How much can one plaza give? So far, the retail oasis just west of Highway 101 at Exit 224 furnished me with high value seafood at Pier 46 Seafood and locally roasted, fresh-brewed pourover at Joebella Coffee Roasters. J&R Natural Meats maintained our hot streak.
Jim Fogle founded the family-run company and oversees a 10,000 Paso Robles production facility, which includes the only USDA mobile slaughter unit that allows animals to be “raised on the farm, killed on the farm,” as son Ryan Perske said, instead of getting run through an industrial chute. Perske heads the Templeton deli we visited, which opened in March 2011. They source beef, buffalo, pork, quail, rabbit, venison and more from inside Paso Robles County, and source from beyond hyper-local borders when need be. As Perske said, “”If we can get it local, we can, within reason.” They also make sausage and sandwiches.
Perske said they’re working to “get people out of the grocery stores, figuring out where their meat comes from, get them appreciating what they’re eating.” What they should be eating is straightforward. As he said, “We’re pretty simple, the meat speaks for itself.” And speak it did.
We ordered two sandwiches, which Perske prepared using soft rolls from nearby La Migliore Italian bakery, and a flip top George Foreman style grill to cook the meat and onions.
Tri-Tip ($7.98) is widespread in the Central Coast, typically grilled with red oak. Perske smokes the spice rubbed meat in-house with with hickory and/or applewood, since the wood’s so versatile. The slices of meat were smoky and juicy, sporting sweet grilled onions, house-made bacon and pepper Jack cheese. We received a choice of sauce, but Perske made it clear the choice was obvious: barbecue. Good call.
For the Sausage ($6.25) sandwich, we received a choice of any link in the case. We considered blueberry duck, but went with local venison, seasoned with juniper berries, sourced from a single ranch and evidently smaller than most lamb. Perske slathered the sliced and griddled meat in mustard, sandwiching with grilled onions, bacon, and Cheddar. Very good.
We also sampled a dish of coarse, all-meat chili that contained ground hamburger, pork chorizo, and top sirloin. It’s available solo, or on top of a J&R hot dog. The other meat that would have tempted me was pork loin, but it sold out.
We weren’t headed home. Otherwise we would have loaded up on bacon, sausage and steak. However, as we learned, even if you’re on the move, J&R Natural Meats is a great sandwich stop, and further reinforcement that they’re on to something in that shopping plaza.