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(Photo courtesy of the Tucson International Mariachi Conference)

Foodie 15: Where to Eat During the Tucson International Mariachi Conference

Updated May 17, 2024

The Tucson International Mariachi Conference (TIMC) returns for its 42nd year from Wednesday, May 1 – Sunday, May 5  — five spectacular days of authentic Mariachi and Folklorico performances, workshops, and celebrations. This Tucson-based conference has grown and evolved over the years into a truly world-class event while it continues to fulfill the mission of promoting awareness and traditional values of Mariachi music and Baile Folklorico through education and performance while promoting pride in youth and community.

View the full Tucson International Mariachi Conference schedule here.

TIMC events will be taking place at the MSA Annex, Linda Ronstadt Music Hall, Jacome Plaza, and St. Augustine Cathedral. Here are 15 of some of our favorite spots in the area, which are open during the hours of the events, and explore our larger downtown guide for more options: Where to Eat Downtown.

Learn how we create our guides here.

Wednesday, May 1 at 6 p.m.

MSA Annex, 267 S. Avenida del Convento

This vocal competition celebrates the music and vocal performances of this year’s Tucson International Mariachi Conference. Students will be performing while you enjoy an evening of food and fun.

Learn more.

Thursday, May 2 at 6 p.m.

Linda Ronstadt Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.

Students, transformed by the workshops of the past days, take center stage to showcase their newfound musical and dance talents. Each group brings its own unique energy to the stage, captivating the audience with vibrant performances for nine electrifying minutes.

Learn more.

Friday, May 3 at 7 p.m.

Linda Ronstadt Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.

Performances by Mariachi Sol De Mexico and special guest Jonathan Palomar. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. The Espectacular Concert has been an integral part of The Tucson International Mariachi Conference and promises to continue to have outstanding entertainers to enhance our culture, music, dance, and education for years to come.

Learn more.

Saturday, May 4 from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Jacome Plaza, 10 W. Pennington St.

Noche de Garibaldi celebrates the music and dance of this year’s Tucson International Mariachi Conference. Students perform while you enjoy an evening of food and fun.

Learn more.

Sunday, May 5 at noon

St. Augustine Cathedral, 192 S. Stone Ave.

“You are cordially invited to participate in this spiritual and colorful celebration. This traditional Catholic Mass is a beautiful fusion of culture and faith. This solemn celebration is performed by our local Catholic Priest, featuring local mariachi and folklorico performers. The Mariachi Mass attracts a diverse segment of the community in a wonderful celebration that is open to all denominations.”

Learn more.

Beaut Burger (photo credit: Hannah Hernandez)

Beaut Burger

Jump off at the Cushing Street and Avenida del Convento stop on the Sun Link (Tucson’s streetcar) and you’ll find yourself at the MSA Annex. The businesses and restaurants here are based out of shipping containers. One of which is Beaut Burger, a vegan-friendly eatery specializing in house-made “burgers” made with grains, beans, vegetables, walnuts, and spices. You’ll want a side of sweet potato fries.

an overhead picture of pastries
Pastry Empanadas at Bombole Eatery (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Bombolé Eatery

India-meets-Honduras at this downtown restaurant, where Indian empanadas are among the featured offerings. The appealing fillings include both meat and vegetarian options — and you can get doughless versions for a gluten-free treat. Among the other cross-cultural dishes is Chicken Chipotle Masala. Bombole is super delicious, inexpensive, and fast, making it a great spot for a healthy and casual lunch.

Chilaquiles at Cafe a la C'Art (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Cafe a la C’art

Café à la C’Art is a unique space with a Monet-inspired garden patio. It features casual American bistro fare, a full bar, and espresso drinks. With a case of baked fresh daily pastries and a patio space that will make many others seem subpar, it’s no wonder they have regulars that have been devoted for decades.

a bowl of salad on a plate
"Snails in the Garden" at The Coronet (Photo by Lance Thorn)

The Coronet

Classic sensibility gracefully meets international culinary flair at The Coronet, where a deep love for food is the driving force. Serving up meticulously sourced ingredients and a commitment to sustainability showcase the dedication of the phenomenal staff, the collaborative genius of this team is evident on the plate, and the environment creates a place where everyone is cared for and can revel in the pleasure that comes from savoring intentional food and drinks from the seat of the present moment.

a store front at day
El Charro Cafe (Photo by Steven Meckler, Visit Tucson, February 2023)

El Charro Café Downtown

With a history dating back to 1922, El Charro holds the title of the nation’s oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family. Steeped in tradition, this beloved establishment offers a menu that pays homage to authentic Sonoran cuisine, featuring timeless classics like carne seca and the iconic chimichanga.

