La Fiesta de los Vaqueros: Tucson's Rodeo

|By Amanda Oien, Photography by Kristen Brockel

Since the Prohibition Days of 1925, cowboys and cowgirls have been kicking up dust at Tucson's rodeo grounds during La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, Spanish for "the cowboy party."

Frederick Leighton Kramer, a winter visitor, gave the Old Pueblo it's renowned rodeo and parade in an effort to draw visitors to Tucson during the winter months. Back then, 25 cents would get a family of four a ride from downtown to the rodeo grounds.

Now, the week long affair means kids get a few days off from school for "Rodeo Break," with most younger kids either taking part in or attending the Rodeo Parade, which is known to be the largest non-motorized parade in the country.

Events at the rodeo grounds include bull riding, women's barrel racing, team roping, tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling and bareback riding as well as some kids events like mutton bustin'.

This year, the Tucson Rodeo has been postponed to February 19-27, 2022, due to Covid. But in the meantime, reminisce with us with these photos from the 2020 Tucson Rodeo.

Shopping Beyond an International Aisle

Discover the top diverse grocery stores in Tucson

By Mekayla Phan

Whether you want to step out of your culinary comfort zone or are looking to find your favorite speciality ingredient, Tucson has a number of ethnic grocery stores that cater to all of our culturally diverse communities. Discover some of the top recommended markets to experience flavors from across the globe, right here in our City of Gastronomy.


Nur Market & Restaurant ($$)

Founded by three refugee brothers from Mogadishu, Somalia, the Osman family has been providing the Tucson community a taste of their home country for more than a decade.

At Nur Market & Restaurant, you can find your fix of East African, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European foods with the many varieties of spices, teas, flour, nuts, lentils, and canned goods lining the shelves. The restaurant side of the store specializes in Somali dishes, featuring delicious options such as goat curry, beef and chicken shawarma, and sambusas. 

COVID-19 Policies: Face masks required in store. Dine-in currently unavailable, take-out only. 

Location: 3565 E Speedway Blvd #171, Tucson, AZ 85716

Hours: Monday–Saturday from 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m.–7 p.m.

Ada Imports ($)

Ada Imports is a hidden treasure trove for affordable West African and Caribbean groceries. Find all the goodies you’re looking for at this one-stop shop for seafood, flour, fruits, canned and dried goods, and household items such as soaps, decorative food storage boxes, and traditional clothing materials. 

Their friendly service includes the option to request for items to be imported if it is possible. 

COVID-19 Policies: Face masks required in store.

Location: 4223 E Grant Rd, Tucson, AZ 85712

Hours: Daily 12 p.m.–5 p.m.


Lee Lee International Supermarket ($$)

Housing thousands of imports from more than 30 countries around the world, Lee Lee International Supermarket is far from your standard Asian corner store market. Celebrating 25 years as the largest diverse grocery chain in Tucson, Lee Lee’s is the best place to experience all kinds of authentic foods and flavors along with fresh produce, live seafood, and butcher meats. The store also offers specialty household items, a selection of imported alcoholic beverages, and Chinese medicines. 

Located inside is Nan Tian BBQ, which serves Chinese barbecue plates such as Peking duck and roasted pork. 

COVID-19 Policies: Face masks required in store. 

Location: 1990 W Orange Grove Rd, Tucson, AZ 85704

Hours: Daily 9 a.m.–8 p.m. (Nan Tian BBQ is open 10 a.m.–7:30 p.m.)

Grantstone Supermarket ($)

More centrally located than Lee Lee’s, Grantstone Supermarket is a convenient alternative to check out for a well-stocked selection of Asian groceries. While you may want to double-check the expiration dates on certain packages, Granstone has an abundant selection of produce, sauces, spices, snacks, and canned and packaged goods boasting some of the most budget-friendly prices in town. In addition, they also sell household items like cookwares and herbal Chinese medicines. 

COVID-19 Policies: Face masks required in store.

