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

Breakfast with a Side of Fun

“I’ve got troubles,” I say.

I’m trying to explain why I’m half an hour late. “Trolley security. Hauled me off the damned train. Lemon Grove. Must have been 20 of them swarming on board. The one time I forgot to get a ticket. This new system sucks. No more transfers, dude! You have to pay for each leg of the journey. They gave me a warning, but I tell you. That MTS. They’re soaking the poor…”

“You will have troubles,” says Hank, “if we’ve missed lunch. It’s three o’clock already.”

We’re here in La Mesa, outside this little corner place that looks a bit like Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe. “Jitters Coffee.” Has eats, too.

“What I don’t get is, why all the way out here?” I say.

Hank goes all misty. “This used to be the Greyhound Depot, back in the day, when I was a kid. This was how we arrived, when we first came to town. Also, they do a great chicken walnut salad. Six bucks.”

I must admit, it’s a cute little place. Creamy bricky exterior with maroon window frames, a canvas-covered side patio, and, I notice, windows festooned with Scotch-taped pink-ribbon “Walk for Hope” cards for breast cancer.

By coincidence, the sparky, trim-figured lady behind the cash register is wearing red and cream too. Red silk tank top and cream pants.

“Are we too late?” I ask.

She looks toward the little kitchen. “Ronny, Vicki, hold it. We’ve got customers.” She turns back. “What would you like?”

Man, what a smile. But concentrate, I tell myself: there’s a whole blackboard to consider. Sandwiches, soups, salads, waffles, and — well, lookie here now…

“Can I still get breakfast?” I ask.

“Sure,” says the lady.

Hank stands looking up at the blackboard.

“Chicken walnut salad, right?” I say. It’s the first item in “Salads.” Has diced chicken, walnut, and celery, for $5.95.

Does sound good. So while I’m eyeballing the menu, I check out the soups (all $3), like chicken and noodle (or rice), chili, beef and barley. And sandwiches. Most expensive are the $5.95 Jitters Club (turkey, ham, bacon, and cheddar); the turkey, avocado, bacon, and Swiss; and the one that almost drags me away from brekky: chicken breast with onions, bell pepper, and raspberry vinaigrette.

“What’s the most interesting breakfast?” I ask the lady. Name’s Camille.

“I’d say the burrito, or scrambled eggs in a croissant,” she says.

Meanwhile, Hank has decided on the salad sampler ($5.95), a combo of the chicken walnut and the tuna and egg salad. “And I’ll take a big garden veggie sandwich in eight-grain bread,” he says.

Camille looks at him. “Salad’s pretty big. Sure you can handle both?”

“I got Garbage Guts here to process the leftovers,” says Hank.

I see the burrito has two scrambled eggs with bacon, ham, and cheddar. The croissant comes with eggs, bacon, and cheddar. Hmm. Just not into wraps in the morning, or eggy croissants. I order coffee ($1.25) and keep lookin’. All the cooked breakfasts are $4.95 each, except for — and I almost go for this — biscuits and gravy. Three bucks. Two bucks for a half order. Man. That’s hard to resist. And in a way I wish I hadn’t resisted, because the scrambled eggs and sausages and wheat toast that I do order are fine but lack that oozy, sausagey tastiness I can imagine in those biscuits and gravy.

Plus, natch, we all get to talking so much, I leave the danged eggs to go cool and a bit rubbery. My fault. But once I start seriously wolfing, and Hank finds it in his heart to shovel over some of the delicious chicken walnut part of his salad, I’m happy. The piece of avo-zucchini-and-cheese veggie sandwich he rips off for me is pretty darned tasty, too.

We’re sitting in all-wooden chairs with arty coffee cup shapes cut out of the backrests. Camille has local artists’ work strung around the walls. And also interesting teapots shaped like elephants and camels up on display shelves.

“My grandfather brought those back from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia,” she says.

It turns out Camille has only had this place a couple of years. “My sister Sara and my niece had just come back from Hawaii. We were having way too much fun, so my husband bought this business to keep us occupied. And boy, has it done that.”

“You should see us in the morning,” says Vicki. She’s come out of the kitchen with a big mop. “The place is packed. Eighty percent of them are locals, regulars, elderly — La Mesa has a lot of elderly — and if you come in, you’re expected to join the conversation. It gets pretty wild sometimes.”

“We have so many Bobs,” says Camille, “we have to have a name for each one. There’s Pineapple Bob, Across-the-Street Bob, Cowboy Bob, Kemo Bob — because his buddy Tonto calls him ‘Kemo-Sabe.’ And every Wednesday, without fail, we get a group of old ladies, 80–90 years old, who’ve all had husbands die of cancer, or who’ve had it themselves, and they just rip this place up.”

