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Discovering a classic cafe spot is like discovering a good pair of shoes – there are hundreds of them, but it can take several fittings to find a perfect match.
The OP Cafe on Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica is not the cafe equivalent of Cinderella’s glass slipper, but it comes pretty close to it. A wide range of creative meal choices including comfort food and health-conscious options, along with an authentic historical theme, helps the cafe evoke the feeling of a classic English cafe with a twist.
A bright yellow facade with blue accents and a striped awning precedes the thematic choices inside. The beach theme nods to Ocean Park Boulevard’s history and Santa Monica lifeguards, featuring archival images on the walls and a menu that displays male lifeguards surfing or walking together. While seeing old black-and-white photographs of men in small shorts may throw customers off initially, the decor becomes charming as time goes on.
Throughout the rest of the cafe, customers can sit at cozy booths, two-person tables and a counter against a register in the back, as well as seats in front of the cafe. The cafe itself is on the smaller side, but due to spaced-out seating arrangements, bright windows and an uncluttered decor, the atmosphere is comforting and cozy instead of stifling and claustrophobic.
The OP Cafe focuses on breakfast and brunch items, with 19 dishes that feature eggs and six options that come from the griddle. The menu has healthy choices as well as comfort food breakfast options for customers who want something a little more rich.
The Loaded Pancakes, a stack of four pancakes filled with strawberries and Nutella, features bananas and whipped cream on top. For customers seeking a food coma, The Hangover satisfies all requirements – two eggs scrambled with chorizo and cilantro, two strips of bacon, a short stack of pancakes, biscuits and gravy. While it may seem a bit excessive, customers can rest assured that they are getting $13.50 worth of food.
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The eggs Benedict is a strong option on the menu, with two poached eggs and Canadian bacon over toasted English muffins covered in Hollandaise sauce. The creamy Hollandaise sauce covers the eggs smoothly – too much sauce can drown the rest of the plate and too little sauce can leave the plate too dry – but in the OP Cafe’s dish, the sauce highlights the rest of the food. Although the English muffins are a little on the under-toasted side, they are toasted enough to avoid being soggy. The Canadian bacon balances out the rest of the meal by providing a substantial savory flavor to the rest of the dish.
Home fries come with the eggs Benedict and can also be ordered as a side. Although the rosemary flavoring is well-balanced, it is a bit hard to detect. The potatoes themselves are light, airy and on the colder side.
The coffee is average at best. However, as a house blend, it is better than expected, and for $2.50 comes in a decently sized mug. It is tasty enough to order and sip on throughout the meal, but pales in comparison to the quality of the eggs Benedict.
While the cafe is a 10 to 15 minute drive away from campus and a bit pricey – French toast costs $8.50 and eggs Benedict with home fries costs $10.50 – the quality of the dishes and the beachy atmosphere make it worthwhile.
The OP Cafe is more akin to a pair of Converse than Yeezys – not flashy, but simplistic, reliable and homey.