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About Café 21 - University Heights

2736 Adams Ave.
San Diego, CA 92116
View Larger Map

Cafe21 is a full service eatery - try our always savory, homemade dishes created with fresh, organic produce from local farms. Or cool down after a long day with our farm-to-bar, refreshing infused drinks made with organic vodka. We provide our home made bread sandwiches, fresh organic salads, hearty breakfasts, and wide selection of organic coffees, teas, and much more. Our heart and soul is invested into creating the most satisfying dishes from the finest ingredients straight from the earth.
Stop by and taste what Mother Nature is stirring in our kitchen.

Dining Style:
Casual Elegant

Cuisines:
International, Global, International

Hours of Operation:
Breakfast: Tuesday - Saturday: 8:00am - 4:00pm; Sunday 8am-3pm
Lunch: Tuesday - Saturday: 8am - 4:00pm; Sunday 8am-3pm
Dinner: Tuesday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm, Friday, Saturday 5am-10pm

Cross Street:
Idaho

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(619) 640-2121

Website:
http://www.cafe-21.com/

Catering:
We're a family-owned restaurant bringing you tasty catering for events, corporate affairs, and much more. We provide our customers with great food and fabulous service. So whether you need catering service for a family reunion or you're looking for corporate caterers, Cafe 21 is ready to serve you. Call today to learn more about our mouth-watering menu and our top-quality service!

Executive Chef:
Chef Leyla

Additional:
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cafe, Counter Seating, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access

Restaurant Photos

Short rib cast iron omelet
Dutch Pancake
Fresh Squeezed Apple Ju
Bloody Mary
Strawberry toast
Veggie Cakes
Lamb Omelette
Coffee
Salmon
Chicken Curry Cakes
Veggie Omelette
Turkey Crepe
Banana Walnut Pancakes
Shrimp With spaghetti Squash
Cauliflower Au Grautin
Procciutto Tomato Cheese Omlette
Prosciutto Omelette
Chicken Crepes
Short Rib Omelette
Rosemary Roasted Lamb Sandwich (with apricot, swiss cheese and tomato)
Azeri Style Toast
Lamb Sausage Omelet
Salmon Diamonds Omelet
Spinach and Feta Omelette
Filet Mignon Omelet
Mixed Garden  Herb Omelette With Fresh Fruit
Chicken Pesto Omelette
Cheese Board
Small Artisan Cheese Board
Fresh-squeezed Orange Juice
Chicken Pesto Sandwich
Shrimp And Corn Cake With Poached Eggs
Spicy Monte Cristo
Fruit Plate
Rassmosa
Tiramisu Pancakes
Strawberry Crepes
Spicy Monte Cristo With Mixed Greens
Prociutto Tomato Cheese Omlette
Eggplant Flatbread
Skirt Steak Salad
Red Snapper
Layered Honey Cake
Green Apricot Tea
Turkey Apple Swiss Sandwich
Honey Cake
Baked Grape Salad
Cherried Fig Flatbread
Lamb Pasta
Fruit
Grilled Pineapple with Coconut Ice Cream
Proscuitto Signature Flatbread
Short Stack Pancakes
New York Steak
Lentil Soup
Dutch Pancake (half)
Turkey Sausage Omelette
House Cured Salmon Board
Italian Sausage Omelette
Strawberry Stuffed French Toast
Prosciutto with sweet melon
Potato Chips
Strawberry Banana French Toast
Stuffed French Toast W/ Fresh Strawberries
Lamb Shank
Strawberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Brunch
Short rib sandwich
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cafe 21

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on December 30, 2015

always a wonderful place to go, great food and ambience -- the service was a little slower this time

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience5
service3
value5

Cozy neighborhood spot

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on December 12, 2015

My husband and I love this place. I'm vegetarian, he's not, and it's such a pleasure for both of us to have so much to choose from. The service is attentive without being cloying, and the drink options are creative. My only complaint is that the dining area is so small -- Cafe 21 is a victim of its own success, it's so crowded. But well worth it. We'll definitely go back.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic
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food5
ambience4
service5

Good and yet....

 
 (Minneapolis)
·Dined on November 21, 2015

The food was excellent and though the servers were super friendly and accommodating, our food took FOREVER to arrive. We actually couldn't eat and had to take it to go because we had to make a show. We had allowed 2 hours and it wasn't enough...

Give yourself PLENTY of time and don't be in a hurry to get anywhere if you are going for dinner.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience3
service2

Love love this place

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on November 15, 2015

Everything is very good and usually excellent. I have never had complaints. It is a great neighborhood place...go there often and try new thing...some appeal to me more than others but you will not get anything less than Very good!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Hot Spot, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic, Special Occasion
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food4
ambience5
service5

The food, service and hospitality were e ...

