The speed at which York Boulevard’s food scene is developing has hit break-neck status recently. There’s that new French place Ba, a little place called Fusion Burgers has quietly opened across the street from Maximiliano, and now there seems to be enough room for two cafes on the same Highland Park block.
That’s right. Highland Cafe has opened a few doors down from mainstay Cafe de Leche. The new place, housed in what was the Guatemalan restaurant El Chapin just a few months ago, stakes its claim with a small, Mexican-tinged breakfast and lunch menu along with a full coffee bar fueled by Downtown’s Handsome Coffee Roasters.
The new restaurant/coffee house courts a college crowd, offering a 10 percent discount to Oxy students and plenty of room (plus a few easy chairs) to hash out the deets of a class project. Even so, the crowd is mixed enough that older-than-22 patrons won’t feel out of place and probably won’t mind paying full price for above average egg dishes, pastries, sandwiches and salads.
The breakfast menu includes common York Boulevard fare like huevos rancheros–here they’re made with extra crispy fried corn tortillas and function more like breakfast tostadas than I’m used to, but they aren’t chintzy with the avocado, and the salsa has an impressive kick. The chilaquiles, equally crispy, light on the sauce, and heavy on the sour cream, are also worth a try even if you can probably get a more authentic version down the street at El Huarache Azteca.
What you won’t find nearby is a perfectly flaky strawberry danish or a big bowl of milky steel cut oatmeal served with fresh fruit, for that matter. Highland Cafe has both. And if you go for lunch, there’s fish tacos, a bean-based veggie burger and an inventive beef bulgogi sandwich. You wouldn’t think that the Korean staple has any business going near cheese, but well, I suggest you just give in and enjoy its oddness—it’s the way things are going on York.
Valentina Silva writes about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her blog, Eastside Food Bites.