Mission Grill achieves the rare accomplishment of being within a block of my job and offering good food. In the "corporate district" consisting of the four to five blocks radiating north from 18th and Market Streets, there are little to no exciting options for dinner, aside from the Four Seasons. Mission Grill has remained largely undiscovered, however, which is a shame. Having eaten there several times for lunch, I tried dinner and was pleasantly surprised.
Nicely lit, offering more booths than tables, Mission Grill is inviting and warm, albeit a bit corporate still. The wait staff managed to be simultaneously kind and cool. Featuring tequila, wine and mixed drinks, the bar list was extensive. The lime margarita I ordered, although served somewhat strangely in a water glass, was quite delicious.
Armed with a margarita, we settled into the happy booth, far from the miserable cold, and dug into the "special," which has been offered each time I've visited: the guacamole/salsa appetizer. Mission Grill's guacamole, a dish often hard to find fresh, was perfect. Big chunks of avocado with the right mix of tomatoes and spices provided the right accompaniment to what tasted like fresh nachos.
Despite our being among the few diners there, the kitchen delivered the goods for dinner. The center cut pork chop with chipotle sweet potatoes and summer vegetables was done to perfection, offering a hearty portion. The sweet potatoes, mashed to fluffiness, contained a mild, pleasing kick. The summer vegetables, a throwback to the seemingly unseasonal menu (which offered a summer gazpacho as well), were done well. My friend ordered the salmon and easily substituted a side, which is always a nice option. Having ordered it well done, however, it arrived medium rare, a dicey trick for salmon.
My lunches there have ranged from boring to quite good, once I learned to avoid such items like the chicken caesar wrap (rather predictably boring) and lean instead toward the Totopos Seafood Salad, filled with crabmeat, shrimp, avocado, and jicama. I could also see lingering over drinks at Mission Grill's long wood bar. All in all, I remain hopeful that Mission Grill catches on just enough to stick around, but not too much that I would be denied a booth.
Mission Grill is located at 1835 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA, (215) 636-9550.