Newcomer on the corner of 5th & E, but no newbie to the Gaslamp, Cafe21 recently took over Croce's former space and made it their own. The beautifully renovated location was already bustling on a Wednesday night visit less than two weeks after opening its new doors. Cafe21 offers a true farm to table experience, with nearly everything made from scratch from the finest local ingredients and each dish plated attractively with an evident mindfulness to the art of food service.
Cafe21 opened it's first location in 2007 in University Heights and four years later opened a second location downtown. Enter its new space and you'll immediately see that it is far more sprawling and open than the much quainter spot that Cafe21 had previously occupied just down the road at 750 5th Avenue (rumor has it they're holding onto the old space for possible overflow or for a completely new concept. Stay tuned.) Alex Javadov and his wife/partner, Chef Leyla, put nearly a half million dollars into converting the new location, which offers two stories of dining pleasure, including a long outdoor patio space on bustling 5th. The stylistic combination of the interior's exposed brick walls with white and blue furniture and decorative accents exude a blended charm - coastal, city sleek, farmhouse, a bit of country home elegance for a restaurant that truly melds culinary influences, resulting in something fresh, unique and exciting.
Our sweet and attentive server began our eating journey with the "must-try" mixed fries ($12), a heaping serving of gluten-free, rice flour-dusted portobello mushroom, eggplant and avocado slices, lightly fried to a crisp and served with a goat cheese aioli and chipotle aioli upon a cutting board. We began dipping and truly adored this simple yet unique dish, especially the creamy avocado slices.
802 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp
Sun-Thu 8 am-11 pm
Fri-Sat 8 am-12 am
Happy Hour - Daily 3-6pm