The Mars Bar Truly IS Out Of This World
I moved back from Cali to Lakewood, almost four years ago, slowly getting around to trying all the gastropubs. Always hesitant on trying the Mars Bar, an icon since the 40s. To me it seemed to have a dark “I don’t want to go in there” type of look. Boy, was I ever WRONG!
Walking down the street the other night I checked it out, after all they’ve remolded, with an open-air look, patio seating front and back. Once inside I discovered it’s the only bar in Lakewood that faces the street from East to West, which is an anomaly in itself.
I sat at the bar, was greeted warmly by Audria, and inquired about their wine. Much to my surprise and delight was a wine list by the glass and/or bottle which would please any oenophile, the wines coming from Napa Valley. I ordered a Storypoint Pinot Noir, impressed by the hip large wine glass.
Sitting at the bar, looking out into the street, was a welcome feeling not to have my back to the door. After Audria explained the menu, I went with George’s Original Gyro, a combination of beef & lamb, with the tzatziki sauce, a secret recipe handed down from George’s mother. By far, that was the best Gyro ever, topping the late-night Gyro stands when I worked in the flats in the 80s.
I walked home, convinced I had to go back tomorrow to find out what this hidden gem was all about. I met my friend Sparky there the next day, we ordered an array of food, while I spoke with the owner George Gountis, getting more info on this diamond in the rough.
After a trip to Greece in 2004, George came back to Lakewood, deciding to take over the Mars Bar. He cleaned up the place, weeded out the riff-raff then went to work. In 2017 he undertook quite an extensive renovation project which took him through 2019. Since Covid-19 he’s gotten approval from the city to expand his patio seating even more, opening up space for 30 additional outside seats.
I spoke with George while sampling the Space Balls, similar to a potato pancake, rolled in a ball sprinkled with Martian dust (secret herb combination) served with sour cream, then a Greek salad with amazing fresh feta cheese. George reminded me of Sam Malone in the sit-com Cheers “where everybody knows your name.”
I took a walk around the place, the back wall is adorned with pictures from NASA, there’s an entire wall with cut bottles arranged in layers, over lava rocks, which lights up with every color of the rainbow. You’re greeted by a Martian at the front door and an astronaut behind glass.
Next out came a kebab platter, beef, pork & vegetable, along with a Cali burger, loaded with a fried egg, sprouts, avocado, bacon & cheese. The Mars Bars uses local vendors, the burgers come from T J’s Butcher Block, the kebabs, Blue Ribbon Meats.
I ended my meal with baklava, again to die for. The Mars Bar also serves a variety of Vegan items, is available for catering, marsbar.net, hours 10am-2:30am 7-days, 15314 Madison Ave. 216-228-4500
Eva Starr recently moved back to her heartland state of Ohio, after the transition of her mother. Starr spent the last ten years in San Diego digesting the alluring buffet of wisdom the West Coast had to offer. While there she attended the San Diego Culinary Institute, and worked as a chef in San Diego.
Starr also published her book Quit ‘Should-ing’ on Yourself, while in San Diego featured at the 2016 LA Times Book Festival, and Oprah Winfrey’s Reading Room.
She continues to follow her metaphysical path, teaching Astrology, hosting her television show Reach for the Moon, and exploring the diversified culinary delights Lakewood has to offer.