After my dinner last year at Cafe21, I really wanted to come back and try their popular brunch. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to make my way over again because Cafe21 is now my favorite brunch spot in San Diego (slightly edging out Snooze).

What I really love about this place is that there are so many items I would recommend, whereas I normally only have one or two favorites at all my other brunch spots.

Alcohol is often a big part of a brunch menu but the Cafe21 booze options are particularly enticing. We love their sangrias, but on one of the visits, the Bloody Mary cocktails caught my attention.

The Bloody Mary’s are packed with so many ingredients, it’s like a meal in itself. We saw several people who ordered the prosciutto Blood Mary and while that was tempting, I chose this one:

Prawn Star Blood Mary

This was a gigantic concoction and caught the attention of all the neighboring tables around us. I was thrilled. The Bloody Mary glass itself dwarfed in comparison to the large prawn. This was a fun drink to try. The Bloody Mary was tasty though did have any shrimp elements in it. The prawn was simply steamed. I probably should have asked for some cocktail sauce to go with it.

Sangria Flight

Cafe21 is also known for their Sangrias, which line the wall of the entrance. We can never choose just one flavor, so we like getting the flight, which lets you sample all six.

Filet Mignon Omelet

I think I make a pretty mean omelet so I tend to be critical of the omelets served at brunches and rarely order them. I chose to try the ones here because they are served in cast iron skillets. I enjoyed mine tremendously. The eggs are super fluffy. This version was stuffed with chunks of tender filet mignon, goat cheese, peppers. It’s not a traditional omelet since the ingredients aren’t folded inside, but it still worked for me.

The omelets are accompanied with their house made bread and one side of your choice. I highly recommend that you choose the potato pancake.

I enjoyed the fresh crunchy bread, but what I really really loved was the potato pancake.

The potato pancake is like how you remember your McDonald’s hash brown to taste from your childhood, but now all grown up. Shredded potatoes mixed with cheese and black pepper is browned and crisped on the outside, leaving the inside soft and creamy. Love love love.

Lamb Sausage Omelet

There are so many omelet options that I couldn’t seem to stray away from them. On my last trip I chose the lamb one. While I enjoyed this one, the puddled oil beneath the lamb sausage was a little unappetizing to look at. Next time I want to try the scallop version.

Chicken Crepes

Cafe21’s crepes are pretty popular, though I didn’t particularly like the one we tried. The crepes were sweet, making this sweet and savory combination a little weird. I don’t really like sweet and salty together. I did like the crepes themselves, just not mixed with the chicken.

Chicken Curry Cakes

We really loved this one as well and I love how pretty the chicken cakes are. The curry chicken is mixed with celery, onions, etc and remind me of a chicken curry salad sandwich. It’s served with a saffron cream sauce and poached eggs. My one complaint is that the eggs were cooked all the way through. I would have loved it if they kept the egg yolks runny.

We’ve had such a great time here and there’s so much more of the menu to explore. We haven’t yet tried the sweet offerings or the sandwiches.

The service here is great too. The manager has as much energy as a classroom full of children. He was very hands on, manning the waitlist, constantly checking on all the customers. During the busy Sunday, he was even pouring out complimentary ginger beer mimosas as an apology for the long wait.

All our visits have been to the downtown location. They don’t take reservations for brunch unfortunately, but we didn’t have too long of a wait on a Saturday. The Sunday wait is a bit longer. Brunch is served from 8am to 4pm. I wouldn’t recommend going too late though because they might run out of your favorites. You can view the brunch menu here.

750 Fifth Ave,
San Diego, CA 92101
Cafe 21 on Urbanspoon

12 comments on “Cafe21”

  1. this looks GREAT! so glad to read about it so i can go visit soon for a meal!!

  2. OMG. I just looked at their brunch menu and it looks amazing. Gone are the days of Original Pancake House and McD. I couldn’t find their drink menu – how much was that prawn bloody mary??!! That is one crazy presentation – I wonder if you can have them fry the prawn ‘salt and pepper’ style 🙂

  3. I’m loving all your brunch reviews! I just turned 21 so I have been on the lookout for places with good food and even better drinks 😀 I will definitely have to check this place out. I’m excited about the Sangria. Thank you!

    • Ah, congrats on turning 21! Now you can take full advantage of brunch. haha. I love brunch though I don’t go as often as I would like. Recently I’ve been on a brunch kick though and have been going almost every weekend somewhere.

  4. The cast iron skillet omelets look so puffy and delicious!

  5. You have to try Cafe Chloe!  It is my favorite lil gem in San Diego in East Village.

  6. Hello! My name is Ana Maldonado and I am high school senior interested in culinary arts and food in general,  from Northern California. I have been keeping up with your blog for quite some time  and I love it! It always makes me hungry and makes me want to road trip down to San Diego just for the food! Everything looks delicious. I will definitely have to make it down soon and check this place out because it looks amazing. Thanks for sharing.

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