Location: 8 W Grant Rd, Tucson, AZ 85705

Hours: Daily 9 a.m.–7 p.m.

India Dukaan ($)

Treat yourself to a flavorful and authentic home-cooked meal by shopping here for all your Indian staples. Here you’ll find spices, grains, lentils, and fresh produce available from Wednesday through Saturday. India Dukaan is a friendly, approachable mom-and-pop shop run by Sukanya Bhat, who loves to chat and help anyone navigate Indian cuisine for the first time. 

The store also serves as a center for Tucson’s Indian community and provides resources for eating and living healthily. 

COVID-19 Policies: Face masks are required in store.

Location: 2754 N Campbell Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719

Hours: Daily 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

India Food & Gifts ($$)

India Food & Gifts is a well-stocked shop with a variety of spices and seasonings, fresh curry leaves, frozen foods, teas, and specialty household items such as nag champa incenses and oils. The store also has an Indian video rental service, and only two doors down is the beloved Sher-e-Punjab restaurant to satisfy more of your Indian food cravings. 

COVID Policies: Face masks are required in store.

Location: 863 E Grant Rd, Tucson, AZ 85719

Hours: Tuesday–Saturday from 11:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m.; Sunday from 12 p.m.–8:30 p.m.; Closed on Mondays


European Market & Deli ($$)

Indulge in all that the European Market & Deli has to offer in their impressive selection of deli meats and cheeses, smoked and dried fish, pickled vegetables, jams, pastries, and imported liquor. Specializing in Russian and East European delights, the market’s delicatessen features mouthwatering cabbage rolls, borscht, pierogi, and Greek gyros that are advertised to be the best in Tucson. 

The store also curates unique gift baskets for special occasions with their imported goods, made-to-order and ready to celebrate. 

COVID Policies: Face masks required in store. Take-out and delivery available only from the deli. 

Location: 4500 E Speedway Blvd Suite 36, Tucson, AZ 85712

Hours: Monday–Saturday from 9 a.m.–8 p.m.; closed on Sundays.

Roma Imports ($$)

Be transported to Italy through the bright red door of Roma Imports, and shop around for some of the finest quality Italian food and ingredients in town. From cured meats and cheeses to dry pastas and frozen meals to stock up on, as well as coffee and sweets to fall in love with, Roma Imports has plenty of options to feed your Italian appetite. 

Visit also for the many take-and-bake meals, hot and cold sandwiches, and the tasty antipasti in the deli case. 

COVID Policies: Face masks required in store.

Location: 627 S Vine Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719

Hours: Monday–Saturday from 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; closed on Sundays   


Cardenas ($$)

One of the leading Hispanic grocery giants in Tucson, Cardenas has fresh produce, butcher’s meats, seafood, cheeses, baked goods, and good-eats galore. Following their motto to “Keep Life Flavorful,” the kitchen—aka La Cocina—serves up fresh tortillas, salsas and ceviches, tamales, and other ready-made or make-your-own meals that you don’t want to miss. 

In addition, stop by to quench your thirst in the juice bar, or share a piece of warm aromatic breads and pastries in the bakery. 

COVID-19 Policies: Face masks required in store.

Location: 902 W Irvington Rd, Tucson, AZ 85714

Hours: Daily 7 a.m.–9 p.m.

El Herradero Supermarket ($)

While Tucson is home to plenty of Mexican markets and carnicerías, El Herradero especially finds its way into the hearts of many by providing the community their muy delicioso selection of hot foods, quality cuts of meats, and their addictingly sweet pan dulce. It’s also hard to resist the tempting aroma of carne asada grilling outside the store in the parking lots on the weekends. 

COVID-19 Policies: Face masks required in store. 

Location: 1310 W Prince Rd, Tucson, AZ 85705

Hours: Daily 6 a.m.–9 p.m.

