Sheldon's Service Station on La Mesa Blvd. is a cafe built at the site of an old gas station.
When La Mesa held its Oktoberfest in early October, a running topic of conversation was whether the city is the next North Park or the next Little Italy.
La Mesa is a great city to live in but, unlike those hipper neighborhoods, there really hasn't been much of a reason for people to visit who don’t have business or relatives in the area.
However, things have been changing since the Cohn restaurant group opened two spots in the city’s village area, Bo-Beau and Coin Haus.
Now, La Mesa native Aaron Dean is ambitiously opening up four restaurants in the next 18 months.
8401 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa
The results look very promising based on Dean's first venture, Sheldon’s Service Station, which opened just a couple weeks ago after a soft opening for Oktoberfest.
Sheldon’s is an outdoor cafe built on the site of a former gas station. Currently open for breakfast and lunch, there are plans to serve dinner starting in November.
There are a lot of items worth eating in the meantime.
For breakfast, we tried the latkes, which were served with a vegan crème fraîche, a cinnamony apple and pear compote, and scattered scallions ($9). The key to the dish was the compote, the sweetness of which blended well with the slight sourness of the crème fraîche.
We also tried two forms of avocado toast, a sort-of Sheldon’s house specialty.
The Za’atar avocado toast has a dollop of Greek yogurt, slivers of watermelon radish and a soft boiled egg on multigrain bread.
The za’atar ($9) has a dollop of Greek yogurt, slivers of watermelon radish, and a soft-boiled egg on multigrain bread. It gets its name from za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend containing thyme, oregano, and marjoram, among other herbs.
The toast could have been a little crispier, but the avocado was creamy, the egg was nice and runny, and it was hearty but not a gut-busting way to start the day.
The Milanese-style avocado toast has arugula, burrata cheese and tomatoes with some drizzled balsamic syrup.
The Milanese version ($13) had arugula, burrata cheese, and tomatoes with some drizzled balsamic syrup. This was slightly sweeter than the za’atar and the burrata cheese played well with the avocado.
Each plate comes with two slices. In the future, I hope they offer a half-and-half option.
The Quinoa Salad at Sheldon's Service Station features roast butternut squash, dried cranberries, green beans, pepitas and pomegranate seeds.
They do lunch well at Sheldon’s. The quinoa salad ($11) features roast butternut squash, dried cranberries, green beans, pepitas, and pomegranate seeds. Quinoa, like rice, has little flavor on its own, but it’s a good carrier. The salad is unique in that there is no dressing — the sweetness of the cranberries and pomegranate seeds do most of the heavy lifting in that regard. It works well, if you plan to make sure each bite doesn’t just have quinoa. It’s a good healthy lunch.
The BLAT sandwich ($9.50) is a flavor bomb: Thick slices of bacon along with lettuce, avocado, and a sun-dried tomato spread. It is perfect for those of us who can’t get enough bacon in their BLT.
The Albacore-Egg salad has lettuce and tomato and is served on multigrain bread.
I am a big fan of the albacore egg salad ($9.50), which comes with arugula and tomato. The tuna and eggs are mixed together. It might sound strange but the tuna adds a nice spot of brininess and saltiness to the eggs. It pairs well with the multigrain bread.
Dean is planning to open BLVD Noodles down the street by the start of November, and a 30,000-square-foot brewery and music spot on Fletcher Parkway shortly after that.
It’s a lot to do, but the high quality of food at Sheldon’s and the way he has made it fit into the local landscape makes me optimistic.