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Is there a better place to watch the passing parade downtown?

I don’t think so.

And even though Nathan Hiedo has taken over this joint, he promises this won’t change.

Here on the ramp overlooking K Street and Fifth Avenue, you’re in the cat’s cradle…pig’s pen…uh, eagle’s aerie…whatever.

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Ciné Café from down on the sidewalk

Outside of Ciné Café (412-420 K Street, downtown, 619-595-1929), and back in the day, that’s what it was, a café for ciné nerds — they have an elevated ramp with tables, chairs, that looks down across K to the Gaslamp Hilton.

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You can watch the toffs, the coiffed, and the Botoxed alighting from their limousines. They tip their drivers more than you’ve just paid for your New Yawk sandwich — this beautiful wad of corned beef and roast beef and sauerkraut — $8.50.

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Inside the Ciné Café

And that’s top dollar for what you pay here. Cheaper are, like a half chicken-salad sandwich ($4.50), really enough on its own to fill you.

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The half chicken sandwich

This place is your backstop when everything else fails you in the Gaslamp.

And, actually, half the people coming in are here to get shaving cream, jars of salsa, stuff they forgot to buy at the downtown Ralphs. This is the neighborhood store, too.

Nathan recently took over the joint from Debbie Santos. Well, actually, they’re partners for the next five years, but she’s tired of doing all the heavy lifting. She has kids growing up.

So, yes. Every time I’m down here trying to decide between Ciné Café and Hilton's New Leaf eatery (which is also open six a.m. to midnight), uh, no contest.

And as Nathan says: if it works, don’t fix it.

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