Middle Eastern 

Babylon Market ($)

Explore a vast range of Middle Eastern, Northern African, Eastern European, and Indian products at the Babylon Market. The market carries varieties of halal meats, rice, herbs, spices, teas, canned and dried goods, nuts, cheeses, and other delicacies, as well as household items like cookware and hookah and tobacco accessories.

The market’s restaurant is also a great place to grab a falafel sandwich, salads or shawarmas on the go. 

COVID-19 Policies: Face masks are required in store.

Location: 3954 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85712

Hours: Daily 8:30 a.m.–9 p.m.

Gamar Family Market ($$)

A new Middle Eastern grocery on the block, Gamar Family Market provides an assortment of herbs and spices, canned and dried goods, Halal meats, curry sauces, coffees and candies. The recently established takeout counter serves traditional Mediterranean cuisines and rolled ice cream, similar to the owner’s previous Wrap N’ Roll restaurant on the University of Arizona campus. The market offers a call-in order option and is currently preparing for online ordering. 

COVID-19 Policies: Face masks required in store. 

Location: 1800 E Fort Lowell Rd #128, Tucson, AZ 85719

Hours: Daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

Looking to eat out instead? Visit the Dining Guide for more good eats.

Meet the Muralist: Ignacio Garcia

By Mekayla Phan

Ignacio Garcia always heard he was going to be an artist. While cultivating his talent in drawing Spiderman during his preschool years, he started to believe that he was going to be an artist as well.

“I wasn’t a show-off. It was a natural curiosity,” Garcia said. “I just loved it. Whenever I saw something, I wanted to paint it. I remember seeing the Mona Lisa or something iconic, and saying, ‘I want to paint that.’ That’s how I started—by seeing something I liked and wanting it for myself.”

Now, having been a Tucson street muralist for 17 years, the Benson native is proud to have created some of the most interesting paintings throughout Arizona, such as his mural of basketball announcer Bill Walton riding a jackalope adorning the east wall of the Rialto Theatre

The piece is undoubtedly one of his favorites, but there are still so many ideas that he hopes to paint.

If he can get his hands on the City Court building walls, he would love to create a desert scene depicting all things Tucson. A few years ago, Garcia contacted former Mayor Jonathan Rothschild with his proposal, and though backed with support, the plan fell through in the midst of the planning stages. 

“I do really want that building, because it’s right in the middle of downtown and that would be a great destination [for tourists] to take pictures if they are visiting Tucson. It could be a landmark,” Garcia said. 

Recently, Garcia was hired by the Biden campaign to paint a mural for Latino voters. 

“To have D.C. calling me and know that they trust my work, I was very honored,” Garcia said. “I think that’s one of my highest points. Now that people finally know about it, the impact I want to and can provide … I’m also just honored to know, after all these years, it actually finally showed through.” 

His ongoing series Iggi Pop, displayed in the windows of CATALYST Arts & Maker Space at Tucson Mall, is a fun collection he also fancies. Riddled with pop culture references and graffiti-style art, the series is influenced by his experiences in living in Los Angeles. 

“There’s a story behind each one of them,” Garcia said. “It’s an illusion to think that, ‘Oh, it’s just a fun piece,’ but they all are actually serious pieces, well put together.”

Like a rabbit hole full of mysteries, Garcia likes to add depth to each and every single piece he does. Currently, he is challenging himself on his new Sonoran Street collection that showcases border culture. Mixing paint, denim, rust, and Mexican candies on the canvas — it is an adventure for him to portray traditional Sonoran art more abstractly. 

“My next [project] that I'm most looking forward to is to try getting an exhibition going,” Garcia said. “I already am receiving calls about it. It’s a lot of pressure, but ...I don’t want to force it, the work has to really speak for itself.” 

There is still a long way to go for an exhibition to take place due to the current state of the pandemic. However, Garcia remains hopeful and continues to drop in to CATALYST to paint when he’s not commissioned for murals. 

