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  • Café 21 - University Heights

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Café 21 - University Heights
Café 21 - University Heights

Café 21 - University Heights Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.cafe-21.com
  • Phone: (619) 640-2121
  • Hours of Operation: Breakfast: Tuesday - Saturday: 8:00am - 4:00pm; Sunday 8am-3pm
    Lunch: Tuesday - Saturday: 8am - 4:00pm; Sunday 8am-3pm
    Dinner: Tuesday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm, Friday, Saturday 5am-10pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa
  • Cuisine: International, Global, International
  • Executive Chef: Chef Leyla
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cafe, Counter Seating, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access
  • Catering: We're a family-owned restaurant bringing you tasty catering for events, corporate affairs, and much more. We provide our customers with great food and fabulous service. So whether you need catering service for a family reunion or you're looking for corporate caterers, Cafe 21 is ready to serve you. Call today to learn more about our mouth-watering menu and our top-quality service!

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Idaho
  • Parking: Street Parking
A word from Café 21 - University Heights
Cafe21 is a full service eatery - try our always savory, homemade dishes created with fresh, organic produce from local farms. Or cool down after a long day with our farm-to-bar, refreshing infused drinks made with organic vodka. We provide our home made bread sandwiches, fresh organic salads, hearty breakfasts, and wide selection of organic coffees, teas, and much more. Our heart and soul is invested into creating the most satisfying dishes from the finest ingredients straight from the earth.
Stop by and taste what Mother Nature is stirring in our kitchen.
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerNeighborhood Gem
Diner Reviews
  • "I don't know weather there are simply an over-abundance of nice restaurants in San Diego and this is but one of many, or if Cafe 21 shines like a gem among the plethora of fantastic restaurants situated along Adams Ave. And perhaps it is location along this neighborhood street that lends the local eatery its familial charm. There are many great places to eat in San Diego, and in California in general; from take-out windows to windowed showcases where one must be as presentable as the food served. But like I say, few convey the charm and relaxed ease with which Cafe 21 purveys its colloquial trade. Not everything on the menu has been perfected yet, but never have I ever left this place unsatisfied."
    Dined on 7/5/2014
  • "Treasured local gem for any special evening out. Plentiful menu for vegetarians and omnivores alike."
    Dined on 7/5/2014
  • "Had dinner with my family after reviewing recommendations from Yelp and Opentable. I am a duck meat fan so was attracted to the fried duck wings on the menu. They were ok, however extremely greasy. The Gluten free fries were excellent, highly recomended. I had also the spinach beet salad but it was so drenched in dressing that it took away from the flavors. The braised lamb was excellent and I highly recomended. The kabobs were ok at best. The place is small nested in the heart of Normal Heights and has a certain flare of exccentricity to it. The servers are nice and polite. Overall, a good experiece."
    Dined on 6/20/2014
  • "I love Cafe 21 and each visit is better than the last! They update their menu and presentation constantly so there is always something new to try. I usually end up getting whatever is on special because it has never let me down! Got the salmon special with potato risotto. I would call it more potatoes in a dill creme sauce though. So good!"
    Dined on 6/14/2014
  • "Cafe 21 is my favorite restaurant in San Diego. I've eaten there at least 25 times, all meal time of the day, including happy hour and it is consistently fantastic!"
    Dined on 6/13/2014
  • "We had dinner for 8 (which sometimes can be a challenge) but the restaurant handled our crowd and numerous requests seamlessly. The food was fantastic and the service impeccable--probably the best service I've experienced in ages."
    Dined on 5/30/2014
  • "There is a nice buzz about this place, local grown produce, neighborhood spot, etc. While the menu was very interesting, the food was so-so, and the service was slow. I would probably go back for a second visit because there is enough about this place to be intriguing, and maybe I was there on an off day."
    Dined on 5/22/2014
  • "Delicious food and top notch service - I would highly recommend it."
    Dined on 5/17/2014
  • "Eager to please, we have zero complaints. In fact, everything was exceptional."
    Dined on 4/21/2014
  • "We had not been here in quite a while so we thought we would try it again - nice changes in decor, music and the menu changes from our previous visit - the TAPAS are worth checking out if you have not been to happy hour - try the avocado and the portobello fries, they are very tasty! And ask to try the beet humus it's refreshing! If you try the cobbler, be sure to share with a couple of friends, its way too big for 1 person. Overall a nice dinner and will return again."
    Dined on 4/23/2014
  • "OK duck wings are greasy at heart, but they could have been crisped up more. They were tasty but fatty. On the half rack of lamb it was difficult to discern the fat from the meat in the soft lighting. It was all one soft fatty mess..... seemed like too many hours in moist heat and way to little time over the grill to color and crisp up the meat by roasting. Was like eating blubber ot boiled mutton.... very dissatisfying and a big departure from other good meals there. We'll go back but be much more cautious in ordering."
