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Food & Drink

On Lower Greenville, The Corner Market is a Welcome Trip Down Memory Lane

Photo: Jonathan Rienstra

Photo: Jonathan Rienstra

The picture above is not of my favorite sandwich at The Corner Market

The picture above is of the Matalee Marble Pastrami and was taken on a cold, gray February weekday, which is a good type of day to visit the corner of Greenville and McCommas. Not that there are bad days to stop by. 

The Matalee, named after an M Street like many on the menu, is a good sandwich to order, but it is at the top of this blog because my favorite sandwich, the Mockingbird Turkey & Apple is not very photogenic. Its slices of turkey (natch), Swiss and apple (again, obviously, though not obviously grilled) lie flat on top of one another between two slices of honey wheat bread. There is mustard, also. It offers no volume or pizazz, no gravity-defying architecture or Instagram credibility. To lead with it would be to gloat about your fourth-grade lunch. 

But it has nostalgia, even though I didn’t first try the Mockingbird until my 20s. 

I don’t know what your sandwich was a kid. For me, it was ham and cheddar on honey wheat. At some point, the mayonnaise was swapped out for yellow mustard. It was the default in my house, the sandwich that was made whenever my mom asked, “Do you want a sandwich for lunch?”

Yours was likely different — white bread here, bologna or provolone there — but the construction didn’t offer pizzazz, no gravity-defying architecture. It was flat ingredients stacked like strata. 

The Mockingbird is the fully realized potential of those countless sandwiches; it’s an ode to simplicity in a sandwich done well with good ingredients. To visit Corner Market for the Mockingbird’s sublime layers of turkey, Swiss and apple is to visit a friend who shopped at Central Market exclusively and had pictures of Provence in their kitchen. 

But the other element of nostalgia that Corner Market brings to me is one of place. It’s cliched to talk about what Austin used to be like but Corner Market’s laid-back charm of a flower shop, deli and rooftop garden is like traveling to Hyde Park in the ’90s. It’s an elevated form of crunchy, a granola response to the yuppies, a link or two further along the evolutionary chain than Linklater’s slackers, but also a place one or two of them would stop by for a breakfast burrito.

Inside Corner Market is a languid timelessness that only certain shops, streets or neighborhoods possess and many others chase into the past looking for. You can feel it when you step in and feel the calming, restorative vibe of a deli making wonderfully simple sandwiches, baked goods inviting you to dessert and the option to take a succulent home. There’s probably a Scandinavian word to describe it; a mixture of hygge and fernweh. In Dallas, you can just call it Corner Market.