Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

This Isn’t Tokyo

Place

Grossmont Student Center Cafeteria

8800 Grossmont College Drive, El Cajon




"I love the smell of burgers in the morning," says Jim. We stand here, just below the mesa, Jim's nose twitching in the breeze. The smell's wafting out of Grossmont College's cafeteria, somewhere up these steps we're climbing. Jim is heading for his usual breakfast, a two-patty hamburger with lettuce, red onion, tomato, pickles, and mayo, $2.99.

"Student rates," he says. "Can't beat 'em."

Jim heads off for his burger-breakfast. But me, I'm made of sterner stuff. I've come here to Grossmont College to see about -- don't laugh -- returning to finish what I dropped a while back: see if I could come back, study.

So I find my way to the administration office. Once I get inside, though, I panic. This is ridiculous. I had my chance, man, years ago -- how could I even afford it now?

A woman comes up. Fallback! Plan B!

"Anybody know where the chow hall is?" I ask. A tall, good-lookin' gal from the employment office shows me to a small door. "Through there," she says, and disappears. I go along a passage and then through another that opens out onto -- oh wow, a hall that could maybe handle a basketball court. Students spread out among two dozen tables, chowing down, talking, or staring into laptops. There are tables under green umbrellas outside as well. And at the far end, the actual cafeteria. "Is this the only eatery on campus?" I ask the girl cashier. "Pretty much," she says.

So we're not talking UCSD's huge dining center with all the concessions and smoky Persian and Somali food tents. This is just a part of the Student Center building. Its orange tile floor, cream tile walls, and strip lighting could make it your typical institution, except that the place buzzes with life.

I swing up to the counter. Hmm. They have burgers from $2.49 (single) to a double cheeseburger ($3.49). They have lots of breakfasts, too, officially done at 10 a.m., but still going strong at a quarter of two. And these are really good prices. A pasta bowl for $3.89, a crispy chicken sandwich for $2.29, a beef-and-bean burrito for $2.99. Plus pizzas starting at $1.99.

"An amazing number of folks get burgers in the morning," says the guy behind the counter. His name's Tracy.

I'm almost tempted, except the female student next to me orders a "chicken katsu." Turns out it's today's special, the most expensive thing on the menu at $4.99. Tracy loads the plate with red-skinned sautéed potatoes, sautéed veggies, like squash, zucchini, and carrots, and a big slab of crumb-coated chicken with a creamy sauce on top. There are special soups, too. Your choice: beef and mushroom, chicken noodle, or potato and bacon ($1.99 regular, $3.79 for the large).

"I'll have what she's having," I say, even though everybody else seems to be buying the breakfast burrito. This guy Liam, who's studying environmental engineering, gets one with sausage and Tater Tots for $3.15. "Every day I get this," he says. "This place has the best."

Pretty soon Betty brings out my plate. She looks familiar. Oh yeah! "Anybody ever tell you you look like J-Lo?" I ask her. "Not quite," she says. She pats her butt. "I'd need to put a lot more junk in my trunk."

I head off with the crowd to the coffee place for a large coffee ($1.60). I go through the glass doors to the patio and the green umbrellas and plunk down near a bunch of Japanese exchange students chomping and laughing. They're all eating the pasta bowl, penne plus a couple of vegetables. Meanwhile, I'm busy carving in to the chicken. The red potatoes and sautéed yellow squash and zucchini are great.

The kids rattle away in Japanese. "That's the problem," Mami tells me. She's one of the girls. "We intended to come to a school where there weren't many Japanese, so we would be forced to speak English. But here at Grossmont there are lots of us. We talk Japanese all the time."

And the food? "It's good," says Tatsu, the lone guy. "But at home we would have lots more vegetables, and we don't use so much oil in their cooking. It's healthier."

Well, this may not be as healthy, but it was a surprise fill-up for me. I get up, all energized. New resolve. Stride back to the admissions office. And, wow, they say, heck yes, half our students are adult returnees coming back after the wild years. Any time! Which sounds great. I take a catalog and head back outside. For a moment, I look across the valley. Oh boy, now I recognize it. It's where Carla lived as a kid, where she used to build forts in the trees with her brothers. I get all sentimental, duck back inside and buy a double burger to go, for her.

Back home, I produce it with a flourish.

"Straight from your alma mater," I say.

"Bedford!" Carla says. "You know I'm on a diet. Please get rid of it."

