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Salsa Showdown 

Salsa and Tequila Challenge; Saturday, August 16, La Encantada Shopping Center

Taste buds will get a workout this Saturday, Aug. 16, at the annual Salsa and Tequila Challenge. Held at La Encantada Shopping Center at 6 p.m., the competition brings chefs and mixologists together from more than 35 local establishments to battle it out in culinary and spirit-ed arenas.

Last year's best traditional salsa winner, El Cisne Mexican Restaurant, will take on other popular contenders such as Fini's Landing, Zona 78 and Boca Tacos y Tequila. On the tequila front, last year's winners El Saguarito Mexican Food, JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa and Ritz-Carlton at Dove Mountain will be back in the ring as well.

Besides food and drink, there will be music and dance performances, and a chance to vote on best piñata. Local artists have created more than 20 piñatas for the event, which will be raffled off to help provide scholarships for Hispanic students seeking higher education. Proceeds from the Salsa and Tequila Challenge benefit the Food Bank of Southern Arizona and Southern Arizona Arts and Culture Alliance's arts therapy and education programs.

Tickets for the event are $45 through Aug. 15 and $55 day of event. Ticket holders get up to 50 salsa tastings with chips; more than 25 tequila mixed drinks, tequila and beer samplings plus food and dessert samples. For more info and to get tickets online, visit saaca.org/SalsaTequila.php.

More by Irene Messina

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