News, tips and tidbits from the world of Arizona travel – and beyond.

Travel Bag

Written by Niki D'Andrea, Wynter Holden & Leah LeMoine Category: Travel Issue: June 2016
Group Free

Tucson Food Tour

Tucson has long been a foodie hotspot, from agricultural communities dating back to 1200 BCE – early settlers actually had popcorn! – to today’s Zagat-recommended eateries and well-stocked farmers’ markets. Now, our southerly sister is getting some global recognition for its culinary contributions. In December 2015, Tucson was designated America’s first World City of Gastronomy by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) on the strength of its rich history and modern-day diversity. The town’s fancy new title won’t stop us from indulging in mac and cheese-smothered burgers at Lindy’s, but for a taste of the Old Pueblo’s primeval cuisine, try these restaurants.

– Wynter Holden

Primo at JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort

Chef Melissa Kelly’s homey Italian comfort meals hearken back to childhood days helping her grandmother lay hand-cut noodles on clean bed sheets to dry. “It wasn’t fancy food. It was definitely rustic,” she says. Kelly’s pork saltimbocca is citrusy and luxurious, while decadent almond paste desserts make The Godfather’s “leave the gun, take the cannoli” an easy proposition to swallow. 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd., 520-791-6071,

The Coronet

With its charming patio, cane-backed chairs and scalloped awnings, Sally Kent’s and Gregor Kretschmann’s petite little brasserie inside the circa-1928 Coronado Hotel could be plopped down in the center of Paris without eliciting an eye-blink. The European charm extends to Chef Erika Bostick’s seasonal menu; my favorite dish is savory Dragoon Session sausage infused with local beer. 402 E. Ninth St., 520-222-9889,

Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails

Chef Janos Wilder, a winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest, is a genius with fruits and veggies. “I’m focusing on local and hyperlocal foraged products and the flavors of Tucson,” Wilder says. “We have developed specific City of Gastronomy menus that tell the story of where we live through the food we eat.” Downtown Kitchen’s cauliflower steak tastes as good as prime beef, and traditional meatballs get a subtly sweet boost from grated orange zest. Stop in for a game-changing bowl of African yam and peanut soup or visit Wilder’s nearby Carriage House for DIY classes. 135 S. Sixth Ave., 520-623-7700,

Travel News: Electric Rafting (above)
Cruising the Colorado River just got a little zippier – and a little more eco-friendly – thanks to the debut of the Colorado River Discovery electric raft, a collaboration between CRD and the National Parks Service nearly a decade in the making. Dubbed Helios in homage to the Greek god of the sun, the craft produces zero emissions, reduces noise pollution and removes the threat of gasoline leaks contaminating the river. The raft is available now for half- and full-day trips (visit for schedule and pricing), but CRD will hold a formal launch on August 25, the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service.