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Ten women founded UCSD’s Cafe Minerva

And ten bucks will more than likely fill your belly

Chipotle chicken rice bowl. More filling than it looks, and super glooper scrunchy.
Chipotle chicken rice bowl. More filling than it looks, and super glooper scrunchy.

Woah. Lotta high-powered people here. Clinking glasses, laughing over-loudly at jokes, standing with a canapé in one hand and a glass of bubbly in the other, leaning forward to catch inside talk about other people. We’re in an engineering building, but the people here are all sorts of academics, celebrating the opening of a cafe developed by women for women to get together and eat, argue, and celebrate their increasing force in this powerhouse called UCSD. Here is where they will meet. Token men allowed, of course, despite history always traditionally being history, heh heh. No herstory. Until now.

This is the Jacobs school of engineering’s 25th anniversary. But it’s all a bit too high-powered for me. One, I’m male; two, engineering? I can screw up a screwdriver. Three, I ain’t got the name-dropping capabilities you’ve gotta have to make it through two hours of unremitting cocktailing at this level. Four, it’s being held in a onetime nondescript corporate cafe that this bunch of high-level academic women have decided to make their own. A place where they can discuss everything from campus politics to the latest movie. A pub, but more female.

Minerva’s opened in the Jacobs building, just in time for its big year.

I’m back a few days later, just to grab a bite of regular food. And I’m glad to see it’s really aimed at students who don’t have a rich auntie to subsidize all their meals. OK, it’s not the cheapest place, but ten bucks should fill your belly here. That’s the word from my friend Diana, who is part of the brilliant group of women who paid for the re-up of what’s now being called Cafe Minerva, after the goddess of wisdom, poetry, music, and, uh, also of war.

It’s in the belly of Franklin Antonio Hall. The good news: anybody can come and eat here. You don’t have to show your PhD at the door. In fact, the baristas, Andre and Antonio, both sing out “Welcome!” as I cruise around the corner and into the breezy, modern space. It’s loosely filled with smart but scrapily noisy aluminum chairs and tables which sit on a balcony that reaches out over — incredibly! — rolling countryside.

I’ve also passed by a plaque honoring the ten women (including Diana) who made this “discussion cafe” happen. They chose this rather than sponsoring something static, like a statue.

I head straight to the wall lunch menu. I remind myself that these campus-type eateries usually have the same types of offerings, from pizza to salads to sandwiches to bowls to wraps. Except here, I know they’ll be more PC, made from healthier ingredients. Oh, and probably more Asian-influenced, a clear sign of the times. Hey, we do live on the Pacific.

Minerva’s patio terrace, on the edge of wilderness.


“Tomato basil soup,” starts off the board. Three-seventy-five for a cup, $5 for a 12-ounce bowl. Same for black bean chili soup with cheese and sour cream. Cheapest salad is the Caesar, $6.50. The most interesting one looks to be the fried chicken salad (with cheddar, romaine, and a honey mustard dressing). Also the blackened chicken Caesar ($10) — or hey, save 50 cents and get a roasted vegetable salad, with roasted zucchini, yellow squash, ’shrooms, onions, bell pepper, feta, mixed greens, and balsamic for $9.50. I mean, all very safe and non-threatening. We’re not eating on the wild side here. Still, we’ve got all the more substantial dishes to come. And to their credit, most of them are in this same $10 price range. Antonio says the first one — the kimchi fried chicken sandwich — is about the most popular dish on the en-tire menu. It comes with Japanese spicy mayo, costs $9.25. Another nice deal is pollo asado burrito with marinated grilled chicken, jack cheese, rice, pico de gallo, and guac in a flour tortilla. Costs $8.75. Or, for $8.50, there’s a tofu banh mi, with lemongrass and ginger marinated grilled chicken, do chua (which is pickled carrots and daikon - Chinese white radish), jalapeño, cilantro, and mayo. The cheapest wrap, of course, is the bean and cheese burrito for $6.50.

Sponsored
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Then they offer a raft of sandwiches (including a BLT for just $6.95). But Andre says you get most bang for your buck with the bowls. “We have a lot of students who always go for the chipotle chicken rice bowl,” says Antonio. “It’s under ten dollars.” Barely: $9.75. “Creamy chipotle Spanish rice with blackened chicken, shredded cheese, corn, scallions, tomato, and cilantro.”

