Do you have a craving for Chinese food, sushi or a hearth-baked pizza? Then look no further than the Market Cafe on the corner of National and Barrington avenues.
The newly revamped cafe also serves custom-made sandwiches and hot food, and boasts a huge salad bar in line with the company's mission to sell natural and organic food.
The store remodeled and expanded the cafe in May, adding new menu items and moving the seating area outside by creating a fresh and inviting patio and lounge area.
Faced with so many options inside the cafe, I didn’t know where to begin. Luckily, you can sample as many of the foods as you want. Just ask a team member (employee) and you can try anything. I started at the sandwich bar, where you can have your sandwiches grilled if you wish. There are plenty of both premade and made-to-order sandwiches with a variety of meats, cheese, vegetables, spreads and breads to choose from. I especially liked the avocado fresco with arugula and fresh parmesan and the goat cheese/vegetable ratatouille.
There are labels on some of the prepared dishes that proclaim “Health Starts Here!” These selections have no oils, sweeteners or salt. They're nutrient dense and low fat but still full of flavor.
Next, I headed over to the Chinese food bar Bamboo Express, which had about six premade dishes. I tried the tofu and broccoli and found it to be quite flavorful. I was tempted to order a noodle soup, but refrained as I wanted to try some items at the other food bars.
I couldn’t resist grabbing some avocado sushi rolls, which came with soy sauce, wasabi and fresh ginger. The rice was moist and the rolls were small delicious bites.
My kids (and I) loved the white-out pizza (no sauce) with olive oil, mozzarella, ricotta and roasted garlic. The pizza had a nice thin crust and was baked in a hearth oven. You can order your custom pizzas whole or purchase them by the pound. To save time, you can also order your pizza over the phone.
I then moved on to the hot food bar and opted for the pasta shells with cheddar cheese sauce, another kid-friendly item. Add some broccoli and you’re good to go. The hot food bar has a rotating weekly theme. The day I visited was a salute to Southern dishes and featured slow-cooked collard greens, black-eyed peas, red beans and rice, Cajun chicken and candied yams. On another day Indian fare may be featured, with items including dal saag, curried vegetables, channa masala and chicken korma. Note that you pay per pound, so heavy items will make your wallet light. Visit on Wednesdays when a $2 per pound saving is offered at the salad and food bars ($5.99 per pound as opposed to the usual $7.99).
My daughter ordered a smoothie from the juice and smoothie bar with strawberries, bananas and apple juice. She slurped it down so quickly that I hardly had time to take a photo! I had a sip and it was super fresh.
Lastly, I hit the salad bar, which is the best in town in my opinion. There are plenty of greens to choose from for your salad base, including kale, spinach and chard. The fruit and vegetables are too numerous to mention, but I especially liked a couple of the premade salads: the tofu curry salad and the chef’s daily special salad with figs, strawberries and a balsamic dressing. I built a mountain of fresh produce in my container, knowing my eyes were probably bigger than my stomach and I wouldn’t finish it all in one sitting.
Fortunately, there will be plenty more to choose from at my next visit to the Whole Foods Market Cafe.
, 11666 National Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064, 310-996-8840
Hours: Open daily 7 a.m.-10 p.m.