Mark's Kitchen is a real restaurant, with a varied and eccentric menu. In a world of artificial eccentricities, Mark's bill of fare is the real thing, combining Southern-influenced breakfasts with Korean specialties and hippie cuisine like tofu sandwiches and carrot-radish-celery juice. It isn't often that you can get grits and eggs under
the same roof as mandu (vegetable and tofu dumplings), bibim bap (marinated vegetables and rice, served with a hot bean-paste sauce) and kalbi (meltingly tender, sinfully fatty short ribs of beef).
The Korean dishes at Mark's are tasty, filling and a great deal (all under $10). And it's always nice to have old reliables like grilled cheese and BLTs on the same menu with a chicken teriyaki sandwich that you can get on focaccia, if that's your heart's desire. (Although, fair warning, the focaccia is so airy and tasteless it's hard to imagine why anyone would order it a second time.)
But it's at breakfast, served till noon during the week and 1 p.m. on weekends, that Mark's really shines. You can get eggs any way you want 'em,
delicious blueberry pancakes, not-too-mushy French toast, and sausage patties with a good kick to them. The grits, smooth and buttery, come in their
own little bowl. The fresh-squeezed orange juice is refreshing, although sometimes not as cold as you might like it. (The array of fruit and vegetable juices, available in any combination you can think of, is encyclopedic.)
And it's at breakfast on one of those farmers market Sundays that one might look around Mark's, taking stock of the interracial couples, the pre-adolescents on what might or might not be called a "date," the gay and lesbian couples (some with kids, some without), the elderly people and, yes, the Teva wearers, and think that the People's Republic is a pretty nice place to be.
-- Anne Glusker