4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Swayed by Palmys in Pacific Beach

A new health-conscious cafe in a handsome old house

A new garden tradition: Conical lamps add exotic atmosphere to outside tables
A new garden tradition: Conical lamps add exotic atmosphere to outside tables

You look at Palmys and you straightway think Dunedin, Queenstown, Raglan.

All those pubs are named after Kiwi hometowns. They have sprung up around ’Diego these last few years, and now here’s this new one: Palmys. Although actually, they say it’s an Aussie who created this pub, and that the name comes from Palm Beach, Australia. But still, I’d say we’re talking Kiwi vibe. Maybe it’s just me?

Place

Palmys Cafe

976 Felspar Street, San Diego

Coming here is my neighbor Kevin’s idea. He drives us in his Toyota. We hop across Felspar at Cass, and head towards an old white house sprawling under Chinese Elm trees and jacarandas. Wow. This is one big old rambling house! What I like is that they have tables and benches strewn out among the trees and also ’neath the shade of the porches.

Mike takes out a Breakfast Sando ($13). Not cheapest, but really good ingredients

Palmys is new but old. The owners took over the property about three months ago. But the house? This year, 2021, it turned 100. A hundred years old! We’re talking one of Pacific Beach’s original homes. I see they have photos of this place, taken back when it was just about the only building on the whole empty plain that was PB. The pic shows three people relaxing beneath a sign that reads, “Smith’s Bungalow Inn.”

And yet as we climb the genteel rock and rope stairs past bushels of greenery to the front door, the fresh white paint makes it feel like it was built maybe ten years ago. One or two scholars sit laptopping at tables on the veranda. Other tables host informal meetings. And a guy in a Canadian red check shirt is carrying out a delicious-looking plate of piled toast and bacon, cheese, fried egg, tomato and oozing green avo, just right for a winter’s day (he says it’s the Breakfast Sando, $13), plus a plate with a burrito, angle-cut in half (The “Breaky Burrito” comes with “soft scrambled egg, bacon or soyrizo, avo, cheddar, caramelized onion, tater tots.” Costs $11.50). His name’s Mike. One of the owners. He sits down to chat with Katelyn, one of his regulars. “I come because the food here is healthy,” she says.

So you order at the counter inside. D’uh, a little later in the day, we’d be talking big choice here, because breakfast and lunch would both be on the menu. Disgustingly healthy items like the chimichurri bowl (with cauliflower rice, slaw, avo, plus salmon, steak, chicken or falafel, for $14.50) or the Palmys Burger, for $13.50. Or, also for $13.50, either the Good Girl or Bad Girl Chicken Sandwich or Wrap or Bowl. The difference between Good and Bad? All I can see is a choice of a falafel fritter instead of chicken breast. Whatever, it’s academic right now. Around nine in the morning, we’re still brekky only. And we’re talking around 14 bucks per “favorite” dish. Not the cheapest. The Surfer’s Breakfast ($14.50) — basically eggs, bacon (or soyrizo), shrooms, goat cheese, on grilled sourdough — is top of the list. “But so is the ‘Lil Gordo’ ($12),” says Mike. Huh. “Little Fatty.” Potato bun with fried egg, bacon, cheddar cheese, sriracha aioli and tater tots.

“Yeah!” says Kevin. “That’s me.” 

Regular customer Katelyn with owner Mike. Historic PB on wall behind.

I’m not surprised at his choice. Kevin has the basically healthy but conservative tastes of the surfer community. Unpretentious and maybe a little bit unimaginative. I mean, these are all fine choices, like the whole grain pancakes with a fruit compote ($15). Just somehow not overly daring, not overly mouth-watering for my taste buds. But hush my mouth. Kevin has downs his brekky in a New York minute. Loves the cheesy potato bun. Mind you, the guy is trained to Gulp and Go. Is an ex-Marine. (“Marine,” he growls. “No such thing as an ex-Marine.”)

