To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the phrase “it’s all good” as it always seems to be followed by a “bro” or similar and said in many situations that are honestly not “all good” at all. That said, if there is a place where it fits literally and figuratively, it’s Mozy Cafe in Leucadia. I’ve always appreciated the good vibe nature of this place under the former owners and even learned to accept the very slow service that came with the experience, I just made sure I had 20 minutes to wait for my burrito. I had heard a new owner took over and thought it was time to revisit what I consider part of the original funky places left in Leucadia, and I say that in the best possible way.
First off, I set up a time on a Tuesday evening to sit down and record a week of Lick the Plate on 100.7 San Diego shows with the new owner/operator Gary Grassi. That provided a great opportunity to get to know Gary and what has shaped his style. I also had the pleasure of munching on his Falafel Burger with Shoestring Fries and a local Babe Kombucha that was amazing.
Gary grew up in South Africa but his parents are Italian restaurateurs so it was that cuisine and working in their restaurants that shaped his early culinary style. His adventure in the United States began in Dallas where he operated five restaurants then he brought his culinary skills to San Diego 20 years ago opening La Vache Bistro in Hillcrest and La Jolla then Uropa Café and some consulting work along the way. I should mention that Gary is also quite the renowned dog trainer and former competitive bicycle road racer. Check out his work with dogs at www.dukedogtraining.com.
He became aware of Mozy being for sale, loved Leucadia and took ownership being quite aware that he could not change too much about this iconic spot … but could see areas that needed some improvement which he implemented in a tasteful and subtle manner.
He added a few menu items but kept much of the original menu as it was and improved some of their operating efficiencies. Some of the changes included a new recipe to prep the tofu with nutritional yeast, freshly grilled chicken (with a new herb and spice family recipe for the chicken) used in all the bowls and salads. A Super-Beet Bowl and Spicy Thai Bowl were added along with new salad dressings including a balsamic vinaigrette, Italian vinaigrette, and ranch. Seasoned French fries (those delicious ones I had with my Falafel Burger) were added that are shoestring potatoes seasoned with La Provence herbs, he brought this recipe from his bistro.
The Vegan Beyond burger is now available and I should mention that the Falafel Burger is a revamped version. I’m going back for that one with those fries.
Some minor cosmetic changes were in order provided by artist Jessica Fuller who created some new paintings, rewrote the main menu and wrote their new menu featured on the big wall on the patio. She designed and painted many of the murals in Mozy into a forest theme, including all the walls in the dining area, the bathroom walls, and the outside fence. Another artist, Kevin Anderson, painted the mural of Beacons Beach and the wave on the Daphne Street side of the building. Gary built two counters outside with bar stools plus another is in the process of being built. The counter where the orders are placed was made by Bing Surfboards, which is also a nice local touch with more projects on tap from that group. The hot sauce bar with all the sauce on tap and the coffee station with the tubular shelves is another new touch along with all the new mini picnic tables done in Mozy colors.
I will add that the new touches are a nice improvement while staying true to the original essence of the place. The service has improved dramatically and everything I ate over four visits made me really happy … especially the portions!
Mozy is known for their bowls and they do not disappoint … and they are huge. The Acai Bowl, Pitaya Bowl and Bella Bowl, which I mistakenly overheard as the Mello Bowl (which I thought was a perfect name for a bowl at Mozy) are all favorites of the regulars.
Breakfast is served all day and the breakfast burritos are all really good and you can turn any one of them into a bowl. Burritos extend into the menu further and the Cuban with turkey cachaca or soy chorizo, black beans, brown rice, jack cheese, avocado and plantains is one of my new favorite burritos anywhere. I also sampled the Grilled Chicken Salad with that seasoned chicken I mentioned, black beans, jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, cabbage avocado and salsa is as hearty of a salad as I’ve had anywhere. I had a big post surf appetite so I devoured it but it could easily be split.
More bowls, wraps, plates are available with all kinds of healthy ingredients including lots of vegetarian friendly options. Kombucha, smoothies, great coffee and a kid’s menu are available.
There are have been a lot of Mozy look-alikes and imitators over the years, but nobody has really captured the Mozy vibe. It’s a one of a kind place, and I’m quite certain everyone in your family or circle of friends will find something they like there.
Gary Grassi runs Mozy with the help of his kids Evanna and Lucca Grassi. Find them at www.mozycafeleucadia.com or from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day at 698 N. Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas.