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The Naked Cafe

I’m always listening to the sage advice of friends, regarding food that is, with a biased ear. I have been too dissapointed at times with the lack of true culinary prowess that some might have. Perhaps I have been spoiled, or, I actually have a sense of what is good versus what is evil, or I’m completely out of my mind. Whatever the case may be, I was skeptical when I was told I would find good food next to a Quizno’s and a Verizon outlet in a nondescript shopping center.

Let me start by saying we were going to go to Veg N Out in North Park for a square meal, but curiosity got the best of us and we were going to go do our grocery shopping at a nearby Trader Joes anyway. So off we went in search of healthy and cheap delights. We came upon The Naked Cafe on the corner of Midway and Rosecrans, tucked away next to a Core Power Yoga gym. Walking up I read the specials board and noticed a Sriracha chicken quesadilla, and figured my mind had been made up due to a life long love affair with the zesty chili paste.

After some musical tables, we settled on a number by the window. This place is a bit stark on decoration, but let me hit the finer points. There are basic bistro tables and aluminum chairs that offer no excitement, but sturdy eating areas and a bamboo plant to offer some scenery. The walls are lined with bamboo on the lower two thirds and speckled with photographed tropical seascapes on the above portion. The patio had four tables and they did a decent job of surrounding that area with potted palms, giving the diner the possibilty of feeling like they are not in a suburban strip mall. This brought to mind mine and my girlfriend’s obsessions with all things tiki from somewhere in our dark pasts. 3 points, as we learned something new about eachother that we had in common.

We were quickly greeted and ordered a coke and a passion fruit iced-tea. The tea was nice and refreshing with a subtle bit of the fruit lingering on the tongue. I was perplexed, though, by the fact that we were served in ,notably, Greenware cups instead of glasses that they could have washed rather than throwing into the composter or recycler. This after reading a note, paper-clipped to the menu, that they request you “bring your own take home containers to avoid unnecessary waste”. I did notice that they offer french press coffee, which is wonderful, but seemed a bit too panache for this eatery.

We ordered our lunches and took another look around. The menu was full of seemingly healthy and delicious meat and vegggie options. They serve breakfast and lunch only, between the hours of 7:30 and 2:30, seven days a week. They also have two other locations in, one in Solana Beach and the other in Carlsbad. One of the breakfast items that seemed worth a shot on the next visit was the Green and Red Pagoda, which reads “Rosemary toast with pesto, soy sausage, 2 over med. eggs, avocado, artichoke hearts and sundried tomato served with mixed baby greens” for only $10.50.

I noticed that they bake their own breads; whole grain, rosemary and coconut. That is always a good sign. Our lunches arrived, Rachel’s was an artichoke, tomato and avocado sandwich with whole grain bread, lettuce, sprouts, cucumber, tomato and mayonnaise. We both agreed that the bread was abit on the sweet side and debated over the type of sweetener involved. I voted for honey, she for standard sugar. Regardless, it did not accent the sandwich as it should have, being too sweet to mate up well with the pickled quality of the artichokes. Her soup of the day was bellpepper and corn. It was very fresh tasting with a southwestern appeal. I received my quesadilla and got an extra side of the mango salsa and the siracha chili. I upgraded my salad for $2.00 to one with candied walnuts, sundried tomatos and artichokes, a good move. The quesadilla definitely needed the extra sauces, the mango and the siracha together were like dynamite! Both Rachel’s salad and my own were embarrasingly underdressed, not to mention some of the red leaf lettuce had some questionable mold spots or some form of deterioration going on. My plate was rounded out by some savory black beans that were well cooked and tasty.

I felt sorry for the gentleman seated next to us who clearly said that his meal tasted okay, but that the rice was too undercooked for his liking and the server made no move to solve this dilemma, only shrugged her shoulders and apologized. I also noted twice a wonderfully filled bowl of goodies which I assumed from the menu was the wok brown rice with vegetables. I might try that if I return.

Honestly, this is a cute little shop in a neighborhood I don’t frequent, but the quality of the food and the no frills approach are great for lunch hour meals. This beats a burger from McDonald’s any day, both in nutrition and flavor. But there still was no draw for a return visit from yours truly. Mybe when there is a long wait at the Verizon store next door, you might bop in for some take-out, but don’t forget to bring your own tupperware, or suffer the wrath of the teenage wait staff who are quite nice but reticently docile.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-226-7869
  • Name: The Naked Cafe
  • Address: 3555 Rosecrans Street, Ste. 109