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Pipe's Cafe
121 Liverpool Drive, Cardiff
(760) 632-0056

Get to Pipe's for breakfast, late enough so it seems like you've been on dawn patrol, i.e., out surfing early. Don't shave. Leave your hair wet from the shower. Park around the corner on San Elijo so it looks like you've trudged up from the beach a few blocks away. Wear baggy shorts, a Billabong T-shirt, flip-flops. Clothes must look like they've been wadded up in your car for a week. And for god's sake, don't study the autographed surf photos and posters too closely -- you'll look like the pretender you are. If you're desperate for a conversation-starter, this one about a surfboard hanging on the west wall will do: "Hey, isn't that the stick Machado rode in What Now?" On small days (i.e., small surf) most of the clientele might be locals with their kids. If you want to mingle with da boyz, wait for a day when the surf is overhead. Local heroes Rob Machado and Taylor Knox are regulars. Big boyz like Kelly and Shane D. show up when they're in town. Even Da Bull's been seen plowing into a stack of pancakes with the commitment that made him a legend at giant Makaha. Take a tip from him: You gotta be hungry as only a three-hour session in overhead surf will make you. Don't bother laying into that Bacon Scramble if you don't mean it. They'll sniff you out as sure as if you paddled out at big Pipe's on a twin-fin. And don't order anything from the "lite" menu. Sit inside or on the patio. You'll overhear the surf talk either place. You can read the U-T (sports section only), but a dog-eared Surfer mag is better. Don't be intimidated. That guy going off about his deep barrels and sick air is probably wet from the shower too. He's just got the act down.

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