3 October, 2022, 01:49

Downtown’s hidden gem, Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile

This is one article of a series that highlights the past, present, and future of The Coronet, Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile, and Nightjar. Read our article “Celebrating a love for food & connection with The Coronet.”

Visiting the patio that’s found on the corner of Cushing Street and Meyer Avenue can feel like you’ve entered a sanctuary enveloped by lush greenery and paired with an open sky. Whether it’s the unique dishes found on the menu at The Coronet, the cocktails and atmosphere of Nightjar, or the comfy vibe Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile shares with folks during the earlier parts of the day, the group of concepts operated by Sally Kane has a little bit of everything.

However, if you’re seeking a more intimate counter-service situation where visitors can grab a bite, sip on coffee roasted by Caffe Luce, or wake up with a cup of tea, Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile has all of the above and more.

Open daily from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., the cafe produces dishes that are unique to most, classic breakfast items that have gotten your day started on multiple occasions, and then bites that have been enticing eaters for years — recipes that have been in rotation longer than the existence of Meyer Avenue Cafe.

“The Coronet was originally on Fourth Avenue and had breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” said Kane. “That was the original idea but little by little it eventually just became brunch and dinner. When we moved into the new place, there was this opportunity to have a little cafe there, and Erika Bostick, who was one of my first chefs, and I had always talked about opening up a fonda — like a ‘mom and pop cafe’ in Mexico. We wanted this smaller, precious thing that spoke to Erica’s Mexican heritage. I walked into the cafe, and I literally started crying. I called Erika and she just fell in love, too.”

It was love at first sight and the sister cafe, originally named Fonda de la Hermanita, came to fruition. However, when the pandemic embarked on its journey, creating a standstill in the local culinary community, the cafe closed. During that time, Bostick decided to go back to school and the cafe’s smaller kitchen was utilized by The Coronet for its convenient location near the patios. It wasn’t the forever solution, though, and it was time for the cafe to make a comeback once The Coronet moved its operations back into its dining room.

“Since the gate that brings you into the small courtyard and leads you to the cafe is on Meyer Avenue, we ended up renaming it Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile,” said Kane. “So, is it just a year and a half old, or is it the thing that’s always been a part of us? Yeah, it’s not brand new at all, and the recipes we started using nine years ago are still there.”

Lil Dutch Babies at Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile

One of the popular dishes that’s been around for some time now is the Lil Dutch Babies — a fan favorite that keeps people coming back over and again. Filled with tart citrus cream, maple syrup, and seasonal fruit, these savory puffs are quite possibly what neighboring roosters have been crowing about each and every morning.

“They’re filled with an amazing sour lemon cream,” said Kane. “They’re delicious, very simple, and fan favorites.”

Shakshuka at Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile

Then there’s the Shakshuka. It’s one of those dishes that can be included in either of Meyer Avenue Cafe’s “Breakfasty” or Lunchy” sections of the menu. The mix of spicy Middle Eastern tomato sauce, chickpeas, egg, and feta that’s paired with a house flatbread and cucumber salad is something Kane is proud to serve on a daily basis.

Keep scanning over the menu and you’ll find other options like the Curried Carrot Soup, Steelhead Gravlax Platter, and even a BLT Sandwich. The tinned gourmet seafood is always fun to eat, too, like the Patagonia Smoked Mussels or the Conservas de Cambados Octopus in Galician Sauce. 

Aside from what you can consume during your cafe visit, there’s also a heap of other things to purchase in the shop. Kane even has the popular Shakshuka sauce jarred and on shelves, so you can take it home.

“It’s just been around since the day we opened,” she said. “I love the Shakshuka. The concept of the mercantile is that we’re jarring and packaging items from our menu, as well as bringing tabletop items to the shelf. The Shakshuka is such a fantastic thing to jar. Even though we serve it for breakfast, you can take it home and poach chicken breasts in it or leave it vegan and serve it with a grain and sauteed greens. It’s just a really versatile breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

This isn’t just another gift shop that’s been positioned in the lobby of a restaurant, selling products you can pick up at any other national retailer. Like other unique and creative stores found in town and similar to the shop inside Blue Willow or the items for sale at 5 Points Market and Restaurant, you can discover all sorts of local and even one-of-a-kind goods inside the shop at Meyer Avenue Cafe.

“We sell our granola, and we have this really amazing green chutney that’s used in the cafe on the frittatas — that’s for sale,” said Kane. “Our pickles, our turmeric lemon curd, and then even our jamaica curd that’s used in our pastries and cookies is for sale.”

If you’ve got your four-legged companion along for the journey, there’s a little something for them as well.

“Our dog biscuits,” said Kane, excitedly. “We give them to people who come with their dogs. Their dogs get lots of kisses as well while they’re entranced by how amazing the biscuits are. They can buy these and take them home, too.”

In conclusion, if you’re wandering around downtown and looking for a place to set up shop, grab a coffee, order a boozy drink like a bloody mary or mimosa, or bite into a chocolate chip cookie that’ll perk you up with its hints of cayenne, swing in and soak up some sun on the patio at Meyer Avenue Cafe.

On the other hand, if you’re not in the mood to absorb the rays that Tucson provides for more than 350 days a year, there’s plenty of shady space on the patio as well.

Muffins at Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile

Keep in mind that the cafe is open from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. daily, but you can still stop by the shop later in the day while grabbing dinner at The Coronet. Take a bottle of wine home with you and reminisce about that wonderful time you had on the corner of Cushing Street and Meyer Avenue.

Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile is located at 198 W. Cushing St. For more information and menus, visit meyeravenuecafe.com.

This is one article of a series that highlights the past, present, and future of The Coronet, Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile, and Nightjar. Read our article “Celebrating a love for food & connection with The Coronet.”

At a very young age, Matt was gifted with the artistic ability to masterfully roll a burrito to the highest of standards.