You can see, Camille is Peanuts’ Lucy. “The Doctor Is In.” Everybody tells their secrets. And it turns out she has a secret of her own. Well, except that everybody knows. She’s going to have to give up this place she loves. Ronny, who cooked my breakfast, is taking over. “I have cancer, a lymphomic tumor in the aorta. They can’t do much, here anyway. I should really go for treatment at Johns Hopkins, back East. My customers are telling me to go, go. But I’m not sure I want to leave. I just want to have as much fun as possible.”

My gosh. This beautiful, vibrant lady. The phone rings. It’s her mom, worried that she’s not home yet. Hank and I get up.

“Wow,” he says as we take a big gulp of air outside. “So you were saying, you had troubles?”

  • The Place: Jitters Coffee, 8201 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa, 619-460-4800
  • Type of Food: American (salads, sandwiches)
  • Prices: Biscuits and gravy, $3 (half order, $2); breakfast burrito w/two scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, cheddar, $4.95; two eggs scrambled, w/bacon, ham or sausage, toast, $4.95; Flyin’ Hawaiian waffle (with macadamia nut, chocolate, banana syrup, whipped cream), $4.95; chicken walnut salad (with diced chicken, walnuts, celery), $5.95; soups, e.g., chicken and noodle (or rice), chili, clam chowder, $3; big garden veggie sandwich, $4.95; Jitters club sandwich (turkey, ham, bacon, and cheddar), $5.95; chicken breast sandwich with onions, bell pepper, and raspberry vinaigrette, $5.95
  • Hours: 6:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Monday–Friday; 7:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Saturday; 8:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Sunday
  • Buses: 1 (Amaya), 7, 855
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Allison and Spring (1, 7); Palm and Lemon (855)
  • Trolley: Orange Line
  • Nearest Trolley Stop: La Mesa Boulevard at Spring


Editor's note: Jitters closed its doors on April 1, 2011.

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

Previous article

North Park – the prime quartier

30th Street parking, Georgia Street bridge, PSA crash, water tower, North Park Main Street
Next Article

Space Truckin’

Ace Frehley, Travis Barker, Tolan Shaw, Andy Robinson, Thousand Below

“I’ve got troubles,” I say.

I’m trying to explain why I’m half an hour late. “Trolley security. Hauled me off the damned train. Lemon Grove. Must have been 20 of them swarming on board. The one time I forgot to get a ticket. This new system sucks. No more transfers, dude! You have to pay for each leg of the journey. They gave me a warning, but I tell you. That MTS. They’re soaking the poor…”

“You will have troubles,” says Hank, “if we’ve missed lunch. It’s three o’clock already.”

We’re here in La Mesa, outside this little corner place that looks a bit like Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe. “Jitters Coffee.” Has eats, too.

“What I don’t get is, why all the way out here?” I say.

Hank goes all misty. “This used to be the Greyhound Depot, back in the day, when I was a kid. This was how we arrived, when we first came to town. Also, they do a great chicken walnut salad. Six bucks.”

I must admit, it’s a cute little place. Creamy bricky exterior with maroon window frames, a canvas-covered side patio, and, I notice, windows festooned with Scotch-taped pink-ribbon “Walk for Hope” cards for breast cancer.

By coincidence, the sparky, trim-figured lady behind the cash register is wearing red and cream too. Red silk tank top and cream pants.

“Are we too late?” I ask.

She looks toward the little kitchen. “Ronny, Vicki, hold it. We’ve got customers.” She turns back. “What would you like?”

Man, what a smile. But concentrate, I tell myself: there’s a whole blackboard to consider. Sandwiches, soups, salads, waffles, and — well, lookie here now…

“Can I still get breakfast?” I ask.

“Sure,” says the lady.

Hank stands looking up at the blackboard.

“Chicken walnut salad, right?” I say. It’s the first item in “Salads.” Has diced chicken, walnut, and celery, for $5.95.

Does sound good. So while I’m eyeballing the menu, I check out the soups (all $3), like chicken and noodle (or rice), chili, beef and barley. And sandwiches. Most expensive are the $5.95 Jitters Club (turkey, ham, bacon, and cheddar); the turkey, avocado, bacon, and Swiss; and the one that almost drags me away from brekky: chicken breast with onions, bell pepper, and raspberry vinaigrette.

“What’s the most interesting breakfast?” I ask the lady. Name’s Camille.

“I’d say the burrito, or scrambled eggs in a croissant,” she says.

Meanwhile, Hank has decided on the salad sampler ($5.95), a combo of the chicken walnut and the tuna and egg salad. “And I’ll take a big garden veggie sandwich in eight-grain bread,” he says.

