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Coffee-rubbed beef?

Sure, if you’re Michael Karijanian. I’m looking at a menu in his eatery (Sweet & Savory Café, 4614 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach, 858-490-9140).

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A sandwich place, basically. But what sandwiches. The guy’s an inventor. A food-combo inventor.

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Michael Karijanian

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This is what I’m looking at: “The Tri-Tip. Coffee spice rubbed tri-tip [beef] topped with juicy roma tomatoes, mixed greens, smoked gouda cheese, and our roasted garlic mayo, $7.”

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The tri-tip sandwich

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*Packed with chocolate chip cookie: savory and sweet...

For 2-1/2 years Karijanian has been trying out sandwich combos on his customers here. The Tri-Tip has been his Tri-Umph.

“I played around with rubbing the tri-tip with spices and coffee. Dry rub instead of marinating,” he says. “I thought it was pretty interesting. So we tried it as a special. Then people kept asking for it. Now it’s our most popular sandwich.”

Karijanian claims he has “hands down, the best tri-tip in San Diego.” And the meat certainly looks beautiful. He slices it then heats it then adds it to the rest of the focaccia combo.

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Inside the cafe

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Surfer watercolors by Jesse Miller

For me, it took a little extra sprinkle of salt and pepper to wake it up, but once you did — oh, man, the pink meat, the coffee notes playing deep like a cello, the smoky gouda, the crispy focaccia. This was a sandwich made in sandwich heaven.

He has others, like The Brie, a turkey sandwich with Granny Smith apple slices, brie cheese, and cranberry sauce ($7). Or the variation, The Thanksgiving. It’s also turkey but with veggie stuffing, mixed greens, muenster cheese, and cranberry, $6.50. Each time, sweet and savory.

“That was a great thing with my grandmother, who taught me so much,” says Karijanian. “She was Armenian, and that combination is what it’s all about.”

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