My friend Elaine and I ventured out to Downtown Tucson today. We figured we would get there as the stores opened up at 10. We were headed off to the shops at Old Town Artisans. If I had bothered to check their website I would have known that they did not open until 11am. Most of them anyway. And some of them are not open all week. So check before you go.
We arrived around 10:30, put 2 hours into the tax machine (parking meter) and set out to do some shopping. Well, everything was closed until 11. We had intended on having lunch at CERES, a fresh pasta house with outdoor seating, so we wandered a block more to see if they were open and serving coffee. YUP.
We sat out in the sunshine of some tables that were set up on the road. Yes, it has been permanently blocked off and is now a large patio seating area for CERES and also the entrance to JOJOs, formerly La Cocina, then LaCo, but with a completely new menu. Let us know what you think.
Coffee having been downed, it was time to shop the Artisan Studios. Although the 4th Avenue Winter Fair had started, as you may have read, I am adverse to crowds. This is usually quiet, comfortable browsing through several specialty shops; from tourist knickknacks to vinyl records. a large selection of pottery, framed art, prints, and clothing. It is fun to browse at your leisure through these shops.
Next, after our shopping was done, it was time for lunch. So, we headed back to CERES where they serve up fresh pasta daily and sell it in bulk. It is well worth the purchase if you love fresh pasta. Ceres also has fresh pastries, desserts, and dried pasta. You can order your pasta in bulk from the website 24 hours in advance to ensure your order.
The menu is fairly short, which seems to be the trend these days. The shop is small and serves about 4 different pasta bowls each day with your choice of today’s pastas. They also have 4 or 5 salads for lunch. Elaine wanted to order one of the salads without Arugula, but the lettuce was already mixed for the lunch run. So we both had pasta. I had the Tomato Basil bowl, with the long, thin noodles, called Tagliolini. Elaine had the Pesto with Rigatoni noodles. Both were quite tasty although more cheese would have been nice and perhaps a few kalamata olives. Elaine finished her bowl. I took half of mine home and had it for lunch today adding olives and more parmesan. Better.
Ceres is a great place to relax in the sun while downtown and have an espresso, coffee and pastry or a quick lunch. There are umbrellas for shade if you need it. Finishing up our lunch, we beat feet back to the car with 6 minutes to spare on the meter. The meters also take credit cards and I think there is a program where you can pay by phone but I have never been successful at doing this.
Ceres has a sister restaurant named Noodies as in “Noodles” with both indoor and outdoor seating. The menu is slightly extended to include more messy items, like meatballs. The days they are open are the same, except for being open until 8 pm. Noodies is located at 1730 E. Speedway.