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The Gathering
902 West Washington,
Mission Hills
(619) 260-0400

You came here for food. Instead, Dan the barman gives you a card. "Look at it. Don't show me." You look. Jack of hearts. He takes it back, rips it up into four pieces, gives you a corner piece, opens his hand. The rest of the card has gone. Dan shuffles through his cards. "Now somewhere here...ah." He hauls out a card. The jack of hearts. Corner missing. But the rest is whole. Your corner fits the card perfectly. What can you say? Dan's the barman. Also the owner. Also a registered magician. When the spirit moves him, he serves food, drink, and magic all at the same time. Come for Sunday brunch. Come for the Mission Hills Omelet -- "Snow crab sautéed in butter with a hint of sherry and tarragon, with our dilled-Hollandaise sauce," $6.95. Apart from the magic, the place has a village ambience, and -- maybe it's Dan -- a slightly heady atmosphere.

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