I have a friend who, for many years, managed a bookstore on Exchange street (ah Books, etc., how we miss you!). For the entire summer, every summer, the number one non-book related question she was asked — day in and day out — was “Where can you get a good, quick lunch in this town?”
Portland is certainly not hurting for restaurants. Seafood, sushi, Italian, eclectic American — you name it, Portland has it. But when it comes to a quick, healthy, reasonably-priced lunch, Market Street Eats beats them all.
It’s possible I’m biased. For two years I worked around the corner from them, and I ate lunch there probably four days out of every five. I never had a bad meal (or a bad experience) with them. When I broke my leg in the middle of winter, they were willing to bring me my lunch for a couple of weeks, even though they don’t really deliver. That simple gesture earned them a special place in my heart.
But when you read the Yelp reviews, it’s clear that it’s not just me. These reviews reflect my personal experience with Market Street Eats — the staff seem to genuinely love people, love the work they do, and have a deep understanding of their menu. The food is simple, fresh, healthy, and flavorful. They serve wraps, and a few salads. These wraps are somehow unlike any wraps you’ve had before. They’re bursting with veggies, and anointed with just the right touch of seasoning to take them across the line that divides “quick healthy lunch” from “meal that is the best part of my day”. Their mayonnaise selection alone (mayo, cranberry mayo, basil mayo, spicy thai mayo, and horseradish mayo) is a perfect reflection of their flavorful approach to food. And, should you fear that the spicy thai mayo will be overpowering, they’ll cheerfully put a dab on a cucumber or tomato for you to try before you order your wrap. All their wraps (and they offer more than 20 combos) are priced at $6.95. They also offer an ever changing daily special which they post on their Facebook page.
They also open at 8 am and offer a selection of breakfast wraps that are a healthy and filing alternative to your standard egg and cheese muffin. But be careful – if you get The Buddah (Two eggs, melted havarti cheese, fresh avocado, ham or bacon, tomato and onion) you may find that you don’t have room for lunch. Breakfast wraps are priced from $4.00 to $5.75.
And one more thing – I love the space they’re in. It’s small, but it’s also bright, airy, and clearly a very personal reflection of the owner’s interests and tastes. It would have been easy for the memorabilia on the walls to slide over into standard chain restaurant decor territory, but they’ve avoided that, and have instead created a place where it’s easy sit down alone and read the paper, or sit with your family or co-workers and have a meal full of laughter.
So, if you’re doing your holiday shopping in the Old Port, or you have an appointment downtown, or you just want to try something new for your weekday lunch, I cannot recommend Market Street Eats highly enough. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Market Street Eats is located at 36 Market Street in Portland. Here’s a link to their menu. You should like them on Facebook to see their daily specials. Trying to find them? Here’s a map! They are open Monday – Friday 8 am to 3 pm, and on Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. Closed Sundays.