochitl Gracia

You’re thinking about renewing your wardrobe and staying over the weekend, visiting family and staying for a couple of weeks, or even registering for a summer class and making it an extended stay. Suddenly, you start panicking because you remember you are vegan; you decided to adopt the lifestyle many years ago, you recently started this new adventure, or you flirt with the vegan lifestyle from time to time.

Then you ask yourself, “What am I supposed to eat?”

An initial reaction would be to start planning on taking a load of frozen soyrizo and bean burritos. However, don’t stress about it or start wasting time on your phone or laptop looking for places to eat. These recommendations will guide you through some of Tucson’s vegan scene and the amazing food that local restaurants offer to satisfy your, your friends, or your family’s taste buds (in no particular order).

Tumerico

2526 E. Sixth St. • 402 E. Fourth Ave.

For nostalgic reasons, I’d like to start by recommending Tumerico; the first vegetarian/vegan restaurant I tried in Tucson that made me gasp in joy and say, “I can do this.”

I have to mention that Tumerico’s owner and chef, Wendy Garcia, was raised on a farm in Hermosillo, so you can expect that special touch. Order the Tacos Cubanos, which are widely popular and have gained an army of vegan and non-vegan fans. The jackfruit guiso combines a savory flavor with a subtle sweetness that is almost indiscernible, but it’s there, making a flavor for itself and creating a very interesting flavor experience.

For more information, visit tumerico.com

 

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Del Cielo Tamales

3073 N. Campbell Ave.

If you’re visiting with someone who can’t bear the thought of being away from their Sonoran or Mexican food — or who cannot be convinced to try a plant-based dish — visit Del Cielo Tamales; a beautiful and cozy restaurant that got its start as a vendor at local farmers markets here in Tucson.

Try their Vegan Asada Torta to make your heart and belly rejoice. Warmly housed and protected between two cloud-like buns, the vegan asada guiso is full of flavor and textures that compliment the dish amazingly.

For more information, visit delcielotamales.com

 

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Charro Vida

7109 N. Oracle Rd.

If you’d like to enjoy a night of delicious food and drinks and feel like dressing up a little bit, too, Charro Vida offers an eclectic menu with many options for every palate.

My favorite dish is the Quesabirria Jackfruit Tacos, which I recommend you request having them toasted a little bit. Also, I suggest ordering tacos with the Hola Hemp Mini Chimis as an appetizer — the star of the menu.

For more information, visit charrovida.com

 

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El Torero Restaurant

231 E. 26th St.

Speaking of eclectic food, El Torero continues innovating and adding dishes to its plant-based menu on a weekly basis.

No matter what dish you decide on, be sure to include breaded mushrooms (you won’t be disappointed). But if you have the chance to snag a vegan burger — which they prepare using Beyond Burger patties — during their weekend specials, I highly recommend ordering the delicious tower of stacked ingredients that work perfectly together.

For more information, visit eltorerotucson.com

 

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Ensenada Street Food

1602 S. Park Ave.

For those who feel more comfortable in a food truck/outdoor vibe, pay a visit to the joyful ladies at Ensenada Street Food and try their delicious, Breaded Cauliflower Tacos with the traditional chipotle dressing and drenched in lime juice.

And I don’t know if it’s just me, but there isn’t a more pleasing experience than good fried food — in this case, cauliflower topped with a good load of fresh and crunchy veggies on top.

For more information, follow Ensenada Street Food on Facebook

 

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China Szechwan

1800 E. Fort Lowell Rd.

I always hear people say that Mexicans love Chinese food, but I’ve always bounced back with, “Who doesn’t like Chinese food?”

Located at a small plaza, China Szechwan offers a long menu that includes tofu in different flavors and texture options. Make sure to try the Crispy Tofu for a sublime combination of a soft inside and a crispy crunchy outside.

For more information, visit chinaszechwan.com

 

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Yoshimatsu Japanese Eatery

2741 N. Campbell Ave.

Lastly, if you’re in the market for something fresh with a hint of fried, I recommend you visit a restaurant that continues to be named one of the best Japanese restaurants in town: Yoshimatsu.

Ask for the side of Fried Ginger Tofu for the appetizer, followed by a Tempura Asparagus Roll. Give it a moment and you’re in for an explosion of flavor and textures. Give it a moment and you’re in for an explosion of flavor and textures.

I’d also like to share my pro tip to take your Yoshimatsu experience to the next level. Ask for an order of shishito peppers and top your tempura asparagus roll with it. You’ll end up ordering the combo every time you stop by this special place — especially because you never know when you’ll get a super spicy pepper.

For more information, visit yoshimatsuaz.com

 

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With vegan options becoming more readily available in Tucson, eating vegan is not a reason to avoid eating delicious food. Similar to what’s happening in Hermosillo, the Tucson vegan community continues to create noise its lifestyle is creating just as much buzz. And, what’s better than eating delicious food while also supporting local businesses?

To wrap things up, I leave you with a few restaurants in Tucson that are completely vegan: Lovin’ Spoonfuls, Urban Fresh, Beaut Burger, Substance Diner, and Midtown Vegan Deli and Market.

If you’re local or visit Tucson frequently, make sure to follow my Instagram page, in which I share my vegan/plant-based lifestyle always focusing on local food (@tucson-vegan).

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