REVIEW: Rutabegorz, Fullerton
Thursdays are my "bachelor" days -- Mrs Ubergeek stays up in LA, and I'm on my own for dinner. These are my "Chowhound" days, in which I go to places that I pass that look tasty. I stopped in at Rutabegorz today to get some food to go. Everyone was bubbly and friendly... and slender. I am... not any of those things. Not after an hour plus on the train and a really long, crappy day at work. And they were still really, really nice to me.
It's a coffeehouse that has smoothies and things, and then blossomed into a full-service restaurant with three branches, all in the 714. Lots of salads and wraps, several full-on dinner choices, soups, and appetizers. Their sweatshirts (available for sale) say something like "So that's where all the hippies went!" and the vegetarian-friendly (but not exclusively vegetarian) menu reflects that.
I had hummus with pita bread (you can choose to have it with tortilla chips or crudites) and a chicken-walnut-apple salad.
The hummus... at first I was like, "BLEURGH, what IS this dreck??" and I set it on the kitchen counter. Then I thought, "Hm... hummus. Pita..." and went back for more. I scarfed the whole thing. It was REALLY lemony and gloppy, and the pita was a bit dry, but it kept calling me back. Not Skaf's hummus -- not by a LONG-ASS SHOT -- but still obviously quite tasty, as it kept me warring. ("Don't eat the weird hummus." "HUMMUS!" "NO! Only bad people eat weird hummus." "HUMMUS NOW.") It came with the sickliest-looking tomatoes (OK, it's March, I can deal) I'd ever seen, which I ignored, and a small wedge of the most preternaturally sweet melon I've had since Provence (and it's MARCH!).
The salad was spinach, celery, glazed nuts, apples, cold chicken breast, bleu cheese, carrots (I HATE SHREDDED CARROTS) and dressing. First, be warned. The dressing, though tart and VERY tasty, looks exactly like Pepto-Bismol. Same colour. Same consistency. But, once I'd satisfied myself that it wasn't medicine, it was VERY tasty. The salad was excellent -- all the parts (except the carrots, ick ick ick) went VERY well together and the salad dressing complemented them perfectly. My only gripe is that I would have liked the salad tossed. I did end up tossing it at home, but at the restaurant you may want to have it tossed -- it comes like a cobb salad, all the "stuff" atop the greens.
I also bought a brownie from the cases in the front. Not good. Dry as a bone, and though you couldn't see it, they were male brownies, so be aware if you have allergies.
I liked it. The weird hummus won me over, the salad was excellent, and everyone was really nice. They have lots of loose leaf teas in the front, lots of coffees, and a wide variety of smoothies, none of which I sampled. They have one $1 app a month -- this month it's a spinach, artichoke and asparagus dip with chips, which I can't eat (gave up deep-fried food for Lent).
What can I say. It's right across the street from where my train stops, and it's quite tasty and a good option for a reasonably healthy dinner "out"... I'll be back. Often. And maybe I'll eat "in" next time.
211 N. Pomona, Fullerton
264 N. Glassell, Orange
158 W. Main, Tustin
Hey...I'm so glad you liked it. Their salads are the best. The hot dinner dishes fall somewhere between "just okay" and "GOOD." Their sandwiches are good too. I've never had their brownie, but their coconut/brownie/nut bar in that case is good; it's addicting (at least for me).
Thanks for the great & funny write up. Made me grin during this 3+ hour board meeting.
You might want to check out that little seafood place next to Ron's Birkenstock. Last time I was there, they had good clam chowder (though everything else was "meh").
(EDIT: Sometime beginning in April, downtown Fullerton will have a Farmer's Market adjacent to Ruta's. You should check it out. There are a couple hot food vendors, a beer garden, live music, a choo choo train for the Uberlet, flowers, veggies, etc.)
Try the cockie leek soup and a Dala Salad. One of my favorite meals. I, too, think the hot meals are not the strength here I have had most of the salads and they are good sized and tasty. The sandwiches/wraps are good too but I tend to stay with the salads and soup. They had a great cranberry, apple, nut, creme cheese dip at Christmas which was outstanding. The specials are good too. I have only had the cookies out of the case which were decent but not great.
I have been eating here-all locations- for most of my adult life and it's true, everyone is friendly. Every location is a local's place and the food at all three is pretty consistant.
The Thursday market is very kid friendly and the museum puts on good shows and has the beer garden. I generally eat at Rutas and walk over for drinks. Can't comment on the
produce as I do the f. market in Long Beach.
Thanks for the write up.
I always (and I mean almost every time) get the shrimp and avocado salad with the curry dressing. I really love that dressing. The shrimp is good too. The garlic chicken wrap will knock your socks off with garlic. I used to get it occasionally when I had a head cold, seemed to help.
Love this place,
Thanks for the write up!!!
Rutabegorz is a great find. I used to work in Tustin, so had lunch there rather often. Great tasting and made me feel like I was doing a good job eating healthy (though some of their salads are HUGE).
I don't see in on their online menu, but the company I was with was based on Hawaii and the people that come over to the mainland were forever bringing home Boysenberry pies from Rutabegorz. They'd have someone go by and pick up a few on the day they were flying home and carry them on the plane. Don't think you could do that now..