Plus, just a few blocks away at 40 E. Congress St., is another Si Charro Restaurant concept, The Monica. Make it a full-on food adventure!

a picture of food on a plate
(Photo courtesy of El Mezquite Grill & Taqueria)

El Mezquite Grill & Taqueria

El Mezquite Grill & Taqueria offers contemporary Southwest cuisine highlighting fresh, healthy, creative and local ingredients playing off the traditional flavors of Mexico. Bespoke cocktails, interesting wines and hand-crafted local brews available from El Mez Bar.

Carne Seca Combo Plate at El Minuto Cafe (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

El Minuto Cafe

El Minuto Cafe has served “fine Mexican food” since 1939 in Tucson’s Barrio Viejo neighborhood.  El Minuto offers items like Shredded Beef Chimichangas and their Combination Plate with a beef taco, tamale, cheese enchilada, and beans. After your meal, take a walk around the historic neighborhood and take in the colorful homes and scenery.

(Photo courtesy of JoJo's)

JoJo’s Restaurant

Tucked away in Downtown Tucson’s Historic Presidio District, JoJo’s Restaurant is a real gem for anyone on a foodie adventure. With its cozy courtyard perfect for some open-air dining and a laid-back Cantina setting, it’s the place to be. The live tunes under the stars crank up the vibe, making every meal a mini event. And oh, the Southwest cuisine on the menu is a tasty voyage all its own.

Assorted dishes at Kukai (Photo by Dana Sullivan)

Kukai

Kukai, at the MSA Annex, opened in February of 2019. If you’ve never had onigiri, you’re going to want to try it here. The traditional Japanese dish is essentially a seaweed-wrapped rice ball that comes with assorted fillings like pork belly, salmon, or, for the adventurous eater, umeboshi (that’s pickled plum).

Bandera from La Estrella (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

La Estrella Bakery Inc – Mercado

If you’re looking for authentic Mexican pastries, you have to try La Estrella Bakery. Since 1986, this family-owned business has been serving up a delicious selection of cookies, bread, donuts, tortillas, tamales, and much more. There are plenty of incredible pastries to choose from with multiple locations around Tucson.

a bowl of food on a plate
(Photo courtesy of Miss Saigon)

Miss Saigon (Downtown)

Although Miss Saigon on Campbell is the most popular, the downtown location is open late and convenient for post-drinking slurping.

Nook

Tucson’s vibrant personality is translated into Nook’s urban interpretations of home-cooked food, which includes Cinnamon Roll Griddlecakes, Honey Chipotle Carnitas Benedict and Nourish Bowl. Their patio is a nook of its own and makes for a quaint spot for a midday lunch or weekend brunch.

(Photo courtesy of Perche’ No Italian Bistro)

Perche’ No Italian Bistro

Perche’ No is an Italian bistro that seamlessly blends the charm of traditional recipes with the excitement of contemporary creations. The menu is a testament to the chefs’ passion, featuring a mix of timeless favorites and innovative specials that never fail to delight. Among the standout dishes are the Ravioli di Zucca and the Penne al’Alce. The name Perche’ No, which means “Why Not” in Italian, reflects the owners’ journey back into the culinary world, driven by an irresistible opportunity and a longing for the joy that sharing food brings.

 

 

 

Seis Nachos (Photo courtesy of Seis Kitchen)

Seis Kitchen – Mercado

The restaurant is well-known for its delicious birria tacos and its commitment to quality, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner being served all day. Seis Kitchen also stands out with its innovative menu items like the Seis Nachos — housemade chips, green chili, black beans, housemade cheese sauce, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, and pico de Gallo. Yum!

(Photo courtesy of Street Taco & Beer Co.)

Street Taco & Beer Co. (Congress)

If you’ve been to any of the other three locations, you can expect the same quick-service menu stacked with build-your-own tacos, burritos, and bowls as well as housemade beverages like horchata and aguas frescas. Taco Tuesday, anyone?

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