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.
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.