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I stopped in for lunch at the original Zanzibar Cafe in Pacific Beach. There are two more locations now, one Downtown and the other at the UCSD Loft, but the PB shop has the benefit of being near the beach to set it apart from the others.

My initial impressions of Zanzibar Cafe was that the food and decor had nothing whatsoever to do with an East African archipelago, and that it was nevertheless beautifully decorated.

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The place had fresh flowers, great lighting, cozy banquettes, compelling art on the walls, and a wonderfully shaded patio. The atmosphere inside Zanzibar was far and away its most attractive feature. It's not an overstatement to say that the cafe was decorated with the care befitting a charming, full-service bistro.

Additionally, the wine and beer list seemed excessive for a sandwich and coffee shop; but this was one instance where too much of a good thing was perfectly fine. There were plenty of good glasses of wine and craft beer in bottles, should one feel so inclined.

The food, on the other hand, fell short of the promise made by the decor. A smoked chicken sandwich was assembled a bit carelessly with the toppings unevenly distributed and the roll burnt around the edges.

The one bright spot was a rather beguiling vinaigrette on the side salad which had been added, seemingly as an afterthought.

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On the whole, Zanzibar's sandwich and salad menu seemed uninspired and mildly overpriced. Lunch items for $8-$11 would have felt justified at about fifty to sixty percent of that cost, but as it was the choices seemed too mundane to get excited over.

To end on a bright note, I can say that Zanzibar's cute atmosphere, good drink selections, espresso bar, and pastry case might lend the restaurant credibility as a pre- or post-dinner stop.

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Zanzibar Cafe
978 Garnet Avenue
858-272-4762
Sun-Thur 7AM-8:30PM
Friday & Saturday 7AM-10PM

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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
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