In an attempt to provide a solution for the value menu monotony inflicted upon most students by fast food empires, I set out to review local, independently owned Cafe Cola, conveniently located just down the street in Azusa.
What started as a standard restaurant review is now unfortunately serving as sort of a farewell review (for now). Since my last visit to the burger joint, it has been shut down by L.A. County officials, due to what the owners claim was landlord negligence.
Since the falling out, the brains behind Cafe Cola are on a quest to find investors and a new location, preferably in neighboring Azusa, where they established their fan base.
So until then, allow me to describe the food and the type of restaurant you can expect to enjoy once Cafe Cola is back up and running.
Their concept was to keep food simple and delicious. Cafe Cola used fresh, unprocessed ingredients—so fresh in fact, they didn’t depend on the use of freezers or microwaves.
At their previous location, they used a large board that explained how the ordering process worked. Their “menu” only consisted of a handful of options. I started with their 1/4 lb. slider, which was constructed with a seasoned, ground chuck patty. The patty was then grilled to a medium temperature and adorned with an array of various cheeses, toppings and sauces of your choosing.
That’s not a typo. When you placed an order, you were actually encouraged to further personalize your meal—at no extra cost. With over half a dozen cheeses from Swiss to Gorgonzola; tasty toppings varying from caramelized onions and sundried tomatoes; to sautéed mushrooms and of course thick-cut bacon; not to mention over a dozen sauces ranging from Sriracha to A1, the myriad of flavor combinations seemed endless.
When I wasn’t in the mood for a burger, I tried the Michael Walsh. Named after the notable yelper who helped put Cafe Cola on the map, this sandwich combined the best of both worlds. Tender rib eye was paired with grilled chicken and adorned with succulent bacon, then stuffed inside doughy French bread delivered fresh daily from the famed Porto’s Bakery in Glendale. Personal choices of cheeses & toppings made it a slice of definitive Americana at its best.
Lastly, lets talk sides. In the case of Cafe Cola, there was only one — fries. After trying the hand cut, golden fried, perfectly seasoned wedges, it was easy to understand why one side was all they needed. For fry lovers with a serious hunger, they fed your wild side with their famous Zombie Fries.
They started by building a bed of seasoned wedges, followed by an assortment of chesses, topped with bacon and finished with more than just a drizzle of ranch dressing and teriyaki sauce. Along with all of the individualized options, this diet-shattering dish not only left you stuffed, but also looking forward to your next mouthwatering visit.
Besides the high quality meat, fresh bread and crisp veggies that contributed in making Cafe Cola a spot on any foodie’s must-try map, the atmosphere was an added bonus. This is probably why they have a 5/5 star rating with 195+ reviews on Yelp.com. Their friendly staff, headed by cousins Romel and Adiss, effortlessly made me feel a part of their family, and were sincerely interested in my dining experience. The cousins say they wanted to make sure that customers understood that what they were trying to accomplish was to be recognized as a “movement.” On many levels they succeeded.
Perhaps the movement was to provide people with better tasting, unprocessed, fresh food. Or a movement to make you feel like the valued customer you are and refer to you by name instead of “Order #27.” It’s for these reasons that I am confident that they’ll be back in business in no time.