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Talk about reinventing yourself: Toma Sol Cafe up and decided to forego the coffee shop lifestyle and transform into a wine bar! Newly minted “Toma Sol Tavern” (301 W. Washington Street, 619-291-1159) is a substantial change from the old business. It’s different enough that the “Grand Opening” sign out front is warranted, despite that fact that Toma Sol has been on the corner there for, what, 18 months now? Perhaps ownership changed (I didn’t think to ask), or maybe this was the plan all along. It doesn’t really matter, since now Mission Hills has a new wine bar.

The interior got a bit of remodelling. Coffee shop touches--like board games, free WiFi, and the espresso press--remain in place, but the addition of a few TVs and a bar thrusts the cafe towards watering hole territory. In the end, it feels more like a cafe-bar than either discrete category.

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Beer list looked good, with a dozen taps ($5-$6) and a short selection of bottles, but the wine list was more impressive. Half-bottles of Stag’s Leap, some decent DOC/AOC bottlings, and plenty of affordable stuff. Best of all, everything was available by the glass ($6-$18). Hey now!

The menu received a facelift, too. For the most part, it’s wine bar style snacks (flatbreads, sandwiches, hummus plates, etc) and little of substance, but I did manage to get a pasta dish for $7.50. The price was reasonable, considering the plate of spaghetti, red sauce, onions, peppers, and Italian sausage filled me right up. The pasta had gone soft from overcooking, but it wasn’t bad, just not great.

Similarly, a wee-little Ceasar salad didn’t offend my sense of thrift. It may have been no more than a bowl of lettuce spotted with croutons and dusted with shredded cheese, but the lettuce was crisp and cool, so what more could I ask for $3?

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There’s nothing the owners can do about the location. It will always be a weakness if for no other reason than that parking is a hassle, but the new incarnation of Toma Sol is an improvement. Coffee shop by day, wine bar with sports on TV by night; she’ll lead her double life well.

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