Despite its name, Market on Magnolia isn’t so much a market as it is a food court with a bar.
M.o.M., as it lovingly calls itself, occupies the former Frank & Steins beer and hot doggery at the corner of Magnolia Avenue and East Church Street, so not a huge space. Certainly not on the level of, say, Plant Street Market in Winter Garden. Or East End Market, for that matter.
As I said, a bar is the main focal point, occupying the far back wall. There are, of course, barstools for seating but there are also some high-top tables in front of the bar and essentially in the center of the entire space.
Three food vendors are set up around the perimeter. Two are new outposts for existing restaurants: Da Kine Poke and the Gnarly Barley. The other is 081 Wood Fired Pizza, which as far as I can tell does not have another location.
On a first visit, I ordered the tacos special from Gnarly. The special included two tacos, either beef or pork, but the person taking my order allowed one of each. It also came with the choice of a side dish, so I chose the macaroni and cheese, because with the macaroni and the cheese it’s almost like getting two sides. She gave me a table stand with a number and promised to find me when my order was ready.
It’s not like she had to look too far.
I found a seat at the bar and ordered a beer. There are about 40 or so taps but only one had a pilsner style beer flowing from it, and it was flavored with lime. Lime! The bartender suggested a canned version, the Postcard Pils from Green Bench Brewing Co. of St. Petersburg. It was a nice recommendation, and it had no hint of citrus.
The tacos indeed found their way to me, and fast. Not that there was a lot involved with preparing them. The two tortillas — flour, no choice of corn was offered — were straight out of the package and unheated. The meats had no special seasoning, and the bits of white cheese and chopped tomatoes didn’t offer much either.
Although the tacos arrived quickly the mac and cheese did not. The young woman told me that she was preparing a new batch and would bring it over when it was ready. It arrived as I was preparing to leave. I took a bite and I have to say it was pretty darned good macaroni and cheese, with an emphasis on the cheese. My recommendation: Order the mac and cheese as a main course and a taco as a side dish. With any luck you’ll be out of there before the taco arrives.
On another visit I ordered a pie from 081, which gets its name from the area code for Naples. (The one in Italy; the area code for Naples, Florida, is 239. I don’t believe there are any pizzerias with that area code in the name.)
Whole pies are the only option here, which is unfortunate. I think they’d do quite well by offering a by-the-slice option. Not that the pizzas are huge but they’re a little larger than a one-person pie.
And fairly pricy, too, at least if you want one with some meat on it. There is a $10 option called the New Yorker, which has sauce and cheese. The Di Carne, the only one with meat, is $15. When I ordered that one, the young woman behind the counter said, “That’s the one everyone orders.” I did not say well duh. But I wanted to.
The flavors of the pizza were very nice and full, with good seasonings and spices. The crust was a tad too thin and therefore moist, but it did not detract. I can’t say that all the meats promised — pepperoni, salami, sausage and prosciutto — were present and accounted for. And no one will ever accuse the pizza maker of overloading the toppings.
But I had a hard time getting past the cost, which, with tax and gratuity, came to over $18. This was not an 18 dollar pizza.
This time I sat at one of the center communal tables, but the bartender found me nonetheless and took my order. This time I said I was in the mood for an I.P.A. He asked a couple of questions about what I preferred (he didn’t get too personal) then said, “I know what I’m getting you.” He brought me the Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewery of Comstock, Mich. Very refreshing and a spot-on recommendation.
There are no other vendors that would lift this food court/bar to actual market status. And I don’t think they have much room to add any.
But Market on Magnolia has a nice ring to it. I’m sure M.o.M. would approve.
Market on Magnolia is at 150 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando, at the corner of Church Street. The website doesn’t seem to list the hours, so I’ll tell you that it’s open for lunch and dinner daily, including until midnight nightly. The phone number is 407-412-9230.