All it takes is a backyard, a Santa Maria grill, and a wood-burning brick oven to turn this La Puente backyard into a charming sit-down restaurant. Campo é Carbón comes from Adriana Alvarez and Chef Ulysses Gálvez, who came up with the idea for a backyard restaurant after a 2019 trip to Baja California’s Valle de Guadalupe wine country. Although Campo é Carbón fits the definition of a pop-up, the experience is pure California, with outdoor decor, well-appointed tables, and Asian and Latin flavors. All it takes is a direct message via Instagram to get the address and a 20-mile drive east from downtown LA to the town of La Puente.
Although drive-in restaurants like this are not fully legalized in Los Angeles County, other Southern California areas like Riverside have used California State Law AB-626 to legalize the service. meals prepared on site in private homes. It’s a trend that has become more notable as the pandemic has made operations more difficult for typical commercial establishments, opening up opportunities for food entrepreneurs to start home-based businesses.
Although Campo é Carbón began in October 2020, Alvarez and Gálvez were inspired by the relaxed, mostly outdoor vibe of Valle de Guadalupe. “As soon as we entered [Valle de Guadalupe] restaurants, we noticed that 90% of the restaurants had people sitting outside,” says Gálvez. “The actual tables weren’t perfect, but the restaurants were great and minimalist. When you have a restaurant [in the U.S.], everything should generally be perfect. There, everything is laid back but the food is amazing. That’s what inspired us. We knew we had to do it at home.
Before doing the pop-up, Gálvez operated a food truck that he wasn’t particularly inspired by. He switched to take-out food at the start of the pandemic. But this model did not highlight its ability to prepare mixed plates. As restaurants around Los Angeles focused on alfresco dining amid the pandemic, Alvarez and Gálvez headed in the same direction, as they had everything needed to bring Campo é Carbón to life in their own backyard. -court. Alvarez used her skills as an interior designer to ensure diners saw the food in its best light, while Gálvez assembled all the equipment to create the appropriate ambiance.
Although adjacent neighborhoods like Montebello have seen a recent shift in restoration with places like BLVD MRKT, Alvarez and Gálvez have not seen a similar shift in their area. “There’s no dining experience quite like this in West Covina and La Puente,” says Alvarez. “It’s hard to find something a little higher. This is what our pop-up claims to be and we just want to give it to La Puente.
This Saturday marks the first time the couple have prepared a casual daytime menu called Campito, featuring brunch dishes like French toast and smoked beef hash. In the past, dinner menus featured kimchi belly carnitas with confit pork belly and kimchi salsa; grilled tiger prawns with sweet corn pudding, garlic and chili oil; and grilled octopus with chicharron, chili morita, garlic aioli and arugula. Another crowd favorite was the alfredo crab with garlic and dried cod roe. Gálvez likes tequila and mezcal, so Campo serves colorful cocktails with fresh ingredients.
Campo é Carbón can accommodate between 30 and 50 people per event, with bussers, bartenders and servers, and each attendee meets a host who accompanies diners to assigned tables. It really does look like a restaurant meal, but tucked away in a sprawling Southern California backyard. There is no set tasting menu and diners can order a la carte with a price range of $25 to $30 per person for lunch and up to $60 for dinner. Reservations are not required on Saturdays from 1:30-4pm for Campito’s daily menu, but you can get the address and other info by sending them a direct message on Instagram. The next dinner service will be on March 19, which requires a reservation.
When developing the name, the pair went for something that felt personal to them. “Our food has a purpose,” says Gálvez. “First, Campo is my mother’s maiden name. ‘Campo’ also means fields. My family has a fruit and vegetable business and we like to cook with lots of vegetables. Fields have always played a big role in my life. Carbon means charcoal and we like to cook with fire.The name best represents what we do.
For more information about Campo é Carbón, check the pop-ups PageInstagram.