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The Casbah’s 25th Anniversary Wrap Party Dec 21, 2014 The local music venue celebrates the end of its 25th year with live performances from The Burning of Rome, Barbarian and Low Volts. The outdoor rock show will also include food trucks and alcoholic beverages 62 other events on Sunday, December 21
 
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Home / Articles / Eats / North Fork /  Bessie’s 1929 Café has easy, vintage charm
. . . .
Friday, Dec 07, 2012

Bessie’s 1929 Café has easy, vintage charm

Oceanside restaurant’ serves up simple breakfasts and monster burgers

By Jenny Montgomery
fork (1) Bessie’s 1929’s fluffy-pancake breakfast
- Photo by Jenny Montgomery

I feel like I’m on a perpetual search for a non-gourmet breakfast place that churns out food that’s a bit more than mediocre. That’s not a high bar, and yet, somehow, my snooty standards are rarely met. But my stony breakfast heart grew three sizes bigger after dining at Bessie’s 1929 Café.

Bessie’s is a charmer—a longtime Oceanside eatery recently under new ownership. It’s the building (at 232 S. Coast Hwy.) that dates back to 1929; Bessie didn’t open her eatery until 1941. After her time as café queen ended, the locale served Mexican food. Now Bessie’s exudes the vibe of a 1920s seaside town. Early big-band tunes greet your ears, and vintage photos (including one of Bessie herself ) line the walls.

The menu is that of any classic Southern California breakfast joint: a mix of American and Mexican eats. The gimmick item is what Bessie’s calls a Monster Torta Burger. I find the concept of gluttonous eating contests to be stomach-turning, but I realize the appeal is huge. So, be aware, if you can down the nearly 2-pound assemblage of beef, ham, guacamole and oh-so-much more in 20 minutes or less, the whole thing is free. You even walk away with a complimentary T-shirt for your troubles.

But I recommend pacing yourself and enjoying a leisurely meal. I was extremely happy with a humble stack of pancakes. They’re thick and fluffy, ringed with a sweet assortment of strawberries. The meaty links of maple sausage are salty-sweet and quite delicious, without any of the dreaded hard knobs of gristly fat you often find in greasy spoons.

Breakfast and lunch are served every day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., but if you’re not a breakfast-at-anytime kindof person (I could eat pancakes for dinner every night), there are plenty of lunchtime items. If the Monster Torta Burger strikes you as a bit much, grab one of the more traditional beef ’n’ bun options.

Or, split the difference and order a wacky meld of American and Mexican traditions known as the Spanish Burger. A nicely hand-formed beef patty innocently crowns a slice of ciabatta, along with zesty habañero jack cheese, what looks to be a whole avocado sliced on top and smoked jalapeño mayo. Perched upon the other side of the bun is a whole chile relleno. Good luck putting the two sides together and getting a bite into your mouth without taking a chili-sauce shower, but the chile relleno is so gooey, and the whole concoction so familiar yet over-the-top, I couldn’t help but dismantle it and enjoy every part.

The atmosphere at Bessie’s is exceedingly friendly—it easily earned bonus points with me when a server, without asking, brought my baby her own little complimentary cup of fruit.

Have I found breakfast perfection? I’m get- ting closer. The familiar comfort of Bessie’s food doesn’t feel lazy or churned-out. The ease and charm is a welcome bit of warmth in downtown Oceanside. 



Write to jennym@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Follow Jenny on Twitter @jennymontyinsd.




 
 
 
 
 
 
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