Critics are calling Ube the flavor of 2023. U-be the judge

January 13, 2023
By Kim Johnston
By Kim Johnston

If one were to dissect the anatomy of Pinoy culture, they would find that through its veins flow steadfast national pride and traces of ube. While adobo is widely known as the signature dish of Filipinos in the diaspora, ube holds the title as its sweet counterpart.  

Ube Latte at Tucson Coffee Cricket (Photo by Kim Johnston)
Ube Latte at Tucson Coffee Cricket (Photo by Kim Johnston)

The traditional process of creating the flavor is simple; purple yam is grated before being boiled with a base of coconut and sweetened condensed milk, resulting in a sticky glutinous mixture called ube halaya. This concoction can be eaten on its own, as a spread,  or used as the key ingredient in several dessert recipes. 

Its vibrant purple hue is hard to miss, while its earthy sweetness makes it hard to forget — and non-FIlipinos are taking notice. 

In a recent article by The New York Times, four-time James Beard Award winner and writer Kim Severson, states, ”Ube, a slightly nutty-tasting, vanilla-scented purple yam from the Philippines, is showing up on lots of trend lists and in all kinds of foods and drinks, from pies and waffles to lattes and ube coladas.

With a central role in Philippine dining for the past four centuries and a growing fanbase in cities worldwide, one thing is certain: ube will be ubiquitous in 2023.

Read on to find out where you can jump on board with this super tuber trend in Tucson.

Ube Bae

Online Ordering

FIlipino-American veteran and home-based baker, Brittany Gudino, combines her cultural background with ube-flavored cookies. See where you can purchase her treats by giving Ube Bae a follow on social media.

For more information, follow Ube Bae on Instagram.  

Fiesta Filipina Asian Express

5870 E. Broadway Blvd.
Fiesta Filipina (Photo by Kim Johnston)
Fiesta Filipina (Photo by Kim Johnston)

This isn’t your typical mall food! Thelma Ward of Fiesta Filipina has delighted the residents of Tucson with traditional Filipino dishes in her food truck for years before setting up shop in the Park Place Mall.

If her golden, crisp whole pork lechon isn’t enough to take a trip to the east side, then make the stop for her ube biko (sweet sticky rice) and ube halo-halo (crushed ice dessert).

Read our November 2021 article, “Thelma Ward’s Fiesta Filipina at Park Place Mall is a celebration of Filipino culture.” For more information, visit


6242 E. Speedway Blvd.


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A post shared by Unitea – Tucson (@uniteatucson)

The creators of UniTea made it their mission to combine internationally-inspired treats under one kawaii-decorated roof. You can see it now at their newly opened Speedway location and give their Ube Swirl Cup a swirl!

For more information, follow UniTea on Instagram

Fili Bakery

Online Ordering


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A post shared by Fili Bakery (@filibakery)

After an end-of-the-year hiatus, Fili Bakery is back and partnering with the Si Charro! group to bring Tucson more Ube white chocolate chip cookies and other Filipino-inspired sweets. Now that’s what we call a batch made in Heaven.

Be on the lookout for more updates on their social media platforms. 

For more information, follow Fili Bakery on Instagram and Facebook

Nick’s Sari-Sari Store

2001 S. Craycroft Rd.
Halo-halo at Nick's Sari-Sari Store and Filipino Restaurant (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Halo-halo at Nick’s Sari-Sari Store and Filipino Restaurant (Credit: Jackie Tran)

It would be a miss not to include Nick’s Sari-Sari Store in Tucson’s ube line-up. 

Sari-Sari store, which literally translates to “variety store,” is a term coined for the makeshift stands owned and operated by Filipino families at the bottom story of their households. Here, they sell a wide array of items, from bags of chips to flip-flops to passersby.

Patrons of the eastside shop can find every ingredient necessary to make their favorite ube desserts at home or to enjoy a cup of halo-halo topped with ube ice cream at their in-store restaurant.

For more information, visit

Tucson Coffee Cricket 

Multiple Locations (food truck)
Ube Latte (Photo by Mark Whittaker)
Ube Latte (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Whether it’s 50 degrees out or a blazing 100, you can still get your early morning ube fix at Tucson Coffee Cricket. Their iced and hot ube latte options can be purchased throughout the morning and early afternoon, and make any time the perfect time for sitting back and enjoying this yamm-y treat.

Read our November 2022 article, “Inventive drinks & interesting For more information, follow Tucson Coffee Cricket on Instagram

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Article By

Kim Johnston is a former preschool educator, turned mom, turned foodie with a strong passion for helping small businesses in her community. With early aspirations of becoming a writer, she attended the University of Arizona to study English literature and...

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