The region’s premier culinary challenge of the summer returns Labor Day Weekend to benefit local arts programming presented by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, as well as the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
Over 40 restaurants, chefs, distilleries and mixologists will compete in the 9th annual Southern Arizona Salsa, Tequila and Taco Challenge on Sunday, September 3 (Labor Day Weekend)! The battle royale will commence as Southern Arizona’s preeminent restaurants compete to prove their savory superiority amongst their culinary peers. And as if salsa and tequila aren’t intriguing enough, this year tacos are brand new to the lineup.
The Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona are joining forces to present the region’s largest salsa, tequila and taco culinary challenge of the year. Prepare to feast your eyes and palates on an omnibus of outstanding dishes. This year’s offerings will include 35 varieties of salsa, 20 unique tequila cocktails, and nearly 20 original tacos from a wide spectrum of restaurant participants.
The menu is enough to make your mouth water. Here is a small sample to whet your appetite: Fini’s Landing will be contributing the Blue Pine Hatch salsa made with blueberries, pineapple and hatch chilies paired with their Blue Pine Hatchet margarita that blends blueberry pineapple and hatch infused tequila. Epazote Kitchen and Cocktails will represent in all three categories with Otton’s Orange Habanero Salsa, comprised of oranges, habanero, mint, leeks and cilantro; Puesta Del Sol made with Patron Silver Tequila, Aperol and simple syrup and a Lamb Barbecoa Taco with lamb braised in southwestern chilies and spices.
Multiple dessert contributions will be represented as well. The Lodge at Ventana Canyon will provide a Dessert Taco with cinnamon sugar Buñuelo’s, dulce del leche marshmallow, Mexican chocolate and homemade salted caramel ice cream. Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain will delight with the Loaded Churro Tots, made with cinnamon sugar churro tots, dark chocolate ancho chile cream, strawberry cilantro salsa and white chocolate ganache. If your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, swing by Popped Artisan Popcorn for some Mole Caramel or Sonoran Caramel Popcorn or check out SpunLight for their Organic Lime or Habanero Cotton Candy.
The local restaurants, breweries, and distilleries will serve a colorful and flavorful variety of cuisines and spirits to a crowd of 1,500 attendees, in an effort to claim the awards in multiple categories:
Salsa Challenge – People’s Choice Awards
1st Place Salsa
2nd Place Salsa
3rd Place Salsa
Salsa Challenge – Judges Awards
Best Traditional Salsa
Best Alternative Salsa
Judges Choice, Best Overall Salsa
Tequila Challenge – People’s Choice Awards
1st Place Tequila Cocktail
2nd Place Tequila Cocktail
3rd Place Tequila Cocktail
Tequila Challenge – Judges Awards
Most Creative Cocktail
Judges Choice, Best Overall Tequila Cocktail
Best Taco (Judges Choice, and 1st, 2nd & 3rd Place People's Choice)
Grand Reserve Tequila Tasting
Best Overall – Judges + People’s Choice Combined Score
2017 Challenge Participants Include*:
Angie's Gourmet To Go
Elvira’s Cocina Tequila Vino
Epazote Kitchen and Cocktails
GRINGO grill + cantina
Hensley Beverage Company
Lodge at Ventana Canyon
Nothing Bundt Cakes
Omni Tucson National
Oskar Blues Brewery
Pure Love Juice Bar
Reforma Modern Mexican
Rigo’s Restaurant LLC
Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain
Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine Tequila
Saffron Indian Bistro
Sierra Nevada Brewery
The Living Room
Three Amigos Tequila
Three Wells Distilling
Tucson Tamale Company
*Please note this list will continue to grow as additional participants are added to the event.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to sample local beers and cuisine from the regions while enjoying the festive musical stylings of Marciachi Estrellas de Tucson and Orquesta Salsarengue.
Tickets to the event, $55 per person (21+ only), include chips, salsa and taco tastings, tequila cocktail sampling and shooters, menu pairings, live music and dance performances, cultural activities, and more. Tickets will only be available for pre-purchase, there will be no day-of ticket sales.
2017 Southern Arizona Salsa, Tequila & Taco Challenge
When: Sunday September 3rd at 7:00 p.m.
Where: La Encantada Shopping Center, northwest corner of Skyline Drive and Campbell Avenue
Cost: $55 per person (21+ Event)
Phone: (520) 797-3959
About Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance
The Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance (SAACA) is a not-for-profit organization that exists to ensure that, through engagement in arts and culture, our communities produce strong, inspired citizens. SAACA enlists artists, businesses, governments, and individuals to expand artistic and cultural opportunities in their respective communities. To enhance access to the arts and to promote cultural awareness in the communities it serves, SAACA presents large-scale festivals, events and other programs. The Alliance also promotes educational opportunities in the arts and culture for all ages.
For more information about programs and events produced by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance, go to www.saaca.org.