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 articles "Celebrating a love for food & connection with The Coronet" and "Downtown's hidden gem, Meyer Avenue Cafe & Mercantile."
We've all been there at least once. Your stomach begins to grumble to the beat of late-night hunger, only to discover many of Tucson's restaurants have already closed their kitchens for the night. Picking up a paper bag of fast food from a drive-thru just doesn't cut it when you're craving the quality served up by local restaurants. Not all of them stay open as late as we'd like, though.
Luckily, we've got the Nightjar and its late-night menu at 347 S. Meyer Ave.
The Nightjar is just one of three restaurants operated by Sally Kane, The Coronet and Meyer Avenue Cafe being the other two, and its menu is available to order until 11:30 p.m. on Thursday - Saturday and up until 10 p.m. on Sunday. With the addition of projected movies on a big screen on Fridays and live music on Sundays, Kane just wants everyone to have a great time while feeling well-cared for.
"It's just the sweetest spot, and nothing warms my heart more than to see so many people laughing and having fun in all the different spaces," said Kane. "They're really enjoying themselves."
Entering the 160-year-old patio is eye candy in itself — an abundance of greenery and lights strung high above to create an ambiance worthy enough to document and share on social media. However, let's prioritize our journey to the Nightjar as if we've got a serious case of the nocturnal munchies.
There's some amazing food coming out of the corner kitchen of the Nightjar, reflective of the quality dished out by The Coronet. Make it a memorable night with dishes like Bangers and Mash, tinned seafood, the Red Eye Poutine — fries, gravy, cheese curds, and mustard with an option to add braised rabbit — and last but not least, the Coronet Burger with a side of French fries (some say they're some of Tucson's best fries).
Those familiar with The Coronet's menu will be pleased to know that, thanks to Nightjar, you can order the Thai Mussels and Grilled Shrimp to cure your later-in-the-evening cravings. With the addition of the slice of Barrio toast, your hunger will leave the scene — allowing a pleasant rise in your energy level.
The esculent specialties expand far beyond the food on the menu, too, and are being incorporated into the Nightjar's new culinary-driven craft cocktail program. Executive chef Tanner Fleming and bar manager Keila Herrington have grown into a force to be reckoned with when it comes to their contributions to the downtown cocktail scene.
"I am a huge fan of Keila, as a human person and as a bartender," said Kane. "I asked her to kind of push the craft envelope on this because The Coronet tends to lean more towards classic cocktails. They are inspired by very old-school classic techniques and in this new menu, we're doing things like milk washes and infusions. Tanner and Keila have been working hand-in-hand to create this menu."
"Even though we have a culinary approach at the Nightjar, you can still order cocktails we serve at The Coronet" Kane continued. "We're gonna say, 'Absolutely.' But we're also going to say we have six new cocktails. For example, there's a champagne watercress cocktail — it's absolutely gorgeous."
That would be the Faerie Water, which is a glorious concoction made of prosecco, watercress, lemon, a pastis wash, and orange bitters. Another standout on the cocktail menu is Your Black Black Heart. Typically, this could be understood as being lifeless or something that lacks emotions, but believe us, it's quite the opposite with its inclusion of Caffe Luce cold brew and Zubrówka.
"This espresso martini is delicious," said Kane, in regards to Your Black Black Heart. "Zubrówka is a vodka that's super, super grassy. Then it has Amaro Nonino, Lazaronni Amaro, and chocolate and mole bitters. So, there's a lot coming out."
Kane is ever so grateful for the love her staff has in bringing her dreams to life. From the moment Fleming and Herrington perfect the cocktails, to being greeted by Nevin Cornwell, Nightjar's manager, your experience with the staff is one you'll remember.
And on the note of recollection, the reverse Happy Hour is something you oughta pencil into your calendar pronto.
There's also a Friday Night Movie Special, which consists of a bag of [POPPED] Artisan Popcorn and a Modelo Especial for $8. You can find their full schedule of films online, which includes personalized summaries of each movie — not the synopsis found on IMDB or other such film-related databases.
If you've never been to Nightjar after the sun goes down, it's not at all hard to find. There are actually a couple of ways to maneuver your way onto the patio. For one, you can come in from Meyer Avenue. You'll notice candles lighting your way up the stairs and, before that, a sign outside alerting folks that the pub is open.
The other route you can take is from the east side parking lot. Just stroll on past the golf cart and you'll find the main courtyard. Then from there, you'll see an arch that's lit up with a sign displaying "Nightjar."
"Once you get in, there is a little treasure trove of nooks and crannies to be in," said Kane. "I love seeing the place bubbling with so many different kinds of people, so many different ages of people, and people sitting near a corner playing games. There were these two women canoodling, laughing, and whispering the other day. Then there was another crowd of people laughing their heads off. This is what makes my heart full. I feel like we've made something important and it gives people somewhere special to go, and they're guaranteed to get great food and drinks. It's magical."
So, if you've got an appetite for great late-night food, crafty cocktails, movies, games like backgammon and cribbage, and an all-around astounding experience on the patio, wander over to Cushing Street and Meyer Avenue before the rooster crows.
The Nightjar is open 5 p.m. - midnight (kitchen closes at 11:30 p.m.) on Thursday - Saturday and 5 - 10 p.m. on Sunday.
The Nightjar is located at 347 S. Meyer Ave. For more information on the menu and movie lineup, visit nightjartucson.com.
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