A downtown restaurant growing its own tomatoes, veggies, grapes in its yard?
1247 C Street, San Diego
Sure, here at La Casita (1247 C Street, 619-531-0044). It's the li'l place that City College teachers and students have been cramming into for 30 years every lunchtime, along with city politicos.
I remember reading Emma Goldman's piece last year. Big changes were happening then. New owners, new equipment, new paint, new things on the menu.
María made my mini burrito
But now, looks like things have changed again. Big friendly guy Sergio Haro is at the counter.
"I bought La Casita two months ago. I think the previous partners might have had a disagreement, but when it came up for sale, I jumped. I have been working in restaurants 25 years in San Diego. This is just what I have been looking for."
I was glad they still have the mini-burritos - the student's friend - still going for $2.75 (less than half the full-size burrito's price) and with more flavors like al pastor and pollo asado.
Plus, really the fresh paint, new colors, smartened-up yard, they're great. I pay María my $2.75 for an Al Pastor mini-burrito, and $1.75 for a cup of joe and head out there. I mean, these "minis" are way big enough for any manjack.
So out in the yard, which climbs two levels up behind the converted carport that's the main patio right now, I can see the man has space. He tells me that gave him an idea. This space could be growing stuff.
The patios stretch way back. Plenty of room for gardens.
It's one acre , but cramped
"I got talking to two of the people who came in from the Sustainable Urban Agriculture department at City College. They have this urban farm they operate just a block up across the road...
"...And I had this idea, like 'What if you helped me start growing organic vegetables and fruit, like tomatoes, lettuce, even grape vines. Grow stuff we can actually use right here fresh in our recipes...' And they were very happy, because land to grow around here is kind of tight. So one of their teachers will come and we'll talk next Monday, I hope, and maybe next month we'll start getting our first tomatoes. Think of the salsas!"
This is gonna be great. For starters because they always say Mexican cooking is based on fresh everything. But also because townies like me see the direct connection. Mother Earth. She works. Life...IT works!
The burrito is rich, and wet. Maybe a touch salty, but delish. Takes me ten minutes to chomp through it. Talk about stuffed!
Then I start heading back towards the City College trolley stop. Can't stop thinking about the coming garden. I dunno. Gives you a certain feeling. Like, maybe there is hope for us all yet.