A three minute drive from PCC, Ginger Corner Market is an excellent choice when looking for either a place to study at or a place to enjoy a small meal.
Right next to Grant Park on the corner of Blanche and Michigan, Ginger Corner Market has sat on the intersection for the past five years and continues to bring in regulars as well as new faces.
Upon entering, the first thing that could be heard was the sound of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and store owner Liz Hollingsworth’s cheerful voice greeting with a hello.
Unlike most food places in Pasadena, Ginger Corner Market is not only a café, but a market and gift shop as well. The walls are lined with paintings and drawings, displaying the work of young artists and giving them an opportunity to showcase their work. With items ranging from Mexican-styled soda bottles to trinkets and toys for children to enjoy, Ginger Corner Market possesses a unique personality.
“My background isn’t retail so I just bought a lot of what I liked, there’s no real science behind it. I got toys because there’s a park across the street,” said Hollingsworth. “I used to live in New Orleans and they have a lot of small cafe markets and you don’t see that in LA very much at all.”
While the majority of cafes in the Los Angeles/Pasadena area consist of sleek, white marble counters on a bright tiled floor, Ginger Corner Market resembles more of a Seattle-based cafe. The wooden chairs, dark floors, and chalkboard menu all give the place a personality of its own and help create a more comfortable and warm environment.
Some of the items on their pastry menu change as the seasons do. And while some of these items may be hit or miss, their best-selling items include the Chopped Wedge Salad, Beet Salad, and the B.L.T. as well.
The B.L.T. holds an ingredient that makes it different from one you may buy at another restaurant. Ginger Corner Market’s B.L.T. includes caramelized bacon and for an extra 50 cents, you can add a fried egg onto it.
Some of the other sandwiches also have ingredients that may seem a bit odd from the outside looking in; however, once you get a taste of it, all doubts disappear. An example of this would be the turkey sandwich. It included slices of green apple, which made the sandwich much more tastier.
While at the restaurant, it was noticeable that the workers would greet their customers on a first name basis. They also seem to already know the orders of these patrons and speak to them on a personal level.
“Ironically, I run into friends who I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s so random,” said employee Cherry Aguilar before taking the order of a customer with a warm smile on her face.
It is clear to see that there is an organic relationship between the customers and the workers. The majority of the customers that come in speak with Aguilar and Hollingsworth about how their work is going and what their family members are up to.
Hollingsworth and Aguilar are familiar with a particular customer and she speaks about what she enjoys most about Ginger Corner Market and why she’s been a regular for years.
“It’s brought the whole community together. And really, it’s the women here. The women here are just enlightened, happy, deep, creative. For all of us, they’ve really brought in community,” said customer Marsha Macias. “It just raises the consciousness and good feeling of this area.”
Macias also mentions that everyone has a favorite off the menu item and oftens sees students from CalTech and PCC working on their assignments while enjoying a peanut butter cookie or peanut butter and jelly bars.
Before I leave, I ask for a slice of the bread pudding to-go and munch on it on my way back home. The glaze adds a pop of sweetness, but the real surprise is the strawberries stuffed on the inside. They mix perfectly with the the bread itself and give the pastry and overall taste that no other pastry can top.
Overall, Ginger Corner Market is the epitome of great hospitality and mouth-watering food. The workers make one feel at home and give the place a warm personality, which can be difficult to come by nowadays. The additional market and gift shop help give the place a unique characteristic that cannot be overlooked and really help drive the place to be one of a kind.
Rating: 5/5 bread puddings