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Hearty survivor: The Farmacy pulls through with outstanding food, support from patrons

Like many local restaurateurs, Jacob Elliot of the Farmacy in Nob Hill scrambled to make it through 2020. He deployed anything and everything at his disposal, including COVID relief funds, personal credit cards and title loans, to keep the place afloat.

Then, with winter looming, disaster struck. One of the Farmacy’s employees tested positive for COVID, and Elliot and his partner, Mary Hammack, were forced to temporarily close the restaurant under the city’s health guidelines.

Out of options, Elliot and Hammack turned to what has become the last resort for many restaurants this past year: a GoFundMe campaign.

The response was immediate and heartening. Elliot exceeded his fundraising goal, and with the infusion of capital he and his staff were able to make it through the winter.

The community support speaks to the loyal following the Farmacy has generated since Elliot opened the place in 2016 after Boiler Monkey Bistro, the previous occupant, moved Downtown.

The building at Central and Solano still bears the outlines of the gas station it once was. The restaurant’s logo, a butcher’s diagram of a pig, features prominently on a wooden sign that hangs out front.

As of this writing, the Farmacy is open for breakfast and lunch Thursday through Sunday.

I visited during the weekday lunch hour and grabbed the last available table of the five inside. Even more people sat outside on a patio that wraps around the front. It was encouraging to see that seemingly every time one party finished, another materialized to take its place.

The menu is modest in size but and grand in ambition, with inventive dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients. There are a dozen breakfast items, six waffles and three lunch sandwiches, along with beers and a couple of sparkling wine-based cocktails that purportedly fly out of the kitchen during the popular weekend brunches.

The Farmacy’s Duke City Biscuit and Gravy, white gravy over a biscuit with red and green chile. (Richard S. Dargan/For the Journal)

The breakfast portion of the menu reveals New Mexico inflections on familiar items such as the Duke City Biscuit and Gravy ($6.75) built off a biscuit studded with red and green chile. Even under the weight of the gravy, the biscuit retains a crispy shell. Inside, bits of a scrambled egg turn up alongside the modestly spicy chile. The peppery gravy is airy, almost the consistency of whipped potatoes, and only slightly salty, and there’s enough of it that you always have something to dip the pieces of biscuit in. It’s rousing, stick-to-the-ribs comfort food freighted with fat and carbs for the day ahead.

The Farmacy’s XO breakfast sandwich combines a fried egg, bacon and Swiss cheese in a brioche bun. (Richard S. Dargan/For the Journal)

In the XO ($10.75), one of several breakfast sandwiches on the menu, a brioche bun holds a fried egg atop several slices of bacon and melted Swiss cheese. The thick, juicy slices of bacon shined, with a pile of daikon radish sprouts adding some crunch. The diced fried potatoes on the side, crunchy and amply seasoned, were terrific.

The Old-fashioned Waffle at the Farmacy is topped with maple bourbon cream sauce and a brûléed orange slice. (Richard S. Dargan/For the Journal)

Waffles are available in both savory and sweet varieties. The Old-fashioned Waffle ($11.75) takes inspiration from the drink of the same name. A buttery maple bourbon cream sauce fills the citrus-infused waffle’s craters and valleys, and candied pecans, whipped cream and a gorgeous brûléed orange slice top it all off. The waffle was expertly prepared, with the thinnest of sugary shells around a fluffy interior, and the sauce, subtly flavored with bourbon, is like an elevated version of maple syrup.

The Farmacy’s BrieLT is made with thin slices of brie, bacon, tomato, pickled red onions and arugula in a brioche bun. (Richard S. Dargan/For the Journal)

Sandwiches include a Reuben, a grilled cheese and a BrieLT ($9.75) made with bacon, tomato slices and thin slices of brie. The rich and earthy brie gets a spark from pickled red onions and a spicy aioli – a success qualified only by the fact that the balsamic vinaigrette that was paired with a side salad of mixed greens ended up soaking into the lower half of the brioche bun in the takeout box.

When I was leaving, I overheard a guy at the counter raving about the coffee to one of the servers. He said it was the best in New Mexico, a bold statement that I can neither confirm nor deny, other than to say that my 8-ounce latte ($4.25 with a shot of vanilla), brewed with beans from Coava Coffee Roasters of Portland, Oregon, was very good.

There are several vegetarian options on the menu, but gluten-free diners are limited to the Farmacy’s version of Migas ($8.75), the traditional Mexican breakfast scramble of egg, bacon, potato, chile and cheese with crispy corn tortillas.

Service was excellent, from start to finish.

By all appearances, the Farmacy is coming out of the other side of the pandemic in good shape, powered by outstanding food, persevering owners and staff and supportive patrons.