Cafe 21, located at 802 Fifth Avenue, prides themselves as a champion of sustainable farming. Chef Leyla and her husband Alex have brought forth the flavors of their homeland, Azerbaijan, while adding a new element and creativity influenced by their life here in California. Cafe 21 uses locally grown organic ingredients for a socially conscious, farm-to-table dining experience. This rustic, soothing, old world style eatery uses hormone-free meats and yeast-free bread to accommodate all dietary restrictions. The couple opened their first restaurant in 2007 in University Heights and then opened the Gaslamp location in 2011. Cafe 21 is known for its unique and colorful cuisine. The food artistry really has to do with Chef Leyla’s approach in dish creation. Her creativity, friendly staff and inviting decor provides guests a place that is pleasing for both the eyes and the stomach.
What We Enjoyed:
- Sherry and I started off our meal with some of their famous iced teas served in a loose-leaf tea decanter that you hold over your iced glass and pour in. Sherry had the Mango Tango Green Tea and I had the Bengal Chai Black Tea. Both were made in house, organic and refreshing.
- The first dish that came to the table was the Shrimp Corn Cakes. This dish is like an eggs benedict, but the bottom is a delectable potato corn cake with perfectly cooked shrimp poached eggs and a bed of arugula on top all drenched with a cilantro cream sauce.
- Next, we enjoyed the Mediterranean Fried Rice served on a large platter with rice, pulled lamb, and scrambled eggs, next to a group of cucumbers, pickled sumac onions, feta, olives and a walnut dill cucumber sauce.
- Finally, the tender pork belly served on a potato galette, and a crisp apple fritter on the side drizzled with a mushroom bourbon sauce
- During our meal we were able to try their special mimosa flight that’s being unveiled for Comic-Con 2019. The mimosas were served on a tiered, silver rack and each glass on the rack had a different shimmering juice, representing the colors of the Infinity Gauntlet.
- For dessert we tried the Crepe Cake made with layers of mascarpone and drizzled with a strawberry and kiwi sauce.
- There is live music every night, including some evenings with swing or salsa dancing! Find out who is playing here.
- Chef Leyla not only artistically crafted the incredible food, but also decorated the space with eclectic fabrics, custom light fixtures and rustic copper cookware giving the Fifth Avenue space a soothing, modern, yet old world style.
- Cafe 21 has happy hour every day from 3PM to 6PM, where guests can enjoy discounts on alcoholic drinks – 1/2 off draft beers, sangrias, and mimosas as well as 21% off wines and craft cocktails. They also have tapas for $6 or 4 tapa plates for only $21.
- Café 21 offers onsite and offsite catering for groups of 10 or more. Their location is a perfect place for weddings or corporate events.
- Chef Leyla bakes bread fresh daily, following the Javadov grandmothers’ practice of using a starter, based on a naturally occurring yeast in organic grapes, which takes 24 hours to rise.