“James Beard winner” is a phrase every foodie loves to hear. We flock to places where these chefs have made their marks, and if they are teamed with other locally famous chefs, we are sold. Market Street Kitchen in DC Ranch boasts just such a setup. Executive Chef Robert McGrath, the winner of a James Beard for Best Chef: Southwest in 2001, heads up the team. Known for his time at Roaring Fork and as host of “Check, Please! Arizona” on PBS, this master joined with Chef de Cuisine Matt Taylor of Noca fame to open Market Street Kitchen last September.

Market Street Kitchen's Kitchen Hideaway, Photo: Werner SegarraTucked into the unique, rustic architecture of DC Ranch, a rounded patio of distressed metal and wood extends to the street, sheltering a sunny alcove behind large windows. Inside, the industrial-meets-ranch atmosphere is comfortable and avoids the visual overload some restaurants employ to distract you from your food. The high-ceilinged room was full of natural sunlight and soft music, perfect for a business lunch. The Edison bulbs stand in contrast to photos of the original DC Ranch and wood Market Street Kitchen's Bar, Photo: Werner Segarrafurniture, but they don’t clash; in fact, the union brings a modern touch to an old classic look, a theme that carries over to the menu as well.

The food portion of the lunch menu is short, as a daytime menu should be, but the options are comprehensive and varied. Three sections help you choose: Small Plates, Sandwiches & Salads and Substantial Plates. The alcohol portion is quite large, offering four wines on tap as well as local craft beers and a well-balanced bottled wine list. Classic cocktails get subtle upgrades, like the Manhattan with its ginger-spiced orange and Bonal aperitif.

The Rustic Soup of Butternut Squash, garnished with queso fresco and pepitas, surpasses expectations. It isn’t pureed to watery oblivion; it instead has a pleasing, unusual texture and shades of flavor throughout. The queso is an excellent complement to the hint of roasted garlic. This soup is worth the trip by itself.

The Green Chile Pork Stew, highly recommended by my attentive server, isn’t served in your mother’s typical bowl-and-spoon fashion. A healthy portion of meat fills an individual cast iron dish and is draped with pepper jack, and tortillas are provided to eat taco-style. There is little liquid in the stew, but there is reason for this twist: The tender meat is already perfectly infused with flavor. The meat is braised then simmered for hours in a green chile puree to ensure the pork has soaked up as much moisture as possible, then enhanced with charred serrano.

For something lighter, try the Flatbread with Brie, topped with lightly smoked salmon, sliced apples and a touch of sage. Too much salmon or brie can overtake each other in my opinion, but the components are well-distributed here.

Another revamped classic is the Shrimp & Grits. Topped with Benton’s Country Ham, a personal favorite of mine, and served next to a pile of crisp kale with bacon and onions, this plate scored big points with me. The little details in comfort food dishes, such as shrimp and grits, can often be neglected in a busy kitchen, but there is no skimping here. A little kick of heat, flawless cheesiness and plump, fresh shrimp only improve on this southern standard.

Expect to experience the timeless at Market Street Kitchen. In both the atmosphere and the menu, McGrath and Taylor manage to reinvent the wheel without being overbearing. They aim to get your attention with unexpected nuances, and they succeed. Look to be pleasantly surprised by the dishes and drinks you thought you knew.

If you can’t do lunch, be sure to stop by for dinner and sample the Fromage and Charcuterie, highlighting Chef McGrath’s hard-won selections from around the world.

Market Street Kitchen

Where: 10825 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale
Lunch: Mon. – Sat., 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. ($8-$15)
Dinner: Mon. – Sun., 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Happy Hour: Mon. – Sat., 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. ($5 drink specials)
Contact: 480-278-7044
Online: Website | Facebook