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The Beach Gourmet: The OP Café: Breakfast on Ocean Park

Ocean Park Boulevard has, like many other areas of Santa Monica, become more than just a thoroughfare to the sea. It is now an area of communal enterprise, with a chorus of stores, businesses, and eateries of all kinds available to serve locals and visitors alike. A Sunday morning on Ocean Park Boulevard exposes the true nature of the community here, with pedestrian traffic prolific as residents stroll the street, visit the delightful Clover Park, and drop in to the many cafes available for some relaxed weekend sustenance.

At the eastern end of Ocean Park Boulevard sits the small but inviting OP (Ocean Park) Café. Specializing in breakfast, brunch, and lunch, the OP Café is one of many such half-day bistros offering quick, affordable dishes, while still maintaining something of a unique identity in this world of corporate conformity.

The OP Café attracts patrons of all styles, types, and generations. As is something of a ubiquitous trend in this historical beach city, the walls are adorned with period photographs of historic Santa Monica, and the oversized chalkboards proclaim some of the tempting selections from the menu, as well as their daily specials.

Although the menu offers a large range of breakfast staples including, the 2 + 2 + 2 (two eggs, two bacon or sausage, and two pancakes, $4.99), Country Breakfast (two eggs any style, sausage, home fries, homemade biscuits and gravy $7.95), and buttermilk pancakes (three with bacon, ham, or sausage, $5.95), I chose the Fresh Garden Omelet with zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, and spinach, served with home-style potatoes, and a choice of toast, $8.95. Throw in a side of turkey breakfast patties ($3), a cup of dark roast coffee at $1.75, and I looked set to satiate my late morning hunger.

My server Alyson arrived in no time at all with the platter, atop which sat said omelet and home fries. The omelet, a pocket style, was clean and well filled with the freshest of ingredients. The spinach was particularly good, being lively and full of flavor. OP Café’s home-style breakfast potatoes are tasty, grease-free, and crispy, and, with the side of impressively delicious turkey patties, this order was certainly the “order of the day,” so to speak.

It transpired that the other server present, a happy young lady named Alley, was also something of a baker, and regularly produces cakes and other baked goods that are offered at the OP Café.

She informed me that her coffee cake ($2.75) was the best available, and since I felt that a tasting was in order, I departed with a “slice to go,” with strict instructions to “warm it up a little.”

Later that afternoon, as I was enjoying high tea, I remembered that this generous slice of hedonism was sitting in my refrigerator. Alley’s rich, nutty cake with a fruity overtone was certainly superb, and only took 20 seconds in the microwave to warm up.

The OP Café is open from 7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. daily, and on my visit it proved to be quite the breakfast and brunch bistro. They say good things come in small packages and I couldn’t agree more.

The OP Café, 3117 Ocean Park Boulevard, 310.452.5720.

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