If you buy something from a link within this article, Tucson Foodie may earn a commission.
Looking for some new culinary inspiration? Check out these unique cookbooks, each with its rich history and distinct flavors, from the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the U.S. — Tucson!
This first one isn't necessarily local eats but is written by local author and food photographer Jackie Alpers. The Unofficial Yellowstone Cookbook offers over 85 mouthwatering recipes inspired by the hit TV show Yellowstone and its prequels, 1883 and 1923. From Rip's Dutch Oven Short Ribs to Meaner Than Evil Barbecue Hot Wings, this cookbook covers a range of meals, from hearty breakfasts to fire-grilled dinners. Each recipe comes with full-color photography and fun trivia notes throughout the book. Whether you're an aspiring cowboy or cowgirl, or just a foodie looking for some delicious recipes, this cookbook is sure to impress.
Preorder "The Unofficial Yellowstone Cookbook."
Jackie Alpers' cookbook offers creative and original recipes, including collaborations with 16 Tucson chefs, all while incorporating the region's history, mysticism, and lore. The cookbook includes tutorials on iconic dishes and secrets to making Sonoran-style savories and sweets, suitable for all levels of cooks from anywhere in the world. With plenty of inspiration and delicious recipes, this cookbook is a must-have for anyone who loves to cook and explore new flavors.
El Charro Cafe, a Tucson institution known for its vibrant Mexican cuisine, has a surprising French connection (Her father came from France and her mother was also French). Established by Monica Flin in 1922, El Charro has become a beloved Tucson family business. The restaurant's signature dishes blend southwestern flavors, including chilies, garlic, rice, corn, and pico de gallo. While some ingredients may be hard to find outside Tucson, the book offers tips for recreating El Charro's salsas and stews. This cookbook is a valuable resource for anyone interested in exploring the rich history and delicious flavors of U.S.-Mexican border cuisine.
Purchase "The Tastes and Traditions of Tucson."
If you're looking for a cookbook that captures the essence of African American cuisine in Tucson, look no further than this updated 2nd edition. Originally published by the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society-Tucson Chapter in 1993, this book features beloved recipes and recollections of citizens dating back to the early 1900s and new perspectives and voices from the Black community in Tucson. Through the Covid-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and other events, this edition offers a window into the lives of African Americans in the Southwest. From personal testimonies to editor's notes and short essays, this book is a must-read for those seeking a deeper understanding of African American history and culture in Tucson.
Purchase "Meals and Memoirs II."
Tucson cuisine draws from Indigenous, Mexican, Mediterranean, and cowboy traditions, using ancient staples like white Sonora wheat and tepary beans. In A Desert Feast, award-winning writer Carolyn Niethammer showcases the city's unique food culture, highlighting how Roman Catholic missionaries, Spanish soldiers, and Chinese farmers shaped Tucson's culinary history. From family tables to trendy restaurants, heritage foods are celebrated, and you'll meet the farmers, entrepreneurs, and chefs dedicated to growing and using them. It's no wonder Tucson became America's first UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
One cookbook that's sure to make your taste buds sing is Donna Nordin's "Café Terra Cotta: Southwest Cooking". With 85 recipes, Nordin brings together the innovative, contemporary Southwestern cuisine that has earned her national acclaim and landed her restaurant on lists of America's best. Her passion for spice is evident in every dish, from the subtle garlic custard to the fiery punch of fried jalapeño ravioli. And let's not forget about dessert - her tequila-laced chocolate Arizona Princess Cake is just one of many sophisticated studies in flavor that will have you swooning. If you're looking to bring a taste of the Southwest into your kitchen, this cookbook is a must-have.
Purchase "Contemporary Southwest."
El Charro Cafe's 80-year history and 150 recipes for vibrant Mexican food make this book as unique and entertaining as the restaurant. Founded by Monica Flin, the restaurant's signature dish is Carne Seca Beef, which is cured above the patio. Run by Carlotta Flores and her husband Ray, El Charro Cafe is America's oldest family-operated Mexican restaurant, located in a house built in the 1890s by Monica's father. The cookbook includes old favorites and new creative Mexican dishes. Authored by food experts Michael and Jane Stern, the Roadfood Cookbook series celebrates America's independent regional restaurants with recipes, pictures, and history.
Purchase "El Charro Cafe Cookbook."
Tucson Foodie is a locally-owned and operated community. Thanks to our partners and members of our online community, Tucson Foodie can offer paywall-free guides and articles. Thanks for supporting Tucson's biggest community of food and beverage lovers.