A home in the Barrio Viejo district of Tucson, Ariz.
John Burcham—The New York Times/Redux

There’s something revolutionary cooking in America’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Last year, Barrio Bread’s Don Guerra won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Baker, and he’s on a mission to revitalize Arizona-grown heritage grains. First brought here by 17th century Spanish missionaries, white Sonora wheat now crops up on the menus at restaurants like Maynards and the just-opened Bata and even in a Southwestern-inspired hefeweizen from Borderlands Brewing Co. In the coming months, the brewery is set to open a handful of new dining concepts with Top Chef alum Maria Mazon, who’s expanding beyond her popular BOCA Tacos y Tequila with a miniempire that now includes a tortilleria where you can pick up a bottle of her blazing chiltepín salsa, made with America’s only wild native chili pepper.

Born in Tucson and raised in Sonora, Mexico, Mazon represents a spirit of cross-border collaboration that is also seen in the work of Borderlandia, a tour company offering itineraries in Southern Arizona and neighboring Sonora. Join owners Rocío and Alex La Pierre for a stroll around Barrio Viejo, which is dotted with 19th century Sonoran row houses (Tucson’s answer to Pueblo Revival architecture) and new galleries—and which could be on its way to National Historic Landmark status this year. Also looming on the horizon for 2023 is the Leo Kent Hotel, a member of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio, which opens this year in the city’s tallest building. It will join another boutique newcomer, the wine-centric Citizen Hotel, which pioneering developer Moniqua Lane recently opened in Tucson’s historic first newspaper press.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com.