By ANEESAH AKBAR
Mendocino Farms is a recently opened restaurant in the Irvine University Town Center specializing in sandwiches and salads. The restaurant is the most recent addition to a chain founded by husband and wife Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen in Bunker Hill, Los Angeles in 2005.
Mendocino Farms began as a family business and has grown from the idea of “eating happy” to a well-known chain in all of Southern California. The restaurant prides itself in their fresh and locally grown ingredients, the result of a long-standing partnership with local farmers.
As soon as customers walk into the restaurant, they can decide their order from an enlarged menu near the entrance and then place their order with an employee. While they wait for their turn to pay, customers can sample any of the complementary dishes on display at the counter. At the register, customers are given the option to add drinks to their order and an electronic buzzer for the waiters to locate their table quickly.
When I visited Mendocino Farms, I ordered the Chicken MBT Sandwich. My sandwich included roasted chicken breast, Gioia mozzarella cheese, red peppers, basil, balsamic vinegar and greens on ciabatta bread.
I was surprised that the sandwich was served cold, but this actually added to its freshness. The chicken and vegetables were both very flavorful, and the ciabatta bread added just the right amount of crispness. Because of the large portion size, I packed the second half of my sandwich for lunch the next day.
For my drink, I ordered a strawberry lemonade. I enjoyed its sweetness and was surprised that it tasted much more of strawberry than lemonade. The portion as a whole was perfectly sized and very refreshing.
Mendocino Farms’s seasonal menu offers a rotating variety of unique sandwiches and salads such as the Italian “Love Sandwich” with prime honey ham and fennel salami as well as the Avocado and Quinoa Ensalada made with butter, lettuce and quinoa. Mendocino also offers healthier vegan options, gluten free sandwiches upon request and a kids menu with smaller portions.
The service at Mendocino Farms was excellent and very fast for a sit down restaurant; my food was delivered in less than 10 minutes.
The ambience especially stood out because of its sophistication and simultaneous comfort. Inside, the restaurant was lively with a blue and white color scheme. The polite and friendly employees contributed to the welcoming atmosphere.
The outdoor seating was especially unique with benches covered in fake grass and a large tree planted in the center table for shade, adding a very natural atmosphere to the restaurant.
With most menu items between eight and twelve dollars, Mendocino Farms is a little on the expensive side, especially for high school students. However, the quality food and excellent service make it worth the price.
Open Monday – Sunday from 11 AM – 9 PM
4187 Campus Drive
Irvine, California 92612