Mendocino Farms Opens in La Jolla Featuring Local Chef’s Sandwich
La Jolla has a new sandwich shop. Mendocino Farms, a Los Angeles-based fast casual dining chain that partners with local farms and food artisans opened their first San Diego location earlier this month in The Shops at La Jolla Village. Owned by husband and wife Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen, Mendocino Farms' new shop is the chain's 15th location and anticipates a second San Diego space in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center next spring. It brings Chen, a UCSD alum, back to San Diego.
Mendocino Farms boasts a chef-driven gourmet fast casual menu. While it changes seasonally, they have regular staples. You'll find their clever riffs on tuna melts and falafel wraps, club sandwiches and Italian hoagies. Currently, they're offering a Cubano Pollo Angeleno with Jidori chicken and honey ham, melted Oaxacan cheese, and a spicy aji Amarillo sauce on a panini-pressed bocadillo roll. And there's the ode to the holidays—what they call November 2 Remember. It's a warm carved-turkey sandwich with housemade kale-mushroom-turkey sausage stuffing, ancho chile-cranberry chutney, herb aioli, and shredded romaine on what else? Toasted cranberry walnut wheat bread. At a recent opening party, I tasted a range of terrific sandwiches, from the Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi to a splendid sandwich conceived by local chef Christine Rivera of Galaxy Taco.
Rivera said she was approached by Mendocino Farms, asking if she would create a charity sandwich for their opening. For now, she says, the sandwich is available only at the La Jolla location. The charity she chose was Ecolife Conservation.
And what is the sandwich? She calls it her Torta de Lomo.
"When I was a kid, my family would travel to TJ a lot to visit family and there was a torta shop we would always eat at where I would have a torta de lomo," she said. "It was the best torta I experienced as a child. I made my version of it for this charity because it meant so much to me growing up and bringing happy memories to me as an adult. I don't make this sandwich at Galaxy. I wanted to make a special I've never made at the restaurant to make it unique to them and it turned out better than I imagined. I'm so excited to have everyone enjoy it like I did as a kid!"
So, what's in this sandwich? Traditional braised pork, escabeche ensalada (a pickled vegetable salad), Cotija cheese, black bean spread, avocado, and chipotle aioli on a panini-pressed soft roll. It's melt-in-your-mouth rich and a little spicy, a little acidic, and wonderfully satisfying.
Mendocino Farms also serves up salads, vegan options, and has wine and beer. In fact, they feature King Estate's Acrobat Pinot Gris, which uses certified organic grapes and the vineyard itself is the largest certified biodynamic vineyard in the U.S.
Mendocino Farms is located at 8795 Villa La Jolla Drive in The Shops at La Jolla Village—the same center that houses Whole Foods.