Inside, we found a light-filled and colourful space with the pleasant scents of oregano, garlic and smoked paprika in the air. I had their "signature" Chicken Santa Barbara Salad, a delicious mixture of fresh greens with roasted pine nuts, raisins and mushrooms tossed in a sun-dried tomato and basil pesto vinaigrette and topped with a sliced grilled marinated chicken breast ($16). The generously sized portion could have easily fed two.
The owner stopped by to say hello and we chatted for a while. He moved from Spain and opened the restaurant 20 years ago and hopes to return to Spain in a few years when he retires. When we asked how the economic downturn was affecting the restaurant business, his take was that high-end spots would be hurt the most, but "good value" places like his would survive. Judging from Boba's recent closure and business on this mid-day afternoon, he could be right.
Cafe California, 538 Church Street, http://www.dine.to/cafecalifornia