3:58 p.m., Feb. 19
Best Coffee (And Loaded Bagels) In Town?
Best coffee? It might be here in Old Town. It’s called Van Houtte, and it’s a dark Fair Trade, organic certified coffee from Mexico. And as it says, “Slightly bitter with a rich lingering flavor.”
I’m slurping a cuppa on a wooden deck facing Congress Street where it crosses with Mason. I saw the banner outside when I was coming up Congress from the trolley. “Best Coffee in Old Town.”
Thought, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
But so glad I did stop and get one. Has a velvety feel to it. I'm at the Old Town Eatery Cafe (3941 Mason Street, at Congress, 619-260-8060).
“Van Houtte are like the Starbucks of Canada,” says the owner, Andrés Ortiz. “But their taste is so way much better. They’re based in Orange County, but they service a little café like mine. And the coffee’s good. I know a little about coffee. I’m from Colombia.”
I'd come up their path, kinda also attracted by the way their sign showed they intended to be here a long time. “Old Town Eatery” is written into the walkway with broken pottery tile.
Then you come inside past a big colorful mural of a Parisian street scene. Cool.
I waited while a lady ahead of me gave her order.
“The usual, please Andrés.”
It’s not long before they bring out her “usual.” It’s an open-faced bagel sandwich. Looks pretty delicious. I see bacon, tomato, cream cheese. She pays $6.99, with tax, $7.34.
“This is my own recipe for a spinach bagel,” she says. Name's Kellie. “They are kind enough to make it. Tomato, bacon, with lots of extra cream cheese. I come here for this five days a week.”
Andrés and Kellie in front of the mural
Wow. Great coffee and this personalized bagel. She says Andrés has an incredible story too. Lord. Except I have to go.
Guess I’ll have to come back. Eat, drink, talk more.
Watch out for a Tin Fork.
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