1424 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, Ocean Beach
(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
“Danger: Sheer Unstable Cliffs. Stay Back."
The sign has been hammered into the sand a couple of yards from the edge. No fence. Big slab of rock down in the ocean looks like a fossilized shipwreck, slapping back the angry seas. It’s a little continent all on its own, a republic of seabirds.
But enough of this waxing poetic. A few gulps of sea air to sharpen the appetite and it’s time to retreat. Two minutes later, I’m in this über-cute little eatery I spotted on the way here. Just past an auto-repair outfit, there’s a blue ocean mural on a wall, a sea-green sidewalk canopy, two tables, and a chalk signboard saying “Best Breakfast In Town!”
It’s half past one. Afternoon. Breakfast sounds perfect. I stoop into a small space — pale blue walls, white ceiling — and head for a silvery corrugated-iron back-counter. A surfboard leans up against a wall loaded with Ocean Beach photos and a map of the world with all the best surfing breaks labeled, from Sunset Cliffs to Baja, Vietnam to the Persian Gulf to South Africa.
Gal named Becky comes out of the kitchen, sees me looking at the menu board above the kitchen hatch. “We do breakfast all day,” she says.
Whew. In that case, breakfast it is. Unless I see a decent burger. But I’m wondering why some items are in brown writing and some in blue. “The ones in blue are new, or else they’re things we’re experimenting with,” says Becky.
First thing I notice is the prices. They’re good. Smoothies run $5–$6, quesadillas, like the carne asada, are around $6.50, and so are burritos, like the “O.B.” (grilled chicken, sautéed onion, black beans, rice, avocado, Monterey jack cheese, and creamy jalapeño sauce). Wraps (uh, remind me what makes a wrap different from a burrito?) are $6.99 each. The Veggie, with, yes, veggies, plus hummus, cheese, and Italian dressing, comes in a wheat tortilla.
But I’m still dreaming of coffee, eggs, and bacon. In color. Brown, yellow, red. The menu gives top billing to breakfast tacos. They come with a choice of eggs, bacon, ham, potato, cheese, or black beans. With three items they cost $2.99. The Sunrise Burrito, with eggs, carne asada, potato, black beans, cheese, and chipotle sauce ($5.99), sounds pretty durned delish. And I’m glad to see they use locally grown and organic food “if possible.”
There’s more. The Breakfast Skillet has home-style spuds, bell pepper, onion, mushroom, bacon, ham, two eggs, pepper-jack cheese, and toast or tortilla for $6.49. There’s also a three-egg “U-Call-It” omelet for $6.99 (three eggs, plus as many as you want from a long list of add-ins, including bacon, mushroom, potato, and avocado). And, dagdarn it, now I see another board that lists the lunch specials, like fish and chips ($7.99), a delicious-sounding Monte Cristo triple-decker sandwich, with turkey, ham, American and Swiss cheeses, all dipped in egg, also $6.99. Chicken-tortilla soup, which I love, is $2 a cup, $4 a bowl.
But no. It has to be skillet and coffee ($1.75 with free refill). ’Course, wouldn’t you know it, I’ve hardly sat down and had at it (gotta say, it’s yummy, with fresh bell-pepper chunks and a great, spicy home-made salsa) when this gal comes in and orders a “P.L.B.C. (Point Loma Beach Café) burger.” Now I spot it on the board. “Homemade patty,” they promise, “with grilled onions, mushrooms, cheese, and honey mustard.” She settles down to eating while she reads John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
That’s when another lady comes in, wearing a black Ralphs supermarket sweatshirt. Turns out she’s Kim, the owner. She’s worked 25 years at Ralphs. Just came off her shift. This Beach Café is her dream. She wants to retire from Ralphs in three years, make enough here for this place to sustain her. I ask who-all comes in. “The neighborhood,” she says, “and surfers, and people from the hotel next door. They were having a yoga wedding last August…”
“Uh, yoga wedding?”
“Yes. The bride and groom and guests spent the morning stretching, meditating, doing breathing exercises…they needed a reviver, so they sent across for 45 smoothies.”
The hamburger girl, McKenzie, looks up. “That was me! That was my wedding day!” Turns out she’s a teacher. Special education, English. Seems yoga weddings are starting to catch on.
By now Willy, the cook, has come out to chow down on salad for his lunch. “You should try Willy’s tortilla soup,” says Kim. “It’s really good.”
Two bucks. Who can resist? I don’t, and it is super-scrumptious, with that corn taste and — is that avocado? Yes! And cilantro and peppers and chicken. Hmm… If Carla and I ever decide we need to hit the refresh button, renew our vows like they do on TV, maybe we’ll do it next door on the wild cliff tops, in one-legged yoga pose, next to our own sign: “Danger. Unstable Couple. Stay Back.”
Then, we’ll have the wedding breakfast here. Tortilla soup. ■
Point Loma Beach Café, 1424 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard (near corner with Point Loma Avenue), 619-758-1776
Type of Food: American, Mexican
Prices: Smoothies, $4.99–$6.59; breakfast tacos (with egg, choice of bacon, ham, potato, cheese, or black beans), $2.99; breakfast skillet (potato, bell pepper, onion, mushroom, bacon, ham, two eggs, pepper-jack cheese, toast or tortilla), $6.49; “U-Call-It” three-egg omelet, $6.99; carne asada quesadilla, $6.99; O.B. burrito (with grilled chicken, sautéed onion, black beans, rice, avocado, cheese, jalapeño sauce), $6.99; veggie wrap, $6.99; fish and chips, $7.99; Monte Cristo sandwich (turkey, ham, cheeses, dipped in egg), $6.99 (occasional); chicken tortilla soup, $2 a cup, $4 a bowl; P.L.B.C. burger, $6.99 (occasional)
Hours: 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. daily
Nearest Bus Stop: Point Loma Avenue, at Sunset Cliffs Boulevard