    Dined on 4/18/2014
  • "The Food at Cafe 21 is always superb. Was there on Friday night for Happy Hour. The eggplant fries, chicken crepes and pear salad were delicious, not to mention the Strawberry Apple Sangria. I would always recommend this place to anyone who loves good reasonably priced food and drink. It never disappoints, no matter how many times I go there."
    Dined on 3/28/2014
  • "Cafe 21 is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in San Diego. We have enjoyed this wonderful cafe for years--when it was first by Trolley Barn Park and now on Adams Avenue. Excellent foot, great service and a truly enjoyable place to spend an afternoon or evening. We have also greatly enjoyed their art afternoons where we create a painting while munching on great tapas and sipping wine."
    Dined on 3/23/2014
  • "I'd recommend this restaurant to a friend but would warn them off the very slow service (even when the restaurant is not crowded)."
    Dined on 3/18/2014
  • "I was to meet 2 long time friends that I hadn't seen in a couple of years. I made reservations for the 3 of us, 9:00am, last Thursday and send them the link. Given that it was rainy, I waited. After 30 minutes and leaving messages on home and cell phone, I decided to order. They called right after I had ordered! Somehow, they got it into their brain that it was for Friday, even though they had picked the date! The kitchen held my order while I waited for them to arrive. We had a wonderful visit over crepes and stuffed french toast! The food is always great. The staff was very kind; the tables were full but because of the rain there was no wait line. I would have given up my table if necessary, but I never felt pushed or hurried."
    Dined on 2/27/2014
  • "I started going to Cafe 21 in its first year which was 6 or 7 years ago. At that time, they only had the one restaurant on Adams Avenue. Now they have 2 and will be expanding the Gaslamp restaurant into a new location. The food there has been outstanding each and every time I have been there. Everything they make is tasty and delicious and it becomes hard to decide what to have. The Sangrias are my favorite, always tasty. The pear salad is always delicious and 2 or 4 people can easily share it as a starter. My favorite entrees for dinner are the lamb shank and the hangar steak, but everything is good It is wonderful to see that they are doing so well with a great formula of nice staff, great food and reasonable prices."
    Dined on 2/22/2014
  • "The signature platter is really good and a chance to try different foods at the same time. Nicely seasoned, good variety and prepared perfectly. The only downer was a very loud group making it very difficult to talk to each other or to hear."
    Dined on 2/20/2014
  • "Service was great but it all went down hill from there...It was 8pm on a cool night. Everyone in the place was cold but the air conditioner kept on humming. The food took forever and was marginal at best. What ambiance? There was none We would not go back."
    Dined on 2/15/2014
  • "We thoroughly enjoyed Valentine's dinner here. Excellent service staff! Tasty, creative menu! Perfect for a social occasion, as well as just a nice night out."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "I have been to Cafe 21 several times, both this location and the other in Gaslamp. I'm always satisfied with the service, but even more so I've been impressed! The food is delicious, I'm still trying to work my way through the menu because I've enjoyed everything I've tried. The omelettes are great and the salads are satisfying and hearty. Its a great place to have a leisurely meal and great coffee or tea."
    Dined on 2/4/2014
  • "Previous reviews on several forums suggested Cafe 21 would be a great choice- even with high expectations, we were very delightfully surprised. In our 3 day San Diego stay, we dined there 3 times! Loved the "cooked to perfection" skirt steak salad with just the right level of chipotle spice in the dressing, roasted pear salad with the addition of a chicken with preserved lemon skewer, and sizzling breakfast omelettes. Well done Cafe 21!!!"
    Dined on 1/25/2014
  • "A few months ago my wife and I had dinner at Cafe 21 in the Gaslamp and we enjoyed it very much. This time we decided to try a different SD neighborhood for our date night. The University Heights version of Cafe 21 has a similar, middle eastern themed interior decor but it is smaller in size and a bit quieter than it's downtown counterpart. More importantly, both restaurants share the same menu. On this night, my wife and I shared the Beet Tartare as an appetizer, very tasty. For entrees, she had the grilled Cauliflower 'steak' special, and I had the braised short rib. Both were excellent. We enjoyed our meal with a glass of the pommegranate/blood orange sangria. For dessert we shared the flourless chocolate cake. Yum!"
    Dined on 1/25/2014
  • "We just discovered Cafe 21 after driving past it for two years. We live in Normal Heights and this is now our go-to spot for quality food. So many interesting dishes and flavors. Super fresh and tons of gluten-free options. We love the eggplant, mushroom and avocado fries. The lamb is fantastic and shrimp w spaghetti squash also v good (and low carb/gluten-free). Breakfast is also the best in the neighborhood, just have to get there early."
