Published on October 29th, 2012 | by Daniella Renee2
Breakfast Tamales & Blackberry Pancakes @ Coffee Cup Cafe – La Jolla
Coffee Cup Cafe/Mission Coffee Cup – La Jolla Review
Coffee Cup Cafe (referred to as Mission Coffee Cup by many) belongs to the family of restaurants helmed by chef/restaurateur Isabel Cruz. Cruz’s vision takes the richness of Latin and Asian influences and reinterprets dishes in a manner which is simple, healthy and delicious without sacrificing flavor or depth. Food is a celebration for Cruz, something which acts as a centering communal glue. These values are reflected by the colorfully homey restaurant interior. The music is relatively loud, too loud for the small space and constantly refilling tables. You can expect a wait if you go during peak breakfast/brunch hours.
Breakfast happens to be one of my favorite meals, a preference I attribute to helping my father as a child. Batter splatters became baby button pancakes which quickly became my morning snack. Bacon sizzled cheerily in the microwave and eggs were scrambled and liberally doused with salt on the stovetop. My mother always cautioned me to have some protein with my butter laden pancakes, a suggestion I took to heart. Nowadays, if I find that I’m unwilling to choose between pancakes (or a similarly sugar-charged dish) and a protein packed entrée, I order and finish both.
Perusing the menu at Coffee Cup Cafe, I quickly determined I would carry on the fine tradition of Two Breakfasts, One Daniella. The menu options are manifold enough to allow for variety but not so prolific as to induce analysis paralysis. Gargantuan menus are a pet peeve of mine. I much prefer establishments which specialize rather than attempt to be all plates to all palates.
- Blackberry Pancakes: despite being presented as an entrée, this can serve as a lovely appetizer or dessert (bearing in mind that my appetite is unusually large, perhaps an appetizer or dessert for two people). The three pancakes were a delightful balance of fluffiness and substance, the flavor mellow. It’s worth noting that aside from the pancakes and a few hot chocolate options, the Coffee Cup Cafe does not offer sugary plates.
- Breakfast Tamales with added grilled chicken: an almost 100% win! While your initial impression may be one of “I can make this at home” (remember Cruz’s philosophy: simple, healthy dishes), the execution of this offering is spot on. Jack cheese deceptively dots the black beans, not revealing until the moment of fork scoopage that its roots go deep, leaving gooey dairy delight in its wake. Use caution: it gets deliciously messy. I found myself escorting each bite to my mouth with a napkin and then wiping my face down afterwards. The tomatillo sauce has a spunky kick and pairs beautifully with the subtle sweetness of the corn tamales. One tamale had an end that was a tad overcooked but overall, the moisture and texture were perfection throughout. The only gripe? The grilled chicken was dry and flavorless, a sting made all the more painful by the fact the chicken was an optional and additional expense. This dish is substantial enough on its own that there’s no need to take a chance with the add-ons.
Located off the main drag of downtown La Jolla, be sure to take note of the parking signs which smoothly shift from 2 hour to 1 hour limits on some blocks. It bears noting that while the service at Coffee Cup Cafe was friendly and fast and the restaurant cheery, the music volume, a dirty knife in a dining companion’s flatware and a very persistent fly (or pair of flies) brought the dining experience down a few notches.
Coffee Cup Cafe
1109 Wall Street
La Jolla, CA 92037