Yerba opens on Garnet Avenue today; the stylish 1,200-square-foot Pacific Beach cafe is an extension of Parana Empanadas, which got its start as a farmer’s market vendor and still pops up at weekly markets in San Diego and Orange County. Run by an Argentinian family, the company now has storefronts at Westfield UTC and Liberty Public Market.
Owner Lucia Landman created Yerba to showcase another South American staple, yerba mate, a popular tea-like beverage made from the dried leaves of an evergreen holly; traditionally sipped slowly from a hollow gourd through a metal filtered straw, the caffeinated drink has a grassy, earthy flavor.
As the basis for a range of hot and cold specialty drinks, mate will be featured in specialty drinks ranging from lavender and rose lattes to cold brew coolers made with lemonade and mint or Argentinian dulce de leche. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the cafe also features a quiet back patio and a menu of salads and 12 varieties of signature empanadas, including ham and cheese and chipotle chicken. Some new and exclusive menu items include a breakfast empanada stuffed with egg, bacon, white cheddar, potatoes, and tomatoes and chipa, which are gluten-free cheese bread balls made with tapioca flour.