Feature: Fig Tree Cafe
It’s hard not to love everything about Fig Tree Cafe. Johan Engman opened Fig Tree Cafe in Pacific Beach with a vision for a restaurant which featured fresh, fair trade, local, organic ingredients to create high quality dishes that would set his restaurant apart from the rest. Successfully fulfilling this vision, Fig Tree Cafe has received numerous local awards and is a leader in San Diego’s restaurant scene. We decided to sit down with Johan to find out more.
Organic. Local. Delicious
Did the choice to source
locally happen initially or did it come later?
A little bit of both. The idea was to always to have a restaurant that featured organic and local products. Initially we didn’t have the funds to buy organically. Then as we grew we implemented more and more of those type of things because we could afford it, and that helped the business grow.
Do you think sourcing locally has created a strong following?
For sure. Not only is the food better, it’s clearly a growing trend in consumers; they’re watching what they eat, they want the local stuff. It goes hand in hand.
Tell me about the small farm in Ramona you source chicken and eggs from.
I was referred by a friend, and set up a meeting with them, interviewed them, and with my own eyes confirmed they were what they say they are (cage- free). It’s one of those places where not only are the chickens free range they’re literally running around on the farm which is even better; they have a pro-veggie diet which makes it even better stuff.
Ya I think so. For me it’s not about doing it because I think it’s a trendy thing to do. It’s what I eat in my own house so why wouldn’t I serve it in my restaurant? I’ve done the research; what you see in mass production is pretty disgusting. Whether it affected the business or not I would keep doing it because it’s what I stand for.
What are some rewards of running your business this way?
Every day when you wake up you make choices in your life that aren’t because you want to be recognized and or because you think someone will reward you, you do it because you feel like that’s the way you live your life- and that’s how this restaurant is ran. Certainly there are rewards, like returning guests that say “Wow these eggs are so flavorful”, or, “I went to this other place and realized they were getting their eggs from this other place of bad quality”… it’s nice to hear but if I never heard it I would still do it (source locally and buy organically).
As the interview wrapped up, Johan and I chatted about what his future plans are with the restaurant. The Fig Tree Cafe has begun squeezing their own orange juice, but his plans span much farther. Johan has hopes of growing a live herb wall and even an herb garden for the chef to pull fresh herbs from throughout the day, both for food and their new specialty cocktails.
Whether it be the amazing food, pet friendly patio, or responsible business methodology, Fig Tree Cafe is a must- go for San Diego locals. My personal recommendations? Banana Foster French Toast and a Monterrey Scramble with avocado! Thank me later.
Special thanks to Johan, Fernando, and the kitchen and wait staff!