Grandma Fanny’s Kitchen

Fanny’s Cocina is bringing fresh market goods in the historic adobe home of El Rapido.

November 11, 2017

GleaningsIssue 27: November/December 2017

Something wonderful is happening in the historic adobe dwelling that once housed El Rapido Mexican Food in Tucson’s El Presidio neighborhood. Fanny’s Cocina, a small market that carries house-made beverages, freshly baked treats, and high quality market goods, is working to serve downtown Tucson and preserve the history of the building, which had been vacant for 17 years.

Jo Schneider, who owns La Cocina, Tallboys, and Bentley’s House of Coffee & Tea, opened Fanny’s Cocina in her grandmother’s name in October 2016. Fanny was an inspiration, says Sam Thompson, a manager at Fanny’s Cocina. Fanny demonstrated what it was to be an active part in her community. Just like its namesake, Fanny’s Cocina serves the people and neighborhood around it.

Although Schneider owns the specialty market named after her late grandmother, she’s trusted a few ardent employees with the day-to-day operations of El Presidio’s new neighborhood market. “The Schneider family is really big on giving opportunities to the people they work with,” Thompson said. Thompson, who manages front-of-house operations at Fanny’s Cocina, does everything from making tie-dye colored raspados to running the shop’s drool-worthy Instagram account. Together with the phenomenal self-taught baker Nick Carson and a few excellent baristas, Thompson has made Fanny’s Cocina a vibrant addition to downtown Tucson. “We’re all relatively young, but they’ve trusted us to get [Fanny’s Cocina] off the ground … it feels really good,” Thompson said.

(From left): Victoria Schneider, Samantha ompson, Nick Carson, and Becca Light are the team behind Fanny’s Cocina, in the historic El Rapido building.

Says Thompson, Fanny’s Cocina is “bringing Bentley’s to downtown Tucson” with a variety of pastries and coffee drinks. Carson, who also bakes for La Cocina, Bentley’s, and Tall Boys, curates a daily selection of treats for the pastry counter at Fanny’s Cocina. While the market carries a few staples, like chewy nut bars—made with almonds, peanuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, black sesame seeds, flax seeds, and local honey—much of the selection is seasonally inspired. All of the tender scones, chocolate-drizzled biscotti, and moist quick breads at Fanny’s Cocina go well with their specialty coffee drinks, made with an exclusive roast from Raging Sage. Thompson is particularly fond of the cold brew coffee, steeped for 24 hours, which she “can drink gallons of.” For those who wish to remain decaffeinated, Fanny’s Cocina offers a selection of made-to-order raspados and aguas frescas (all made with fresh, unsweetened juice), fruit smoothies, and milkshakes.

In addition to offering vegan and gluten-free baked goods to patrons with dietary restrictions, Fanny’s Cocina is making local food accessible to the working and elderly populations in downtown Tucson. “A lot of older people who can’t drive walk here because they still want organic produce and want to support a local economy,” Thompson said. Alongside a selection of high-quality pantry staples, like Jack and the Bean soup mix, Iskashitaa lemon curd, and local greens from Merchant’s Garden, Fanny’s Cocina offers La Cocina meatloaf, veggie burgers, and lasagna in a stocked grab-and-go case.

With its friendly service, high-quality food and beverages, and commitment to downtown Tucson’s history, Fanny’s Cocina is a bright spot in El Presidio neighborhood. “We’re hoping that what we’re doing here will bring some vibrancy to the neighborhood,” Thompson said.

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