The morning ritual of breakfast mirrors the elegant cosmic dance of dawn, when the sun awakes to crack and scramble comets and then drink the Milky Way straight from the carton. Similarly rise and shine with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of breakfast and Latin-fusion cuisine at the Coffee Cup in La Jolla.
Eager masses line up outside this retro diner for prenoon nibbles selected from a menu of breakfast dishes and the savory synthesis of Latin-Asian fusion. Hunt down hunger one mouthful at a time with the Omar special, featuring egg whites scrambled with vegetables and cheese, and then topped with grilled chicken and a drizzle of pesto and avocado sauce ($12). Eaters in need of cross-cultural cuisine can wrap taste buds around Nuevo roll-ups (starting at $10) filled with pan-fried noodles, ginger soy sauce, asian vegetables, and options to add grilled chicken, steak, or marinated tofu. A steaming collection of coffee and tea drinks is also available, while struggling Hollywood actors can make a comeback with the Vincent Vega, containing Coca-Cola, a shot of espresso, and vanilla poured over ice ($4).
For Barrio Star's owner and chef, Isabel Cruz, her Latino family's large, frequent gatherings have always revolved around food. She taught herself how to cook with help of friends and family from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico—and growing up in Los Angeles, she was also influenced by Japanese, Korean, and Thai flavors. Today, she infuses her global, modern recipes into five eateries spanning two states.
Within the vibrantly painted, chandelier-lit confines of Barrio Star, Isabel and co-owner Todd Camburn incorporate unexpected influences into the menu of Mexican soul food; wild blackened-salmon tacos are adorned with thai slaw, pineapple, jicama slaw, and chipotle aioli, as well as cilantro and lime. Coconut permeates her Brazil bowl, loaded with rice, black beans, mango salsa, steamed greens, and a choice of meat. Isabel chooses local, organic ingredients whenever possible to forge her modern, healthier versions of traditional dishes. Her chefs make all the salsas from scratch, rather than rehydrating astronaut salsa, and hand press tortillas from just-ground corn. Meanwhile at the bar, guests gather to sip speciality margaritas such as roasted jalapeño blackberry and classic lime and salt. Craft beer pours from 11 different handles while the Barrio Star brand booms into a vibrant party that now spans across two states in five restaurants.