“Art is a part of our lives. When you take it away from born or built-to-be artists, we will be imprisoned,” Garcia said. “But once I’m locked in, it’s like ‘boom, boom, boom, boom.’ And that’s when the excitement and the creativity will come in.” 

In addition to seeing Garcia’s art at the CATALYST Arts & Maker Space or on Tucson street art tours, fans can follow his work on Instagram, @ignacio_garcia_art

To learn more about another celebrated muralist in Tucson, read about Joe Pagac.

Southwest Coloring Pages

|By Amanda Oien
|Coloring Pages by Lucy Small

Scrounge up your art supplies because coloring pages aren't just for kids anymore. Did you know coloring promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety?

"Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring [about] more mindfulness," says Marygrace Berberian, a certified art therapist and the Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Graduate Art Therapy Program at NYU in an article by CNN Health.

We want to see your finished art! Tag us at @tucsonguidemagazine

Southern Arizona Spring Blooms Guide

| By Amanda Oien
| Illustrations by Lucy Small

From late February to April, Tucsonans embrace the few months of bliss—  the season when the mountains turn emerald from the winter rains and snowmelt, when once brittle branches transform into leafy stalks with sunset hues and radiant violets and magentas: Hello, Spring. 

Saguaro National Park, Catalina State Park and Picacho Peak are hotspots for wildflowers, but a drive isn’t always necessary to see why Tucsonans get to brag about our sunny spring days to our East Coast friends. Afterall, #WestCoastBestCoast, right? 

While many of us find ourselves practicing social distancing and staying inside, it’s also one of the most beautiful times of the year; which is why we’ve put together a Southern Arizona Spring Bloom guide for your six-feet-away nature walks. So the next time you Facetime a loved one, you can expertly identify those “pretty orange flowers at the end of the street.” 

We challenge you to a Southern Arizona Spring Blooms scavenger hunt. Be responsible with your social distancing outdoor activities: stay home if you feel sick, keep six feet of distance, don’t touch your face and wash your hands. And of course, bring water and wear sunscreen. 

If the wildflowers' hues have you feeling crafty, download our coloring sheet version below:

While on your wildflower scavenger hunt, tag us on social media at @tucsonguidemagazine

Dillinger Days at Hotel Congress

“I rob banks for a living. What do you do?”

| By Amanda Oien
| Photography courtesy of Hotel Congress

Tucson might have just rung in the New Year, but we’re already headed back in time.

The annual Dillinger Days is back this weekend at the historic Hotel Congress, Jan. 18-19; celebrating the capture of one of America’s most notorious gangsters, John Dillinger and his gang.

Grab your dancing t-strap heels, that long strand of pearls, your best pinstripe suit, and your suspenders and start the weekend off at the Dillinger Speakeasy on Saturday.

The first night of Dillinger Day’s weekend at the Dillinger Speakeasy will feature whiskey tastings, small bites, live music, premium cigars, a gun trick show, and entertainment that’ll have you feeling nifty. Ticket proceeds benefit the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation. 

If daytime activities are more the bees knees for you, spend the day downtown.
See reenactments of the moment when Tucson law enforcement did what the FBI couldn't: capture Public Enemy #1.

Reenactments will be held at 11a.m., 1p.m. and 3p.m.

Enjoy historical artifacts exhibits, a vintage car show, and historic lectures and walking tours of downtown. 

If you’re looking to enjoy some festive juice, make an appearance at the Cup Cafe for one of Congress’ classic cocktails: the Dillinger Sidecar, made with Maker's Mark Whisky, Cointreau, Lemon, Agave Nectar. 

Bonus Tip:

Get the mob together and watch Public Enemies about John Dillinger, starring Johnny Depp to really set the mood for the weekend. 

Thistle: The Floral Shop of Your Holiday Dreams

|Photography by Kristen Brockel

Thistle, the cutest floral shop you ever did see, is women-owned and gifts Tucson with a seasonal and unique selection of fresh flowers for delivery, pick-up, weddings, and events. We spent some time with Victoria and Carly while they hand-crafted holiday wreaths. And yes, even the pine cones are glittered by hand.