To me, it looks as if the most daring dish out there for breakfast is the Superfreak Bowl. Vegetarian. Lots of warmed-up grainy and leafy stuff like quinoa and arugula, with maitake mushroom, goat cheese, ooh, crispy shallots, pepita (pumpkin) seeds, hummus, the herb zaatar, and a fried egg. Except, dang! I wish we had more time, ’cause after I order, I spot lots of different (and cheaper) toast dishes, like the prosciutto ($12), the Not Your Standard Avocado Toast ($11, with watermelon radish, pickled fresno chili, pepita seed, and, for $2 more, an egg). Or, hey, PB toast, with peanut butter, banana, honey hemp seed, and cacao dust ($10).

“You’re going to need some of these,” says Kevin, and shovels across some of his tater tots. Must say, I’m grateful, even though I do kinda like the umami of the quinoa and the warmed-up freshness of the arugula, plus the luxury of the homemade hummus. But this is a vegetarian fantasy, and yes, despite plenty of taste, you still kinda feel like you’re eating tarted-up nuts and twigs.

Neighbor Kevin, happy camper after disposing of Breaky Burrito ($11.50) in cafe garden

My, uh, beef with places which concentrate on keeping animal stuff out of their dishes has always been that in keeping stuff out, they sometimes don’t think enough about what to put in. The main ingredients here — arugula, hummus, quinoa — leave me still looking for something to get my taste buds into. I recognize that vegetarian tastes have their own appeal, and I don’t think vegetarian chefs should imitate meat just to pander to desperate carnivores. But…  What I do appreciate is that these folks are trying to offer food that’s popular and healthy. That’s a hard tightrope to walk.

The other thing: Palmys really is Aussie, not Kiwi. But what the heck? It’s part of this new tradition that seems to be spreading through San Diego, of old houses that have become pubs in the Australasian tradition of homes-away-from-home, places like the aforementioned Queenstown, Dunedin, or Raglan, where the question never comes up: “Your place or mine?”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Where is San Diego's local news going now?

Times of San Diego, Voice of San Diego, Union-Tribune, San Diego Community Newspaper Group, O.B. Rag
Next Article

I-15 mimics L.A traffic, when there were quail in Bonita

The 805 coming north out of South Bay, offbeat San Diego, a real California moment in local painting, dangerous spots to live
A new garden tradition: Conical lamps add exotic atmosphere to outside tables
A new garden tradition: Conical lamps add exotic atmosphere to outside tables

You look at Palmys and you straightway think Dunedin, Queenstown, Raglan.

All those pubs are named after Kiwi hometowns. They have sprung up around ’Diego these last few years, and now here’s this new one: Palmys. Although actually, they say it’s an Aussie who created this pub, and that the name comes from Palm Beach, Australia. But still, I’d say we’re talking Kiwi vibe. Maybe it’s just me?

Place

Palmys Cafe

976 Felspar Street, San Diego

Coming here is my neighbor Kevin’s idea. He drives us in his Toyota. We hop across Felspar at Cass, and head towards an old white house sprawling under Chinese Elm trees and jacarandas. Wow. This is one big old rambling house! What I like is that they have tables and benches strewn out among the trees and also ’neath the shade of the porches.

Mike takes out a Breakfast Sando ($13). Not cheapest, but really good ingredients

Palmys is new but old. The owners took over the property about three months ago. But the house? This year, 2021, it turned 100. A hundred years old! We’re talking one of Pacific Beach’s original homes. I see they have photos of this place, taken back when it was just about the only building on the whole empty plain that was PB. The pic shows three people relaxing beneath a sign that reads, “Smith’s Bungalow Inn.”

And yet as we climb the genteel rock and rope stairs past bushels of greenery to the front door, the fresh white paint makes it feel like it was built maybe ten years ago. One or two scholars sit laptopping at tables on the veranda. Other tables host informal meetings. And a guy in a Canadian red check shirt is carrying out a delicious-looking plate of piled toast and bacon, cheese, fried egg, tomato and oozing green avo, just right for a winter’s day (he says it’s the Breakfast Sando, $13), plus a plate with a burrito, angle-cut in half (The “Breaky Burrito” comes with “soft scrambled egg, bacon or soyrizo, avo, cheddar, caramelized onion, tater tots.” Costs $11.50). His name’s Mike. One of the owners. He sits down to chat with Katelyn, one of his regulars. “I come because the food here is healthy,” she says.

