Long Beach Lunch: The Marketplace Grill Cafe
Sometimes, the Long Beach suburbs births a concept eatery so needed, it doesn't even bother the hopeless nostalgics that it replaced the city's last remaining car-hop diner.
Eight months after its opening, The Marketplace just outside the Traffic Circle off Los Coyotes still features the sweeping open kitchen and slick-for-roller-skatin' floors of its former inhabitants. But an updated interior, counter-service concept and newsletter-sized menu of classy paninis, juicy burgers and Greek-inspired lunches defines it as a restaurant built for the 21st Century.
With its stocked wine cellar and wooden bar loaded with craft beers and booze, it might be temping to take a seat and wait for table service, however, the hustling staff at Marketplace makes these sit-down amenities casual again with register service of both food and drinks that's quick enough for those 30-minute meals.
The menu is an overwhelming selection of dishes just light enough to not drag you into a post-lunch coma. Salads come in bowls big enough to sit in, wraps are forever snuggled in giant spinach tortillas and the burgers can be made with a fibrous whole-wheat bun on request.
Sarah Bennett Greek salad
Philly-style paninis and cheese-draped pastas are among the few diet-unfriendly pieces, with the rest of the menu suggesting low-fat meats like salmon and chicken for Marketplace's chunky salads, savory melts, and dorado-roll sammies so big that leftovers are inevitable.
And to hammer home the healthy-comfort-food theme, every dish comes with two sides, a Greek salad (with un-pitted olives and a scoop of fresh feta) and a side of fries (which are actually oval-cut potatoes, lightly fried in veggie oil). Not feeling a salad or fries? No worries--Marketplace has a cadre of unique sides to choose from, like grilled veggies, risotto and house-made hummus and pita.
Sarah Bennett Chicken breast sandwich with sides of hummus and salad
It's these type of endless mix and match possibilities that prevents this relative newcomer from being what otherwise may have been a basic American food joint like its predecessor.
Often packed with Cal State students, local families and cops on their lunch break, The Marketplace is a restaurant as diverse as the city in which--an upscale cafeteria with an informal bar atmosphere that relies on its attentive staff and imaginative grub to make every visit a new adventure.
The Marketplace Grill Cafe, 4750 E Los Coyotes Diagonal, Long Beach, (562) 498-3663