A pastrami sandwich, trying its best to be exciting
  • A pastrami sandwich, trying its best to be exciting
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Cafe Aquamarino

Avenida Paseo Costero 1342, Baja

Waves crashing, rooftop dogs barking, seagulls squawking, the banter between people (mostly in English), music playing in the background, improvised couches, random pillows and cushions, a long wooden table, a bookshelf with a sign that reads “take a book, leave a book,” friendly baristas at the ready to prep your drink or meal…this is the scene entering Cafe Aquamarino.

Cafe Aquamarino

Cafe Aquamarino

Take a book, leave a book

Take a book, leave a book

Breakfast sandwich

Breakfast sandwich

Upstairs lounge and view

Upstairs lounge and view

Sunset picture, a few steps outside the cafe

Sunset picture, a few steps outside the cafe

The cafe sits a mile south of the border, near where the boardwalk of Playas de Tijuana ends. There are many cafes on the boardwalk, but I find Aquamarino to be the coziest. Their menu is simple. There is nothing spectacular about their sandwiches or their desserts, but they are cheap and good. The regular Americano is a strong brew which gives me enjoyable jitters ($1.50 for a large coffee).

They don’t serve breakfast after noon unless you insist upon it. On this particular Monday I got to the cafe at 2 pm, and they refused to sell me a breakfast sandwich. But then someone who may have been the owner showed up and told them to allow my request.

I got a simple panini with scrambled eggs, two slices of bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, and a side of chipotle sauce. They don’t have my go-to breakfast hot sauce (Cholula Salsa Picante). I requested a different salsa, and they brought me a small bowl of homemade tomato-based but not very spicy sauce. The sandwich was nothing special, just a simple cafe sandwich.

The following week I tried to order breakfast at 1 pm, and again they refused to serve breakfast at this hour. But this time the owner wasn’t around. I ordered a pastrami sandwich for $4. Multigrain bread, tomatoes, lettuce, and a lot of mayonnaise (with a side of chipotle sauce). It was neither bad nor good, slightly better than a pre-packaged sandwich you could get from a grocery store.

On this day I was visiting with a vegan friend from Germany. Though they don’t have a vegan dish in the menu, they catered to her eating habits and crafted a portobello salad with garlic fries on the side. Her verdict? “It was okay. It was good.”

One of the best things about the cafe is its location. It has a view of the sun setting behind the southern Coronado Islands. I just wish they served breakfast at any hour of the day.

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