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Who are the Experience Arizona Adventurers?

Matt Marine

Matt Marine is an Arizona resident who loves exploring Arizona's wonderful outdoor adventures. To find out more about Matt, click the link below.

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Cat-Dog is my faithful trail companion. Her real name is Cammie. Why do I call her Cat-Dog?

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Sara Harelson

I’m Sara! I’m 21, a senior in college, and a journalism major.  I love to read, write, travel, and listen to music.  I’m always on to my next adventure.


See Intern Page for previous interns

23 Miles of Mexican Food

By Amanda Oien

On a sweltering June afternoon, Julie Carrizosa is serving up refreshingly creamy snow cones with a Mexican twist – the raspado – at her storefront on 12th Avenue in South Tucson.

Oasis Fruit Cones’ family recipe goes back generations and originates in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico when Carrizosa’s husband’s grandfather took the traditional snow cone and added ice cream, fresh fruit and homemade juice. When they became popular with his friends and family, he began selling them.

“Even today, that’s what distinguishes us from everybody else, that we make our own juices out of the fruit with his own recipe rather than using the snow cone syrup,” Carrizosa said.

Carrizosa’s story is like many others in the 23 square-miles of the best Mexican food in the nation.

Christopher DeSimone, a self-proclaimed food snob, worked with Councilwoman Regina Romero to create the ‘23 Miles of Mexican Food.’

“I said, let’s be bold like the Tecate commercial would say, and declare Tucson as the best Mexican food in the United States.” But is the 23 Miles of Mexican Food worth the hype?

DeSimone, who works with Gray Line Tours, began thinking about South Tucson’s own version of the Food Network’s ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,’ and after work to rebrand Tucson and collaborating with Visit Tucson, the 23 Miles of Mexican Food was born.

“I worked out a map, I hand-drew it with my own food snobbery,” DeSimone says.

The 23 square-mile expands throughout the Old Pueblo, starting at 12th Avenue and Valencia Road, traveling to the West side before touching the Guadalajara Grill on Prince Road, snaking its way to the East side and finally coming back to South Tucson.

Large purple signs guide Tucsonans, foodies and tourists through the 23 miles.

 “I want to expose the mom and pops of the world that travel to Tucson, to the mom and pops” that own these small businesses, DeSimone said.

Oasis Fruit Cones, one of DeSimone’s favorite places for a raspado, opened in 1983.

“What started out as a hobby, grew into a full-fledged business,” Carrizosa said.

For Carrizosa, the 23 Miles of Mexican Food has developed a lot of interest in not only her own business, but the restaurants and bakeries in South Tucson.

The Gray Line tours has generated knowledge for foodies and tourists alike, giving people an opportunity to explore one of the most culturally rich areas of Tucson.

The Best of the Barrio Sonoran Cuisine Tour “brings people to these places where they can buy pastries, visit art galleries, where they can go sightseeing and get a taste of the culture,” Carrizosa said. “So when they have visitors or want to go down here, they know already where to get their tamales or handmade tortillas.”

Carrizosa said the 23 miles distinguishes the restaurants from chains.

“So many are family owned, many by second and third generations, so what you’re getting is authentic Mexican foods, still prepared by traditional methods and with traditional ingredients.”

But for Carrizosa, the 23 Miles of Mexican Food designation doesn’t just mean food, it means keeping the area beautiful, safe and inviting to tourists.

Through the 23 Miles of Mexican Food, Councilwoman Romero has been working to take 12th Avenue and evolve it into a ‘Culinary Cultural Corridor,’ building upon the existing local businesses that make Tucson the city that it is.

While raspados are trending and popping up in malls, Carrizosa said nothing compares to the original, and her customers agree.

Carrizosa said just the other day, a gentleman from California visited Oasis Fruit Cones and said there was no other place to get an authentic raspado. Carrizosa said she remembers the señors that would come in daily, asking for their special made-to-order raspado.

“That’s part of the fun of the community here,” Carrizosa said. “Getting to know our customers like family.”

Sergio Adalberto Arellano-Oros has been to every single restaurant, bakery, taqueria and raspado stand in the 23 Miles of Mexican Food.

“I am a connoisseur of Mexican food, so it’s not like I did it on purpose, it’s just that I frequent Mexican restaurants quite a bit and this led me to finding out about the 23 Miles of Mexican Food,” Arellano-Oros said. “I had visited the majority of them, so I figured, why not keep going?”

One of Arellano-Oros’ most memorable experiences at a restaurant was when he asked for a batch of handmade tortillas.

“Sure enough, we had freshly-made tortillas, which is really hard to find nowadays in any place that you go to,” Arellano-Oros said.

In 2015, Tucson was designated as a World City of Gastronomy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). That 23 Miles of Mexican Food hype? I’d say it’s pretty warranted.

For DeSimone, the concept of the 23 Miles of Mexican Food is simple: “Life is too short to eat crap food.” 

For more information on the 23 Miles of Mexican Food in Tucson, Arizona visit https://www.visittucson.org/things-to-do/restaurants/23-miles-mexican-food


Have you been on this adventure? What did you think? Comments and updates welcome by clicking here.

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