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Heading for the Cruise Terminal to take a cruise to Mexico…

Sigh. Kidding.

But I was down there at the bottom of Broadway when I thought I’d get me a li’l coffee to keep me going.

Right next to the ferry landing, there’s this Bay Café (1050 North Harbor Drive, 619-595-1083) jutting out on stilts over the water. It’s where all the tourists go to put something on their gut before they head out to sea on their cruise. Their, uh, harbor cruise.

I’m just inside when I spot this little chalkboard. “Special: ½ Caesar, ½ Soup Day, $7.50.”

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So I order the joe. It’s $2.25. Not the cheapest, but okay, we’re in tourist land.

Then – the biting cool breeze? – I can’t resist the idea of a nice piping hot soup.

Order the special.

And here’s the thing. The guy, John, says today’s soup is roasted red pepper and smoked gouda. Wow. Sounds classy. I was expecting a bowl of Campbell’s tomato at best.

But no, when he brings it it’s this red, cheesy, rich bowl...

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...with a really good aroma, a big (for a half-order) splat of Caesar salad beside it, and two nicely crisp-but-tender, hot bread sticks to dunk in the soup.

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John Rockford, Manager at Bay Cafe

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And the clincher here is the pontoon down the ramp outside. It's next to the souvenir shop in the Mississippi riverboat knock-off.

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They have tables down there that put you right on the water, with the harbor cruise boats honking and turning around and waters lapping. If you can handle the seagulls (they’ll stare you down), it’s a little treat all on its own.

So yeah, touristy? Sure, but you have to get down here with the water by your tootsies and the salt air to realize this is your bay too.

We need to reclaim it, one soup at a time.

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