The Mission Hills sign marks the area where Farmer's Bottega diners wait to be seated.
Scoring a weekend table at a decent outdoor dining venue has become something of a post pandemic sport. Go to any restaurant with patio dining on a sunny Saturday afternoon and you can expect a cluster of parties outside waiting to be seated. Sunday’s more of the same, except bolstered by free parking.
860 W. Washington Street, San Diego
Famished, we hoped to be seated as soon as possible. So, when our first-choice restaurant offered a 30-minute wait, we checked in at the hostess stand of a reasonable Plan B. Another 30-minute wait. Same with Plan C. Everywhere, we saw patios stuffed with crowded tables, placed as closely together as pandemic etiquette allowed.
By the time we’d checked out all three, Plan A texted to let me know a table had opened up. So we’d be eating at Farmer’s Bottega after all.
Part of the allure was eating within its courtyard patio, set up just inside a colorful “Mission Hills” neighborhood sign overlooking the sidewalk. At least, that’s where I thought we’d be eating. But, even better, the place has a second outdoor patio roughly behind the restaurant, offering tented seating within sort of a red brick alley.
A well-garnished bloody mary to pass the time
The more relevant selling point of Farmer’s Bottega would be its farm-to-table stance. Once a trite marketing term used by restaurants all over town, most seem to have given up the farm-to-table label. Perhaps because it doesn’t evoke the sort of foods that satisfy lusty cravings, such as pizza or burgers.
There's second seating around back.
I wasn’t aiming for either as we took our seats. But with restaurants only now learning how to be busy again, service on a sunny day tends to be slower than usual this time of year. By the time we got to order, our hunger surpassed the promise of salads and brunch items being served. Farm-to-table burger and pizza it would be! My wife asked for one of the eatery’s large bloody marys ($10), so at least we’d have bacon and olives to snack upon in the meantime.
A huge hamburger is the reward for a weekend wait.
The huge bacon cheeseburger ($18) would have been enough for both of us, at a half pound at least. We opted for the $3 upgrade to truffle fries, and any hope the added flavor might slow us down, quickly vanished. Burger and fries disappeared in less time than it took to find parking.
Heirloom tomato and basil pesto flatbread
Thus, the actual dining portion of our outing might have turned out to be the shortest, had we not also ordered the flatbread ($16). The long pizza boasted a fresh basil pesto beneath the cheese, and slices of both red and yellow heirloom tomatoes above. For this dish we would linger, enjoying the opportunity to be outdoors, with food, with someone to occasionally wander by and replenish our drinks.
Here’s hoping this spring proves better than the last.