By Jan Norris
More than 20 vendors will debut at the Delray Beach Market when it opens April 24. A mix of local entrepreneurs and out-of-towners has been chosen by the Menin Development management team to cook up a variety of foods at the 150,000-square-foot food hall.
Bright, colorful stalls will feature foods ranging from Japanese fusion (Tekka Bar) with sushi and ramen, to Virginia countryside barbecue (Surry Co. Smoke House). A hand-tossed New York pizza stall (Salvo’s) will share the hall with a bakery (Lovelee) and seafood market/takeout (Tip to Tail from Third Wind Seafood).
Diners will find an eclectic menu at the Modern Rose, based on the restaurant of the same name in Deerfield Beach.
Co-owner Emilio Dominguez calls it a “unique cafe concept.” It’s a modern tea shop, coffee shop and organic sandwich and salad spot.
“We focus on the experience,” Dominguez said. “We are very cognizant of engaging all the senses.”
Plating and presentation are as important as the quality of the foods, he said. “It’s about the visual. We are creating an experience for the guest.”
The spacious interior of the hall is boho, beachy and bright, with living plants supplying green areas. It’s a contrast to Dominguez’s establishment, which features antiques for sale and a cozier atmosphere. But he says the prospect of warm, welcoming interactions and eye-appealing foods will attract customers to the shop.
He also emphasizes fresh and local foods.
“We shop every single day,” he said. “We buy all local, and all fresh daily.”
Specialties will include modern matcha of different flavors and colors; a coffee selection using shade-grown, locally roasted beans freshly ground; and an avocado toast bar with a variety of fresh toppings.
Organic egg sandwiches, several Argentine empanadas, and pastries will be sold on an all-day menu, he said. Grab-and-go items include Fropro plant-based protein bars, produced in Fort Lauderdale. Local and clean-green products figure heavily in the ingredients.
Dominguez is enthused about the potential of the food hall, a way to introduce his menu to a wider audience.
The food hall opening was good timing for him and his wife, he said. “We had been looking for properties in Delray and this popped up.”
Jessie Steele, whom people may recognize from his stints as chef at Dada, and Death or Glory, will oversee two kitchens in the hall: Roots and IncrediBowl.
“To be clear, I’m just the chef,” he said. The owner, a local female entrepreneur, wishes to stay out of the limelight.
Roots is a plant-based concept with all house-made foods, he said.
“Our tag line for it is ‘healthy eating can be easy, delicious and fun.’ The goal is to appeal to everyone — not just vegans. Our dishes are going to be takes on regular dishes, but with all plants. There is no animal product of any kind here.”
He and his small staff will make all of the meat substitutes, he said.
An example is a riff on fish and chips, made with a hearts of palm mixture resembling a fish patty, fried, and special french fries. Another is the reuben sandwich, made with jackfruit, brined as corned beef, colored pink with beet juice and stacked on a sandwich with tofu cheese. “It’s really good,” Steele said, and intended to satisfy people missing regular corned beef.
A favorite creation is “bacon-cheese-fries,” he said. The “bacon” bits are cashews prepared with a smoky additive, and sprinkled over the fries with dairy-free cheese. “The idea is to get people excited about plant-based eating.”
IncrediBowl is a 180-degree turn from Roots. It offers a build-your-own bowl meal, with chef-crafted bowls on the menu as an option. Rice, cauliflower rice and two salad choices are bases for proteins, toppings and a plethora of sauces.
“The fresh, house-made toppings that are not standard are what sets us apart,” Steele said. “It’s not just a plain tomato, but a marinated one. We’ll have pickled red onions, garlic mushrooms, things like that to add flavor.”
Proteins include steak, chicken and shrimp, which he’ll get from the neighboring seafood stall, Tip to Tail.
He says he’s excited to be part of the market after a reluctant first impression.
Menin “approached me with this at the beginning a couple years ago, and I said hell no. I didn’t want to get involved in a food hall.”
Steele had a year off, after the coronavirus pandemic shut down the city’s restaurants and put plans for new ones on hold. The company came back around, offering again last year, this time with a slightly different concept fleshed out.
“I met with them, heard them out and saw the concept. I liked it, and agreed. I think they’re doing it right. Everyone is on the same page. There’s lots of camaraderie,” Steele said.
The downtown location is key, he said. “I think it’s going to do well. They have a huge audience in Delray that loves food.”
Other food booths include Big T’s Deli, a sandwich shop; Cellar & Pantry, for wine, cheese and charcuterie; County Line Southern Fried Chicken, featuring Southern comfort foods; Bona Bona, a specialty ice cream booth; Dad’s Favorite, a burger shop; Delray Craft and Alpine 210 Sausage, a craft brew and sausage bar; Ferdos Grill, a place for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern favorites; Guaca Go, a guacamole bar; Sorella’s, a fresh pasta maker; Tanuki, serving Pan-Asian and Hawaiian sweets and savories; Tiffin Box, a build-your-own meal spot; and Vote for Pedro New York, a Mexican cantina.
Nomad Surf Shop, next to Briny Breezes, will have an outlet in the market as well. The market includes a main full service bar, Central Bar, and a large space on the mezzanine for classes, community meetings, or private parties.
Delray Beach Market, 33 SE Third Ave., Delray Beach. Phone 561-562-7000; www.delraybeachmarket.com. Scheduled to open April 24.
Eric Baker always wanted to do a Jewish deli. The chef/owner at Rebel House in Boca Raton brought his vision to life in Uncle Pinkie’s Market and Deli, taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We had this private dining room next door. With COVID, it wasn’t being utilized,” he said.
He set up the counter-serve deli there, and uses the Rebel House kitchen to service it.
“They’re open opposite hours, so it worked out great. We’ve only been open a couple weeks, and we’re still trying to figure out the most optimal way of staffing two concepts. It’s tricky, but I think we’ve found our groove,” he said.
“I was very against a traditional Jewish deli,” he said. “Their menus are massive.”
He worked around it by taking the most popular dishes and putting his own stamp on them.
“There’s a big focus on homemade and really good ingredients. We pay tribute to tradition, with a focus on my techniques and quality ingredients,” Baker said.
On the menu are a truffle knish, noodle kugel and rugelach.
Instead of a giant breakfast menu, the deli has an all-day one. “We focus on breakfast sandwiches — egg, pastrami, salami — and variety breads: a Kaiser roll, bagel, mahala bun. We make bagel sandwiches with smoked fish, smoked trout and salmon,” Baker said.
“We have chopped liver, matzo ball soup, salads, of course, sandwiches. We make everything — we make our own corned beef, roast beef, and pastrami, all the coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad."
He’ll keep the autonomy between the two restaurants, he said. The new one is small, only a few tables, though outdoor seating shared with Rebel House is available. All those old photos on the wall? They’re Baker family portraits going back generations.
As far as other new ventures, “I’m done for this year. Hopefully there will be something new next year. I’m still young,” he said.
Uncle Pinkie’s Market and Deli, 293 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton. Phone 561-353-5888; www.unclepinkiesdeli.com. Open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Sunday.
In brief: Savor the Avenue, the street-long dinner party, returns for the 12th year to Delray’s Atlantic Avenue from 5:30 to 9 p.m. April 19. Fourteen restaurants will set up tables and serve guests in the middle of the road, with elaborate table settings and unique menus. This year’s dinner benefits Community Greening, a tree-planting initiative. For more information and reservations, go to www.downtowndelraybeach.com/savortheave.
Jan Norris is a food writer who can be reached at email@example.com