If you're going to visit Tubac, it's only a short drive to Tumacacori,
the "town" that's too tough to pronounce. (Actually, it's neither a
town nor tough to pronounce if you do it slowly and phonetically -
Too-mah-kah-core-ee.) It's the site of a Franciscan mission built in
1795 that was regularly besieged by the Apache Indians. The ruins that
are visible today include a chapel and graveyard. Visitors can also walk
through an elaborate church built in 1822. The site has been converted
into a National Historic Park with a visitor center where you can learn
all about the mission. This is a very picturesque and tranquil spot with
lots of mesquite trees and a half-mile trail.
On weekends, there's
often a craft demonstration.
The Tumacacori National Historical Museum celebrates the
Christmas season with a remarkable evening of luminaries and hot cider.
Photo by Robert Johnson
the street is the Santa Cruz Chili and Spice Company where you'll find
spices, herbs, salsas and cookbooks plus a Western museum. Since 1943
with the first harvest of the special and distinctive chilies that grow
in this rich river valley, from which they take their name, they have
produced unique chili products. The processing plant is right in the
middle of one of the best chili growing areas in the world.
But it is the Santa Cruz Chili Paste
for which they are deservedly most famous. Chili Paste was first
invented by Gene England as he searched to capture the flavor of fresh
chilies and create a versatile cooking ingredient for traditional
Mexican recipes. It was an instant hit! Everyone from mothers to
grandmothers to professional chefs proclaimed it the perfect beginning
to great Mexican food.
Greek sounds good, then you've got to try the Tumacacori Mission
Restaurant, located across from the National Park. Just to the north of
the park is the Wisdom Cafe, which offers Mexican fare. The Café is in
the hands of a 3rd generation Wisdom, and now with the birth of a
granddaughter, there are now 4 generations of Wisdoms in the business.
Enjoy a stay in this area for a weekend full of history, hiking along the river, bird watching and shopping.
For more information:
Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce
Official Visitor & Tourism Center
In 1944 Howard and Petra (Gomez)
Wisdom opened the doors to Wisdom's Café alongside the old Nogales
Highway never imagining that their little café was destined to become a
dining tradition three generations strong.
Because Petra's Father was a
property owner in Tumacacori and gifted parcels of his land to his
children and their spouses, the café is in a lovely location with a view
of the Tumacacori Mountains to the west and the Santa Rita's to the
east. It started out as an L-shaped little place that served breakfast
and housed a rowdy bar. And since Howard
was a natural born cowboy and athlete in that saddle he soon built a
roping arena alongside the café where bulldogging and rodeo champions
came from around the U.S. & Mexico to show off their skills.
Eventually the building grew to its current size with, as Petra
recalled, a little help from the workers building I-19.
Howard and Petra provided a great breakfast & lunch & the guys helped Howard
pour the Floor in the bar. Sadly the official opening of I-19 in 1979
forced many wonderful businesses to close their doors, including
Wisdom's Café, because the loss of traffic.
Fortunately in 1980, the
Wisdoms' son Herb & his wife Irene
(Pesqueira), agreed to return home from Long Beach, CA, where they
lived for 20 years to help Howard & Petra give new life to the café.
Herb and his sisters, Jennie Belle & Linda, & his brother Jesse, helped, too. It became a family affair using generations-old mouth watering recipes. Irene's own mom, Ana, cooked & shredded & sliced & diced for years.
Ana's sisters, Helen & Mary,
came from Nogales once-a-week to have lunch with the "girls" &
drink Pacificos & wine. These folks turned the café into the place
you see today. As for the fruit burrito, legend has it that one
afternoon, quite by accident a tortilla spread with jam fell into the
some hot cooking oil & thus the now world famous fruit burrito had
its start. Both the yummy fruit burro & delicious chimichanga have
helped make Wisdom's a dining tradition for locals and travelers alike.
And by making the café a completely non-smoking restaurant in 1982, way
ahead of any laws, Herb and Irene encouraged the residents of the
growing retirement town of Green Valley to patronize their place.
word-of-mouth the Wisdoms' reputation for the friendly service and great
food began to spread. Today the café is still run by Herb & Irene.
Many customers, most of whom the Wisdom's consider family, watched Herb
and Irene's sons, Richard & Cliff, grow up to help their folks with
the place & have warmly welcomed Cliff's wife Celeste (Martin), who
was born and raised in Nogales, AZ, into the fold. Both Cliff and Celeste,
fresh from university with lots of energy and new ideas have added some
of their own touch to Wisdom's.
Many of you were on hand when their
daughter, Sasha, was born &
have since enjoyed her company at your table. She's the fifth
generation to live on this land & was joined by her baby brother
Griffin, in '04! If you have a moment tale time to wander around the
café & enjoy the antiques collected by Howard, Herb, & Cliff, many given to them by customers.
You'll see paintings by Aunt Jean Jennie Belle, murals by Uncle Jesse, photos of family, friend and customers, trophies & medals won by Herb and Cliff & their fast ball team, Si Señor. Or play the piano that used to belong to Celeste's grandparents, Frank & Katherine
Admire Native American pottery found in the Santa
Cruz River, cowboy memorabilia and countless other treasures. And, of
course, don't forget the "artwork" in the powder room, ladies! Please
make yourselves at home and see why Wisdom's has been feature in
numerous magazines & newspaper articles (including the NY Times)
We hope you will enjoy your visit with us!
The Wisdom's 2008