Shakshuka, za’atar. Labneh (yogurt) still to be poured over.
It’s green, with golden wounds spilling poached yolks down over roasted, herbed tomato halves and onto a huge side of toasted sourdough bread. You think Croque Madame.
1134 Orange Avenue, San Diego
I have to ask. “What is this again?”
“This,” announces Ari, one of the servers, “is our Benedict.”
“Have you tried it?” I ask the couple at the next table, outside here on the street.
“Absolutely,” says the man.
“Absolutely,” says the woman. “But then, we’re the owner’s parents, so you can’t really rely on us.”
They point to the younger lady running the counter. Carol.
Carol. Only healthy food here. It’s her mission
Have to say: this new show in town is making a splash. Fresh red, white, and green chairs outside. Also, signs covering half the window. “Flock Here!” “Birds of a Feather!” “Tweet Tweet!” “Let’s Meet at the Parakeet.”
This is where I am, the brand-new Parakeet Cafe, here on Orange Avenue, Coronado. Just opened. Used to be Cafe 1134, which was a First Wave coffee place: light-meal, work-as-long-as-you-like, much beloved.
Turns out this is the fourth Parakeet Cafe to open in four years. They’re already in La Jolla, Little Italy, and One Paseo in Del Mar. And they’re all the brainchild of Carol Roizen, this lady owner in the Flame boots who’s setting up a coffee for me. Costs $2.75 with refills, which is a relief. Because if coffee prices are good, the rest can’t be that bad.
Dang. Didn’t spot a “wellness latte” in time. It has items like activated charcoal and homemade lavender honey mixed in. Costs a reasonable $5.
First good news is they do breakfast all day. Second is, though it tends to nuts and twigs, it looks like it’s done in an interesting way, if not the cheapest. An açaí bowl with granola and fruit costs $13; a cacao waffle is $13; “overnight oats,” with “chia pudding,” flaxseed, nuts, and fruit preserves is $9; organic greens with scrambled eggs is $13; and shakshuka (“shaken” in Tunisian dialect), which they say is an ancient Mediterranean dish of poached eggs with za’atar spice mix, labneh (a kind of stiff yogurt), and grilled bread, is $14. You can get it paleo or keto.
They have a whole section of toasts, like avo with seeds and raw veggies ($12), or salmon ($13), or almond butter with “homemade fruit preserves and fresh berries,” each for $11. Also, pretty interesting-looking soups (all $9) such as “Pho-Shroom,” a “detox mushroom broth” with udon (wheat flour noodles) and sesame seeds. Or the tortilla soup with nopales and spinach.
So yeah, it’s starting to become plain. These people want you healthy. The idea must be working, because hey, four places in four years (and turns out they also bought a juice bar further along Orange Avenue, and are taking over the next-door Lamb’s Players Theater’s not-often-open cafe to make it into a juice bar too).
Parakeet’s answer to wobble - 3-legged tables! Your coffee’s safe, at last.
No surprise that the salads are super good for you: the Raw Kale has arugula, watercress, hemp, grapefruit, on top of avo and the regular items like zucchini. Costs $12, but if you want to sacrifice a chicken, it’ll be $19. Farro Salad has interesting things like roasted yams, spinach, almonds, apples, and fennel ($14, $21 with chicken).
Under “Big Plates,” the wild salmon burger is $18. The “surfer burrito” is basically eggs, potatoes and a “chorizo” that’s actually a mash-up of walnuts, onions, garlic and chipotle. Costs $13.
This Benny has no ham, but tons of flavor.
But I want brekky. Starved, because this is around one o’clock, and I have been on a ZFD (Zero Food Diet) since I got up this morning. I’m really tempted by the chilaquiles (baked tortillas, salsa, feta, guac, plus two organic over-easy eggs, $15). But then I spot this green Benedict.
“You won’t regret it,” says Ari.
And you know what? I don’t. First I slice open the two perfectly poached eggs and let them bleed out over the roasted tomatoes, avocado slices, and what turns out to be a spinach pesto on the bottom, overlaid by a lighter green hollandaise sauce with poblano. They ooze all over the roasted tomatoes and the perfectly toasted sourdough bread brought in from Bread & Cie, Carol says. It all makes for a slightly sweet, but also savory collection of breakfast flavors. The bread is thick, crackly on the outside, but in no way tough.
Ari brings out a (free) coffee refill, and all’s well with the world. Carol comes by to check on her latest new customers. I ask about the health theme I see in the menu. “My baby daughter contracted LCH — Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis — a rare childhood cancer,” she says.”We got her through it finally. She’s now 14 and perfectly healthy. But it made me realize what unhealthy things we put into our bodies. I started researching food, and decided to do something about it. Our restaurants only serve real food, made on the spot. Not processed. And juices at the two Parakeet juiceries here in town. We press our own juice. It’s a kind of offering to the community.”
And I do see most stuff on the menu is organic and local.
The Eggs Benny fills me nicely. Even without ham, the taste was plenty interesting either way.
Bonus: they serve wine and beer here too.
I get up, then notice something small, but really great. Hey hey! Three-legged tables. No wonder I didn’t have any coffee-spilling wobbles. (Check the physics: a 3-legged table can’t wobble.) That settles it: I’ll be back for a shakshuka and a glass of rosé, just in time for sunset.
- The Place: Parakeet Cafe, 1134 Orange Avenue, Coronado (also in La Jolla, Little Italy, One Paseo), 619-675-0104
- Hours: 7am-7pm daily
- Prices: Açaí bowl, $13; cacao waffle, $13; “overnight oats,” with “chia pudding,” $9; organic greens, scrambled eggs, $13; shakshuka, $14; avocado toast, $12; salmon toast, $13; almond butter toast, preserves, berries, $11; Pho-Shroom soup, $9; tortilla soup, nopales, spinach, $9; wild salmon burger, $18; surfer burrito with “chorizo” (walnuts, onions, garlic, chipotle), $13; chilaquiles, two eggs, $15; eggs Benedict, $14
- Buses: 901, 904
- Nearest Bus Stops: 10th and Orange