By Kathy Montgomery | Photograph by Steven Meckler
Life would be sweet if mistakes always turned out like Jasper Ludwig’s huevos rancheros at 5 Points Market and Restaurant.
Ludwig was trying to re-create a sauce and “completely messed it up.” But when she plated it on the classic Southwestern breakfast dish, people raved. So, she tucked away the recipe in case she ever opened a restaurant.
That opportunity came in 2014, when she and co-owner Brian Haskins opened 5 Points, named for the historic star-shaped intersection where 18th Street meets Stone and Sixth avenues in Tucson. The café was a runaway hit, and the huevos rancheros became its most popular dish.
But that’s not the only star on the menu. Tucson Weekly chose Ludwig’s breakfast toast — made with heritage-grain bread, pesto chèvre, over-medium eggs and house Chianti jelly — for the cover of its “100 Essential Dishes” issue.
Growing up on a small farm in Maine, Ludwig learned to cook on a secondhand commercial range her mother bought for $100. She never lost her taste for fresh, local ingredients.
Haskins and Ludwig met while living in Washington state. A student of film photography, Ludwig moved to Tucson to open a community darkroom with a friend. Haskins moved with her.
When the darkroom didn’t pay the bills, Ludwig returned to food service. She and Haskins were managing thriving restaurants when the owners of a beautifully renovated building with original wood floors and exposed brick approached them about starting a new venture.
Ludwig created the original menu, and, like the breakfast toast and huevos rancheros, many of those items became signature dishes. The smoked salmon Benedict at an Olympia, Washington, café inspired the 5 Points version. It’s Ludwig’s favorite, made with house-smoked wild Alaskan salmon, garlic-herb cream cheese and a potato pancake. Before 5 Points, she made it only on Christmas.
Ludwig and kitchen manager Ken Julian are updating the lunch menu, adding a vegan take on Southern barbecue and an open-faced criollo meatloaf sandwich to crowd-pleasers such as the pork torta and the Cobb salad.
Haskins nurtures relationships with small, local growers such as Forever Yong Farm and Rattlebox Farm, as well as Pivot Produce, a company started by a former 5 Points chef as a kind of food hub connecting local farms and restaurants.
The market itself looks like a small farm stand, featuring the restaurant’s produce and locally made goods such as tortillas and Tucson’s popular Poblano Hot Sauce. Like the menu, it’s simple, inexpensive and satisfying. And that’s the point.
5 Points Market and Restaurant is located at 756 S. Stone Avenue in Tucson. For more information, call 520-623-3888 or visit www.5pointstucson.com.