 
 (Orange County)
·Dined on November 7, 2015

The food, service and hospitality were exceptional. The staff were all attentive to our experience. They were friendly and chatty but not intrusive. The food is what brought us in and it was everything we hoped for. No leftovers to take with us but only because the servings were just the right size to stuff ourselves comfortably. The only interference with a perfect evening and dining experience was the diner next to us who spoke too loudly for such an intimate patio. we ended up moving inside. Yes, we will be back!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Special Occasion
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food4
ambience4
service5

Fantastic as always

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on November 3, 2015

A regular restaurant for us and always top notch - brilliant in every way - we will keep going back again and again :)

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List
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food5
ambience5
service5

Very unique and delicious menu. Place wa ...

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on October 24, 2015

Very unique and delicious menu. Place was busy but service was great and we never felt rushed to finish so our table could be turned over. We went for dinner and will definitely go back but we also want to try their brunch. Very nice find in university heights.

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food5
ambience5
service5

Perfect for a date night like it was for ...

 
 (Washington DC)
·Dined on October 15, 2015

Perfect for a date night like it was for us. And great with friend for brunch like we did a few days before. I've only lived in San Diego 4 days and have been there twice. I see going there many more times

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food5
ambience5
service5

Excellent Every Time

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on October 14, 2015

What a superb little restaurant. Friendly talented staff, excellent food and nice one list. Love it!!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List
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food5
ambience5
service5

Excellent in all respects

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on September 28, 2015

Fantastic neighborhood gem - excellent food, wine and service.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience5
service5

what a find!

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on September 23, 2015

It is thrilling to discover a new restaurant that delivers like this one does! What a great place with great service, delicious food, innovative menu, it has everything but enough space! I wouldn't be surprised to see the restaurant expand in the near future if their success continues. Congratulations on a terrific place!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience4
service5

Interesting Delicious Food

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on September 13, 2015

I always enjoy Cafe 21.... Breakfast, brunch and dinner. Great service and food, an interesting ambiance in a quiet part of University/Normal Heights.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience5
service4

Delicious unique food

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on August 17, 2015

Cafe 21 has a wide selection of teas. They have unique delicious food from tapas to breakfast lunch and dinner. Their desserts are savory and the atmosphere is desirable. They have happy hour dishes and drinks until 5 PM s must try. Their eggplant and avocado fries are to die for.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience4
service4

Mediocre at best

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on August 6, 2015

My husband and I dined here recently, as it is near another place that we normally frequent and wanted to try a new place. I have to say I cannot understand why people like this place. The service was poor throughout the meal, and I really wonder why the waiter is still employed there. The food was so so. The salad was beyond bad. It was literally a bag of lettuce dumped on a large plate with minuscule amounts of beet and avocado. The dressing (if that is what you call it) was bland and watery. The stuffed flatbreads were tasty, but quite greasy. The scallops were of good size, yet sauce was unremarkable. Atmosphere is claustrophobic and noisy. For a $100 dollar meal we felt ripped off.

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food2
ambience2
service1

From Uzbekistan to You with Love

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on July 30, 2015

Once upon a time, Cafe 21 captured my heart and tastebuds at their original 2100 Block of Adams Avenue location. Was it the chef 's extraordinary delicious soups? Yes. The luscious fresh strawberry salad that accompanied the hearty and artfully constructed sandwiches? Yes. Her breakthrough innovative tea diffuser? Yes. The always welcoming face of the chef's business partner/husband? Yes. Lucky for me, they moved their restaurant up Adams even closer to my home. I have eaten at every restaurant/eatery on Adams Avenue in the past two years, and Cafe 21 continues to be my Number One. This wonderful Uzbekistani couple have grown their business, with two Gaslamp locations, but I continue to nestle in at the cozy original. Just try to stop eating the scallops served with a lemon curry sauce reminiscent of bearnnaise, every mouthful a treat and punctuated with country fingerling potatoes. Which country? Why Uzbekistan, of course, served with love, as are all the best foods we ever eat.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Hot Spot, Kid-friendly, Neighborhood Gem, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5

Yum!

