Riverside Market in Fort Lauderdale: Simple, Fresh, Cheap, and Sudsy
The owner of Riverside Market grew up eating subs from LaSpada's and My Market once he moved downtown. "I was paying $11 for a sandwich," he said. "I wanted to pay $9 for a sandwich."
Eventually he realized sandwiches were his niche. "If I owned a sub shop, a sandwich would cost me even less than nine bucks."
A landlord, Siegel picked up a property at the junction of the Riverside and Sailboat Bend neighborhoods. He decided to gut it and make it his own. And Riverside Market was born.
Just over two years old, the sub shop has become a neighborhood favorite even for those outside the 'hood, pushing Siegel's 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. hours to well past midnight, particularly on nights when he holds a beer or wine tasting.
"Have you had the Ed Hardy omelet for breakfast?" he asks. "It's the cheesiest one in Fort Lauderdale."
Siegel says he's been accused of not being a serious person. With 200 beers at $2 a pop, a selection of sandwiches stuffed with produce from his garden and omelets made with free-range eggs from his brother's nursery, his repertoire says otherwise.
The most popular menu item is The North Fork (roast beef, pastrami, roasted turkey with garlic mayo, hot and sweet peppers, oil, vinegar, and garlic mayo) at $7 for a small sandwich and $9 for a foot-long. I'm a fan of the New York-inspired sandwich riffs, like the "I can't believe I'm not in New York" pastrami sandwich on rye. Eventually, I'll get pizza since I'm curious about the dough; cooks swap water in the recipe for Shipyard Stout.
Cops and lawyers on a fly-by for lunch during my last visit mopped up the last bits of eggplant parmesan on special. There's a different special every day, created by one of five guys who work the kitchen- three guys who also work at Market 17, and two culinary students. "I like having students in the kitchen to give them the opportunity to exercise creativity," he said. As of late, that has resulted in a carrot bisque with roasted sunflower seeds, fish tacos, and smoked kingfish dip made from fish caught by Siegel himself.
Ask and he'll show you the garden out back, outfitted by yachtie and Riverside fan, Paul Allen, a trained chef and gardening freak who helped build the hydroponics for the garden, which produces tomatoes, greens, herbs, peppers, mangoes, avocados, and star fruit, among other things. He even grows his own Chinook hops he passes on to brewers. A fresh one smells like citrus-y pot.
Siegel's beer supply is a predominantly American,hops-forward selection. Oenophiles can pick up a bottle from a wine selection curated by Jordan Schiegner, which touts grapes from South America and Chile, as well as a few Italians: a boutique-y collection that'll run ya between $8 and $20.
On my way out, some regulars filed in: a server on a mission to eat off a hangover, a hipster in dark, skinny Levi's on his fixie picking up his daily meal. And Siegel? He knows them all. If you're new, he's destined to know you too. "You'll always find me here," he said.
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