Liberty and Delicious Food for All!

The Place: Liberty Market
The Location: 230 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert
The Dishes: Sicilian Scramble, Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes, Chorizo Sweet Potato Hash, Almond Milk Latte, Chai-rish
By: Anthony Wallace

We all have those people in our lives whose opinion on food we take seriously: our “foodie friends.” Foremost in foodie credibility in my mind is my friend Andy, who was raised in a family funded by the restaurant industry. They know food. Andy lives in Denver now, but his frequent valley-area visits are happily filled with good food and friends. Recently, when asked where he wanted to go for Saturday morning breakfast, he quickly and decisively replied, “Liberty Market”.

The food scene in Downtown Gilbert has exploded in recent years, though many of its newer additions like Postino, Snooze, Joyride Tacos, Barrio Queen, and the massive Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, are second or third locations for established valley restaurants. Liberty Market, on the other hand, is neither new nor another iteration of an existing franchise—it is a Gilbert Road institution. Established in 1935, you can expect a well thought out, unique experience from the moment you walk through the door.

As the name suggests, Liberty Market was originally a grocery store. It remained a market until 2006 when it was purchased by legendary restaurateur Joe Johnston, whom Phoenix New Times once called, “The best thing to ever happen to Gilbert.” Johnston, who’s blessed the area with beloved eateries like Joe’s Real BBQ and Joe’s Farm Grill, reopened the building to the public in 2008 as the grocery-themed restaurant it is today. Original shopping carts, a WWII-era meat slicer, and the 1958 front door still remain, giving the place a unique, vintage vibe.

The feel is welcoming and unique, the building itself has an interesting history (including a fire that once nearly destroyed it), the staff are extremely efficient in seeing that guests get seated and served as quickly as possible, the food is fantastic, and even the novelty restrooms at Liberty Market are worth mentioning! Each stall has been designed to create its own little world, featuring thematic music and décor (be it an Italian countryside, tranquil blue sea, or chef-inspired room, including handwritten recipes on the walls). This collection of little gems were actually included in Time Magazine’s 2012 list of Top Ten Restrooms in America—yes, such a thing exists.

On to our dining experience. One of my favorite parts of going to Liberty Market is the coffee from the famed Strada Espresso Bar. I always get the Almond Milk Latte, as their homemade almond milk is the creamiest I’ve ever had (Lg/$5.50). One of my dining mates decided to opt for something a little harder, and ordered the Chai-rish: Jameson Irish whiskey, Market-made chai, and half & half ($8). Both of us were extremely happy.

For an entrée, I had the Chorizo Sweet Potato Hash, a hearty compilation of sweet potatoes, sautéed chorizo, cotija cheese, bell peppers, poblano chiles and red onions, topped by two sunny-side eggs, and accompanied by a warm flour tortilla ($11). The chorizo was just the right amount of salty, the sweet potato bits were fried to ideal crispiness, the egg yolk was properly oozey, and the freshly made flour tortilla was beyond good. Someone else ordered the Sicilian Scramble, consisting of scrambled eggs, Italian sausage, mozzarella, oven-roasted tomato, fresh herbs, and Liberty potatoes, accompanied by a homemade biscuit—this dish is actually my usual order ($11). The Italian herb-sausage-mozzarella-tomato combo is executed to perfection and the biscuit is next-level. There are some seriously skilled bakers working at Liberty Market!

Andy, my expert foodie friend ordered pancakes, giving us this sage advice: “Always get the pancakes at a good breakfast place; they’re the one thing you can’t recreate at home.” He put this to the test at Liberty Market, and wow—did they come through for him! The Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes stole the show ($9.50). He was kind enough to let me try them, and I think I could try for my whole life and never successfully pull these off at home. They they were soft and creamy, while by no means feeling soggy or runny, and the flavors were phenomenal.

Liberty Market’s lunch and dinner menus are equally delectable. This is a place to come back to over and over. Their imaginative chefs devise new specialty items weekly, and the vibe is always right—the espresso bar, to the restroom, to the table. Liberty Market pays a tasteful homage to the city of Gilbert’s past, while constantly tweaking its model to deliver a modern and delicious experience.

Hours: Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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