University Avenue’s popular natural wine bar and bistro, which was opened in August 2022 by the group behind Bottlecraft and Vino Carta, is swapping out its restaurant-in-residence to a different set of chefs. Papalito, the Sonoran-style barbecue outfit from chef Drew Bent, which launched at Little Thief but has since expanded to Papalo, a partnership with Modbom in the East Village, will be departing the kitchen on Sunday, May 21.
Replacing it will be two local pop-ups that gained acclaim through their residencies at Vino Carta’s Solana Beach location. First up is Mesa Agricola, which will be posted up at Little Thief from May 24 to July 30. Run by chef Juan Gonzalez and his wife, Megan Strom, who grows produce for Mesa Agricola on the couple’s 1/4-acre plot in Valley Center, it features a farm-to-table menu that changes weekly but is influenced by pre-Hispanic cooking techniques and Gonzalez’s upbringing in Baja, Mexico.
Mesa Agricola will continue to appear at Vino Carta on Mondays and Tuesdays during its stint in North Park but starting on August 2, it will be fully taking over the kitchen of the Solana Beach bottle shop and bar.
Meanwhile, after finishing up its 20-month tenure at Vino Carta in North County later this summer, Long Story Short will make its permanent home at Little Thief beginning on August 2. Created by veteran chefs and North Park residents Kelly and Elliott Townsend, who cooked at Juniper & Ivy and Cowboy Star, respectively, it features their take on California cuisine and revolves around ingredients sourced from Chino Farm and other area farms, so expect dishes to change regularly based on seasonality. They’ll offer an a la carte menu, with the potential for future chef’s tastings and special wine dinners.