Shortly after the release of a New York Times article lauding Tucson’s architectural eccentricities, which featured a glowing recommendation of 5 Points Market that hailed it as “a bit of Williamsburg dropped into a historic intersection in a funky but fast-developing part of town,” the small, but hip restaurant and market was on full hype mode. The typically packed for weekend brunch spot was swarmed with first-timers and rightfully so.
Surrounded by Armory Park, Barrio Viejo and more, the restaurant is already well known and loved by those in the area, offering a true neighborhood dining experience. However, like any good neighborhood joint, 5 Points is adept enough to draw in more than just the folks who can bike or walk to it. With brunch dishes from comforting and filling to light and fresh andrustic flavorful sandwiches from a range of culinary persuasions, the restaurant excels on almost every plate it produces. While many brunch spots in town serve up plates in the $15 range, 5 Points keeps prices at a more affordable $10 and under. Luckily, that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting lower quality at 5 Points, but it also means it’ll become a go-to for you when you’re looking to impress out-of-town visitors with a delicious, but budget-conscious meal served all day.
The crowd favorite here seems to be the huevos rancheros ($9), which was even mentioned in the New York Times article. While the spot’s take on the classic Mexican dish is satisfying, complete with a healthy serving of spicy housemade ranchero salsa and slices of avocado piled on eggs on beans on tortillas and served with a cilantro-Serrano pesto, this dish is maybe the weakest offering on their expertly curated eight-item breakfast menu. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but 5 Points has better things to offer.
Take, for example, the breakfast toast ($9). The light, bright and interesting mix of components offers up a truly unique breakfast option that won’t weigh you down the rest of the day. Heritage fife grain toast is topped with layered pesto chevre, over medium eggs and a housemade Chianti jelly for a balanced, flavorful breakfast that’s so good you’ll forget it didn’t even have bacon. Served with a side of greens with fresh citrus, you can enjoy this tasty plate relatively guilt free. There’s a reason this dish was our cover shot for our 100 Essential Dishes issue.
For a heartier breakfast, the bandito blanco ($10) offers a mustard potato pancake with salty grilled shaved ham and poached eggs topped with a creamy, comforting Mornay sauce and pico de gallo. The addition of that pico de gallo showcases what 5 Points really does best—balance flavors. With a dish that decadent, the addition of herby and acidic pico means a brilliantly executed equilibrium that’s something like refined diner fare.
On the simpler side of things, the $6 Eggleston sandwich is a great, cheap morning option, with eggs, cheddar, roma tomatoes and basil. Massive pancakes, a smoked salmon benedict, a breakfast salad and warm chia pudding with caramelized bananas and pecans round out the menu, offering a little something for everyone.
Now, when I say for everyone, I mean everyone. Although modest in size, 5 Points manages to effortlessly offer several vegetarian options, as well as vegan and gluten free options, proving the restaurant is committed to serving the entire community, regardless of dietary restrictions. This is also the case on the restaurant’s lunch menu, which is served from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The list of two salads and five sandwiches bounces from Italian to Mexican to French to Korean to classic American options, without seeming confused in concept at all. For a lightly sweet, salty and ever so cheesy lunch, the ham and camembert sandwich ($9) with white wine poached pear, mustard and parsley oil offers delicate flavor palette between two pieces of baguette.
The Seoul Sister ($11), on the other hand, is intensely flavorful with marinated tri-tip accentuated by housemade kimchi, shiso leaves, jalapeno, cucumber, sesame, pickled daikon, turnip and carrots with a light Sriracha aioli. It is also offered vegan with portabella, rather than tri-tip, and vegan kimchi (i.e. nothing fishy here).
While you should most definitely pair your lunch with the refreshingly tart and additionally floral sparkling rosewater lemonade ($5 for 16 ounces), you have to finish it with one of the freshly baked pastries. Exotically spiced pistachio and cardamom shortbread will have you excited to take each bite, while perfectly prepared blueberry lavender pie with a lattice top will have you whipping out your phone to brag on Instagram. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
If there’s anything 5 Points could potentially work on, it is service. On the several trips I’ve taken to 5 Points, I’ve noticed that sitting on the patio might mean you’re ignored for long periods of time. When dining inside the restaurant, you can at least see the servers hustling and rushing to help the tables, which stay full almost all day. It might take a little longer to get a refill on your tasty Café Aqui-roasted coffee, but overall, the restaurant proves its worth the wait.
By keeping their regular menu simple and focused and embellishing it with tantalizing daily specials and creative pastries du jour, 5 Points will hook you in immediately and keep you returning time and time again. If you follow the restaurant on social media, you can stay in the loop on those specials, but be sure to go in early for them, as they do have a tendency to sell out.
And when that New York Times article said it seemed like a slice of some other hip city, I have to disagree. Sure, 5 Points would probably do well in Williamsburg or Portland, but it is a Tucson neighborhood joint through and through, and, you know what? Those other cities can’t have it.