Patricia Schwabe, Owner
Penca is located in a restored building from 1932, occupied by Graham Brothers Motors in the 30’s. Other businesses operated in the space from the 60’s to the 80’s, doing business with the courts that surrounded the property. Ron and Patricia Schwabe purchased the property in 2011 and decided to create a restaurant that would represent Patricia’s Mexican traditions. They embarked on a full renovation utilizing mostly repurposed materials like beams from the Historic Santa Rita Hotel and rollers from the old Arizona Glass Company. The building had a style of its own and the goal was to stay true to it.
In 2013, Patricia teamed up with a talented group that included Bryan Eichhorst and Luke Anable for the bar program. They were instrumental in the creation of Penca’s award winning Tequila and Mezcal bar.
Bryan took the lead after the first year and continued its growth with a wonderful selection of spirits from around the world. The food menu focused on the cuisine of Central Mexico, which at the time of our opening was not represented much in Tucson.
David Solorzano, Executive Chef
Our current team includes Executive Chef David Solorzano, who began his education on farm to table practices from an early age. Growing up, he traveled with his family between Southern Arizona and their home in Central Mexico where he helped tend the family’s gardens. Later, his wanderlust led him to the Alaskan coast where he crewed on halibut and salmon boats. Though he spent most of his formative years literally elbow deep in the freshest of ingredients, if wasn’t until working at his uncle’s restaurant in his early 20’s that he discovered his true passion for culinary arts.
David graduated from Scottsdale Culinary Institute and worked in several Phoenix-area fine dining restaurants including Vincent on Camelback and Ayako of Tokyo at the Arizona Biltmore, before making his way to Tucson. Once in the Old Pueblo he first worked alongside Chef Bruce Yim at Vin Tabla and Chef Chad Luethje at Miraval Resort and Spa before eventually opening a food truck called Animal Farm. Named “The Best Food Truck in Tucson” by Tucson Weekly, Animal Farm specialized in artfully prepared dishes using locally sourced ingredients and proved to be an important turning point for David.
This new venture allowed him to develop close personal relationships with a variety of local purveyors, a practice he would continue in 2013 when he transitioned to the culinary team at Hacienda del Sol. As Chef de Cuisine at Hacienda, David helped Executive Chef Yim develop and prepare a seasonally changing menu; all while working to educate staff on an array of culinary techniques and ingredients.
More recently, a spur-of-the-moment trip to Guadalajara inspired Chef Solorzano to rediscover his roots in traditional Mexican cuisine. This formative trip led to several others around Central Mexico, during which David strove to learn as much as possible about the complex flavor profiles of the region. Since many of these flavors are not commonly seen in the United States, Chef David once again turned to forming partnerships with a cross section of local farmers and chefs, as well as merchants and artisans, in order to better understand the depth of flavors present in Mexican cuisine.
As the Executive Chef of Penca Restaurante, David hopes to push the development of Tucson’s culinary scene. His tremendous respect for the lost and traditional cooking techniques, dishes, and ingredients of Central Mexico is the driving force behind Penca’s menu. By combining this focus with his long-time passion of sourcing quality, local ingredients, Chef Solorzano hopes to showcase the true depth of Mexican cuisine and inspire Penca’s guests to rediscover the beauty of Mexico for themselves.
Bryan Eichhorst, Beverage Director
Bryan Eichhorst is Penca’s knowledgeable and talented Beverage Director. Bryan has been directly exploring for the past four years the history, the tradition and the production among others of tequila and mezcal. In the past years his interests have taken him over and over again to Oaxaca, Jalisco, DF and his passion for Bacanora to many of the small towns of Northern Sonora.
50 EAST BROADWAY, TUCSON, AZ