So you order at the counter inside. D’uh, a little later in the day, we’d be talking big choice here, because breakfast and lunch would both be on the menu. Disgustingly healthy items like the chimichurri bowl (with cauliflower rice, slaw, avo, plus salmon, steak, chicken or falafel, for $14.50) or the Palmys Burger, for $13.50. Or, also for $13.50, either the Good Girl or Bad Girl Chicken Sandwich or Wrap or Bowl. The difference between Good and Bad? All I can see is a choice of a falafel fritter instead of chicken breast. Whatever, it’s academic right now. Around nine in the morning, we’re still brekky only. And we’re talking around 14 bucks per “favorite” dish. Not the cheapest. The Surfer’s Breakfast ($14.50) — basically eggs, bacon (or soyrizo), shrooms, goat cheese, on grilled sourdough — is top of the list. “But so is the ‘Lil Gordo’ ($12),” says Mike. Huh. “Little Fatty.” Potato bun with fried egg, bacon, cheddar cheese, sriracha aioli and tater tots.

“Yeah!” says Kevin. “That’s me.” 

Regular customer Katelyn with owner Mike. Historic PB on wall behind.

I’m not surprised at his choice. Kevin has the basically healthy but conservative tastes of the surfer community. Unpretentious and maybe a little bit unimaginative. I mean, these are all fine choices, like the whole grain pancakes with a fruit compote ($15). Just somehow not overly daring, not overly mouth-watering for my taste buds. But hush my mouth. Kevin has downs his brekky in a New York minute. Loves the cheesy potato bun. Mind you, the guy is trained to Gulp and Go. Is an ex-Marine. (“Marine,” he growls. “No such thing as an ex-Marine.”)

To me, it looks as if the most daring dish out there for breakfast is the Superfreak Bowl. Vegetarian. Lots of warmed-up grainy and leafy stuff like quinoa and arugula, with maitake mushroom, goat cheese, ooh, crispy shallots, pepita (pumpkin) seeds, hummus, the herb zaatar, and a fried egg. Except, dang! I wish we had more time, ’cause after I order, I spot lots of different (and cheaper) toast dishes, like the prosciutto ($12), the Not Your Standard Avocado Toast ($11, with watermelon radish, pickled fresno chili, pepita seed, and, for $2 more, an egg). Or, hey, PB toast, with peanut butter, banana, honey hemp seed, and cacao dust ($10).

“You’re going to need some of these,” says Kevin, and shovels across some of his tater tots. Must say, I’m grateful, even though I do kinda like the umami of the quinoa and the warmed-up freshness of the arugula, plus the luxury of the homemade hummus. But this is a vegetarian fantasy, and yes, despite plenty of taste, you still kinda feel like you’re eating tarted-up nuts and twigs.

Neighbor Kevin, happy camper after disposing of Breaky Burrito ($11.50) in cafe garden

My, uh, beef with places which concentrate on keeping animal stuff out of their dishes has always been that in keeping stuff out, they sometimes don’t think enough about what to put in. The main ingredients here — arugula, hummus, quinoa — leave me still looking for something to get my taste buds into. I recognize that vegetarian tastes have their own appeal, and I don’t think vegetarian chefs should imitate meat just to pander to desperate carnivores. But…  What I do appreciate is that these folks are trying to offer food that’s popular and healthy. That’s a hard tightrope to walk.

The other thing: Palmys really is Aussie, not Kiwi. But what the heck? It’s part of this new tradition that seems to be spreading through San Diego, of old houses that have become pubs in the Australasian tradition of homes-away-from-home, places like the aforementioned Queenstown, Dunedin, or Raglan, where the question never comes up: “Your place or mine?”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

A romantic triptych

Joy Womack: the White Swan, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Next Article

Ae Southammavong levels up on Next Level Chef

And then “a year later, you’re standing around talking casually — well, not casually — with Gordon Ramsay.”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close