Camille looks at him. “Salad’s pretty big. Sure you can handle both?”

“I got Garbage Guts here to process the leftovers,” says Hank.

I see the burrito has two scrambled eggs with bacon, ham, and cheddar. The croissant comes with eggs, bacon, and cheddar. Hmm. Just not into wraps in the morning, or eggy croissants. I order coffee ($1.25) and keep lookin’. All the cooked breakfasts are $4.95 each, except for — and I almost go for this — biscuits and gravy. Three bucks. Two bucks for a half order. Man. That’s hard to resist. And in a way I wish I hadn’t resisted, because the scrambled eggs and sausages and wheat toast that I do order are fine but lack that oozy, sausagey tastiness I can imagine in those biscuits and gravy.

Plus, natch, we all get to talking so much, I leave the danged eggs to go cool and a bit rubbery. My fault. But once I start seriously wolfing, and Hank finds it in his heart to shovel over some of the delicious chicken walnut part of his salad, I’m happy. The piece of avo-zucchini-and-cheese veggie sandwich he rips off for me is pretty darned tasty, too.

We’re sitting in all-wooden chairs with arty coffee cup shapes cut out of the backrests. Camille has local artists’ work strung around the walls. And also interesting teapots shaped like elephants and camels up on display shelves.

“My grandfather brought those back from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia,” she says.

It turns out Camille has only had this place a couple of years. “My sister Sara and my niece had just come back from Hawaii. We were having way too much fun, so my husband bought this business to keep us occupied. And boy, has it done that.”

“You should see us in the morning,” says Vicki. She’s come out of the kitchen with a big mop. “The place is packed. Eighty percent of them are locals, regulars, elderly — La Mesa has a lot of elderly — and if you come in, you’re expected to join the conversation. It gets pretty wild sometimes.”

“We have so many Bobs,” says Camille, “we have to have a name for each one. There’s Pineapple Bob, Across-the-Street Bob, Cowboy Bob, Kemo Bob — because his buddy Tonto calls him ‘Kemo-Sabe.’ And every Wednesday, without fail, we get a group of old ladies, 80–90 years old, who’ve all had husbands die of cancer, or who’ve had it themselves, and they just rip this place up.”

You can see, Camille is Peanuts’ Lucy. “The Doctor Is In.” Everybody tells their secrets. And it turns out she has a secret of her own. Well, except that everybody knows. She’s going to have to give up this place she loves. Ronny, who cooked my breakfast, is taking over. “I have cancer, a lymphomic tumor in the aorta. They can’t do much, here anyway. I should really go for treatment at Johns Hopkins, back East. My customers are telling me to go, go. But I’m not sure I want to leave. I just want to have as much fun as possible.”

My gosh. This beautiful, vibrant lady. The phone rings. It’s her mom, worried that she’s not home yet. Hank and I get up.

“Wow,” he says as we take a big gulp of air outside. “So you were saying, you had troubles?”

  • The Place: Jitters Coffee, 8201 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa, 619-460-4800
  • Type of Food: American (salads, sandwiches)
  • Prices: Biscuits and gravy, $3 (half order, $2); breakfast burrito w/two scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, cheddar, $4.95; two eggs scrambled, w/bacon, ham or sausage, toast, $4.95; Flyin’ Hawaiian waffle (with macadamia nut, chocolate, banana syrup, whipped cream), $4.95; chicken walnut salad (with diced chicken, walnuts, celery), $5.95; soups, e.g., chicken and noodle (or rice), chili, clam chowder, $3; big garden veggie sandwich, $4.95; Jitters club sandwich (turkey, ham, bacon, and cheddar), $5.95; chicken breast sandwich with onions, bell pepper, and raspberry vinaigrette, $5.95
  • Hours: 6:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Monday–Friday; 7:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Saturday; 8:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Sunday
  • Buses: 1 (Amaya), 7, 855
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Allison and Spring (1, 7); Palm and Lemon (855)
  • Trolley: Orange Line
  • Nearest Trolley Stop: La Mesa Boulevard at Spring


Editor's note: Jitters closed its doors on April 1, 2011.

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

The Brigantine and The Embarcadero: A tale of two happy hours

This could be the best experience on the waterfront.
Next Article

Imagine a pedestrian-friendly Kearny Mesa

Hard to consider history in 30-year plan
Comments
1

Helpful Hints

You use transit occasionally be sure to get a day pass. Good all day, and costs about $5.00 bucks. Use transit regularly get a monthly pass. After 'bout ten days the pass has paid for itself, and the rest of the month is basically free. Saves you some money for the cheap eats.

April 30, 2008

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 News — 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