The Perfect Cafe

October 28, 2013 |

photo by Miguel Ortega

The plan was to find a place where we could quickly grab some lunch and coffee and then hit the beach. It would be the first ocean experience for our 3-year-old. The San Diego sky finally opened up so we had to act fast in case the clouds returned.

But when you are on a family vacation nothing goes exactly as planned. Right, Chevy? At some point we all become that fumbling tourist you make fun of back home. I mean what were the chances we would find that awesome cafe with perfect grab-and-go sandwiches and killer espresso?

The odds were against us because papa did not google “Awesome, locally owned cafes in La Jolla” back at the hotel as mom advised.

So, after walking around for a while with no luck, we find this sandwich chain. It was unnecessarily bright, generic and soulless. And it was huge. It was like three-storeys tall. I just kept thinking: Why? Why so big?

We had no choice. We were in a hurry. Don’t get connected emotionally, we thought, just fuel up. Sure enough, the food was awful. And it took forever.

And. The. Coffee. Was. The. Worst. Ever.

I’m not even a professional coffee snob but, man, that stuff was bad.

After we rushed out of Sandwich Hell Hotel California, we asked a guy for the quickest way to get to the beach. He pointed across the street. So we cross the street and what do we find?

The. Most. Authentic. Sweetest. Cafe. Ever.

Man! Seriously?

The best part? It had the biggest window overlooking the pacific as the waves crashed onto the rocks below. And they had freshly made sandwiches and all kinds of pastries. It was the real deal. Everything inside appeared to be made of wood, including the worn counter next to the register. To me, that always means people dig a place.

People were sitting down, sipping on espresso and blissfully throwing back their heads in laughter. Laughing at me, I thought, for somehow missing this place.  

Miguel Ortega is an independent business development consultant. His radio program, “Locally Owned with Miguel Ortega”, airs on KVOI 1030AM every Saturday at 11 a.m. You can also listen to his radio columns on KXCI 91.3FM and follow his blog at

Category: Business