Weekend brunch plans? Head south past the prim and Proper downtown dining scene to the place where the vibrant adobes of Barrio Viejo meet the South Side. To Five Points, a gateway neighborhood straddling the margins of two cultures and literally shooting off in five different directions.
There, across the street from St. Vincent de Paul thrift store and next to the Ethiopian restaurant, lies my favorite breakfast spot in Tucson. (Forgive me if you've already been there!) 5 Points Market & Restaurant, the newish operation from Time Market and Café Passé veterans Brian Haskins and Jasper Ludwig, turns out stunning plates of food at very modest prices.
The sunlit, effortlessly hip cafe seems to embody what we love about Tucson: the intricate, innovative dishes on the small paper menu are deeply rooted in the spice of the Southwest, with minimal pretense. Their smoked salmon benedict is to die for, and their signature dish the huevos rancheros is radiant like an exploding star: the bulbous white dome of soft egg surrounded by a blistering fire of chile sauce underneath verdant avocado and a halo of cilantro pesto. (Not sure what the beans would be. Comets?)
But if your inclinations are a little less celestial, you'd surely do right by the breakfast salad.
Less of an actual salad than you'd think, the plate is more like a composed study in squash. Two perfectly medium eggs sit atop a slab of butternut, its supple, lightly charred flesh enhanced by a slow roast. In between, a pungent poblano pepper also roasted to a hearty softness. The offering is easily pierced by the fork, spilling out that luscious yolk mingling with the salty umami of melted white cheddar cheese. Simple perfection. And on the side, a sweet puree of the squash, almost effervescent. (Oh yeah, there's also an arugula salad somewhere in there, but it's not much more than a thoughtful contrast.)
This subdued dish, an expression of the fall, is visually the opposite of the aforementioned explosive rancheros. But it shares something crucial: a flavor perhaps, or merely an attitude. Either way, both dishes evoke a feeling of Tucson I would return to again and again, any time of year.