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on July 20, 2015

On a rainy day we walked to this local neighborhood restaurant for dinner. I had only been here for brunch /lunch but now we were trying the dinner menu. We had an amazing meal ! We ordered from both the Happy Hour tapas menu and the main menu. There were choices to satisfy meat eaters and vegetarians. From short ribs on potato pancake to spinach crepes to pear and greens salad and more! Everyone kept ordering until the table was covered with wonderful tasty treats! There was a variety of beer and wine too. We had individual fruit cobblers for dessert and walked away completely satisfied discussing when we would come back to try different dishes.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience4
service5

Alittle below expectations

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on July 16, 2015

This was probably our 7th or 8th visit over 2-3 years. Maybe because it was a Wednesday night, but there was only one server working. The food tasted OK but wasn't as delicious as previous visits. My $31 grass-fed steak was a thin cut (about 1 centimeter) and the blue-cheese polenta upon which it was served was a little too strong for my taste. The steak was perfectly cooked. We enjoyed the roasted brussels sprouts appetizer and we like how the menu responds to seasonal food availability. My husband ordered the kabob plate and said it was not quite as good as the last time. Our server was friendly but because of possible understaffing, we waited a little longer than expected for more wine to be poured and our check. We'll go back again but if we experience another such meal, sadly that probably will be our last visit. At $100+ for two people, yes, we are picky. Parking can be tricky on Friday and Saturday nights and for Sunday brunch.

Tags: Great for Brunch, Neighborhood Gem
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food3
ambience4
service3

Great happy hour

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on July 12, 2015

The $5 tapas (21 options) during happy hour are must. We had the curry chicken cake (like a crab cake but with curried shredded chicken) and avocado fries. Both were delicious. Service was slow (forgetting to bring over things like cups or menus after starting she would), but friendly regardless. The meat is all local and grass fed, so we love that. The cobbler for dessert was a good portion with ice cream on the side -- easily large enough to share. We'll definitely be back.

Tags: Fit for Foodies
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food5
ambience5
service3

fair

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on July 11, 2015

The food was good, not great. the waiter was good the kitchen was slow for ordering just salads. This was my go to place for a food adventure but with so many other great places to eat here, this is off my list. I wonder if because of their downtown location has this location not been focused on?? What a shame...

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic
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food3
ambience4
service2

Extremely poor service, but excellent food.

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on July 3, 2015

We were seated at the time of our reservation, but we we're greeted for at least 15 minutes. She took our drink order and said she would bring us glasses for our water bottle that was at the table. About 10 minutes after that, we asked again for the water glasses, which finally came after that. Then she finally took our food order. At this point we had been sitting for 35 minutes. Our drinks finally came, which we were done with by the time the food came. The food was very very good, and the drinks were good, however, the wait was painfully long. We were disappointed that they never acknowledged the extra long wait or apologized. Overall we were there about an hour and a half, but only were eating for a third of that.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Hot Spot, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience2
service1

Amazing

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on June 27, 2015

My husband and son went for dinner. we love the relaxed feel of this place. It feels like home. the waiters and waitresses are very nice and always asking if we needed anything. We sat in the back right corner, it was a booth with benches and pillows. Very comfortable. we will be back.

I had the Shrimp spaghetti squash with veggies. Very Good. My favorite dish. then we all shared the Chocolate Cake. It came in a little cast iron skillet. Very Cute. Service was well-timed and friendly, wines were affordable."

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Kid-friendly, Notable Wine List, Romantic, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Great food, sloooowwww service

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on June 20, 2015

We went to Cafe 21 last week. We had a reservation and did get seated within a few minutes. The food was good. The drinks were interesting in a good way. The service was really slow. My husband ordered a beer and it took a solid 15 minutes for him to get it. It took well over 1/2 an hour to get our appetizers. I'd go back, hoping the slow service was an anomaly and would be better the second time. The bacon wrapped dates were amazing!

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food4
ambience3
service3

good food, slow service

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on April 29, 2015

Flavors are unique, love the mixed fries, but service is always slow, so don't expect quick meal

Tags: Great for Brunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic
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food4
ambience4
service3

Perfect for special intimate occasions

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on February 13, 2015

We love coming here for creative flavorful sangrias and meals -- plenty of desirable options for omnivores and vegetarians alike.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5

Great breakfast neighborhood spot!

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on February 4, 2015

I've been trying to get to Cafe 21 for months, but it's always slammed on the weekends for brunch. Finally made it there during the week. Amazing breakfast! Probably the best omelette I've had in San Diego! I highly recommend the Chicken Pesto and the Shrimp. I would say this dish is easily sharable for two people who aren't starving. It was pretty big! The place was cute and we had no issues with parking. I wish they took reservations on the weekends. I would go back more often!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience3
service4

It used to be so much better...

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on January 28, 2015

When Cafe 21 on Adams was the only restaurant they operated, the food and service was far better. Much more love and care in the food, plus the service was what you'd expect from a neighborhood spot.

