Market West Grill – Camden, NJ
Meal: Lunch (for Two – excluding tip)
No known website
After LaRiveria shut down, we were pretty bummed that we not only lost our highest rated restaurant in Camden, but one of our favorite lunch spots overall. After weeks of mourning and denial, we finally faced reality, found closure, and continued our search for the best places to eat in our area. Market West Grill, not a three minute walk from LaRiveria, recently opened at the former LaPerla Italian Restaurant location in downtown Camden. Promising great food and great drinks at great prices, we grabbed a table.
The interior looks like a work in progress. Although the bar area looks complete, two adjacent dining areas are generally dark and unfinished. A third center dining area is populated by six or seven tables with simple plastic tablecloths. There aren’t any booths. We’re not sure if they are coming or going, but one of the unfinished sections has some eclectic chairs and tables that would look perfectly fitting in some ultra-trendy nightclub. You can eat at a table or two outside if you wish. Despite the continued improvements, the building is generally clean and we have no real complaints about the interior features.
The menu is limited, but has a few surprises. Expect typical casual dining stuff – wraps, burgers, salads, sandwiches – with a small Mexican menu including tacos, quesadillas, and, our favorite, tostones. Entrees ordered off the Mexican menu include delicious homemade salsa and decent tortilla chips. The tostones (plantain ‘nachos’ with availability of chicken, beef, or shrimp included), while not quite in line with the mouthwatering version at Bahama Breeze, was very good and I’m excited to see them included in the menu. Portion size was between an appetizer and an entree; it would be perfect for two to pick at. Service can be a little slow, as there only appeared to be one waitress serving the tables at each of our two visits. The same waitress took care of us both times, and she was very polite.
For our entrees we’ve tried the crispy chicken wrap, quesadillas, and turkey panini. Everything was enjoyable. We noticed that some of the items were prepared slightly differently the second time around (I ordered the crispy chicken wrap both times), so we’d like to see them ‘standardize’ their dishes a little bit for a bit more consistency. Most of the sandwich-type items come with a bag of chips and available fries for a little more. We thought the fries were pretty good.
On our first visit, I ordered a long island iced tea, and it was perhaps the strongest I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Honestly? I sat in my car for an hour after lunch just to sober up. The bartender on that visit was a younger woman who obviously took great pride in staying true to her profession, and stated that she never cheats a liquor order or dilutes it with fillers. Touche. I can’t stress enough how powerful this thing was – it makes me wonder how much I’m being cheated elsewhere?
The prices are middle of the pack and should be suitable for a lunch once or twice a week. You’ll pay $15-20 for a lunch for two with an appetizer. Generally, the food is decent and if you happen to spot a younger bartender, go ahead and get a mixed drink if you want your money’s worth. They need to finish building out the interior, work on quicker service, and hopefully pop in a few new items to their menu in the future. It’s not better than LaRiveria, but it’s good enough to be a viable lunch spot in a city that desperately needs a place to succeed.
Guru’s Score: 3.2 Chews
Subjective rating: We like it.
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