Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." It is a fitting mantra for Real Food Nation co-conspirators Andrew MacLauchlan, Kim Müller, and Blyth Timken. Their new restaurant and adjacent preparation facility are located at the intersection of Old Las Vegas Highway and Highway 285, but the societal crossroads the business inhabits is more consequential than its physical location.
The RFN founders' vision of a society that values exemplary food quality, responsible business practices and sustainable choices is transforming a stagnant culture of everyday food with a hub for community, thoughtful consumption and excellent edibles.
Despite my concerns that driving across town to inspect the daily menu changes and to satisfy my yen for a guaranteed yummy meal will enlarge my carbon footprint, put miles on the station wagon and cut into my studio time, I head over to RFN. I'm jealous of those lucky Eldorado, Lamy and Arroyo Hondo folks who have just hit the bedroom community mother lode—early morning hours, a drive-up window and the ultimate bonus: really luscious wholesome food at equitable prices.
The RFN drill goes like this. Drive out there (ain't much walk-in traffic here) and either use the drive-up (design genius, especially if you have infants, toddlers or surly passengers) or park and proceed inside to order. The polychromatic-mod décor is cheery and belies the modified cafeteria-like functionality. The eco-chic space has plenty of day lighting and a highly visible recycling and compost bussing center.
After perusing the blackboard menu and peering into the display cases, order up and pay. Since the food is prepared in the adjacent building, most items are wrapped and ready-to-go, which allows a quick getaway. Take your tasty morsels to the communal table, main seating area, pillowed kids' nook, window bar or backyard patio, and get ready to nuzzle in.
On my first trip, I sampled the classic egg and house-made sausage burrito ($5.75), which was hearty and direct. I was charmed by a truly delectable chocolate croissant ($2.95)—and I don't particularly lean toward sweet treats that disguise themselves as morning sustenance. The cinnamon roll ($2.25), dainty in size and price, was a tender yet buttery-crisp translation with dried cherries.
In an ode to the Gods of Impeccably Fine Pastries, there was no saccharine icing to wipe away or heavy-handed sugary filling to make your teeth ache. Before I could heed my own internal satiety cues, I ordered a meatloaf sandwich with house-made chipotle ketchup ($8.95). I heartily engulfed that sandwich with all its lovingly crafted bread, splendorous meatiness and savory condiment glory, despite being more than adequately satisfied from my breakfast feast two minutes prior.
Two days later when I returned for lunch, my companion and I, after a moment of sorrow for the missing meatloaf sandwich, ordered up the meatball sandwich ($8.95) and the house-cured and smoked pastrami reuben ($8.95). Upon tasting, our sorrows faded quicker than cheese melts on a panini press, and my loaf nostalgia was banished. My readiness to let go of a favored menu item is not typical. I, like many patrons, often like to eat a specific special something when I go to a specific special place.
In truth, the manifestation of RFN's mission (according to creative director and co-owner Timken) "to convince people that no matter what they get it will be terrific," seems proof enough that this endeavor is steeped in trust and warmed by faith. It shows trust not only in the owners' and chefs' good taste, but also in their choices to serve honest food in realistic portions, to use compostable containers, to serve heritage and natural meats, to source local ingredients, and to invest in their own greenhouse, gardens and orchards.
Faith also lies with a public who will arrive at other crossroads like this and start demanding real food, regardless of where in this nation they eat.
Real Food Nation
Open7:30 am to 7:30 pm Tuesday-Friday
8 am to 3 pm Saturday
624 Old Las Vegas Hwy.