Friday, November 26, 2010

Mary's Market: lunch with ladies, men and dogs of the canyon

Mary's first opened in 1922 -- it's now owned by Carolyn.
 It's not easy to find a place close to L.A. where you really feel like you're not in the middle of the city anymore. Froggy's in Topanga Canyon, maybe, or the Rock Store way out on Mulholland. Too far to drive? Just a few minutes north of Sierra Madre is Mary's Market, a 90 year-old institution in Santa Anita Canyon near the trail for Sturtevant Falls.
"Is there really a restaurant up here? This feels like Big Sur," my kids said. The menu's simple -- a few egg dishes at breakfast, burgers, tuna fish and turkey sandwiches at lunch. Sometimes there are chicken and rib dinners and music and night. Sunflower seeds on the tuna sandwich added to the hippie vibe, and Swiss cheese perked up Sam's burger.

The simple menu (pasted on a brown lunch sack) is perfectly fine, but Mary's is more about the setting and homey atmosphere. Sitting among thrift shop finds and cans of corned beef, diners are invited to paint rocks and paper table coverings while the food's being prepared.

An old-timer with a long white beard settles in at the counter. Several dogs wait outside. A plate of terrific chocolate chip cookies just baked by owner Carolyn (Mary is apparently no more) arrives unbidden after the meal. At Mary's, it's a different pace with a ladies of the canyon feel and a history told in historic photos lining the walls, and a great way to escape the city.
Mary's Market
561 Woodland Dr
Sierra Madre
(626) 355-4534

Mary's Market on Urbanspoon


Food GPS said...

Nice. I'll have to keep this in mind for my next hike in the San Gabriels.

Sue said...

Sounds like a lovely place! Painting rocks while waiting for the food sounds fun :)

Doran said...

Cool. This isn't too far from work. I'll have to check it out the next time I want to escape for lunch.