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Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Co.

Tumacacori, Tumacacori-Carmen, AZ, USA
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For "Chili and Spice and Everything Nice"... Tumacacori Carmen Arizona United States

For "Chili and Spice and Everything Nice"...

Want hot chiles? mild peppers? powder? paste? Across from the old Spanish mission in Tumacácori, you'll find it. For decades, family-owned and family-run Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Co. has been providing flavors in Southern Arizona. There's even a mini Western Museum...and of course, you can sample the sauces and salsas...

The Santa Cruz valley, between Tucson and Nogales, is one of the oldest continually-farmed regions in the U.S.; for four thousand years, native peppers, beans, squash, cactus and corn have been cultivated, even here in the desert. Then, beginning in the 17th century, Spaniards introduced Mediterranean plants: grapes, figs, pomegranates, figs, quince...and cattle ranching. A small garden on the grounds of the Tumacácori mission across the road from the Santa Cruz Chili Co. still grows some of these heirloom crops.

A visit to the mission and spice market make for a great afternoon or day trip from Tucson.

Go south from Tucson on I-19 for about an hour. (Note: I-19 is marked in kilometers, not miles; quirky.) Take Exit 29, turn left, then turn north on the old highway, and you'll see the big chile-pepper sign on the left, just before you get to Tumacácori mission National Historical Park. The store is closed on Sundays.