The new location of Southside cafe opened last week at the South Napa Century Center, capping a two-and-a-half year building project.
The sparkling, light-filled space is serving Irma and Morgan Robinson’s trademark California cuisine with a Latin twist with expanded hours that include dinner service. Dining options are inside and outside.
The interior decoration includes an unusual ceramic tile artwork, an image made by local artist Erin Dowling of Irma Robinson’s great aunt from Mexico City. Robinson's grandmother came to Northern California from Mexico in the 1950s and later opened a restaurant in South San Francisco.
“We like the continuity,” Irma Robinson said.
The cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at 135 Gasser Drive.
From 3 p.m. until closing, they will be serving large plates like Califlower Baja Tacos ($13), Whole Roasted Akaushi Beef Rib Tacos, which come with a rib ($14); Smoked Chicken Salad with dried Bing cherries, Blue Cheese, pistachios and apple vinaigrette ($14.5); Open-Faced Mushroom Torta with roasted Portobello, avocado, picked jalapenos, and cilantro dressing ($14); a Carne Asada torta made with Arrachera steak and avocado mash ($15); Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich with Chipotle Aioli ($17); Duck Carnitas in lettuce cups with mole poblano pickled chiles and cotija cheese ($17) and a Smoked Bacon Chop with fresh corn creamed masa ($20).
Small dinnertime plates inlcude a Baby Head Lettuce Salad ($9); Arugula and Crispy Fingerling Potato Salad ($9); Watercress and Crispy Beet Salad ($11); Stone Fruit and Burrata with Guajillo Chile Oil, Chorizo bits and arugula pesto ($11); Chips and Baja Dip ($11), and Frito Mixto ($11).
A kids dinner menu offers Biscuits and Jam ($4); Grilled Cheese ($5) and a Quesadilla ($6.5).
Another new addition to the menu, which will be served all are five varieties of blended drinks ($9) with names like The Beesting (almond milk, golden beet, honey, tumeric, black pepper, ginger, bee pollen and collagen peptides); The Garden (coconut water, kale, moringa leaf, pineapple, green apple, avocado, lime, ginger and agave): The Boost (almond milk, Valrhona cocoa; almond butter, banana, vegan protein; cinnamon and ancho chile); The Ariana (strawberry, blueberry, banana, orange juice and yogurt) and The Purist (almond milk, almond butter, smoke almonds, cocoa nibs, dates, vegan protein and honey).
Fans of the two other Southside Cafes in Napa Valley will be able to find their morning and lunch favorites at all three locations. Breakfast dishes include the strawberry toast, made with marscapone, grilled strawberries, tarragon, smoked almonds and honey ($7); avocado toast ($9); house-made granola ($9); cornmeal pancakes ($12); bacon and egg sandwich ($12); biscuits and gravy ($14) and chilaquiles ($14).
Lunch items include some of the dinner items as well as the Superfood Bowl (red quinoa, roasted beets, seasonal vegetables, arugula, poached egg, Greek yogurt, chila seeds and avocado ($14), and the Protein Bowl (charred jalapeno hummus, marinated chickpeas, poached egg, arugula, wheat toast ($14).
“We ask ourselves, ‘Is this a classic? If so, what can we do to make it different?,” Chef Morgan Robinson said.
Often the twists they add tribute to both his and his wife’s Mexican roots, he noted —- like biscuits and gravy that gets a sprinkling of chorizo bits and cilantro.
The Southside chilequiles, on the other hand, made with fresh, house-made tortillas, salsa roja, tomatillo, cotija cheese, crema, black beans and poached eggs (steak optional), was inspired by a dish they had in the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja on Morgan’s 40th birthday. “We went back on my 50th birthday and the same woman made them for me,” the chef said.
“We are trying to be socially responsible,” he said. Instead of dishes that are “4,000 calories on a plate,” he is opting for dishes like the Australian-inspired Superfood Bowl (“You can find these all over Australia.”)
With a nod to the burgeoning movement for plant-based eating, he said, “It’s about making vegetables delicious.
“We’re a team of chefs,” Morgan said. “It’s not just me. Collectively, we decide: what are we going to do to this dish?”
Napa wine adviser Dan Dawson created the wine list that offers nine California wines by the glass and an extended options by the bottle. Beers on tap are Device Brewing Kid Casual Blonde ($5), Hen House ($7) and Mad Fritz ($12).
Bottled beers, cider, Wrecking Ball coffee, agua fresca, Mexican hot chocolate, Mexican cokes, and teas are also available.
The new Southside is the third locale for the Robinsons in Napa Valley. The cafes on Old Sonoma Road in Napa, (open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday) and at Steward Cellars (open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.) on Washington Street in Yountville will continue their popular breakfast and lunch service.