Houston's wait for Mendocino Farms will come to an end next month. The California-based restaurant known for its creative sandwiches and salads will open the first of four Houston-area locations on July 18 in Rice Village.
Founded by husband-and-wife duo Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen, Mendocino Farms offers a seasonally inspired menu that utilizes locally sourced ingredients. In Houston, that will include honey and herb-marinated goat cheese from Pure Luck Dairy (out of Dripping Springs, TX), breads from Slow Dough Bread Co., and local craft beers from Saint Arnold and others. The Houston restaurants will be the couple's first outposts outside of California.
“There is so much about Houston that resonates with our passions and our values and reminds us of home," Del Pero said in a statement. "The hospitality, the diversity, the respect for time-honored traditions like you see in barbecue.”
Located in the former Nao Ramen space in Rice Village, Houston's first Mendocino Farms will offer seating for 70 inside and 56 on the patio. The design takes its inspiration from a Napa Valley farm house. In addition to signature items like the pork belly banh mi and pink lady beets and goat cheese salad, the menu will feature seasonal items like the summer heirloom BLT that utilizes locally-sourced tomatoes.
In addition to using local ingredients, the restaurant has also collaborated with local chef Chris Shepherd on a special sandwich. The Charity Sandwich features Shepherd's smoked bacon sausage, “wedge slaw” (with fresh herbs and black pepper buttermilk dressing), red onions, tomato, and housemade roasted garlic aioli. All proceeds from the sandwich will benefit the Southern Smoke Foundation, the chef's charity that provides financial assistance to people in the restaurant industry who have emergency needs.
"Partnering with Mendocino Farms on a sandwich that gives back to Southern Smoke was a no-brainer for me," Shepherd added. "I fully support any initiative designed to raise money for this cause, and especially love that Mendocino Farms’ mission statement aligns so perfectly with ours.”