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“Surprisingly Disappointing”
Review of Cafe 21 Gaslamp

Cafe 21 Gaslamp
Ranked #144 of 5,163 Restaurants in San Diego
Price range: US$30 - US$30
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Neighborhood: Gaslamp
Cross street: 5th Avenue between G and F
Description: As one of the most innovative restaurants in San Diego, we are committed to sustainability and true farm-to-table restaurant experience, we work with the best ingredients from locally grown produce, hormone-free grass fed meat, wild seafood, and antibiotic free Mary’s chicken. With an eclectic and unique menu offering, we accommodate all dietary restrictions ranging from gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan. We like to say that it is always happy hour at Cafe 21. We’re serving up brunch, dinner and a complete line of craft cocktails every day of the week. With the best Happy Hour in downtown San Diego running daily from 3 PM to 6 PM to our nightly live local music, an unforgettable experience awaits you at Cafe 21!
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

We were walking around looking for something different and this place kept coming up as a place to try. We saw people waiting outside to get a seat and figured, that's a good sign.

We didn't wait long for a seat and it's quite nice inside. Not too loud which made it easy to have a conversation. Our server greeted us rather quickly and took drink orders. The "bread & jam" on the menu caught my attention and thought this would be something good to start with and ordered that along with the drinks.

Everything on the menu looked amazing and we were having a hard time choosing what to eat. We ordered the strawberry crepe, but asked if we could substitute banana for the strawberries. This seemed to be difficult for our server to understand but ultimately, he agreed to ask and see if it could be done. It was a while before we ordered our food and by this time we still had not received our drinks or the bread/jam.

The drinks came; I had iced tea which comes freshly brewed and you pour over ice. I had the English breakfast tea and it was quite good. Still no bread/jam.

Our server brought out a plate with the crepes and admittedly, they were delicious. It was a bit longer before we received our food; still no bread/jam. I had the Turkey Benedict. I should have read the description. I simply saw "turkey benedict" and just assumed a traditional eggs benedict with turkey. The description says it's some "feta bread pudding" and I'm guessing that was in replace of a muffin. It came with cranberry which was not a good combination with the hollandaise sauce; but for that matter, neither was picked onion and arugula. And a "yellow sauce" doesn't automatically make it Hollandaise sauce. I've made Hollandaise from scratch regularly; it's not hard to make. This was bland, almost runny and tasted more like from a mix than from scratch.

And then, they brought us a strawberry crepe even though we already had the crepe we ordered with the substituted bananas. No bread/jam. Refills don't seem to be a priority here. I had one glass of iced tea and was never offered a refill and the server always seemed to be very distant when at our table. It was a weekday and although I understand there were people waiting for tables they were busy, I've been a server and know how to multi-task and handle multiple tables at once. If you can't keep orders straight... maybe this isn't the job for you. If this were free, I would understand. But I'm paying and this isn't an inexpensive place.

At the end, we mentioned the bread/jam and the server didn't seemed fazed by the fact we never received it and didn't seem to care that we received an additional crepe we didn't order (but he did charge for) and actually asked if we wanted him to take the bread/jam off the bill?!? He asked! Well, let's see... I didn't get it, but you expect me to pay for it???

Overall, I can see this place is a bit of hype. We were taken by the photos and it's an attractive, trendy looking place. But quality in food and service, you will NOT find here. Plenty of other places downtown to dine.

Date of visit: May 2021
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
Thank James92014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1 - 5 of 1,086 reviews

Reviewed 11 April 2021 via mobile

This brunch spot just has all the things we crave for brunch when on vacation; healthy homegrown, homemade feel good food with a unique and creative spin; the interior and ambiance is cute and comfortable and the service is wonderful.

Date of visit: April 2021
Thank IlianaAndIvan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 24 March 2021

It was so good, we had breakfast two days in a row. I guess I need not go on with verbal descriptions.... check out pictures for details.

Date of visit: March 2021
    • Value
    • Service
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1  Thank KimVee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 11 March 2021

We visited Cafe 21 in the Gaslamp District of San Diego for a friends birthday brunch and we had a great time. Sadly we were not able to make a reservation and we had a late start to the day so we did have to wait for a table of four but it was all made better when we were able to order drinks at the bar and man oh man do they make some great cocktails.

Once we were seated at our table our server was a bit distracted but seemed to be an isolated case as all the other staff were very attentive. They now offer small plates and they recommended sharing 3 to 4 per two people. We ordered 5 breakfast items for 4 people and that was plenty of us and we really enjoyed the food we ordered.

The one thing we remembered and went back for the next day was the Watermelon Shot with Tequila! Give it a whirl when you are there.

Date of visit: March 2021
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
2  Thank NathanRWise
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 March 2021

Found cool pictures of the food/drinks over Instagram and decided to check it out. Food was so delicious, so flavorful and colorful)))
Flight of mimosas has an incredible presentation!
thank you, Clemente, for a threat service! Than you, chef, for a great breakfast!

Date of visit: March 2021
Thank Masha M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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