Story and Photos
By Emily G. Peters
Snug in the Sierra Madre foothills lives a cafe that has served the hamlet for almost a century: Mary’s Market & Cafe.
Mary’s Market got its start in 1921, assuming its current name sometime in the 1950s. Though it had long been a staple in the Sierra Madre community, current owner Mike DeGrazzio saw an opportunity to breathe a little life into the establishment when it went on the market.
“Me and Matt Roberts, the chef, held some pretty rad dinner parties at my house for a year and a half. We brought together different folks from my life to share great food and conversation as a way to capture and reciprocate a perfect night,” said DeGrazzio, recalling how he became involved with the cafe. “When we saw that Mary’s was for sale, it seemed like a great forum to open up these experiences to the wider public.”
To say that the market is charming is an understatement. Removed from Sierra Madre’s main street area, the cafe serves as a unique purlieu for the quiet canyon part of town. The interior is decidedly picturesque, carrying an assortment of nostalgic candies, specialty vinegars and oils, and Mary’s Market branded clothing.
Open for breakfast and lunch, 15-year chef veteran Matt Roberts’ specials change regularly (like their leek and goat cheese frittata for Mother’s Day). But the menu also includes a rotation of diner-style classics: Belgian waffles, cheesy breakfast sandwiches and DeGrazzio’s personal favorite, the Mary’s Market burger. You could eat indoors—but we suggest the outdoor patio or turquoise bistro tables that face the catch basin and winding canyon road. When the weather is good—which is pretty much all the time in Los Angeles—it’s no less than idyllic.
Influenced by Mexican and Southern BBQ cuisine, the cafe’s flavors aren’t confined to the canyon. “We offer monthly private dinners where Matt gets to experiment and showcase his abilities as a chef,” said DeGrazzio. “The dinners are usually seven to eight courses, and typically run over three hours.”
Like many of Sierra Madre’s business owners, a respect for the cultural preservation of the town and community involvement is important to DeGrazzio.
“Mary’s sponsored a Little League team (go Rays!), and we’ll participate in the Fourth of July parade with an old truck displaying our banner while we hand out our freshly baked cookies,” he said. And when it comes to the cafe’s target audience, the answer is clear: his neighbors.
“The cafe is for the neighborhood, and anybody who likes to enjoy a good meal in a chill location,” said DeGrazzio, who remarked on the need for a peaceful place for locals. “I live in Sierra Madre and really appreciate the Mayberry aspect of slowing down and considering your neighbor. I hope that everyone who comes to Mary’s is able to feel that same intimacy and hospitality as when we were sharing food from my own kitchen.”
Mary’s Market and Cafe is located at 561 Woodland Drive in Sierra Madre. Contact them at www.marysmarketcafe.com | 626.355.4534 | firstname.lastname@example.org and see what’s for brunch on Instagram @MarysMarketCafe and Facebook @MarysMarketCafe1.