The modern streetcar whistled by as I pulled up to the vintage building on University around lunchtime and there was nary a parking spot to be found. I located an area off the beaten path behind a church and trekked to the market for a daily special that has never disappointed.
I have never looked at a menu in Time Market as I am always drawn in by either their sandwich or pizza of the day. Today was no different as I was immediately drawn to the pork belly bánh mi. This Vietnamese Po’ Boy in it’s most basic form is the French baguette bread layered with a protein, a collection of vegetables and a spread—simple yet divine.
I placed my order and nestled in between two businessmen at the bar and patiently waited for my sandwich.
This place was hectic!
As I looked around, I noticed there was something for everybody here. Aside from the restaurant, there is a dedicated coffee station serving their in-house roasted coffee beans which can now be found down the road a bit at Exo Roast Company. Time Market offers up several other roasts but rest assured, they are all sourced through fair or direct trade.
Directly in front of me was the bar, offering up not just three or four draft offerings, but a mind-boggling 12! The selection of 12 craft beers was staggering with handles spanning from local Tucson breweries to Michigan and California to Illinois.
Fret not, my fellow oenophiles, if it is wine that you are looking for, Time Market offers an extensive list of wines by the bottle and glass. Wine and beer are also available in the grocery aisles for you to enjoy at home.
The grocery aisle, you may be wondering…yes, it is a market after all. Not as extensive as your local Trader Joe’s or even Johnny Gibson’s, but the grocery portion of the market reaches a definite niche. These hard-to-obtain items are a like finding a needle in the rough (you see what I did there?) Their selection of chocolates, spices, hot sauces, olive oils and beverages are worth the trip alone.
I ventured over to the back of the market to their wall of refrigerated beverages and took at least 10 minutes to select a bottle of iced tea. From boxed water to kombucha and chia drinks, the selection was almost too much to deal with.
Now time for the sandwich!
The in-house made baguette was crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and packed with antibiotic and growth hormone-free Beeler Haluka pork belly braised in Chinese five spice and turmeric. How good is this pork? Beeler Farms treats their pigs better than most people treat their children. Heluka is a Native American term meaning “full of sun” and is entirely focused on the pig’s comfort, welfare and genetics.
This version of the sandwich had the standard vegetables including pickled daikon radishes and carrots along with cilantro, cucumber and jalapeño peppers to kick it up a notch. It was finished with a small dollop and a squeeze of lime juice to add acidity ensuring the perfect bite, every bite.
The bánh mi is a timeless classic, first being introduced to Vietnam by the colonial French in the late 1800s. The market, much like the sandwich is timeless reaching every age range and demographic. From college students to business meetings to “fragrant” hipsters and even families. The place was packed for lunch on a sunny Thursday afternoon and I’m sure it will be like that for a long, long time.