A Glimpse into the Miracle on Congress Street

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style

| Photography by Kristen Brockel

The holiday season looks a bit different this year, but that doesn't mean the cheer has to dim. Miracle on Congress St. introduced "Up On The Rooftop" to keep the holiday spirit alive with a visit from Santa and his reindeer. Drop your letters to Santa in the mailbox on the sidewalk, indulge in a free scoop of candy cane ice cream from HUB Ice Cream or cozy up with a holiday inspired cocktail from HUB Restaurant & Creamery, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from December 4 to December 19.

TG Eats: Roasted Squash with Agave Pantry

| By Amanda Oien
|Photography by Brielle Farmer
| Video by Amanda Oien, Brielle Farmer

Shazieh Gorji was born to an Iranian family in Pakistan and, after studying ceramics in Vermont and attending culinary and baking school in Tucson, Gorji decided to make the Old Pueblo her home in 2012. Six years later, Agave Pantry was born. 

Agave Pantry is a beautiful, rustic combination of Gorji’s expertise in cooking, baking and ceramics. Growing up in the East, Gorji had always used an array of spices. What started out as experiential creations for friends and family, Gorji soon began crafting blends of spices and salts to sell. 

“The spice blends add an element of ritual to people's lives and beauty on the table,” Gorji said. 

In addition to her spice and salt blends, Gorji bakes cookies, cakes and Italian macrons known as amarettis and hand-makes dipping bowls, espresso cups, spoons and even indigo-dyed  linens. 

Using her Cardamom Salt and Dukkah blend, Gorji created a colorfully festive roasted apple and squash recipe, perfect for fall and winter.

Roasted Spiced Butternut Squash with Maple Yogurt 


1 large, 2.5 lb butternut squash peeled, deseeded, and diced 1.5-2” 

2 green apples, Granny Smith, peeled and diced 1.5-2 “

2 tsp cardamom powder or 2.5 tsp. cardamom seeds, crushed in a mortar & pestle

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

2.5-3  tbsp. olive oil  

1/4 tsp Agave Pantry cardamom salt plus additional 1/2tsp. or to taste

Cracked pepper

1/2 cup yogurt

1.5 tbsp Frontier Sugarworks smoked maple syrup

1 pomegrante, peeled and seeds separated into a bowl without pith

1 tbsp. Agave Pantry dukkah blend


Preheat oven to 400 F convection and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Whisk olive oil with spices, 1/4 tsp. Agave Pantry cardamom salt and a twist or three of freshly cracked black peppercorns. 

Toss cubed butternut squash with 1.5 tbsp of olive oil and spread it on the baking sheet and pop it into the oven. Set timer for 15 minutes. 

Toss the apples with remaining olive oil mixture and set aside. 

In the meantime, whisk yogurt with a spoon. Never with a fork. Why you ask? Who knows, but it's what I grew up being told, and do I really do what I’m told? Only when it comes to whisking yogurt with a spoon!

Whisk maple syrup into the yogurt and set it aside. I am drawn to using smoked maple syrup from Frontier Sugarworks in Maine; they also sell a Bourbon barrel aged variety, which though I have yet to try, gather would marry well with this dish. But use whatever maple syrup you have on hand, as long as it is real maple syrup. 

By now your timer should have started ringing and it's time to toss the butternut squash, add apples and give it another stir. 

Set timer for 15 more minutes and periodically check on it. A knife should pierce it without struggling to pull it back out. If the knife changes its shape and smashes it, it is most certainly overcooked but still edible. At this point, you may as well mash it into a rustic mashed roasted butternut squash and continue with the next steps.

Once ready, serve it on a platter or shallow bowl. Drizzle the maple yogurt over the roasted apples and squash, sprinkle remaining cardamom salt and dukkah and finish off with pomegranate arils. 

Serve warm.

