Yelp Names Tumerico, A Vegetarian Latin Restaurant, As Its Top Restaurant To Visit In 2024

Yelp's 11th annual Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list has officially dropped and sitting at the top is the much-loved Latin vegetarian and vegan restaurant, Tumerico. Located in the heart of Tucson, Arizona, Tumerico is run by Wendy Garcia, who was a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef Southwest in 2023. Garcia grew up on a farm in Hermosillo, Mexico, where she would help her dad cook the big family meals that would eventually lead to her becoming the celebrated chef that she is today.

Apart from having an authentic background in Mexican cuisine, Tumerico keeps its diners on their toes with an ever-changing chalkboard menu that's geared toward making use of what's local and in season. It's this level of attention to detail that has earned the restaurant its impressive 4.8-star status on Yelp. Tumerico was ranked number eight on last year's Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list as well, so it'll be exciting to see where this newfound fame will take Garcia next.

"From New York City to Houston, and Florida to California, Yelp's Top 100 Places to Eat list celebrates the must-visit local restaurants across the United States," Tara Lewis, Yelp's Trend Expert, stated in a press release. "This year's list embraces the unique tastes of our users and spotlights the beloved hidden gems across local communities." Tumerico isn't so hidden anymore, but it's nice to see talent being recognized outside of America's major metropolitan areas. Second place was given to Menya Rui, a St. Louis noodle restaurant.

The rise of Tucson's Tumerico

Wendy Garcia moved to Tucson when she was 17 and started working as a dishwasher in the restaurant industry shortly thereafter. As she explained to Arizona Highways Magazine, she worked her way up to head chef, shuffling through various kitchens around the city as service industry people tend to do. Eventually, she got burnt out and needed a change of pace. She started selling tamales at local farmer's markets and was surprised at how well they were received by the community.

Garcia started pulling out recipes that she had learned from her family as a kid and used them to eventually open up her own brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2014. As you can imagine, the restaurant is well-loved in the Southwest city. Enough so that Garcia opened up a second location in 2019 and started a sister restaurant called La Chaiteria.

From the humble beginnings of a farmer's market tamale stand to Yelp's number one place to eat in the U.S., the driving line of Garcia's success story is her passion for innovation in food. A constantly rotating menu is no easy feat. With that level of culinary improvisation, you can't fake talent. It's much easier to have a standard menu, making the same recipes day in and day out. But that's exactly what Garcia was trying to get away from, and her creativity in the kitchen is precisely what her community loves so much.