Sunny Side Up Or Dined If You Do, Dined If You Don’t
Diners were made for coffee, conversation, and pie. However, most of them still insist on offering a full range menu, instantly turning them into a decent place for a hearty bite at all hours of the day. Opened in 1960, Harry’s Coffee Shop in La Jolla has far surpassed the rank of legendary in San Diego. Somehow, we missed out on the secret and decided to delve deeper into this dive-y diner.
Harry’s Coffee Shop shares the block with both a Maserati and a Ferrari dealership. The two storefronts sit kitty-corner from each other; forcing employees to share awkward glances as they wait for somebody, anybody, to come in and buy a $200,000 car. I can only imagine this as a type of Capulet and Montague scenario, with the two groups entwined in a long standing battle for Girard Avenue that will eventually end in a bizarre, yet swanky, suicide pact.
At a glance, Harry’s is exactly as you would expect. An unsuspecting diner with a small outdoor patio in front and a mass amount of leather booths on the inside. The walls are lined with iconic images and paintings, looking like roadsigns hoping to take you back in time. Among the old folks, families, and other assorted patrons was an entire booth filled with twelve-year-old girls. You know, gabbing about the hardships of life and the finer points of American upper-class, middle-school society. Each of them politely crossing their legs, sipping on cups of coffee, and desperately trying to figure out how to leave a tip on their mother’s credit cards. Welcome to La Jolla.
We were seated immediately and handed a tri-fold menu as we placed our beverage orders. As with most diners, the wait staff here comes in two distinct flavors: surly and sickeningly sweet. We ended up stuck with the former. Not a problem, as that is just one of the many coins of chance you flip when treating yourself to a greasy spoon breakfast. While the large orange juice was definitely not what I would consider a large, an enormous coffee, topped with whipped cream of course, helped smooth out the situation.
Our food took less than ten minutes to find its way to our table. The only thing saltier than the ocean air in La Jolla, or our cheery waitress, was my generously portioned ham steak breakfast. Served with three eggs and a mountain of toast, this was a meal fit for rotund royalty. It was neither the best nor the worst ham and eggs I have ever eaten, but it was definitely the most ham and eggs I have ever eaten. For the lady? A “2x2”, two eggs and two slices of toast, perfectly priced and just enough to keep you chugging along for the rest of the day. Halfway through our meal, we were approached by our waitress, for the first time since ordering, and she offered to bring us Tapatio. How did she know? Was this morose madam clairvoyant? Eggs never taste right to me unless they’re covered in a spicy, red sauce, regardless of origin. She brought the bottle to us, completely full, and wouldn’t you know it – that was the last we saw of our her.
A busboy dropped off the check before we marched up to the front counter to make even with the restaurant. After paying, we were treated to two complimentary slices of heaven. By that, I mean two chocotastic Andes mints. A brilliant way to end a meal and cover the stale grease left on your breath.
Was it delicious? Yes. Was it cheap? Moderately. Will the food longingly cling to my arteries? Of course. Most importantly, will we be back? Absolutely. Harry’s is one of the few honest places in Downtown La Jolla; unabashedly serving a down-to-earth menu without any distracting bullshit or unnecessary flair. The eggs were runny and the toast was soaked in butter, and that was exactly what we were expecting. In fact, if I were to die from eating of too many brawny breakfast plates, I would let Harry’s perform the eulogy over my bloated, pot-bellied corpse. I guess you’re not all bad, La Jolla.