Going “Green” in California


I recently hopped a last minute flight to San Diego to help my cousin Anne shop for a new pad near the beach. I know, I know-the SACRIFICE!

After looking at one gorgeous view after another, we were famished. Searching out expensive homes and silently judging other’s décor really takes it out of a girl. California’s Tender Greens, an upscale counter-service spot, was the perfect choice. I felt at home there owing to their focus on great service, a beautiful setting and locally grown food that lines up with Epicurean’s ideals. I’ve been spoiled by the gorgeous vegetables, hand-tossed pizzas, and silky gelatos of Epi’s Mangia Bevi Café – and I admit that I am easily disappointed when other food stops don’t make an effort to be both delicious and community-minded.

Tender Greens did not disappoint. The place was buzzing when we walked in-a handful of people in line, almost all of the 30 wood tables full, the vaulted ceilings adding ambience to the perfectly lit, divinely scented space. The guys behind the counter were quick, cute, and busy slicing marinated flank steak and free-range chicken, tossing fresh veggies and cutting into the most sinful onion tart I’d ever seen.

After much contemplation, I settled on a spinach salad with hazelnuts and goat cheese, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and Salt and Pepper Chicken. Oh, what a feast. Paired with locally grown sauvignon blanc (there are just SO many good things about California) and finished with a peach cobbler we shared with our companions, it was a delectable and inexpensive end to a busy two-day trip.

On the plane I realized the great thing about the experience at Tender Greens wasn’t the food, the wine, or the ambience. It was ALL of those things combined that made it into something special. Life is busy and we rarely settle for doing one thing at a time. We eat and watch TV, read a magazine and stairclimb at the gym, drive and text. These hectic days aren’t slowing down anytime soon and the economy is still a bit delicate so if you are eating on the run or trying to do a bit of work during lunch, at least choose a good-looking spot with a good-looking menu. Tender Greens fits the bill in California, Mangia Bevi fits the bill in Colorado, and if I score a trip to NYC (hint, hint) anytime soon I’ll let you know what I find. In the meantime, I’m petitioning our chefs for a Mangia Bevi version of that onion tart. Stay tuned.

Stephanie Blackford
Communications Director, Epicurean Culinary Group