Diet? Man, I had forgotten. Oh well -- heh heh. Guess I'll just have to get rid of it.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Floating Outdoor Cinema on the Bay, Toy Piano Festival

Events September 27-September 30, 2020
Place

Grossmont Student Center Cafeteria

8800 Grossmont College Drive, El Cajon




"I love the smell of burgers in the morning," says Jim. We stand here, just below the mesa, Jim's nose twitching in the breeze. The smell's wafting out of Grossmont College's cafeteria, somewhere up these steps we're climbing. Jim is heading for his usual breakfast, a two-patty hamburger with lettuce, red onion, tomato, pickles, and mayo, $2.99.

"Student rates," he says. "Can't beat 'em."

Jim heads off for his burger-breakfast. But me, I'm made of sterner stuff. I've come here to Grossmont College to see about -- don't laugh -- returning to finish what I dropped a while back: see if I could come back, study.

So I find my way to the administration office. Once I get inside, though, I panic. This is ridiculous. I had my chance, man, years ago -- how could I even afford it now?

A woman comes up. Fallback! Plan B!

"Anybody know where the chow hall is?" I ask. A tall, good-lookin' gal from the employment office shows me to a small door. "Through there," she says, and disappears. I go along a passage and then through another that opens out onto -- oh wow, a hall that could maybe handle a basketball court. Students spread out among two dozen tables, chowing down, talking, or staring into laptops. There are tables under green umbrellas outside as well. And at the far end, the actual cafeteria. "Is this the only eatery on campus?" I ask the girl cashier. "Pretty much," she says.

So we're not talking UCSD's huge dining center with all the concessions and smoky Persian and Somali food tents. This is just a part of the Student Center building. Its orange tile floor, cream tile walls, and strip lighting could make it your typical institution, except that the place buzzes with life.

I swing up to the counter. Hmm. They have burgers from $2.49 (single) to a double cheeseburger ($3.49). They have lots of breakfasts, too, officially done at 10 a.m., but still going strong at a quarter of two. And these are really good prices. A pasta bowl for $3.89, a crispy chicken sandwich for $2.29, a beef-and-bean burrito for $2.99. Plus pizzas starting at $1.99.

"An amazing number of folks get burgers in the morning," says the guy behind the counter. His name's Tracy.

I'm almost tempted, except the female student next to me orders a "chicken katsu." Turns out it's today's special, the most expensive thing on the menu at $4.99. Tracy loads the plate with red-skinned sautéed potatoes, sautéed veggies, like squash, zucchini, and carrots, and a big slab of crumb-coated chicken with a creamy sauce on top. There are special soups, too. Your choice: beef and mushroom, chicken noodle, or potato and bacon ($1.99 regular, $3.79 for the large).

"I'll have what she's having," I say, even though everybody else seems to be buying the breakfast burrito. This guy Liam, who's studying environmental engineering, gets one with sausage and Tater Tots for $3.15. "Every day I get this," he says. "This place has the best."

Pretty soon Betty brings out my plate. She looks familiar. Oh yeah! "Anybody ever tell you you look like J-Lo?" I ask her. "Not quite," she says. She pats her butt. "I'd need to put a lot more junk in my trunk."

I head off with the crowd to the coffee place for a large coffee ($1.60). I go through the glass doors to the patio and the green umbrellas and plunk down near a bunch of Japanese exchange students chomping and laughing. They're all eating the pasta bowl, penne plus a couple of vegetables. Meanwhile, I'm busy carving in to the chicken. The red potatoes and sautéed yellow squash and zucchini are great.

The kids rattle away in Japanese. "That's the problem," Mami tells me. She's one of the girls. "We intended to come to a school where there weren't many Japanese, so we would be forced to speak English. But here at Grossmont there are lots of us. We talk Japanese all the time."

And the food? "It's good," says Tatsu, the lone guy. "But at home we would have lots more vegetables, and we don't use so much oil in their cooking. It's healthier."

Well, this may not be as healthy, but it was a surprise fill-up for me. I get up, all energized. New resolve. Stride back to the admissions office. And, wow, they say, heck yes, half our students are adult returnees coming back after the wild years. Any time! Which sounds great. I take a catalog and head back outside. For a moment, I look across the valley. Oh boy, now I recognize it. It's where Carla lived as a kid, where she used to build forts in the trees with her brothers. I get all sentimental, duck back inside and buy a double burger to go, for her.

Back home, I produce it with a flourish.

"Straight from your alma mater," I say.

"Bedford!" Carla says. "You know I'm on a diet. Please get rid of it."

Diet? Man, I had forgotten. Oh well -- heh heh. Guess I'll just have to get rid of it.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Hancock Street to get sharrows

"This area will be the next Little Italy"
Next Article

Fall equinox, smoggiest days, Chinese flame trees, Saturn and Jupiter near moon

Natural San Diego, September 21-28
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close