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A Rewarding Restaurant (or, why doesn’t food rhyme with good?)

September 17, 2010

I was out working yesterday while a dear and trusted friend was watching LM, and I had to go to the Municipal Court downtown.  The best parking for that court is at the garage where I used to park when my company still had an office downtown, and right on that same street is a restaurant called Cafe 54.  I haven’t been there since maybe January or February of this year, but when I arrived downtown at 11am and was starving, I decided to go check out their sidewalk chalkboard menu (changes daily).  The first time I ever went to Cafe 54, I went there because of that menu, and it was only after I walked inside that I realized that Cafe 54 is much more than just a funky downtown cafe.

In their own words, Cafe 54 “is a non-profit organization with an award-winning training and employment support program serving individuals recovering from mental illness.”  I love it!  Because it’s for training and not to make money, there are always plenty of smiling faces (no need to act like a ravenous meerkat trying to make eye contact with some aloof, actor-wannabe who is too busy counting his tips to notice that you have no flatware) and the food is amazing, as well as amazingly reasonable.  Beverages are self-serve, so by the time I got my own glass of water and picked a table, a sweet middle-aged gentleman had brought me one of their amazing rosemary rolls.  By the time I’d listened to a voicemail on my phone, sipped my water and taken a single bite of that delicious roll, my lobster roll and poblano cheddar mashed potatoes were being placed in front of me. And the sour cream chocolate cake I got for dessert was so rich I couldn’t finish it. Let me repeat: I couldn’t finish a piece of chocolate cake.  If it wasn’t 102 degrees, Hell may have frozen over.

I can’t recommend this place enough. It supports a great cause, it’s a local business, and the food is amazing.  Now, this dining experience will be a little different because of the people who work there, but it is training for them to integrate into society, which can be so harsh and judgmental towards people with mental illness.  The gentleman who brought me the roll was actually drooling a bit, and the young man who rang up my order got rather panicked when he couldn’t find the button on the register for my dessert and had to call for help.  But, they are wonderfully friendly people and just want to make your dining experience great.  Hopefully you can make it to this place for lunch sometime when you are walking around downtown Tucson, it really is wonderful!

p.s. Lobster Roll.  But, I thought you were a vegetarian??  LIAR! I am an socioethical vegetarian.  And don’t bother Googling that, I think I made it up;  since it is meaningless to everyone but me, people will nod knowingly and change the subject rather than inquiring further, or give me crap about being vegetarian.  I’ll explain in a future post.

p.p.s. I hope you are keeping track of all the things I’ve promised to talk about in future posts, because I haven’t.  Remind me sometime.

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