Breaking Bread in Arizona
Enjoying bread in Arizona is a cultural experience that connects visitors with American Indian culture, Southwestern flavours and the state’s trailblazing bakers. Along with its ability to bring people closer together, Arizona’s wide variety of bread is a delicious way to discover its agriculture, history, culinary scene and culture. Here, we introduce the ingredients, bakers and places that rise above the rest.
A trip to Tucson would be incomplete without enjoying an artistically designed heritage loaf at Barrio Bread. Founded by James Beard-winning baker Don Guerra, this local bakery is beloved within the city’s thriving culinary scene for serving a variety of delicious loaves created from heritage grains. Committed to supporting Arizona farmers, Guerra obtains local flours, such as White Sonoran Wheat, to make his irresistibly crispy and chewy bread. Order a loaf of the fan-favourite heritage or pan de kino which are embellished with the iconic saguaro or Arizona state flag design, making them almost too pretty to eat.
Fry Bread & Indian Tacos
Fry Bread is a common American Indian cuisine known for its bubbly and chewy texture. This versatile staple is used to both make savoury dishes such as tacos and sweet treats when topped with powdered sugar and chocolate. With a history dating back almost 160 years, fry bread and Indian tacos are popular dishes found in many American Indian restaurants and at festivals.
Founded by Tohono O’odham Nation member Cecelia Miller, the Fry Bread House in Phoenix was opened in 1992 as a place where Arizonans and visitors can enjoy this cuisine. The marketplace across from the breathtaking San Xavier del Bac Mission in Tucson is another great destination to purchase fry bread and authentic American Indian crafts on the weekends from members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, who also built the mission. After working up an appetite exploring the Little Colorado River Gorge a Navajo Tribal Park, take a bite of a flavorful Navajo taco at a roadside food stand or the Historic Cameron Trading Post in Cameron. The restaurant’s signature item offers ground beef, green chiles and beans piled high on fry bread to create a one-of-a-kind taco.
Piki Bread – Hopi Tribe
Corn is vital to the Hopi way of life and blue corn is used to make the Hopi delicacy called Piki Bread. Piki Bread is significant to Hopi culture and is primarily made and served during important ceremonial times. This rare treat is made by hand-grinding blue corn and combining it with juniper berry ashes and water. Hopi women then create the bread by placing a thin layer of batter over a hot stone with their bare hands. Identifiable by its distinct greyish-green colour and very thin texture, Piki Bread offers a smoky and slightly sweet taste. Visitors can enjoy Piki Bread at annual festivals such as the S’edav Va’aki Museum Indian Market in Phoenix in December.
Sonoran Hot Dog
After experiencing a Sonoran Hot Dog, every other hot dog will pale in comparison. This Southern Arizona specialty is unique because it boasts a crusty outside, soft inside bolillo roll, and is piled high with Southwestern ingredients including salsa verde, pinto beans, bacon and jalapenos, which create a burst of flavour in every bite. While Sonoran hot dogs can be found throughout Arizona, it is a staple dish in Southern Arizona, especially in Tucson. Stop by the legendary El Guero Canelo in Tucson to devour its James Beard award-winning Sonoran hot dog.
A tortilla is a round, thin, unleavened flatbread originating from Mexico and is commonly used to make tacos, burritos, enchiladas and fajitas. With tortillas incorporated into many Southwestern and Mexican meals, visitors who desire to bring home a taste of Arizona cuisine should stop by Alejandro’s Tortilla Factory in Tucson, a quaint shop that offers guests a wide variety of scrumptious corn and flour tortillas. Creating fresh tortillas for more than 40 years, Alejandro’s tortillas can be found in many Tucson and Phoenix restaurants, enriching dishes with their flavour. Discover the versatility of tortillas while dining along Tucson’s Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food.
For centuries, Indigenous tribes such as the O’odham and Apache have created mesquite flour by drying and grinding the tree’s pods. This Southwestern flour is praised as a healthier alternative, rich in protein and gluten-free without sacrificing its sweet and smoky flavour. Witness the flour-making process by touring The San Xavier Cooperative Farm in the Tohono O’odham Nation in Tucson, which also encourages community members to collect pods to turn into flour through its sustainable Wild Harvest Program. Or, start baking with organic mesquite flour yourself by purchasing it from Oatman Flats Ranch in Gila Bend and the San Xavier Cooperative Farm.