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Prosciutto flatbread with MRKT's old fashioned cocktail. Photo by David Boylan
Prosciutto flatbread and arugula with MRKT's old fashioned cocktail. Photo by David Boylan
Columns Food & Wine Lick the Plate

Lick the Plate: Late night culinary delights at MRKT Space

I was going to lead this column the way I normally do when an upscale establishment opens in the area formerly known as funky Leucadia, but that would be redundant and it’s about time I just accept that this is the new reality of the area.

And given that the newly opened MRKT Space is open until 10 p.m. daily, thus satisfying my regular craving for “late night” food other than burritos I am delighted with the addition to the neighborhood.

Seriously, folks, this place could be at home in the swankiest urban neighborhood of any major city in the world. And they don’t try to disguise it with a beachy vibe, it’s a beautiful space.

With “Food & Wine Finery” on their sign, they tell us flat out that MRKT is all about quality stuff and has price points to reflect that.  Although honestly, I’m OK with paying a little more for quality, given I don’t leave the establishment hungry. The only problem I had with their finery was the $15 cocktails, but given the upscaling of the area, that won’t come as a surprise to most folks who frequent this joint.

All that said, as one who delights in all things culinary, from lowbrow to highbrow, the quality offerings at MRKT Space are quite fabulous. And did I mention they were open until 10 p.m. and have a full bar? They are describing it as a community space combining a market, cafe, cocktail bar, and restaurant.

It offers the convenience of an upscale corner store (minus the toiletries)  with the options of an all-day and well into the evening café. It’s sizeable at 2,850-square-foot with seating for 60 indoors and out.

The restaurant and bar menu ranges from breakfast toasts and baked eggs to salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, and meat and cheese boards, plus cocktails, beer, and wine. Shelves are stocked with everything from eggs and fresh pasta to gourmet pantry items,  chocolate, and wine. There’s also a foodie-centric gift section, as well as a variety of grab-and-go dishes.

Salmon quinoa salad at MRKT Space in Encinitas. Photo by David Boylan
Salmon quinoa salad at MRKT Space in Encinitas. Photo by David Boylan

Some of the ready-made meals to go I’ve seen available over the past week have included a Caprese salad, and a pesto pasta salad with chicken both of which looked fresh and very inviting.

Some other product observations included a plethora of cheeses, frozen crème brulee, Van Leeuwen ice cream bars, Coolhaus snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich, Connell’s ice cream, Bitchen sauces, kombucha offerings (hard and regular), bottle and canned beers, bacon, cold cuts, tortillas, Hommage Bakehouse baguettes, Nutella, a variety of spices & rubs, fancy salad dressings, Keto Krisps, Epic Jerky, Boulder Canyon Chips, Tates Cookies, Kale Chips, Sardines, and a variety of random foodie gift options, and of course, Sun Bum sunscreen, because they are everywhere. And I’m somewhat scratching the surface here.

Basically, this place is heaven for anyone with a case of serious munchies for something above and beyond the local liquor store or 7-Eleven.

I covered the menu bases at MRKT with breakfast, lunch, late-night cocktails and flatbread experiences. Breakfast was super good with the smoked salmon Toast with cream cheese, roasted tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, herbs and microgreens. The jalapeno looked pretty, but the heat distracted me from the other complementary flavors happening, so I just pulled them off.

For lunch, I discovered my new favorite midday, dish the slow-roasted salmon quinoa salad. Everything about this was spot on. From the plentiful salmon to the mix of quinoa, cucumber, dill, pine nuts, arugula and lemon vinaigrette. I could eat this several times per week for lunch or dinner and never tire of it.

And speaking of my love of the lowbrow – highbrow mix, I started a recent Saturday night out at O’Hurley’s with the 10 p.m. to close at MRKT on my mind. Now I realize that for many of you young folks out there, 10 p.m. does not constitute late-night dining.

But give it a few years and you will be more than happy with that last call for food. I built up an appetite at O’Hurley’s and walked down Coast Highway a few blocks where I ordered up one of their fancy cocktails and their prosciutto flatbread.

It served me well in their stylish dining room and then again later over Saturday Night Live… which was surprisingly funny with host Rami Malek.

I appreciate this new dining and drinking option in the neighborhood and based on the crowds I’ve seen on daily bike rides by many others have as well. It’s worth popping in for sure.

Find them at 782 North Coast Highway 101, Encinitas. Instagram @mrktspace_us.

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