Decision time. Am I hongry? Ha! Who isn’t, after they have spent the last three hours fighting their way out of the eucalyptus forests trying to get around campus? So I start off ordering that bowl of tomato-basil soup with toast. Have to say, delizioso! Squisito! It’s the nicely sharp basil, of course, and the perfectly-done toast. Just hits the spot. Then I ask for the chipotle chicken rice bowl. Gloopy, cheesy, and filling! More than it looks like. Although I somewhat regret not having that fermented cabbage overtone that the kimchi fried chicken sandwich would probably have given out.

Tomato basil soup. $5 buys this bowl, with toast.


Whatever, I’m full. I sit back, look out over the trees. Think about this new eatery. Yes, it’s a variation on a theme, showing an uptick in vegan dishes, plus, natch, chicken, chicken, chicken. (What would we do without the world’s most common bird, which our grandmas and grandpas snatched from the jungles of South-East Asia, 10,000 years ago?)

Because really, most of this is pretty healthy stuff. And Andre and Antonio are fun fellers. They just need to build a little atmosphere in this engineers’ space. In fact, if I were working on my PhD, or even my DhP (Doctor of hyPocrisy?), I could see this becoming one of my go-to places.

The Place: Crafted @ Minerva Cafe, 3180 Voigt Drive, Franklin Antonio Hall, tel (858) 325-9338

Hours: Monday to Friday, 7am-7.15pm;

Prices: Tomato-Basil soup, $3.75 (cup), $5 (bowl); Caesar salad, $6.50; fried chicken salad, $10; blackened chicken Caesar salad, $10; roasted vegetable salad, $9.50; kimchi fried chicken sandwich with Japanese spicy mayo, $9.25; pollo asado burrito with marinated grilled chicken, $8.75; tofu banh mi, (with jalapeño, cilantro and mayo), $8.50; bean and cheese burrito, $6.50; BLT sandwich, $6.95; chipotle chicken rice bowl, $9.75

Bus: campus transit at Voigt and Equality Lane, or walk 10 minutes to UCSD Central Campus Station

Nearest Bus Stop: Voigt at Equality Lane

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Chipotle chicken rice bowl. More filling than it looks, and super glooper scrunchy.
Chipotle chicken rice bowl. More filling than it looks, and super glooper scrunchy.

Woah. Lotta high-powered people here. Clinking glasses, laughing over-loudly at jokes, standing with a canapé in one hand and a glass of bubbly in the other, leaning forward to catch inside talk about other people. We’re in an engineering building, but the people here are all sorts of academics, celebrating the opening of a cafe developed by women for women to get together and eat, argue, and celebrate their increasing force in this powerhouse called UCSD. Here is where they will meet. Token men allowed, of course, despite history always traditionally being history, heh heh. No herstory. Until now.

This is the Jacobs school of engineering’s 25th anniversary. But it’s all a bit too high-powered for me. One, I’m male; two, engineering? I can screw up a screwdriver. Three, I ain’t got the name-dropping capabilities you’ve gotta have to make it through two hours of unremitting cocktailing at this level. Four, it’s being held in a onetime nondescript corporate cafe that this bunch of high-level academic women have decided to make their own. A place where they can discuss everything from campus politics to the latest movie. A pub, but more female.

Minerva’s opened in the Jacobs building, just in time for its big year.

I’m back a few days later, just to grab a bite of regular food. And I’m glad to see it’s really aimed at students who don’t have a rich auntie to subsidize all their meals. OK, it’s not the cheapest place, but ten bucks should fill your belly here. That’s the word from my friend Diana, who is part of the brilliant group of women who paid for the re-up of what’s now being called Cafe Minerva, after the goddess of wisdom, poetry, music, and, uh, also of war.

It’s in the belly of Franklin Antonio Hall. The good news: anybody can come and eat here. You don’t have to show your PhD at the door. In fact, the baristas, Andre and Antonio, both sing out “Welcome!” as I cruise around the corner and into the breezy, modern space. It’s loosely filled with smart but scrapily noisy aluminum chairs and tables which sit on a balcony that reaches out over — incredibly! — rolling countryside.

