Mendocino Farms (San Jose, CA) – I had originally heard about Mendocino Farms sometime last year from my cousin, who lives in Southern California, and I heard good things about them. So when Mendocino Farms reached out to me to come attend a lunch before their grand opening in Santana Row, I was really excited to come check it out!
Mendocino Farms is located on Olsen Avenue in Santana Row, next to Ike’s Sandwiches. I thought this was an interesting choice for them and wonder how they’ll fare considering they are sandwich competition. While Ike’s has all of it’s fun sandwich creations, Mendocino puts spins on classic dishes while sourcing quality ingredients directly from farmers and vendors. The restaurant has an outdoor patio that also zips up when it’s cold but they have heating lamps – and the inside is bright and airy, with a really pretty wall towards the back to the tree with lanterns that’s nestled in the middle. You can view more of the interior in my vlog at the bottom of this post!
While we waited for the food to come out, I sipped on some of their lemonade. Their “soda” machine has all natural sodas that aren’t artificial, but have familiar flavors like black cherry. I was tempted to try one of them but lemonade sounded good in that moment. I definitely want to try the sodas next time since I think I’ll prefer it over the lemonade – it was decent but it wasn’t my favorite.
Onto the food – since I was sampling a lot of the food, I had a chance to try several dishes. Their menu is comprised of salads, sandwiches, and side dishes – and there are a few seasonal dishes on the menu as well. I like that there are options for everyone, whether you eat meat, are vegetarian, vegan, or eat gluten-free.
I grabbed a couple of the sandwiches, a salad, and a side dish to munch on once I finally got done taking my food pictures! The lighting near the patio side is amazing and I couldn’t decide what to post here tbh.
I’ll start with the salad and sides that I had. I went straight for the The Impossible
Taco Salad. It has plant-based chorizo-spiced Impossible Burger meat, housemade superfood krunchies, butter lettuce & romaine, curly kale, black bean, roasted corn & jicama succotash, red onions, cilantro, grape tomatoes, avocado with house vegan chipotle ranch.
I’ve seen “Impossible Meat” pop up at several restaurants and have seen all the articles raving about it. I don’t mind eating meat substitutes sometimes, so long as it has flavor – it doesn’t have to mimic the texture and feel of meat for me. However, this does live up to the hype. Impossible meat has the look and texture of meat and seems to hold the same flavors that meat actually does – even though it’s plant based! And, I love taco salads, so this was a no brainer for me. The portion is giant though, but I think that balances well with the slightly high prices. This is also a seasonal item, but one you need to try out!
I also tried the Marinated Red Beets & Quinoa as well as the Spiced Curried Couscous. The beets dish has green apples, dried cranberries, honey roasted almonds, Scarborough Farm’s baby arugula in a citrus vinaigrette. I really liked this because the vinaigrette really hides the earthy flavor of the beets and I liked the surprising flavor that apples bring to this – it’s a new take I haven’t seen before in a beet side dish. The couscous is spiced with curry and has roasted cauliflower and carrots. I was really surprised to hear it had cauliflower because I couldn’t tell at all – which may be a good thing because I don’t like cauliflower or a bad thing because there wasn’t enough in it. Either way, it’s another nice side to have.
One of the sandwiches I tried was the “Not So Fried” Mary’s Chicken: Roasted Mary’s free range chicken rolled in Mendocino’s krispies with herb aioli, mustard pickle slaw, tomatoes, pickled red onion on toasted ciabatta. The chicken was crispy and light, and the herb aioli packed in those flavorful herb with the tang of an aioli. I wasn’t sure if the pickle slaw would be too strong for me in this sandwich, but it doesn’t overpower the star of the dish at all. I would totally get this for a work lunch because I didn’t feel heavy and ready for a nap after it.
My favorite was The Real Old-School Pastrami. This is one of Mendocino’s seasonal favorites, and it can be available in an even larger portion and gluten-free. This has house hickory smoked real pastrami, celery root slaw, Zoe’s bread & butter pickles, and Chef Jeremy’s triple mustard on toasted mild rye. I’m a huge fan of pastrami so this was a no brainer for me. I love the plentiful layers of meat between those soft pieces of rye, with the slaw and pickles bringing that mouth-watering tang. It’s a few of my favorite things all rolled into one. You can get a 10 oz version for $19 – which seems like too much for me – but I really recommend getting this before it leaves the menu!
There were also a couple of other sandwiches such as the Kurobuta Pork Belly
Banh Mi (pictured above, which I couldn’t because pork but heard good things from my friend) with braised, caramelized Kurobuta pork belly, housemade pickled daikon & carrots, cilantro, cucumbers, jalapeños, chili aioli on panini-pressed ciabatta. And, there was also the Peruvian Steak Sandwich with spicy aji amarillo marinated Creekstone Farms steak with Oaxacan cheese, herb aioli, red onions, tomatoes, shredded romaine on a panini-pressed torta bun.
I did not try this salad, but it actually seems pretty similar to the taco salad, so if you miss out on the seasonal item, at least you have this main staple to fall back on! This is the Avocado & Quinoa Superfood Ensalada, with butter lettuce & romaine, curly kale, quinoa & millet, housemade superfood krunchies, black bean, roasted corn & jicama succotash, red onions, cilantro, Cotija cheese, grape tomatoes, avocado with chipotle vinaigrette and chicken can be added.
And last but not least is the Save Drake Farm’s Salad with shaved, roasted Mary’s free range chicken breast, Herbes de Provence marinated Drake Family Farm’s goat cheese, pink lady beets, green apples, dried cranberries, honey roasted almonds, red onions, Scarborough Farm’s greens, butter lettuce & romaine with citrus vinaigrette.
One cool part about being invited to food events is that I get to meet other food bloggers! It’s cool to meet people that aren’t SF-based bloggers (though I love them too!) because it feels like Bay bloggers are very SF oriented, and there’s so much to eat in all parts. Oh, and I got a cool group photo like the one above ha.
Mendocino Farms had its grand opening this past Thursday (the 15th) and I look forward to coming back when I’m in the area. It’s nice to have a more affordable option (compared to some of the higher end eateries in this area) where you can still sit down and enjoy a quality meal.
Be sure to check out the vlog for a look inside and what happens when food bloggers get together: