Saturday, June 25, 2011
The Hidden Burger Gem That is The Market Grill in Monrovia
Today, I was in the mood for a burger and all the burger options in Duarte were basically all about fast food and that wasn't going to do. In-n-Out was also a possibility since it was just a 10-15 minute drive, but my picky palate said no because it was craving a new burger experience. In the back of mind, I remembered hearing about a restaurant in Monrovia called The Market Grill that is supposed to be known for their burgers so off I went.
The Market Grill is actually not a stand-alone restaurant. You'll find it inside the Monrovia Market, but as you pass the restaurant window, take note of the housemade burger buns that are on cooling trays. Once you walk inside, go down a few steps to your left to the restaurant itself where you'll see a counter in front of you where you can place your order and tables to your right that will seat about 12 people total. Yes, it's a small place, but there's also additional counter seating by the window for a few more people.
Inside the restaurant, there's are vintage food signs on the wall and also a shelf of really fun salt and pepper shakers like kissing pigs, frogs and more. Apparently, owner Alex Ramirez, would put these character salt and pepper shakers on the table and customers caught on and started donating some of their old ones to the restaurant. Currently, the customer donated shakers are just for display, but as one of the table ones are broken, they're replaced by a display one. I thought that was a cute side story.
So now it's burger time and for lunch that day, I went with a 1/3 lb. Bacon Burger with with whole leaf lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and a swipe of housemade Thousand Island. I had a choice of Provolone, cheddar or Swiss and decided to keep it classic with cheddar cheese. For a side, I opted out of the French fry route and instead went for their Minted Lemon Potato Salad. One thing that I liked about their side choices is that you could also choose Fresh fruit instead of the fries or potato salad for those of you trying to lessen your carb load. Another plus is that they actually ask you how you want your meat cooked and Medium was the answer from me.
Before I talk about the burger, I just want to mention a couple of other things. First, they make a Minted Lemonade, which I absolutely loved. Not that I don't mind tart lemonade, but some places take it overboard. With their Minted Lemonade, I still get the tart, but it's softened and rounded with the mint flavors. Mint-lemon must be their thing since they also have Minted Lemon Potato Salad, but it is awesome. I liked the fact that the lemon wasn't overwhelming, that the salad had a smooth texture plus the addition of fresh mint added a nice hit of freshness to the salad.
As for the burger, it hit the spot and then some. The burger meat was cooked perfectly and perfectly pink and it was deliciously juicy. One thing to add is that they also grind their own meats. Kudos to them! Generous with their bacon, you got two thick slices of smoky goodness and I think that more burgers should use red onions as opposed to white or yellow onion. It added a nice little hit of sweetness that I enjoyed,
The market freshness of all the vegetables really reinforced to me that the Market Grill cares about what they feed their customers. Although the housemade burger bun was soft and even a bit fluffy, it held its own considering the amount of food between the two buns. One little nitpit is that burger meat itself needed a bit more seasoning, a dash more salt and/or pepper, but still it was pretty darn good.
The Market Grill also has daily desserts, which are all baked by Tracy Ramirez's Mother. Tracy is the wife of Alex's Ramirez and the co-owner of The Market Grill. I certainly enjoyed my Butterscotch Cookies after my burger main event. Apparently, on Wednesday, they have bacon cookies. Guess where I'm going to be next Wednesday?
Overall, I really, really enjoyed my meal at The Market Grill and I look forward to returning and trying more items from their menu, especially their New England Hot Dogs, which I read about on the foodies: a southern california food blog. Be sure to click that link because it's definitely unlike a classic American hot dog that you're used to seeing.
The Market Grill
525 South Shamrock Avenue
Monrovia, California 91016
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