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Desayuno Departures: Until Next Time, San Diego

Yes, you have arrived in San Diego's Golden Hill district, one of three
locations from which Dark Horse Roasters operates
Alas, all vacations must end, and our sun-drenched romp through San Diego reached its invitable conclusion. Without a doubt, we were pleased with how it all came out, as we received our fill of yummy craft beer, lovely ocean shore vistas, and a healthy dose of natural Vitamin D.

However, we didn't want to depart without mentioning our most favorite meal of the day in breakfast and brunch. Typically, this is where we spend most of our going out money back home in Columbus, but it turned out to take a bit of a back seat on this particular jaunt. Not that there weren't worthy places available (one such place, Hash House a Go Go, even offers a touch of the Midwest as an option), but those will have to wait until a more lengthy and more easy-going return back to the area.

With that said, there were plenty of nice little finds on our trip, the first of them residing in the Victorian home-laced neighborhood of Golden Hill.

Originating in San Diego's Normal Heights area in 2013, Dark Horse Roasters has gained a reputation for some of the best third wave coffee in the area, expanding into three city locations and an outlet in the Sierra Nevada town of Truckee, CA. This particular location is the largest of their locations, offering seating both inside and outside their cafe. During warmer days, small-batch ice cream purveyor Bear Hand offers visitors scoops on the premises.

Besides all the typical coffee drinks (all well made - my spouse's pattern on her cortado lasted all the way to the bottom of her cup) and house-roasted beans, this location of Dark Horse is the home of their Skinny Donuts enterprise. These vegan, cakey creations (we ordered a Mimosa and Red Velvet flavored donut) proved to be a perfect start for our San Diego area travels that day.

Our other two visits for breakfast might be prefaced by an ad slogan: "Hello, Moto", as in Cafe Moto, the San Diego coffee roaster who has been in roasting and providing eco-responsible coffee to local residents and businesses since 1998 (for more about their story, check out this Huffington Post article.)  First up of these businesses is the mom-and-pop-styled cafe S3 Coffee Bar.

Opening up in the Grantville neighborhood summer of 2016, S3 Coffee Bar sits in one of those strip malls that would satisfy just about any food-loving person around: Vietnamese, Greek, Japanese, Thai, New York style Pizza and donuts (along with some more familiar chain restos) are available for the visitor's pleasure.

Inside, the ambience is welcoming, with sunny hues and a mishmash of faux mid-modern furnishings. If you were unclear as to what S3 meant, the glowing neon sign on the back wall gives you the message quite clearly: Smell, Sip, Savor. 

S3 is most definitely a family affair, with what seemed to be a mother/daughter combination offering a cheery, welcoming vibe for us and others who dropped by this morning. In general, its relaxed, unpretentious neighborhoody feel reminds me a bit of places like Columbus' Grandview Grind or even Worthington's Highline Coffee.

Food-wise, we went simple with bagels and cream cheese (a variety of baked goods and avocado toast is also available for noshing), so for us the coffee did the talking here. S3 does an appropriately strong Vietnamese Iced Coffee, but the star here was their Rose Honey Latte, with just the right amount of rosewater flavor. It was definitely the most distinctive coffee concoction we've sampled since the Silan (date honey) Latte I had at Aurora's Coffee Place Cafe.

Our final breakfast stop was a little bit more of a sit down affair, as we wanted a bigger meal for the long road trip home. It was also, perhaps, the least likely of the bunch, both in its location (a non-descript business park complex in the northern reaches of San Diego) and its menu of Cajun and Creole favorites

Bud's Louisiana Cafe has its own unique history, featuring an owner who has sold all his previous nine successful restaurants to employees since opening his first one in 1979. Despite the somewhat odd location, the interior of Bud's feels appropriately restaurant like, with appropriately themed New Orleans and Louisiana motifs captured in the framed prints on the walls.

Breakfast items here give a bit of a nod to the dominant cuisine of the area with creations like breakfast burritos, Huevos Rancheros, as more grab-and-go options in Egg Sandwiches. But don't be mistaken: Cajun and Creole standards are present, from the traditional beignets to the burritos themselves (Jambalaya and Andouille & Bean are the options) to what we chose for this meal, my spouse's Breakfast Shrimp & Grits and my own Pork Boudin, featuring Cajun rice and pork sausage sautéed with diced potatoes, topped with two poached eggs. 

Paired up with our cups of nicely brewed Cafe Moto coffees (and in my case, a jalapeno cornbread muffin) these solidly prepared dishes fueled us on our journey away from the abundant sunshine of the area into the slate gray skies and more damp (but healthily) green lands farther north.

(Note: this blog post was inadvertently posted before all social media links had been finalized; all links should now be current and correct.)

Dark Horse Roasters
811 25th St. (Golden Hill Location - Google Maps)
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 344-0500
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S3 Coffee Bar
6171 Mission Gorge Rd, #102  (Google Maps)
San Diego, CA 92120
(619) 693-5333
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Bud's Louisiana Cafe
6171 Mission Gorge Rd, #102  (Google Maps)
San Diego, CA 92120
(858) 573-2837
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