Site Seen: Pipes Cafe

For the student without a car who can barely be bothered to get down to the cafeteria for a piece of toast, Cardiff may as well be in Oregon instead of just a bummed ride away. For everyone else, an idle Saturday morning will only be improved by settling in on the porch of Pipes Cafe with a fresh breakfast on the table. Good food and dirt-cheap prices have made the place a hub for quick and filling breakfasts and lunches.

Situated on a small road in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, not far from famous surf spot Swamis, Pipes comfortably embodies most clichès of beachy locales. Their motto, “No shirt, no shoes, no problem,” is nearly as stereotypical as the surfboards perched over the entrance.

Walls are done up in shades of blue decorated with framed photos of surfing legends riding waves that would kill any average person. A map of local beaches is actually painted above the main windows. The place is smaller inside than outside, so patrons usually end up draped on chairs on the outdoor patio enjoying the sun until someone brings them their plate.

Breakfast at Pipes is all traditional: eggs, French toast, pancakes, muffins and enough cheesy potatoes to top off a stomach for hours. Among the favorites are the bacon, ham, sausage or veggie scramblers, which are mixed up with eggs, cheese and bell peppers, and all come for around $5. Maybe most popular, though, are the breakfast burritos. They’re large, eggy, delicious and at about the same price — in fact, the priciest item on the menu is $6.50, making it perfect for college students.

If someone is absolutely dying for a salad, Pipes can serve up a few of those, too, but really, what’s the point? The regular food is cheap and delicious enough. Finally, the small espresso bar on the outside patio can provide any necessary caffeine.

As for logistics, leave before the hunger pangs have become acute, because parking isn’t always easy to find, and lines to the ordering counter build up quickly. On weekends especially, the relatively small amount of space can get very full. Don’t be discouraged if you see a line snaking out the door, though — there are only a few feet between the entrance and cash register, so it doesn’t mean there’s no space available. Soldier through the line if you need to, because a relaxed breakfast on the Pipes patio will leave you fueled for the day.

121 Liverpool Drive

Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA, 92007

(760) 632-0056

Open 7 a.m to 3 p.m.