Located in a narrow plaza a few minutes off I-5 in Solana Beach, three umbrella-covered, black tables sit on a stone patio in front of the modest deli. After parking in the cramped parking lot and walking up to the shop, my first impression of Annie’s Cafe Deli was influenced by its dated furniture and decor, with off-white and green limonium floors and peeling white walls. To be honest, this first impression did not encourage high expectations.
After looking at the menu for a few minutes, I ordered the Thai Chicken Wrap ($6.99), the Tomcado ($7.25) sandwich and the Solana Beach Cheesesteak ($6.99). After a five-minute wait, all three orders came out at the same time.
To begin, I took a bite out of the Thai Chicken Wrap. Although the carrots were not very tender and the avocados were not that ripe, I was pleasantly surprised at the slightly spicy peanut sauce was. As I was eating the wrap, I was disappointed when the filling moved to two separate sides. When I bit into the first side, I got a mouthful of cold lettuce, cucumber, and carrots. With the other, I got a bite of warm soggy rice and the heated and slightly spicy peanut sauce. The contrast between the two sides was somewhat strange, but overall, I liked how the sandwich had a good balance of flavors.
After a pretty decent chicken wrap, I moved onto the Tomcado, which was made up of low-sodium turkey, Vermont Cheddar cheese, avocado and sprouts. The first bite blew me away. The crisp sourdough bread was the perfect complement to the big portion of cold-cut turkey. Each bite of the juicy tomato slices, creamy avocado and sharp cheddar added to the refreshing taste. An interesting side note was that the slices of avocado in this sandwich were ripe while they were not in the earlier wrap. An unexpected, yet special part of the sandwich was the organic and fresh sprouts that elevated the overall taste and texture of the Tomcado. Before this sandwich, I was not especially impressed by the food, but this sandwich changed my view of the deli’s quality.
Coming off the Tomcado, I was expecting great things from the third and last dish: the “Solana Beach” Cheesesteak ($6.99). But I may have made up my mind the deli’s food a little too fast. Even though I knew that the sandwich refers to Solana Beach, I compared the taste of this cheesesteak with that of the classic Philly Cheesesteak. Even though both sandwiches used the same bread, the sourdough on the Cheesesteak had soaked up a lot of the oil from the beef and felt extremely greasy as a result. The vegetables were the only non-greasy element and the sauce in the steak was spicy, but even with those redeeming factors, I could feel the grease in the back of my throat a while after I finished the sandwich.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Thai Chicken wrap and the Tomcado, but the Solana Beach Cheesesteak was a big turn-off. Despite the slightly sketchy furniture, I might come back to Annie’s Cafe Deli for the Tomcado and to talk with friends in the ocean breeze.