Pumpkin Picking: Tucson-Area Patches

| By Amanda Oien

Halloween is creeping up and whether you need a pumpkin for carving or want a plump one for your porch, you better get one now before you find yourself gourd-less on October 31st.

With Nick and Laurie Buckelew permanently hanging up the hat on their pumpkin patch, there’s two local spots to get your pumpkins this year and channel your inner Sanderson Sister: Apple Annie’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard in Willcox and Marana Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival in, you guessed it, Marana.

If you’re having trouble deciding on where you want to pick your perfect pumpkin, we’re here to help.

What You Need to Know: Apple Annie’s Pumpkin Patch

Apple Annie’s is located in Willcox, Arizona, which is about an hour from Tucson. But don’t let the drive deter you— it’s a pretty one. Plus, it’s a bit cooler too!

Two scarecrows dressed in overalls sit atop an Apple Annies wagon, surrounded by hay bales and pumpkins.

There’s no charge for admission or parking at the patch or orchard. If you plan on hitchin’ a hayride around the patch or orchard, it’s $4. 

You can pick pumpkins, veggies, and apples at the Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard, either yourself or at the barn stand. If you want to know what fruit and veggies you might find at the farm, check out their Harvest Calendar.

Apple Annie’s is home to Arizona’s largest corn maze, spanning 20 acres. Those 12 years and older, the cost is $8. If you’re bringing little ones, between 3-11 years old, the cost is $6.

Here comes the sun(flower!) Arguably one of Apple Annie’s best photo ops is their sunflower patch.

A straight walking path lined with towering sunflowers as the sun illuminates their bright green leaves.

Each weekend in October, Apple Annie’s hosts their Fall Pumpkin Celebration. The festivities kick off with an all-you-can-eat pumpkin and buttermilk pancake breakfast 8:30-10:30 a.m at the Orchard Grill. Or stop by for an applewood smoked burger for lunch. There’s truly something magical about eating at a picnic table in an orchard. If you still can’t get enough, feast on pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, and homemade cider donuts.

Bonus Tip: If you love candy corn, try Apple Annie’s candy corn fudge. You won’t be disappointed.

What You Need to Know: Marana Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival

Post Farms, where the Marana Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival is located, is around 30 minutes from Tucson. Once you’re headed down Kirby Hughes Road, you’ll start seeing pops of orange in their 50 acres of homegrown pumpkin patch. 

The Marana Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival offers free parking, but does charge for admission. Depending on which day of the week you visit, admission ranges from $11 to $15 per person. Kids 34'' and under get in free.

People pick pumpkins in the distance at the Marana Pumpkin Patch in Marana, Arizona. The sky is a twilight blue with the moon visible.

Before you head to the patch via wagon, get your money’s worth with everything included in your admission: entrance to the corn maze, petting zoo, pig races, jumping pillow, slide and swings—just to name a few. Because the patch and festival are open until 7 p.m, take advantage of the golden hues beaming over the pumpkin patch just before sunset. It’s not only cooler, but you’ll get beautiful photos too.

While a lot of activities are included in admission, some are not. The zipline will cost you an extra $7 and the pony ride is $5.

Bonus Tip: While an added cost, definitely get out those singles for the pumpkin cannon. For $1 a shot, you’ll have a smashing time.

If you’ve worked up an appetite, the festival has everything from pizza and corn dogs to apple cobbler and soft ice cream.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re a bit older, Apple Annie’s is for you. Whether you’re on a date, with friends, family, or out-of-towners, the farm and orchard are the perfect place to wander, take photos, and pick produce. Apple Annie’s has been around since the 1980’s, making it an Arizona staple.

If you’ve got kids, or if you’re a kid at heart, and are looking for more than a farm experience, Marana Pumpkin Patch is your perfect pick. It truly is a festival, with lots of kid-friendly activities.

Be sure to check each location's COVID-19 policies and as always, if you're feeling unwell, stay home.