I grew up in a home that was built in the 20’s. For many years, family would gather for a meal in the breakfast nook. It was an alcove off the kitchen with table and banquettes built in. Many a meal and many a conversation shared around table.
Tucson has it’s own Nook. Housed in the former V, at the corner of Congress and Stone, the expansive space has loads of outdoor space and a raised bed garden with vegetables and herbs for the meals. Nook proudly serves breakfast and lunch and, of course, connects with local food supply. They make their pastries in house, including home-made pop tarts.
I had the jalapeno scallion bacon omelette with smashed hash (the hash had the right crispness to it and was not oily or mushy), Exo Roast coffee (yum!) and went home with a scone to have later. Their food is ample, flavorful and interesting. Loved the food. Loved the conversation.
For students or workers on the go, they have many options to take along to your next destination! They’re open daily. (nookdowntown.com)
I don’t wanna grow up, you say. Well, you don’t have to. Amidst the many craft cocktail options at High Wire Lounge, you can choose a drink with pop rocks or a drink with cotton candy in it.
The lounge opened to SRO Friday night. The many staff members were running around like crazy, making sure patrons were content. You have the option to lounge in the front seating area, sit at the bar, or hang outside in downtown Tucson’s newest courtyard and gathering space, sharing with the soon forthcoming Johnny Gibson Downtown Market and Independent Distillery. They’re open from three to two daily. You’ll find them off Arizona Avenue, s. of Congress.
While I still consider myself just a big kid, I didn’t opt for candy in my libation Friday night. I sipped on “A Brodie.” St. Germain was amongst the summery lemony flavor, so I aimed for a drink that connected with my Dutch roots.
I am convinced that the patrons were pleased and the staff slept very well that night!
Do you desire more summer childhood fun?! Well, over at MOCA, they’re building and preparing portable swimming holes (shipped from NYC, made from dumpsters!) to be housed in the museum for the summer and then auctioned off. Folks will be swimming by June 19. Become a member and check it out! (www.moca-tucson.org)
Ermano’s on Fourth Avenue is open and I was dying to check it out. I had hoped to stop in on a Monday night since I’m downtown walking anyway. They’re closed on Mondays as are several downtown eateries for the summer.
I noticed the big “West Coast late-1960s style poster” announcing Naim Amor performing on Thursday night. Sold. I had heard Naim and his band at a birthday party in April and decided it would be great to hear him again.
A friend joined me. Open rafters, reclaimed wood walls, metalwork and a long brick wall outline the space that was packed. There was not an empty seat. Lounge seating invites near the front where the band is playing, while tall dark booths line the brick wall. A tasting room and patio await in the back.
The place has 24 rotating beers on tap. Wine figures prominently as well. They offer 4 oz tasters and beer or wine flights. I checked out the Tieton Apricot Cider from Washington. Without a doubt, the best cider I’ve tasted yet. Crisp, delicately flavored and not too sweet.
The menu and logo uses the same typography as their music poster. The place smartly supports a sustainable food market, sourcing from Crooked Sky Farms, Chiva Risa goat cheese, Small Planet Bakery, Dos Manos Apiaries (honey) and Double Check Ranch, among others. I opted for the traditional burger and fries – both were great and ample. Ermano’s offers lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night. And don’t forget the Blues Brunch on Sundays.
Check out their website (ermanosbrew.com) for upcoming artists and special events. On Thursday nights, this is definitely the place to be!
Hang tight. Johnny Gibson Downtown Market has hit some snags, but is working very hard to catch up. Follow them on Facebook for their opening date. They’re currently hoping for sometime in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I had heard that High Wire was to open tonight. Only, they have a “coming soon” sign posted over their “open” sign. Independent Distillery hopes for a June opening as well, but a peak inside suggests they have quite a ways to go. A metal sculpture of Arizona’s famed Johnny Gibson now graces the back gate to the courtyard for these three businesses. All three were busy with workers today.
The good folks at Rincon Market, a Tucson fixture, are bringing their food love to downtown. Residents and visitors have been dreaming of a grocery for years. Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market plans a soft opening this Friday, June 5 (Keep current on their FB page). The space that once housed gym equipment (and most recently a theater) has been entirely revamped, thanks to the foresight and excitement of Steve Gibson, property owner. Their presence marks a first for the downtown area in 42 years.
The market will have sixty in-house salads on any given day, a deli, meat, bakery, flowers, beer and wine on tap, fresh produce and all the things that you might expect at a grocery.
A buffet/brunch will take place on the weekends in the slick open courtyard. Downtown entrepreneurs are understanding that Tucsonans long for community gathering space. I am sure the space will be a hit! Grocery delivery is even in the works, by bicycle of course!
Neighbors across the courtyard will be Independent Distillery and High Wire cocktail lounge. High Wire also plans a June opening. Rio Nuevo promises to “green up” Arizona Avenue, an alleyway that longs for foot traffic.
Meanwhile, Elvira’s of Tubac are revamping the former Saint House space on Congress and will open in November. AC Tucson, our newest hotel, has broken ground for building at Fifth and Broadway.
See you at the grocery on Friday!
…and they heard us! The Hub has been widely known for their in-house ice creams since they opened and began downtown’s resurgence. Now, they have a stand alone store directly across the street (on the streetcar line, for heaven’s sake!). The lines for deliciousness often snaked out the door during summer hours or peak times.
In addition to their ice creams, they serve shakes and sundaes. They even have a few baked goodies like brownies. A fridge houses sodas and the like.
Like Blu and Coronet before her, Hub Ice Cream Factory has inset a stunningly artisan tile floor. The serving area literally screams “Ice Cream” with their signage and a train runs a track overhead, traveling in and out of the “factory.”
While my eyes quickly gazed at the blueberry pancake (I love blueberries! I love pancakes!), I opted for my all time favorite, salted caramel. It didn’t disappoint. And, for those whose diets require, I did eye a “vegan chocolate” on the board. Made from coconut milk, they tell me. I’m going to try that one next.
Opening day last Friday was a hit for folks of all ages and the DJ added to the festivities!
Get in line! Check it out! Summer is here.
Whenever someone asks me what’s missing downtown (conversations with downtown movers and shakers Steve Gibson and risk-taker Kade Mislinski, for example), I immediately say “We need a live jazz club.” For awhile, talk was going on that one might open.
Perhaps this month will encourage someone to make it happen.
For me, Dianne Reeves kicked off Tucson’s inaugural jazz festival in a splendid way to an enthusiastic sold out crowd at the Fox Theater last night. She never fails to entertain, in a big way. An amazing talent with a gifted band, she still knocks it out of the park at 58.
In celebration fo the legacy of MLK, concerts are free at two venues on Fifth Avenue downtown today. Here’s the schedule:
11 a.m. Southwest Soul Circuit with Kevin and Tanishia Hamilton
12 p.m. George Howard Band
1 p.m. Crystal Stark with the Pete Swan Trio featuring Max Goldschmid
2 p.m. Manteca
3 p.m. Rafael Moreno y Descarga
4 p.m. Under Toad with special guest, Jimmy Cobb
Ticketed concerts continue through the month. Check out the website @ Tucsonjazzfestival.org.