If you’ve walked or driven by Mercado on Valley Road and wondered — “When will it open?” — wonder no more.
Mercado is open and this new addition to Upper Montclair is a welcome one. Stepping into the bright, beautiful, Zen-like space, with its airy white walls, light wood decor, accents of greenery and plenty of natural light, you already feel a bit calmer, almost like a spa. Many items on the menu, healthy bowls and smoothies, let you feel like you are taking good care of yourself by eating them.
Marcelo and Carla Silva, owners of Mercado, are responsible for bringing something new and old to the space.
“Our original location, Sandwich Theory, was at 590 Valley Rd., just a block away from Mercado. After being in business for about 10 years, we realized we needed a larger space, but we knew we wanted to stay in Upper Montclair. We always loved the cozy feeling on our block; the sense of community that comes with seeing the same faces on a daily basis,” says the Silvas.
When a former bank space opened up for rent so close by, they looked into it right away.
The new, larger space offered the chance for a new look and direction, one that paid homage to the couple’s roots in Portugal.
“Growing up, we would visit our local food-hall in town, known as Mercado (The Market),” the Silvas recall. “These traditional markets are a combination of a large, indoors farmer’s market and food-hall. They are a fun and lively mix of butcher shops, charcuterie, fresh fish stands and produce; where you can also gather with friends for a quick meal, coffee, or even drinks. We wanted to bring this lively energy into our place here in Montclair. This is the inspiration for the Mercado menu and the interior. The space was designed to have a large dining area where guests are welcome to sit down for a quick bite or linger with friends. It is also designed with an open kitchen, so everyone can see how and where their food is prepared.”
Creating the vision was easier than the journey. The Silvas signed the lease on the new space and started planning the move and then the pandemic hit.
“As you can imagine, this was a challenging time. We were also incredibly fortunate that we had our former location, Sandwich Theory, still open,” the Silvas said. “Our regular customers truly held us over while we were setting up the new location. We are so grateful for that.”
The Silvas took over running Sandwich Theory in 2009. The menu at Mercado honors those faithful customers and has expanded to offer something new.
“Over the years, we perfected the recipes and ingredients and became well known for specialty sandwiches,” they said. “We carried those staples over to Mercado and expanded with grain bowls, specialty salads, and more dishes.”
Mercado also has an expanded drinks menu with smoothies, cold pressed juices, and a dedicated barista coffee bar. The coffee was excellent — reason alone to stop in, but the menu, with a host of delicious options, will give you plenty more reasons to return.
Mercado’s tag line is “slow down, stop by, feel good.” You will.