    Dined on 1/25/2014
  • "This Cafe 21 was located off of Adams Ave a few blocks away from Swine & Soda and Polite Provisions. It is in a small strip mall that has a parking lot, but there was also plenty of street parking nearby. My family arrived earlier than the specified reservation time and the restaurant seated them promptly. The restaurant is small, but it was cozy and intimate - perfect for a romantic date or intimate dinner with close friends or family. We had a corner table tucked off to the back of the restaurant, which suited our group of six well. The waitress was warm and friendly and the overall service was well. A few people from our table ordered the special for the evening, which we all thought was delicious."
    Dined on 10/11/2013
  • "So lucky to live near Cafe 21! Surprisingly the BEST steak I've had in a while beating out Fleming's and other steakhouses. Place is quaint and eclectic, but they have great teas, sangria, and a mix of Mediterranean, American, and SW flare which makes it fun. Portions are generous and not exaggerated by pounds of potatoes like other Hillcrest brucheries. One of the best parts is that they are pet friendly on their patio. Come check this place out before they go mainstream and open a bigger place. Definitely worth the trip!"
    Dined on 10/15/2013
  • "Between three of us, we ordered the Kebabs, lamb shank and braised short ribs. All were excellent!!! The interior wasn't quite as beautiful as the Gaslamp location, but parking and getting there was much easier. I love this restaurant!!!!"
    Dined on 1/7/2014
  • "We were greeted by the owner who was very accommodating! Make sure to reserve a table so you can dine inside! We dined from the tapas menu and had so many amazing things: the beef skewers and sangrias was fabulous. However the star of the evening was the creme brûlée cheesecake! You HAVE to try it if you are a lover if cheesecake or brûlée!"
    Dined on 1/1/2014
  • "It took 1:15 minutes to get our appetizer. It was good, but that's not okay."
    Dined on 10/19/2013
  • "I love the neighborhood feel of Café 21 and it unique, freshly prepared and delicious food! The ambiance and vibrant energy of placed is also inviting."
    Dined on 1/2/2014
  • "This little café was a hit at every level. The food, service and friendliness were as good as the finest out there."
    Dined on 1/1/2014
  • "You won't be disappointed I love Cafe 21 especially for breakfast!"
    Dined on 12/31/2013
  • "Three out of four of our foodie family have special food demands- no lactose, celiac and vegetarian and this restaurant easily met all our needs on a gourmet level. This is our second trip to this restaurant and both times have been memorable occasions in which we have been served by an attentive and friendly staff and had a lovely evening. Every dish ordered was a masterpiece. We couldn't ask for more. Totally satisfying!"
    Dined on 12/26/2013
  • "Unusual combinations, and it works. Don't miss the light and tasty avocado fries."
    Dined on 12/21/2013
  • "Do not be fooled by the location next a liquor store. This place is a gem. Great food. Very interesting menu. Definitely a place to go to regularly!!"
    Dined on 12/18/2013
  • "Very accommodating to dietary needs. Amazing spaghetti squash...yum! The heirloom tomato salad outstanding . The beet tower Devine. Can't wait to return! Thanks again Adam!"
    Dined on 12/1/2013
  • "There was there a group of eight and when we told our waiter that we didn't know if we wanted appetizer or dinner. Without our knowledge he talked to the cook and allowed us to order from the tapas menu that ended at 6:00, we were seated at 6:00. When we were overwhelmed with the choices, he took over and brought us and brought a selections that served our needs. It was a very enjoyable evening."
    Dined on 11/27/2013
  • "Delicious comfort food. Small intimate setting. We've always had good food here. We haven't tried their sister restaurant in the Gaslamp District yet. Wonderful persimmon dessert."
    Dined on 11/24/2013
  • "If you haven't gone to Cafe 21, what are you waiting for? We always get an amazing meal here. This past time, we had the vegetable fries, the grilled pear salad, the shrimp with spaghetti squash, the kebab platter and the flank steak with black eyed peas. We finished with the desert special (peach cobbler) with ice cream. Everything is just so excellent. Flavorful and cooked to perfection. I have no criticism honestly. We love this place and highly, highly recommend."
    Dined on 11/16/2013
  • "Great little place tucked into a small shopping center in University Heights. Our server recommended - and we happily polished off - the kabob platter and short ribs. The grilled pear salad was enough for two, and the wines by the glass selection offered great variety at an affordable price."
    Dined on 11/15/2013
  • "The menu is unusually creative; we all had difficulty deciding between the many options, most made from scratch in-house. In the end they were all great. The place has a cozy, home-grown ambience. The servers were friendly, not too formal. It was the perfect spot for a catch-up dinner with old friends."
    Dined on 11/11/2013