Worth the Wait

From the ashes, Rincon Market is better than ever

When the Rincon Market experienced a huge fire last year, regular customers were bummed. What was even more disappointing was how long it took for this great neighborhood market and deli to reopen. Instead of the hoped for three or four months, the renovation took nearly a year. But then with a small amount of fanfare, Rincon Market reopened with a brighter look, wine and beer available in the dining area and pizza by the slice.

We are semi-regulars at Rincon but oddly enough in all the years we've been shopping there I can count on one hand the number of times we've actually sat down and ate a meal. Our modus operandi is usually picking up a couple of Wonderoast chickens ($7.99), a loaf of bread, a couple of salads from the cold deli, some baked goods and whatever strikes our fancy from the market side.

So our two meals there gave us a chance to experience the entire market. On one occasion, UA Coach Sean Miller and his staff were there with a handful of recruiting hopefuls. Apparently the coaches from UA consider Rincon a great place for family and/or work. In fact, both Miller and coach Rich Rodriguez have sandwiches named after them.

The dining part is divided into several sections: the grille, with a full assortment of hot options (including a waffle bar on weekends); the hot deli, which on weekdays offers main dishes and sides that vary daily (on weekends it has breakfast items); the salad bar where customers can choose from a humongous amount of items (more about that later); and the cold deli with house made sandwiches, salads, some entrées to take home, cold cuts and cheeses. Oh, did we mention the bakery? About 90 percent of the bakery items that include cookies, pies, cupcakes, danishes and about six or seven different types of brownies are made in house.

Deciding which way to go was tough, but we ended up going with the grille and then on another visit we ordered specialty sandwiches from the deli.

The patty melt ($8.99) consisted of a nicely sized hand-pressed patty topped with lightly grilled onions and Swiss cheese all served on marble rye. The patty was perfectly cooked, just slightly pink in the middle but with a wonderful grilled flavor. It comes with your choice of a side and we opted for regular fries, which actually included some sweet potato fries as well. There could've been more cheese on the sandwich, but this was a fine example of a classic patty melt and the fries were cooked to a nice crisp.

The fish and chips ($8.49) came with waffle fries and three hush puppies. The fries weren't quite crispy enough for my tastes but the hush puppies were sizzling hot and crisp on the outside and soft and nicely seasoned inside. The fish on the outside looked a little greasy, but one bite revealed tender and tasty white fish without a hint of grease.

Our sandwiches were also quite good. The Italian sub ($7.99) was made on a tomato-basil sub roll and stuffed with capicole, salami, mozzarella, provolone, banana peppers, onions and the house salad dressing. Like the patty melt, it was a nice version of this ubiquitous sandwich.

The Bull Dog ($7.99) held hot (although not very hot) sliced roast beef, a couple of slices of melting provolone, red onions, banana peppers and horseradish sauce on an onion roll. Although the combination of flavors was quite delicious, the sauce with its creamy kick made the sandwich.

We brought several desserts home: a caramel brownie, a peanut butter chocolate chip bar, a lemon bar ($1.99 each) and a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie ($2.29). The brownie and peanut butter bars were moist and chewy and sinfully good. We enjoyed the lemon bar as well, but were disappointed with the pie. I guess I'm more of purist and like rhubarb pie without a lot of sweet and this pie had a lot of sweet.

A few notes:

One of the recent additions to the market is a wine/beer bar that takes eating here to a more grown-up level. But there aren't a whole lot of choices of either. In fact, there are more coffee choices than beer and wine together.

Service can be a little scattered and confusing. For example, you have to purchase your deli items at a register by the deli. Everything else you pay for at the main checkout. I'm sure there is a reason for this (such as students walking out and not paying for items), but nonetheless it's confusing. The sandwich makers were a little grumpy on the day we were there, but everyone else, including the cooks at the grille, were helpful and upbeat.

The salad bar is amazing! Thirteen house made dressings, four greens combos, cheddar, blue, feta, parmesan cheeses, dried cranberries, chow mien noodles, croutons, chicken and tuna salads, fresh veggies galore, corn salad, cubed chicken, bacon bits, eight different olive choices, hard boiled eggs, several pasta salads, tabboulah ... the list goes on and on. It's available by the pound ($8.99). I'm going that way on our next visit.

The much anticipated pizza—another new addition—($5 for a slice and a fountain drink) wasn't available. Bummer.

All in all, we had two fine meals and even brought home a couple of roasted chickens. Glad you're back Rincon Market.

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