I’ve also passed by a plaque honoring the ten women (including Diana) who made this “discussion cafe” happen. They chose this rather than sponsoring something static, like a statue.

I head straight to the wall lunch menu. I remind myself that these campus-type eateries usually have the same types of offerings, from pizza to salads to sandwiches to bowls to wraps. Except here, I know they’ll be more PC, made from healthier ingredients. Oh, and probably more Asian-influenced, a clear sign of the times. Hey, we do live on the Pacific.

Minerva’s patio terrace, on the edge of wilderness.


“Tomato basil soup,” starts off the board. Three-seventy-five for a cup, $5 for a 12-ounce bowl. Same for black bean chili soup with cheese and sour cream. Cheapest salad is the Caesar, $6.50. The most interesting one looks to be the fried chicken salad (with cheddar, romaine, and a honey mustard dressing). Also the blackened chicken Caesar ($10) — or hey, save 50 cents and get a roasted vegetable salad, with roasted zucchini, yellow squash, ’shrooms, onions, bell pepper, feta, mixed greens, and balsamic for $9.50. I mean, all very safe and non-threatening. We’re not eating on the wild side here. Still, we’ve got all the more substantial dishes to come. And to their credit, most of them are in this same $10 price range. Antonio says the first one — the kimchi fried chicken sandwich — is about the most popular dish on the en-tire menu. It comes with Japanese spicy mayo, costs $9.25. Another nice deal is pollo asado burrito with marinated grilled chicken, jack cheese, rice, pico de gallo, and guac in a flour tortilla. Costs $8.75. Or, for $8.50, there’s a tofu banh mi, with lemongrass and ginger marinated grilled chicken, do chua (which is pickled carrots and daikon - Chinese white radish), jalapeño, cilantro, and mayo. The cheapest wrap, of course, is the bean and cheese burrito for $6.50.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Then they offer a raft of sandwiches (including a BLT for just $6.95). But Andre says you get most bang for your buck with the bowls. “We have a lot of students who always go for the chipotle chicken rice bowl,” says Antonio. “It’s under ten dollars.” Barely: $9.75. “Creamy chipotle Spanish rice with blackened chicken, shredded cheese, corn, scallions, tomato, and cilantro.”

Decision time. Am I hongry? Ha! Who isn’t, after they have spent the last three hours fighting their way out of the eucalyptus forests trying to get around campus? So I start off ordering that bowl of tomato-basil soup with toast. Have to say, delizioso! Squisito! It’s the nicely sharp basil, of course, and the perfectly-done toast. Just hits the spot. Then I ask for the chipotle chicken rice bowl. Gloopy, cheesy, and filling! More than it looks like. Although I somewhat regret not having that fermented cabbage overtone that the kimchi fried chicken sandwich would probably have given out.

Tomato basil soup. $5 buys this bowl, with toast.


Whatever, I’m full. I sit back, look out over the trees. Think about this new eatery. Yes, it’s a variation on a theme, showing an uptick in vegan dishes, plus, natch, chicken, chicken, chicken. (What would we do without the world’s most common bird, which our grandmas and grandpas snatched from the jungles of South-East Asia, 10,000 years ago?)

Because really, most of this is pretty healthy stuff. And Andre and Antonio are fun fellers. They just need to build a little atmosphere in this engineers’ space. In fact, if I were working on my PhD, or even my DhP (Doctor of hyPocrisy?), I could see this becoming one of my go-to places.

The Place: Crafted @ Minerva Cafe, 3180 Voigt Drive, Franklin Antonio Hall, tel (858) 325-9338

Hours: Monday to Friday, 7am-7.15pm;

Prices: Tomato-Basil soup, $3.75 (cup), $5 (bowl); Caesar salad, $6.50; fried chicken salad, $10; blackened chicken Caesar salad, $10; roasted vegetable salad, $9.50; kimchi fried chicken sandwich with Japanese spicy mayo, $9.25; pollo asado burrito with marinated grilled chicken, $8.75; tofu banh mi, (with jalapeño, cilantro and mayo), $8.50; bean and cheese burrito, $6.50; BLT sandwich, $6.95; chipotle chicken rice bowl, $9.75

Bus: campus transit at Voigt and Equality Lane, or walk 10 minutes to UCSD Central Campus Station

Nearest Bus Stop: Voigt at Equality Lane

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