"That’s what we call him, ‘the Egg Nazi,’” Ron jokes. We’re sitting at the bench table by the window. Outside, customers glug their morning coffees, looking out across La Jolla Boulevard.
6780 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla
Ron’s talking about Vahik, the owner of this nearly-in–La Jolla café. ’Course he’s tying Vahik in with the Seinfeld character, the Soup Nazi, the guy who bossed everyone in his soup store. But he’s kidding. Vahik? He’s been part of their surfing lives for so long, first when he had his coffee kiosk, and now, when he’s taken over the Windansea Café and made it his own: Café Vahik.
He’s the guy with the flying hands behind the high counter.
This is my first time here. But, yes, I noticed Vahik was organizing everybody, from the guys and gals working for him to the customers.
“We love him,” says Ron. “He’s created this place.”
“He feeds the whole neighborhood here,” says a surfer-looking guy getting his coffee at the coffee station.
Talk about luck: I came here because I was staring out of the window of the number 30 bus and spotted the elevated patio, the buzz of people around this bright yellow canopy. Oh, and I noticed the banner that was hanging in front: “3 Eggs, 3 Bacon Strips, $6.”
Huh? In La Jolla? Ain’t that unheard of?
So I leapt out of the bus and backtracked to this corner of La Jolla Boulevard at Playa del Norte and headed up the steps. A dog was straining on his leash to lap some water from a bowl. “Portuguese water dog,” says the lady on the other end of the leash.
“Can this be true?” I ask.
“Certainly,” she says. “The president has the same kind of dog.”
“No,” I say. “I’m talking about this ‘Six-dollar bacon and egg’ sign.”
“Oh, absolutely,” she says. “Everybody comes here for the bacon and eggs.”
Okay. That’s it. I climb the steps and head under the yellow canopy and inside.
First thing you notice is the smoky french-blue walls. Second thing is the left side. It’s completely plastered with big surfing photos. A couple of guys seem to be sticking them up.
I sit down where somebody left an empty Bai Antioxidant Cocofusion water bottle. So La Jolla.
“Do they have a menu?” I ask the two surfing-photo guys. Now they’re sitting down at the same long table as me. Ron and Buz.
“You have to go up,” says Ron.
So I’m standing at the counter when I realize: no music. Just the sound of someone whisking up a bunch of eggs for an omelette. I ask Vahik for a menu. “It’s on the wall,” he says. Oh, yeah.
There’s a lot of bagels (most around $5.75), salads between $8 and $10. Like, the “eggsotic salad” has spring mix, three eggs, cucumber, tomato, truffle salt, and a citrus vinaigrette for $8.95. Then a whole column of panini sandwiches, mostly $7.75.
But I’m looking for that three-bacon, three-egg, six-buck deal, right? Then, aha: “Omelettes & Eggs” section. California omelette (turkey, bacon, avo, tomato, provolone) goes for $9. Veggie omelette (eggplant, tomato, mushroom, feta) is $8, spinach omelette is $7. Then, last, and least in price, “bacon and eggs, 3 eggs, 3 pieces of bacon and toast, $6.”
I ask Vahik for that, with eggs over-easy. Hand over the six bucks, plus $2.25 for a medium coffee (refills — any size — are $1), and pretty soon I’m sitting down with a plate of three eggs, three strips of bacon, and two pieces of toast. No frills, but plenty. And the bacon is thick, crispy curly stuff. A splot of Yucateco hot sauce on the eggs helps.
And when I look around, everybody seems to be having the same as me.
Turns out Vahik is originally Armenian, from Iran. “I ran a coffee kiosk just up the road for eight years,” he says. “Now I have taken over this place. And that will soon be my mobile kebab business.” He points across La Jolla Boulevard to a large van. “A Vahik-ular version?” I say (heh-heh) and retreat to my table spot.
Two things I notice as I eat and kinda join the conversations around me. Everybody knows each other. Lots of mwa-mwa air-kissing going on. And everyone’s a surfer or an artist or both. This photo exhibition is all of Buz’s work, from the ’70s thru the ’90s. He took pics everywhere he surfed. Looks like that was everywhere.
“He’s also a kind of legendary contractor,” says Ron while Buz is over adjusting one of his photos. “He has built and remodeled about 200 or 250 houses here in La Jolla, the Barber Tract.”
Buz certainly has deep roots here. “In 1941, La Jolla was a collection of little beach cottages. Nothing more. My grandmother bought her cottage, right on the beach, for $1100. The Japanese had just invaded Pearl Harbor. Everybody thought we were going to be the next Pearl Harbor. So nobody wanted to live on the beach. But by 1948 it was worth $11,000. Last valuation? It was $1.3 million.”
I get something to take back to Carla. Plate of ceviche that Ron recommends. Costs $8, comes with tomato chunks, other veggies, and four big chunks of avocado on top. Strong.
Rangy guy comes in, orders, yes, the $6 bacon and eggs. Sits down, spreads out a bunch of photos. Points to a shot of a racehorse on the ground. Small group huddling. “Canon 600 lens,” he tells Ron and Buz, as to fellow-pros. “Injured. They put him down. Killed him for the insurance. The horses they race are dying from the pressure, the drugs, the whippings.”
Wow. Wish I had a go-to place like this. This is a regular little salon. And all thanks to Vahik, the beloved Egg Nazi.
6780 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla
Hours: 6 a.m.–5 p.m. daily (till 4 p.m. Sunday)
Prices: The Shack bagel (egg, turkey or ham, swiss cheese, tomato) $5.50; California omelette (turkey, bacon, avo., tomato, provolone), $9; veggie omelette (eggplant, tomato, mushroom, feta), $8; spinach omelette, $7; bacon and eggs (3 eggs, 3 pieces of bacon, toast), $6; Eggsotic salad (spring mix, three eggs, cucumber, tomato, truffle salt, citrus vinaigrette), $8.95; “Ham Diegan” sandwich (ham, apricot mayo, lettuce, tomato, swiss), $7.75; yellowtail sandwich (garlic-sautéed yellowtail with lettuce, avocado, wasabi mayo), $9
Nearest bus stop: La Jolla Boulevard at Bonair Street