You can see that David’s proud of his dad. “His name’s David, too. He started off not far from here as a dishwasher. He was born and raised in Tijuana, then his parents brought him across to Barrio Logan. When he was still really young, he started working in restaurants. He worked really hard. And a couple of weeks ago, he opened this, his own restaurant, right back here in the Barrio where he started off.”
So now it’s young David who is bussing, doing front of house here at his dad’s brand-new Maggie’s. It’s the second restaurant David Sr. has opened, both named after his mom. He opened the first in Serra Mesa five years ago. Here in the Barrio, they’ve only just cut the ribbon. But David says they’re already getting a big breakfast crowd. He reckons it’s because they have tons of straight American dishes like bacon and eggs and potato skins as well as the Mex-Chicano choices.
Actually, this whole block is busting out with new places, from barbers’ shops to beauty boutiques to Attitude Brewing to a big laundromat and a bunch of bars and eateries facing Newton Avenue.
The laundromat’s why I’m here. My buddy Erick’s washing a month’s pile of clothes. Says “Meet at Maggie’s,” like I ought to know it.
1985 National Avenue, Suite 1129, Barrio Logan
Maggie’s, turns out, faces the legs of the Coronado Bridge. From here they look like AT-AT Walkers (Star Wars, remember?). Plus, a whole bunch of date palms gives it a 1001 Nights feel. Except this time of day, late morning, it all feels fresh and new, and if you’re starving like I am, that coffee aroma makes this stop, well, mandatory.
Only thing is, food’s not the cheapest, now I look at the menu. Tex-Mex omelet with carnitas goes for a penny shy of $13. Chile verde omelet’s $15. Veggie hash is thirteen, and with chicken it climbs to $17. Can’t help thinking of the “G” word. Gentrification. Is this a sign? This whole new block tells you something’s going on. The Barrio is on the march. Question is, who’s in the army? Insiders or outsiders?
So, back to the huge and classy menu. Lessee now. California omelet, with spinach, $12; a 3-egg chile verde omelet with carne asada, $15. A flatiron steak and eggs? That will run you nineteen bucks.
But then they do have cheaper items. Pancakes or French toast, $11. And hey, three eggs, any style, with “Maggie’s potatoes,” and bacon or two sausages, plus wheat or sourdough toast, $9.99. Now we’re talking! Also, chilaquiles run $11.49. And if we’re looking beyond brekky, a “classic” burger goes for $10.99, and they guarantee the meat’s angus chuck. A veggie burger (with a black bean patty and slices of avo) costs a dollar more. Six brunch potato skins with scrambled eggs are $12. And if you just want a soup and salad, $12 will cover that too. A cup of clam chowder is $6.
I’m definitely thinking breakfast, though. I go for the three eggs, poached, on sourdough, with Maggie’s potatoes and two sausages ($9.99). Also an endless refill coffee in a nice big mug ($2.75). I douse the huevos in salsa. Dang, but these sausages are excellent.
Erick turns up. “It’s the dryers, dude,” he says. “Lots of people. Had to wait. Can’t stay long.”
He orders a Guaca Burger (with pepper jack cheese, bacon, breaded jalapeños, and guacamole, plus fries). Costs fifteen bucks. Yowzer. He uses the big knife they supply to cut it in half. Burger has nice fat strips of bacon, and a wad of guacamole inside. He takes a big chomp. “Good. But so it should be, for that price. Fries are great. But I could have done with more.”
Erick doesn’t give praise easily. He’s worked in the industry. “Always check the burger patties. If they are too perfectly round, they’re probably machine processed, frozen. Some places leave them out of the freezer overnight and then doctor them up with butter or olive oil in the morning. Not saying here, but there’s lots of tricks of the trade.”
Huh. No tricks with my sausages and eggs. The eggs are really big, and poached just right. The sausages are the stars, though, followed by the sautéed potatoes with onions and green and red peppers. But what I like most here is just the fresh morning patio feel. Before, this was bare hardscape. Now, even the giant legs of the Coronado Bay Bridge feel like some jungle temple, seen through the green fronds of the date palms. You’ve got to hand it to David Granda. This native son of the Barrio had the vision and he made this eatery happen.
Erick tears off to his laundry. Just before I leave, I notice they have a happy hour coming up. Three to six every day except Sunday. So the next three hours, I do a lot of running around, work up a little hunger again and by four, hey, I’m ba-ack.
Oh yeah. Two HH sliders for $5, five wings for $5, loaded fries or chicken quesadilla for $7, carne asada taco (or chicken, or carnitas) for $3. I order up the sliders and a carne asada taco. And, have to say, these not-so baby burgers give me a run for my money. For sliders, they are big. They have plenty of meat. And the taco is equally generous. Big corn tortilla. Truly, I waddle out a fatter and a wiser man.
Somehow, you feel the buzz here. You get the feeling that the Barrio is going to be the Next Cool Thing. Plus it has that laundromat, so you can wash while you chomp.
- The Place: Maggie’s Cafe, 1985 National Avenue, Suite 1129, Barrio Logan, 619-241-2660
- Prices: Tex-Mex omelet with carnitas, $12.99; veggie hash, $12.99 (with chicken, $16.98); California omelet, $11.99; 3-egg chile verde omelet with carne asada, $14.99; flatiron steak and eggs, $18.99; pancakes or French toast, $10.99; three eggs, potatoes, bacon or two sausages, $9.99; chilaquiles, $11.49; classic burger, $10.99, veggie burger $11.99; brunch potato skins with scrambled eggs, $11.99; soup and salad, $11.99; clam chowder cup, $5.99
- Hours: 7:30am-9pm daily (Sundays, till 5pm)