Pomelo at The Orchard

7100 N. 12th St. Bldg. One    pomelophx.com

If you’re heading out to lunch at The Orchard, make sure to start your journey early, because the parking lot is full as soon as the businesses open their doors.

The Orchard, located at 12th Street and Glendale, is a combination of three eateries and is situated on a former citrus nursery. The two buildings that make up The Orchard are known as heritage houses. One home from the 1920s is a full-service restaurant called Pomelo. The other house, built in the 1960s, is a market and café called Luci’s and an ice cream shop called Splurge.

My comrade and I decided to soak up the last of the nice weather and sat at one of the many patio tables available with a view of the courtyard, over which a massive white tent was set up. Under the tent sat a mommy-and-me group and various others enjoying the separate patio for Luci’s. There’s also a splashpad, where children of all ages enjoy splishing-and-splashing, oblivious to the world around them.

The meal started off with the Blistered Brussel Sprouts, which arrived in a piping-hot (I should know, I accidently touched it) cast-iron skillet. Topped with bacon, parmesan and a balsamic reduction, the sprouts were roasted just enough to give them a perfect charred grill flavor. Squeeze a little lemon on them and they’ll keep you coming back for more. 

Pomelo offers a variety of sandwiches and salads for lunch. Along with the chicken pesto wrap, we decided to stay on the healthy track and ordered the Harvest Salad with field greens, butternut squash, bacon, blue cheese crumbles, pecans and a balsamic dressing.

I’m not a huge salad person. I also drench everything I eat in cheese, but this salad was a refreshing surprise. The tartness of the cranberries, the crunch of the pecans and the sweetness of the butternut squash mixed together to give every bite a different taste and texture.

My friend and I continued to wrestle with the idea of adding a pizza to our meal – bye-bye summer bodies – and in the end, the pizza won. And boy, am I glad it did. We both agreed that the classic pepperoni pizza was the crown jewel of our meal.

Made with hand-stretched sourdough crust, this wood-fired masterpiece was evenly sauced; the tomato flavor was perfectly situated in each bite. Topped with mozzarella and ricotta cheese, garlic and pepperonis the size of my palm. No more will I accept the pepperonis of certain chain pizza joints. The crust was chewy and crispy in all the right spots, and for those of you who like a little char on your pizza crust, Pomelo knows what it’s doing. 

After lunch, we strolled through Luci’s Marketplace. The offerings are posted on digital boards with an all-day breakfast menu, sandwiches, burgers and salads, plus beer, wine, juices and smoothies. Oh, and a bakery case with muffins and scones, which simply cannot be avoided. Packed with blueberries and topped with sugar crystals; I ended up with two scones – one for each hand.

Near the end of our Orchard journey, we came upon the mecca of deliciousness: Splurge Ice Cream. I told myself I didn’t need it but who was I kidding? With flavors such as “Don’t Be Salty, Caramel” and “Have Your Cake, and Eat It Too,” Splurge really knows how to top off a fantastic meal.