Pepe’s $ 12 Chili Cheese Dog is perhaps the best value.
” Whore ! »Says Kevin. “I just spent $ 4000 on a filtration system that produces alkaline water. I lived here in Carlsbad for three years and never knew these guys were here.
He’s talking about this building that looks like it was torn from a medieval village and planted in paradise. The look mimics the 12th-century houses in Karlsbad, the original Czech spa town that gave our Carlsbad its name. Why? Because of the water that gushes out from below us. “Since 1882” says a sign praising the artesian well. The water is hailed as a “therapeutic Eden in a glass”. Because yes, it is also a world famous spa. Before Covid, people came to relieve their ailments by bathing in the alkaline baths of this well, which collects water from the depths of the Cleveland National Forest near Palomar Mountain. “It takes about 9,500 years for water to make its way through the substrate to our artesian wells just one block from the Pacific Ocean,” the website explains. Wow.
Carlsbad’s founding father, the discoverer of water John Frazier, 1883.
Right now, people are lining up next to the dispensing taps of a pointy-roofed water kiosk. So Kevin and I grab a few bottles (at about a dollar a gallon!), Take a few sips. “Anti-oxidant,” he says, “sodium free. Nothing added.
“Alright, but what about the gubbins?” ” I say.
” Say why ? “
“Food. Slop. Food! I’m hungry, mate! It’s almost three!”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asks. We get into his car.
“Hey! What about that?” Kevin said, a minute later. We are a few blocks south. He points to a British veddy phone booth. Red. There is a building behind, painted yellow, with river stone walls at ground level. And a sign on a black awning, “Daily News Cafe”.
“There was a newspaper and magazine stand here. People took a piece of paper and headed for the cafe. Every morning, rain or shine. Guess the covid killed him.
“Covid and a little thing called the Internet,” I reply.
Keeper of Water, Manuel Castro-Bean knows history.
A minute later, we enter a collection of restaurants, shops, boutiques. Clever but settled. Lots of fancy people. Like Jackson, a guy we talk to. He has a serious cowboy hat. “Star of the West Hat Co.,” he says when I ask. “Black Hills, Rapid City, South Dakota. Beaver skin, $ 400.
Me, I already sweat the prices of food here, even though the Daily News Cafe looks like an all day breakfast type place.
And that’s what it turns out to be. A sedentary place with somewhat expected All-American menu items, but with a sense of humor too. Like, the breakfast section is titled “The Early Edition”.
The cheapest is probably the $ 6 granola, followed by the $ 7 oatmeal, just behind the “Breakfast Parfait” (fruit, yogurt and granola) at $ 8. And, only a dollar more, cookies and gravy for $ 9.
It’s on the cup: the 31-year history of DNC.
“No, come on, let’s be serious,” Kevin said. “I want a man’s breakfast.” The guy is an ex-Marine. He scarves his meals faster than a python swallows a pig. Among the dozens of “omnipotent omelets”, one stands out: the “King Neptune” offers a tasty combo of lobster, crab, shrimp and jack cheese. But it costs $ 17.
“Extra! Extra! Eat it all!” Screams the mini-headline for the breakfast burrito ($ 13 with scrambled eggs, bacon, jack, cheddar and potatoes or frijoles). The jokes are linked. “Regular Egg-stra”, for two eggs (“almost”) any style for $ 12. “Hot from the press!” (Waffles, natch.) Fruit waffle including apple cinnamon – nice touch – costs $ 10. Not bad, dealwise. And “Crepe Crusaders” (“Wholly Breakfast, Batman!”) Includes crab and shrimp pancakes with scrambled eggs and hollandaise sauce for $ 15.
“Think I’ll get this,” Kevin said, “and come on, man. Let’s eat ! They are about to close in on us!
Nice mess: the huevos rancheros de Norte.
From aaagh. I have to stay cool under the pressure.
Fortunately, that’s when I spot one of the best deals on the entire menu. The title is “Man Bites Dog – and love it!” This is a “real big all beef hot dog”. Costs $ 9, with fries. But they also make “Pepe’s Chili Cheese Dog,” with so much “homemade chili, cheese and onions,” that it “wipes out” the hot dog and promises “a hearty meal” for $ 12. You also have fries here.
So that’s what I’m going for. I guess my plate gets more bang for the buck than Kevin’s pancakes, but he seems satisfied. Then I look away from her plate for a minute and that’s ancient history. My hot dog is big, but you have to fight to find it under the chili lava flow.
And yet, if you can believe it, the next morning we are back in Carlsbad. We walked into another restaurant in the same group, Norte, created by a family member who runs Fidel’s, the 1960s dining institution still present in the hills behind Solana beach. It is famous for the crowd of Del Mar who always seem to hang out there, celebrating or drowning sorrows after a day of racing.
Norte is the new kid. It started here in 1976, almost yesterday. It has one of those traditional Mexican layouts, winding through many colorful nooks and crannies. This time Kevin is going for a big mess of Huevos Rancheros ($ 15.55) and I get a shrimp-stuffed corn tortilla taco ($ 7.70). The huevos Looks good, a lot of them in Kevin’s foil take out container. (They seem to avoid using real plates here.) But my shrimp taco is a bomb. So glad we came back. The shrimp, garlic and thick corn tortillas fit together perfectly. Kevin tastes his eggs, Spanish rice, frijoles, onions, strips of peppers, baked tomatoes. Basic, but fundamentally attractive. In our search for new variations, sometimes we forget how good the originals are.
Kevin gets us started quickly. A fresh wind passes. “I’m thinking of taking a shopping trip to the Black Hills,” he says. “I need some of that beaver skin.”
- The place: Daily News Cafe, 3001 Carlsbad Boulevard, Carlsbad, 760-729-1023
- Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day (until 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday)
- Prices: Granola, $ 6; oatmeal, $ 7; “Perfect breakfast” (fruit, yogurt, granola, $ 8; cookies and sauce $ 9; King Neptune omelet (lobster, crab, shrimp, $ 17; breakfast burrito, $ 13; fruit waffle, $ 10; crab, shrimp pancakes, scrambled eggs, hollandaise), $ 15; all-beef hot dog, fries, $ 9; Pepe’s Chili Cheese Dog, $ 12
- Bus: 101
- Nearest bus stop: Boulevard Carlsbad to Avenue des Pins