Brandon Hernández 9 a.m., April 24
Country invades City (Heights)! Nate's Garden Grill
Here you never eat alone. You're surrounded by trees, chickens, turkeys, goats, horse, future salads, and raving locovores.
Walking – again.
This time up Home Avenue. Seeking out the holy grail of locovore cooking.
That’s what I’ve been told, anyway. Also that this place’s happy hour – four to six – has real deals with flatbreads and a whole range of craft beers. If it works out, that’s three for three for me: locovore, happy hour, local beers.
It’s a gentle slope up on a busy road. Maybe ¾ of a mile, till you get an erk!? moment when Euclid tees into Home and takes over, no questions asked. Home becomes Euclid.
I spot the sign right up from these crossroads.
“City Farmers Nursery & Cafe.”
The nursery’s on the left, and a little further up, on a recycled board and corrugated iron building, another sign:
“Nate’s Garden Grill…21 Craft Beers on Tap.”
Alright! You can see a covered outside deck, with more eatery in behind.
This is at 3120 Euclid Avenue, City Heights (619-546-7700). Behind, a hillside carved with mini-canyons, dotted with trees, animal pens, and dusty farmyards.
I mean, suddenly, country! I head up the stairs and into this woody, cozy cabin.
Bottom line: They have a menu that goes from a $4 pan of roasted pistachios to a $10 grass-fed burger to a $14 salumi and cheese board.
Except this is happy hour till six (I’ve got fifteen minutes to spare). Foodwise it just applies to their three flatbreads. Normally they’re $9 each. Right now: 50 percent off, $4.50. The “MeatMen” has pepperoni, mozzarella and tomato sauce; the second one has potato, pancetta (basically pork belly bacon), house-made ricotta, plus harissa, a North African spicy spread; the third has rapini (think lettuce meets broccoli), caramelized onion, blue cheese and a garlic mix.
I go for the potato one, and head out onto the deck.
It’s great out here. Feels like a place you’d find in the country, or where the jocks in “The Right Stuff” would hang out.
Oh, and I see this guy George bringing out a huge cob of corn with its husks flapping, to the next table. Says it’s only $2 right now. Dang. I order one too.
George brings it all out.
The flatbread is…huge. And popping with chunks of spuds, that pancetta bacon, and white ricotta, all on an oozy, lush bed of red harissa sauce. I can’t believe it’s all for $4.50.
Plus $2 for the corn.
Jared and Jim, the guys next door, have ordered a lot...
...and a Seamus O'Hara Irish stout ($4.50 in dollar-off happy hour) and a Forêt Organic Saison by Dupont. Belgium ($5.50 HH). Organic beers! Looks like they have interesting choices here...
Of course organic is big here. Lance, one of the founders, says they try to grow as much of their food right here at Nate’s organic nursery, like veggies and eggs. “Bill Tall, [Nate’s son and the nursery owner] has let us use part of his land to grow food. We just started three months ago, but we’re growing food everywhere we can find space. Like, see that container? We’re even going to be growing tomatoes in a garden on top of that,” he says, pointing to a ship’s container sitting in the dirt parking yard.
I mean these guys are walking the walk. Turns out they have a full-time gardener, George. (Though he helps out in here too.) Plus they’re working with a gal named Kelsey to get milk from the goats that she and her little collective are rearing here at the nursery. Gardeners from the New Roots Community Garden, the one IRC (International Rescue Committee) got going at 54th Street and Chollas Avenue, bring their veggies here. On and on. This is like Futureworld.
I can’t finish my flatbread. It’s just too much. I sure hope these guys don’t lose this feeling of, well, generosity when it comes to food. And so nice to know you’re not eating nitrates and chemical poisons with every chomp too.
Oh, I also have a totally wonderful beer, the Greenjack Ripper barley wine. Happy hour price, $6. But there’s a story attached to that. More in an upcoming Tin Fork.