After opening the location in the Gaslamp, the food/service at both have suffered. It used to be our go-to spot for taking friends for something different when they had the single location. Now, I'm not sure i f we'd go back to either one.

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food3
ambience2
service3

My favorite restaurant in University Heights.

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on January 24, 2015

Excellent food, excellent service, dog friendly! I always enjoy meals here.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience5
service5

Great spot

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on January 20, 2015

I love this place. Every time I have gone the food has been great and the servers have been friendly and helpful. This feels like the perfect night out with my husband.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic
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food5
ambience5
service5

Horrible

 
 (Sacramento)
·Dined on January 1, 2015

Slow service, took 20 minutes to get an empty glass for the wine we had brought. Way over priced for horrible food, couldn't even eat my steak. Never again!

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food1
ambience1
service1

One of my favorite places!

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on December 29, 2014

Cafe 21 is a great place to dine. Food is always good. I love getting their Sangria. The atmosphere is wonderful. Adam has done a great job decorating the restaurant. The outdoor patio area is so cute as well as the inside. Presentation of the meals is always awesome. It's one of my favorite places to go.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Late-night Find, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5

SUPERB FOOD!

 
 (Palm Springs)
·Dined on December 12, 2014

Whoever is doing the cooking knows what he or she is doing. This was my third time at this location of Cafe 21 for dinner and the friends I've brought along are now also hooked. The lamb, stuffed chicken, the whole sea bass, the beet tartare, flourless chocolate cake with pot of ice cream, wines--everything is OUTSTANDING. A friend who tried the lamb shank said it was like eating lamb for the first time. This from a man who has traveled to and spent time in many countries and eaten at wonderful places around the world. Please don't ever get rid of the people you have working in the kitchen. Thank you!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Neighborhood Gem, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5

Dinner with friends

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on November 22, 2014

This is a cozy spot to spend a nice dinner catching up with a friend. I would have given it five stars if the service was a little faster. Having an empty wine glass is not good. But the food is fantastic and we will be back.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Neighborhood Gem, Special Occasion
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food4
ambience4
service4

Amazing and wonderful -- have never had ...

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on November 13, 2014

Amazing and wonderful -- have never had anything but a great meal here

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience4
service5

Organic food with Canola Oil?

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on October 26, 2014

My first experience was great! There is a great selection of gluten free, organic, local options including organic wine options. The brussel sprouts and avocado/eggplant fries were delicious. The next time I went, we had 4 different people serving us and our 'main' server was not very attentive and was rude. The food was still great but when we requested olive oil for our salad, the server told us they don't have olive oil...only canola blend. I was thankful he was honest about it but I was really disappointed that they are using GMO Canola oil in a place that offers and prides in their 'organic' food!! I was very disappointed and will not be going back!

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Romantic
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food3
ambience5
service3

Wonderful,intimate, comfortable. Great f ...

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on October 7, 2014

Wonderful,intimate, comfortable. Great food. Interesting menu. Attentive staff.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Kid-friendly, Late-night Find, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic, Special Occasion
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food4
ambience5
service4

Delicious food and awesome service!

vip
 (San Diego)
·Dined on October 6, 2014

There were 4 of us and we truly enjoyed the food and the service. The Kebabs, flat breads and salads where all very good. They could use nicer tables on the patio.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience4
service5

Great food. The service drops off when t ...

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on October 4, 2014

Great food. The service drops off when the restaurant fills up.

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food5
ambience3
service3

Excellent place!

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on October 2, 2014

The food? AMAZING! Very unique menu and very friendly to modern diets (gluten free, low carb, vegitarian, etc). Great drinks, good beer and wine selection, and very friendly service! You need to go!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Hot Spot, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List, Romantic, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service4

Exceeds Expectations

 
 (Houston)
·Dined on September 27, 2014

The concierge at Westin Gaslamp recommended this restaurant along with Monsoon (Indian food). I went to Monsoon the night before I went to Cafe 21, now that is an F for failing to meet any expectations, food was horrible so I hesitated about Cafe 21, does the concierge actually know these restaurants? Well, Cafe 21 looked busy so I decided to give it a try. I ordered a drink with peach puree and alcohol (can't recall the name), it was really tasty with a slight hint of sweetness, just the right touch. I shared the appetizer crepes and had their beef short ribs as main course. All were seasoned extremely well and cooked just right. A chef that actually controlled the saltiness of the dish, my hats off to you. I am a cook myself.

Tags: Fit for Foodies
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food5
ambience4
service5

Love this place! The food is awesome. Lo ...

 
 (San Diego)
·Dined on September 25, 2014

Love this place! The food is awesome. Love that it is farm to table and the atmosphere is great.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic
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food3
ambience5
service5

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