- Reporters Desk
By Gretchen Williams, Cuisine Writer
The port of Marseilles is the Wilmington of the South of France. Heavy cargo movement and the many workers needed to keep it flowing create a fascinating and international community centered on the port, blessed with many cultures and the Mediterranean climate. At the terminus of Peninsula Road, next to the Cal Yacht Anchorage, the Marina Café in Wilmington has Marseilles whipped.
In the beating heart of the harbor, the Marina Café is serving up delicious dishes and cold brew with a spectacular view. Towering bridges, rail operations and truck traffic compete with hammerhead cranes and massive ships for space and drama. At the real end of the road, the Marina Café is perched on the edge of the inner harbor marinas, ringed with sailboat masts. Across the berth, huge auto carriers spit cars onto the dock. The gritty inside of harbor life and work have an industrial beauty seldom seen from close up, with a terrific burrito and a beer.
The Marina Café is a bright and cheerful place with indoor booths and a cozy counter and plenty of outdoor seating as well. The menu is direct, with an excellent cheeseburger and fries, for example, but also offers hidden gems like the huevos rancheros made with a great chile verde sauce. The panini grilled sandwiches are oozy with melted cheese, packed with roast beef or turkey or ham. Do not miss the French Fries or the even better breakfast potatoes- crispy and delightful hunks of spud. The daily specials are a fine deal, especially the Taco Tuesday choices of hard shell beef, chicken or veggie potato. Two tacos and rice and beans are $9.95. These tacos will take you back to elementary school, crunchy and filled with lettuce and cheese — if only school had fantastic salsa like this. The breakfast burrito is filled with everything, rice and beans, egg and bacon, and is a favorite with many of the locals, boat live aboards, longshore workers and sailors. The Loco Moco is also a weekly special, truly a Hawaiian import of volcanic proportions, with beef patties and eggs astride a rice mountain crowned with molten gravy — awesome!
Children are charmed with the Marina Café kids cuisine, featuring a classic grilled cheese or chicken tenders with fries or fresh fruit. A mini burrito with beans, rice and cheese is sure to please, though a true kid favorite of peanut butter and jelly sandwich is often ordered by adults. Plain vanilla ice cream can be ordered, though chocolate sauce and whipped cream seem like a natural.
Pleasing all members of the family is a priority at the Marina Café, as evidenced by the doggy menu and the dog friendly patio. Though dogs have been seen making themselves at home over a stack of pancakes, the dog menu offers a selection of healthy canine selections, from scrambled eggs with cottage cheese or chicken with rice and steamed vegetables or burger patty with rice and veggies. Plain Greek yogurt can stand in for puppy ice cream.
In a nod to her Greek heritage and the colors of the Greek flag, Ms. Sherry Hadjis has brought the blue and white of sea and sky to the Marina Café. On the second Sunday of the month, Sherry presents a brunch with Greek specialties as well as Italian favorites, beef, seafood, fruit, waffles and sweets. Plan to hang and eat and enjoy the peaceful and salty vibe of the Marina Café.
Friday afternoons bring Happy Hour to the Marina Café. Good deals on appetizers, coldest beer in the harbor, nice wine list, live music, phenomenal view. Tough to get better than this.
The Marina Café 720 Peninsula Road, Wilmington.
Details: 310-847-1299; marinacafewilmingtonshores.com