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

Bus stop cheese steak

Oh man. Why am I always late?

Jumped off the Green Line trolley at Fashion Valley this evening. Something wrong with my iPad. Heck, that was a $750 investment. Had to get to the Geniuses at Apple in the mall at 5:40pm. That was the appointment time. Confirmed by email.

Then I was late and the bus got struck in traffic. Had to set back my 5:10 appointment by email by half an hour.

Irony? Now I arrive at the elevated station with fifteen minutes to spare.

I quick march down the steps (four lots of 13 steps. Always count steps), and am just about to head up to the mall when I see this kinda attractive sign saying “Café” right at the base, where the 120 bus pulls in.

So okay, it’s one of those bus stop convenience places. Not even a store. Called the Hot Blend Café (1205 Fashion Valley Road, Mission Valley).

I’m thinking cawfee, so I head for the counter.

See they have a cup of joe for $1.50. But then I see they have food too. Like hot dogs for $2, a pretzel dog for $3.50, a cheeseburger for $3.25.

Heck, fifteen minutes. They also have a Philly cheese steak with chips and soda combo deal for $5.75. I go for that. Ask for a kind of a strawberry mix soda he has, and pay out.

First nice surprise is that price includes tax. So $5.75 means $5.75. On the street, people like it when $5.75 means $5.75.

Second nice surprise is Ray.

None

Turns out he’s Afghan. From Herat. Knows Khaled Waled, the guy who started Zia Gourmet Pizza (3311 Adams Avenue) up in Normal Heights. Khaled’s a really bright, funny guy with interesting Afghan-style pizzas, like cinnamon pear pizza. Oh man.

But two shakes of a lamb’s tail and Ray has everything in front of me. Here it’s all microwave, of course. The Philly cheese steak comes in a hot dog bun. It’s right beside the icy red pop soda drink, the bag of Chester’s Flamin’ Hot Fries, the “chips” I chose.

None

I start to chow in, standing at the end counter. And you know what? Yes it’s prepackaged, pre-cooked, pre-everything, not what Mr. A's would serve, but it’s good. Tasty. The hot beef’s nice and tender, there’s plenty of melted cheese, and Chester wasn’t joking about the flamin’ hot aspect of those fries.

Turns out Ray was back Afghanistan last year.

“Actually, it’s not all as bad as you read,” he says. “The worst thing is kidnapping, if they think you’re rich. But outside most of the cities, life goes on. It’s peaceful. It’s a beautiful country.”

Huh.

I’m chewing over that thought when I look at my watch. Oh no. It's gawn 5:45 already. Done it again. I start running, repeating the Etoinal Question:

Why am I always late?

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

Previous article

San Diego Reader’s Best Of issue 2021

Joshua trees in Mission Beach, Ace Hardware in Hillcrest, the regulars at Liberty Tobacco, the unnecessity of Balboa Park, “We live on the edge of paradise”
Next Article

The dine-in ghost kitchens of Barrio Food Hub

Dozens of virtual brands operate in a single building, and it has a parklet

Oh man. Why am I always late?

Jumped off the Green Line trolley at Fashion Valley this evening. Something wrong with my iPad. Heck, that was a $750 investment. Had to get to the Geniuses at Apple in the mall at 5:40pm. That was the appointment time. Confirmed by email.

Then I was late and the bus got struck in traffic. Had to set back my 5:10 appointment by email by half an hour.

Irony? Now I arrive at the elevated station with fifteen minutes to spare.

I quick march down the steps (four lots of 13 steps. Always count steps), and am just about to head up to the mall when I see this kinda attractive sign saying “Café” right at the base, where the 120 bus pulls in.

So okay, it’s one of those bus stop convenience places. Not even a store. Called the Hot Blend Café (1205 Fashion Valley Road, Mission Valley).

I’m thinking cawfee, so I head for the counter.

See they have a cup of joe for $1.50. But then I see they have food too. Like hot dogs for $2, a pretzel dog for $3.50, a cheeseburger for $3.25.

Heck, fifteen minutes. They also have a Philly cheese steak with chips and soda combo deal for $5.75. I go for that. Ask for a kind of a strawberry mix soda he has, and pay out.

First nice surprise is that price includes tax. So $5.75 means $5.75. On the street, people like it when $5.75 means $5.75.

Second nice surprise is Ray.

None

Turns out he’s Afghan. From Herat. Knows Khaled Waled, the guy who started Zia Gourmet Pizza (3311 Adams Avenue) up in Normal Heights. Khaled’s a really bright, funny guy with interesting Afghan-style pizzas, like cinnamon pear pizza. Oh man.

But two shakes of a lamb’s tail and Ray has everything in front of me. Here it’s all microwave, of course. The Philly cheese steak comes in a hot dog bun. It’s right beside the icy red pop soda drink, the bag of Chester’s Flamin’ Hot Fries, the “chips” I chose.

None

I start to chow in, standing at the end counter. And you know what? Yes it’s prepackaged, pre-cooked, pre-everything, not what Mr. A's would serve, but it’s good. Tasty. The hot beef’s nice and tender, there’s plenty of melted cheese, and Chester wasn’t joking about the flamin’ hot aspect of those fries.

Turns out Ray was back Afghanistan last year.

“Actually, it’s not all as bad as you read,” he says. “The worst thing is kidnapping, if they think you’re rich. But outside most of the cities, life goes on. It’s peaceful. It’s a beautiful country.”

Huh.

I’m chewing over that thought when I look at my watch. Oh no. It's gawn 5:45 already. Done it again. I start running, repeating the Etoinal Question:

Why am I always late?

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