Designed to showcase Yuma's authentic border fare and its local restaurants, Savor Yuma tours treat diners to a “mystery culinary quest” aboard a party bus with its own designated driver.
You'll savor the unique flavors of Yuma with a progressive dinner featuring stops at three different restaurants, with tasty appetizers offered at the first, fresh soup or salad served at the second and a hearty main course dished up at the third. Each diner may enjoy two specialty “adult” drinks along the way, and a sweet treat wraps up the evening as the party express returns to its starting point.
And with two tickets for “adult” beverages along the way to lubricate the conversation, strangers quickly become friends.
Upcoming Savor Yuma tours, sponsored by Yuma Visitors Bureau, are scheduled for Jan. 22, Feb. 5 and 21 and March 5 and 28. The cost of $50 per person includes transportation, food and two adult drinks.
Tickets are on sale now at YVB's Visitor Information Center at the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, 201 N. 4th Ave. Or call 1-800-293-0071 or 783-0071 for more information. The VIC is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week.
Prospective diners are asked to reserve a seat on the bus and at the tables by Friday for the next tour.
Among the restaurants that will be featured on Savor Yuma tours in 2013 are Burgers and Beer, Chretin's, Ciao Bella, Garden Cafe, Hilton Garden Inn's Great American Grill, La Fonda, Main Street Cafe, River City Grill, Tina's Cocina, Yuma's Main Squeeze and Z Fun Factory.
“Our first season was tons of fun, and the tours are going to be even better this year with a little more intimate group,” said Linda Jordan, YVB's executive director. “You get to sample the chef's specialties at some great local restaurants and learn a little more about their history, plus it's a great chance to meet new people in a really fun setting.”
This season's first Savor Yuma tour took place last week, with a mix of winter visitors and year-round Yumans of all ages from young couples to retirees.
The tour started at the Hilton Garden Inn's Great American Grill with a crab-stuffed ravioli appetizer that had diners begging for a spoon so they could enjoy every drop of the delicious broth. The ravioli were made by hand, explained chef Brian Tolbert, because the ravioli machine had broken down.
Then everyone trooped onto a YCAT bus with Robert Bird, a bus driver who works for First Transit, behind the wheel for a ride to the next destination. Second stop was Ciao Bella, where diners had their choice of soup or salad from the restaurant's menu of Mediterranean cuisine.
The final destination was Tina's Cocina in St. Paul's Cultural Center, where a chicken enchilada dinner by candlelight in the historic church welcomed diners. Soon the mango margaritas were flowing as hosts Jay and Tina Clark and chef Alex Trujillo shared their love of the 103-year-old building and some of the other activities they offer there.
Finally, it was time to go.
But each tour features different restaurants, “so come back,” Jordan recommended.
And indeed, several of those on last week's tour were repeat diners from the previous year, both full-time Yumans and winter visitors.
“We had such a good time last year,” said Jean Hinton and Nancy Friends. “That's why we're back.”
Perry and Sharon Smith, winter visitors from Oregon, went on every tour last year. “We had a great time and met some interesting people,” they said, adding that they love Yuma and actively seek out fun things to do while here.
Others went on all six culinary tours last year as well and even extended their stay in Yuma to do it, Jordan said. “What better testimonial could we have than that?”