New: Rice House
Rice House has opened at 54 W. Congress St. It's owned by longtime Tucson restaurateur Junting Lei and serves standard Thai and Chinese food from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. There's no alcohol yet, but we hear a liquor license is pending. Call 622-9557 for more information.
Mercado San Agustin
We've got more details about the food-related businesses going in at the new Mercado San Agustin at 100 S. Avenida del Convento, near Interstate 10 and Congress Street. Kira Dixon-Weinstein, the mercado's executive director, says southside bakery legend La Estrella (5266 S. 12th Ave.) is opening a location there. Taqueria El Pueblita, a small taco shop specializing in food from southern Mexico, will also call the market home. Peter Wilke—of B Line and Wilko fame—is opening a market, and other shops selling local honey and Sonoran snow cones are in the works. An Argentinean restaurant called Casa Marita Restaurante Argentino is scheduled to open early next year, and the market's commercial kitchen will allow small-time food operations to get into the game with minimal startup costs; mercadosanagustin.com.
Now Open: Mr. Head's Art Gallery and Bar
Mr. Head's Art Gallery and Bar has given us yet another reason to spend our hard-earned money drinking downtown. The combined gallery and bar is now serving dozens of beers on tap and a selection of spirits from noon to 2 a.m., daily, at 513 N. Fourth Ave. It's the brainchild of Micah Blatt, who owns Fathead Glass, a custom-glass shop adjacent to the bar. Blatt also fixed up the patio area and the surrounding landscaping, and was so busy running back and forth between his businesses when we called that he didn't have time to talk. Check the place out on Facebook for more information.
Oliver Ray, owner of the new Café Aqui at 1317 S. Sixth Ave., is one generous guy. While buying a pound of coffee at the new microroastery, I mentioned that I volunteer at the Casa Maria soup kitchen a few blocks away. Ray didn't hesitate before asking if the kitchen needed coffee—and donating an enormous bag of beans. There was never any mention that I was a food writer, and Ray's actions were meant to be anonymous. Now that is the sort of thing one likes to see around the holidays.