harry’s coffee shop / la jolla, ca
My friend, David, is my guest writer for today’s post. Guest writer’s are awesome. Read on:
Nestled in downtown La Jolla, Harry’s Coffee Shop is an established landmark that’s been serving up breakfast and lunch since 1960. Now run by the family’s second generation, the restaurant is a throwback to traditional east coast diners with a long counter, vinyl booths, Norman Rockwell prints and vintage sports memorabilia lining the walls. It’s warm, comfortable and familiar.
There are few weekend rituals that I enjoy more than getting up early on a cold morning and heading to a coffee shop for piping hot cup of joe and a big, American-style breakfast. While California food has quickly built a name for itself by constantly mixing and “fusing,” I’ve thought that I would be forever stuck here in San Diego settling for chain eateries and longing for the chance to head back to New York for a proper, no-nonsense diner. That is, until Harry’s Coffee Shop walked into my life (cue Casablanca music) and invited me to try their new coffee offerings paired with the best breakfast plates that they had on the menu.
I’ll admit it – I’m a bit of a coffee hipster that enjoys seeking out obscure roasts and brands, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when visiting Harry’s. I started off with the basics – two cups of Harry’s Family Blend, one regular and the other a decaf variant.
Served piping hot, the Brazilian/Colombian blends had a mild, low acidity flavor and a lightly fruity aroma that was quite pleasant. Only a hint of bitterness was shown and the tail end had a slight tang of citrus to top it off. It’s gentle, smooth and well-rounded. You really can’t go wrong with a cup and it makes a wonderful companion to any breakfast. The decaf version did taste a bit flat, though I think that I’m a bit biased on this note since I do not care for decaffeinated coffees.
Next, I tried a straight shot of their house espresso and a cappuccino made from their brand new machine. The dark oak-colored espresso was slightly milder than I’m used to, though its overall profile and aroma were quite elegant. The thickness was just right and the aftertaste brought on a gentle earthy tone that coated your mouth evenly from the first tasty sip. If you don’t typically drink espresso straight, I would still recommend giving it a try since it’s very mellow. The cappuccino further accentuated the espresso by lending it a gentle, sweet swath of foamed milk and evened out the texture. My only complaint is that I would have liked it to be served slightly hotter.
Both their original blends and new specialty coffees are roasted by Cafe Moto, a local San Diego company that provides organic, sustainable fair trade beans out of their solar-powered kitchen. While the Harry’s blend uses their own beans, the espresso products are entirely Moto’s creation. After partnering three months ago, both companies hope to provide that perfect blend between classic flavors favored by the experienced and the eclectic tastes preferred by younger coffee drinkers. All-in-all, I think that they are off to a great start and the blends will only become more perfected as time goes on.
What’s a nice big cup of coffee without breakfast to accompany it, though? Two of the most popular breakfast dishes are the pancakes and the omelettes, so I, of course, had to try a bit of both.
The pancakes, served with berries and whipped cream, came in 3 different flavors: buckwheat, oatmeal and buttermilk. Hands down, the oatmeal ones stood out the most. Chewy, with bits of oatmeal mixed in, they were irresistible. Just a touch of sweetness pervaded and you could easily consume three in a row without feeling full. These could easily become addictive and I’ll probably end up in some “Foodies Anonymous” support group for pancake abusers.
The ham and cheese omelette was just as enticing. Usually when you visit a diner, the omelette is this thick, heavy concoction of meats, cheeses and sometimes veggies. Harry’s destroys this preconception with thin layers of eggs wrapped around deliciously salty ham and sharp cheddar cheese. It comes served with hash browns and a little bit of homemade salsa on the side. Do not underestimate the salsa! It’s plenty spicy and really goes spectacularly well with the eggs in the omelette. Definitely give that a shot if you enjoy some heat.
After checking out the extensive menu, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to also try the B.W. Benny – a riff on the typical eggs benedict. You start with a big waffle, then layer on the grilled ham, bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. It’s a little on the salty side, but delightfully so. The sugar of the waffle counteracts the salt of the meats, so it balances out, and the bacon lends a nice crunchy texture to the whole bite. If you’re really wanting a rich, luxurious plate, try it with some syrup on top as well.
I’m a sucker for the classics and Harry’s Coffee Shop is a pure tribute to the diner tradition. Whether you’re wanting traditional fare without the NYC rush or a fancy specialty drink (Peppermint Bark Latte, anyone?) paired with a California Breakfast Burrito, you will absolutely find something to like. I’m already planning my next brunch visit.
What can I say? Yer a wizard, ‘arry.
Harry’s Coffee Shop
7545 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037
(Note from the from editor below!)
Disclaimer: This Tasty Life was invited to dine at Harry’s Coffee Shop, and Mary, who must immune herself to coffee these days, sent David in her stead to take up the grueling task of visiting and receiving complimentary food from Harry’s. David nor Mary were compensated for this post and all opinions included here are the writer’s own.