Tucson sits just 70 miles from the Mexican border. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that many local dishes in this Arizona city take their inspiration from the nearby Mexican state of Sonora. You won’t need much Spanish to hunt out these southwestern specialties, though, thanks to our guide to five distinctive Tucson tastes. In fact, the most important Spanish word you’ll want to learn is delicioso.
Green corn tamales
While you can find tamales across the southwestern United States and throughout Mexico, Tucson’s most distinctive masa (dough)-wrapped bundle is a variety known as “green corn.” It takes its name from its wrapper; it was traditionally steamed in fresh green corn husks, rather than the more common dried ones. At the Tucson Tamale Company, a bright orange strip-mall café not far from The University of Arizona campus, the freshly made green corn tamales are filled with gooey cheese and mild chilies, making a substantial — and scrumptious — vegetarian lunch.
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