The French do a lot of things right – at least when it comes to cuisine – but no croissant and jam platter can compare with the flavorful heartiness of a Mexican breakfast. We Santa Barbarans are lucky enough to have many authentic options, but I have yet to discover one that beats the price and tastiness of Cafe La Luz, located on the corner of Micheltorena and Chapala. And I’d be willing to bet money the La Luz staff could kick any server’s butt in the friendliness category as well.
By the time I stumble in on Saturday or Sunday mornings for the greasy, filling food any hangover craves, the place is often occupied by families, most of them Mexican – a testament to the quality of the food – who have appropriately moved on to the part of the day when men sip Coronas and kids excitedly choose ice cream bars from the cooler. No matter; not only does Cafe La Luz serve breakfast all day, but it also offers instant gratification: no sooner have I put in my order at the counter than I’m settled into a booth by the window with a basket of warm tortilla chips and the best spicy salsa roja in town. Although my fellow diners have raved about the huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos, I’ve never had the willpower to venture out from my tried and trued favorites: huevos chilaquiles (eggs scrambled with crispy fried tortillas) and huevos a la mexicana (scrambled eggs with tomatoes, chilies, and onions). All dishes are adorned with bountiful fresh cilantro, and come with a generous serving of frijoles – made to order- and warm corn or flour tortillas.
Admittedly, the French do have a monopoly on strong, dark coffee, which is a personal requirement for any good breakfast joint. Fortunately, Cafe La Luz offers a full coffee bar, which makes up for the fact that the straight coffee is not quite up to my snobbish caffeine standards. It’s pretty hard to screw up a latte – especially when it comes with a side of fresh chips and salsa.