Harvester: smoky flavor, cold bread


Harvester stands between Tehama and Butte Halls with customers waiting for their food. Taken by Ariana Powell, March 28.

A heavy, smoky scent that rolls out of the black, yellow and green Harvester food truck is the first thing that hits you when walking out of Tehama Hall.

It serves five dishes: clam chowder, a veggie wrap, the Harvester tri-tip sandwich, the Chicago dog and the Harvester burger.

The Harvester burger. Taken by Ariana Powell, Feb. 28.

The latter has a three-pound patty with bacon, onion rings, Harvest and BBQ sauce and cheddar, priced at $11.

When biting into the burger, the bottom bun soaked with grease and sauce left a slightly slimy mess dripping into the paper tray.

The sweetness of the BBQ sauce mingled well with the deep, smoky flavor of the beef patty. An unexpected level of spice also became prevalent. The salty, fried onion rings provided texture to the soaked bun. 

 The burger, though simple, exudes a sense of comfort and home. Though I’ve never eaten at Capay’s Harvest, it embodies what I imagine the business is like — warm and kind.

The Chicago dog. Taken by Ariana Powell, Feb. 28.

The Chicago dog, a three-pound all-beef hot dog dressed with chopped onions, pickles, tomatoes and mustard priced at $8, had an even stronger, smoky flavor than the Harvester burger. 

It was almost overpowering.

The mustard held the onion and pickle chunks on the dog like glue. However, the tomato chunks, which were far larger than the other chunks, easily tumbled off, making it a struggle to eat without making a mess. The mustard also added some moisture to the slightly stiff bun.

There’s not much to say about the Chicago dog, except that it is a hot dog like any other.

The Harvester tri-tip sandwich. Taken by Ariana Powell, Feb. 28.

The sourdough bread surrounding the Harvester tri-tip sandwich, containing barrel-rolled tri-tip coated with pepper cheese and BBQ sauce priced at $12, was just as stiff.

The bread overall was not warm and there was one part of the sandwich that seemed to be cold all the way through, meat, cheese and all. The cheese was slightly hardened and looked like the sandwich had been sitting out for a bit. The sandwich lacked the warm, gooeyness of melted cheese.

Harvester’s apparent signature smoky flavor was present and paired nicely with the cheese and BBQ sauce, reminiscent of eating a fresh grilled tri-tip sandwich at an outdoor cookout on a hot summer day. Except without the fresh aspect.

The best part of all three dishes was the side of fries. They were warm, appropriately salty, with the perfect amount of crisp to tender ratio. They were far better than any franchise fast-food fries from places like McDonald’s or Burger King.

I would happily pay for just a big plate of those fries, maybe with a side of their Harvest and BBQ sauce.

Similar to that of a restaurant, after ordering, customers are handed a small-rectangular, white pager that notifies them when their food is ready. Something that comes into handy when it’s better to hide in one of the nearby buildings during inclement weather.

The prices may be fair and the flavors good, but certain ingredient aspects, such as the bread, leaves something to be desired. Other than the falling tomatoes and grease drippings, this is good food to eat while walking.

The Harvester food truck, which sets up shop on Chico State’s campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Sutter Special Event parking area, is an offshoot of Capay’s Harvest, a restaurant, deli, bakery and grocery store in Orland.

The all-in-one business, located at 7544 Cutting Ave., started off as a hardware store in 1936. Since then it has changed hands and faces multiple times, but since 2018 it has rested with Amanda Metzger, who turned it into what it is today, according to their website. 

The restaurant has an ever-changing menu, and Harvester is a small taste of Capay’s Harvest’s vibe. The truck has been stationed at multiple places in Butte County, including the Enloe Cancer Center.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected].