5 Months In, 5 Points Market Continues to Expand Menu, Grocery Options

May 5, 2014

5 Points Market & Restaurant sits right at 756 S. Stone Avenue, at the famous 5 Points intersection. The meals are honestly delightful, but far from ugly.

5 Points Market & Restaurant sits right at 756 S. Stone Avenue, at the famous 5 Points intersection.

by James J. Jefferies

When we last checked in with Brian Haskins and Jasper Ludwig at 5 Points Market & Restaurant over the winter, the dust had barely settled on the grand opening of their ambitious brunch/lunch spot and nascent market. It is now five months later, and a stop by their warmly sunlit casual haunt at the massive intersection of 18th Street and 6th and Stone Avenues reveals that things have indeed evolved as we march headlong into summertime in Downtown Tucson.

For one thing, the shelves in the market section are much, much fuller with a variety of small personal necessities (yes, hot sauce and tortillas are critical) and the refrigerators in back of the joint are bursting at the seams with a variety of fresh produce and product from Arizona-based farms and suppliers such as Small Planet Bakery.

If you’re just marching through, there’s a variety of trail mix and snack foods available, along with bottled iced teas, Mexican Coca-Cola, ginger beer, sarsaparilla, and San Pellegrino Sparkling Beverages. There’s also a spate of freshly-baked goodies idling on the counter near the chalkboard menu, should you fancy something quick to go with your morning coffee.

Even more demanding of discussion, though, are some of the new items that have appeared on the menu. Brunch & lunch items have nearly doubled since their opening, with such offerings as a wicked breakfast sandwich, The Eggleston ($6), which consists of two over-medium eggs on a baguette with roasted and marinated roma tomatoes, basil, sharp cheddar, and the option to add bacon, ham, or spicy vegan sausage for $3.

This is The Eggleston, shown here served with optional ham. It appears heavy, but the baguettes 5 Points serves are surprisingly light and soft.

This is The Eggleston, shown here served with optional ham. It appears heavy, but the baguettes 5 Points serves are surprisingly light and soft.

They really do spend that extra moment to deliver a genuinely pretty plate of food to your table, and the Eggleston was no exception, given that they arrange it so that the perfectly-cooked eggs drape neatly over the sides of the sandwich, and the whole thing is cut so that you have a nice run of velvety egg yolk pooling between the halves. The cheddar is sharper than Tina Fey and the tomato and basil just set it all off right. They also serve a very visually striking take on Huevos Rancheros that I am dying to try my next trip there.

There are also brand-new lunch-specific offerings, and chief among these is the Korean barbecue-inspired Seoul Sister ($11). I’m a sandwich man myself, and I’ve had plenty of sandwiches on baguettes with different varieties of grilled beef, but the Seoul Sister is something really special. They take marinated sirloin, a decent portion of it, and wedge it onto the softest baguette you’ve ever encountered in the wild, along with fresh homemade kimchi, crunchy pickled daikon and cucumbers, jalapeño, carrots, shiso leaf, sesame oil, and Sriracha aioli, to create a combination that completely pops with all kinds of clean, delightful, balanced flavors and textures in every single bite. It just works incredibly well.

The Seoul Sister is a delicious Korean kick in the mouth. Plenty of spicy flavor, but nothing approaching scorching. Just a riot of flavor and succulent crunchy textures.

The Seoul Sister is a delicious Korean BBQ kick in the mouth. Plenty of spicy flavor, but nothing approaching scorching. Just a riot of flavor and succulent crunchy textures.

The Sister comes with a simple bed of greens topped with citrus, and that’s really the ideal accompaniment for such a bold statement on bread. Anything else heavier or more complex would totally draw away from the main event, and this kind of plating choice at 5 Points seems to be a consistently positive thing. Something more grandiose as a side would just be foolish after being flavor-kicked in the mouth by the Sister.

It’s a meal that will leave you perfectly sated, but feeling good and ready for the rest of your afternoon when the dog days of summer arrive. New dishes are constantly popping up on their daily menu, and thus far, continued exploration has proven quite rewarding. It’s one of those places that exhibits the ‘good restaurant problem’: when your last meal at a place was terrific, it’s hard to want to stray, but every time you do, you realize the ‘risk’ was totally worth it.

5 Points Market and Restaurant just juggles a really curious mix of elements. It’s a beautiful setting, and has an incredibly relaxed and casual (some might say hipster) modern minimalist atmosphere, and yet the food is really, really carefully considered. They take these dishes seriously, and exude a very obvious commitment to consistency and creating very definitive and delicate flavors.

The locally-sourced produce is lovely to look at, and even better in the dishes.

The locally-sourced produce is lovely to look at, and even better in the dishes.

It’s not very often that you’re able to sample something so thoughtfully constructed in such a laid-back place, and in some ways, this really is the perfect restaurant analogy for Tucson as a whole. You’re gonna get something unexpected and amazing if you’re open to the experience – and we don’t care about your sneakers or cargo shorts. 5 Points Market & Restaurant is open daily from 7am to 9pm, with the kitchen closing at 4pm, and an emphasis on brunch and lunch. For more information, check ’em out on the web here.

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