We used to love heading into LA for dinner, but over time that tolerance for Sig alerts and traffic waned our patience. Nowadays, we're mostly content with a 25-mile radius of somewhat predictable traffic, and surface streets we can navigate (with minimal help from Google maps). When we were made aware of a shiny new food court featuring Patina Restaurant Group brands, it was a no-brainer to check out.
If you can locate Park Place off Jamboree and the 405, you're almost there. This is the same plaza that lost Fatburger and Taleo, and brought Panini Cafe plus additional branches of Which Wich? and The Counter Burger. There's also the perpetually bustling Houstons. So why build more in a plaza notorious for bad parking? Convenience and planning.
Hyundai Capital and Western Digital are a couple of the businesses occupying office space. Property management knows the value of time, so the quicker
drones employees can get their lunch, the sooner they can be back at work. They've masterminded one hell of a cafeteria. And with the near completion of an adjacent parking structure, accessibility was no longer an issue.
Open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on weekends, Market Cafe consists of five concepts. Pictured below is Coffee and Milk-- the only one that remains open throughout the day. C+M serves pour over Intelligentsia coffee, among other liquid refreshments. Their other branch can be found inside LACMA. We sampled a robust French roast and learned they intend to educate patrons on caffeine characteristics in the future.
Their Cucina & Co brand can be found back east, but over here they offer wood-fired pizza slices ($3.99) and fresh pastas. An exhibition area is sandwiched between a custom deli featuring Boar's Head meats (starting at $6.50) and DIY salad section, offering roasted squash, cranberry vinaigrette dressing and mushrooms sauteed in sherry for 49-cents an ounce. From Ginger Trail, we picked up a tofu and veggie stir fry over brown rice ($6.49) and Thai iced tea. Their rotating menu includes Hawaiian and Indian cuisines, just to name a few. Carnivores will get excited over Nick + Stef's Express Grill. Serving burgers ($7 and up) and hot sandwiches like they're going out of style, these food beasts rank up there with the likes of The Counter (Did someone say Dueling Dishes?).
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Open since early February, the all-important parking structure is expected to open on April 1. Although we say park towards Mother's and hoof it across until that time. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oh, and grab a bag of their house made, Cajun-seasoned kale chips if you can.
Market Cafe at Park Place is at 3337 Michelson Dr, Irvine, (949) 660-1883; www.marketcafeparkplace.com.