Here we are, at mmm-yoso!!! a food blog. Kirk is in the midst of a typhoon, Ed (from Yuma) is in the midst of a heat wave (or maybe because it's in the 90's and Yuma, it's a cooling wave...) and Cathy is anticipating a dry heat after morning fog.
Back in March, I read this post on cc's blog and made a mental note to stop at Big Ben Specialty Market. It looked interesting and I knew exactly where it was located, based on her first photo. Fast Forward to October... ***We should have stopped here sooner***You might notice 8th Street in National City is in the midst of some reconstruction to keep traffic and parking to a more 'Town Center' level, instead of thoroughfare you just speed through. Small islands and angled parking force you to slow down and notice things.There is a parking lot directly behind Big Ben Market, this is the view on the cross street, "A" Avenue...that's open air/outdoor seating for the in store restaurant, The Grill House at Big Ben. We had to.Neat and clean with modern decor (tables made of reclaimed wood from the fire ravaged 65 year old Market which once stood here). Order, grab a beverage and condiments and have a seat; your food will be brought out. (A nice touch- when we ordered, we were given a coupon to use in the market -good on that day only- for 10% off our entire purchase: yet another reason to eat before shopping). Menu items include plates, burgers, skillets, sandwiches and salads made with various fresh spice/vegetable flavors of Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean and American (including BBQ). The Mister ordered the 1/2 lb Tri Tip Plate ($9.95) which came with two sides. He chose the Parmesan Kale salad and sweet potato fries. Everything on this plate was quality: the Tri Tip was moist, tender, had great flavor on its own (before any of the not-too-sweet, house made sauce): the sweet potato fries, skin on, were freshly fried to a nice crispiness yet soft enough to enjoy the flavor; the Parmesan Kale salad was fresh, crisp, flavorful and addictive (it's sold in the store and we bought some for home).The Mediterranean salad ($4.95) with added grilled chicken ($2), served in the deceptive if-photographed-from-the-top-only bowl. Crispy lettuce with more ingredients including not only fresh, but also sun dried tomatoes as well as a creamy, light Feta, onions and cucumbers. The warm grilled chicken and a light balsamic dressing was just right.
Fresh made items, hormone free meats, whole grains, local produce, served on reclaimed wood tables. This would be considered a prime meeting place and shopping market if it were located in a different Zip Code. The quality is noteworthy. Walking into the store, the kitchen and to go area with steam tables, cold sides and same menu as is served outside (see the pass through window third photo above?). Straight ahead, you'll see the meat counter, but just before that -on your left- is a salsa and cheese deli and grab and go meals (I'm assuming leftovers from the kitchen) with great prices ($2-$3 for a good sized meal). Poultry, meat and seafood counter has great prices even if not on sale. Organic, grass fed beef is available here. Gourmet and regular condiments can be found, as well as some fancier/imported candies. There is also a fairly extensive liquor and beer area.Not only are there a good selection of fruits and vegetables, a good portion are organic. There are also freshly made tortillas in the store, both standard and organic.
There are weekly in store as well as daily restaurant specials mentioned on the weekly flyer (available at the door). The Grill House specials include a meal with one side for $4.95 from 2-9:30 daily, $2 off any sandwich on weekends, and Buy 2 get 2 meals free on the weekend (dine in only).
Again, if this were located elsewhere in the county, you would have read about it, seen it was the place to go and would have already enjoyed the quality. We had been missing out, but now will be regular shoppers (and a place for meals).
Big Ben Specialty Market 108 East 8th street National City CA 91950 (619)477-1015 7 am-9:30 pm daily Website