Dorian Hargrove 8 p.m., Dec. 11
In the past, I always took my coffee black or with a touch of cream. Never sweet. But, sometime in the past year or two, I started putting sugar in my coffee. I haven't been able to place blame for this on any articular party, but I had an idea the other day when I was in Ocean Beach. I think it's Azucar's fault, and not just because the sidewalk seats are a great place to sit on a sunny and and witness the goings-on of Newport Ave.
For whatever reason, Azucar has decided to go with a classier, more polished vibe than the characteristically bohemian Ocean Beach scene would normally dictate. All done up in white and lime green, the Cuban-style coffee and pastry shop lured me in years ago by promising cups of dark, sweet coffee and I've been finding my way back there again and again. Azucar's cafe Cubano is so perfect in its sweetness that it's made a sugar lover out of me. Sweetened during brewing, it's an intense sugar rush that's offset by the bitterness of the espresso. It's infinitely more satisfying, for my money, than any kind of bloated latte. I steer clear of picking favorites in any regard, but Cuban coffee would be a good candidate for my favorite cup of joe, if I was into making those kinds of distinctions.
In addition to the coffee, Azucar keeps a couple of pastry cases fully stocked with sweets ($1-$6). I have stuck with the Cuban-style stuff in the past; puff pastry delights filled with guava and cheese, or little meat patties that contain a succulent, spiced hash; all of which have proven themselves to be delicious.
More involved confections involve various cheesecakes, bon-bons, and an intriguing cheese flan soaked in condensed milk and dulce de leche. The single-serving pastries show nice attention to detail and sufficient reservation in design, i.e. they aren't over-sized and covered in three-too-many layers of icing and cream. I guess they put all the extra sugar in the coffee where it belongs.
4820 Newport Avenue
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