Like many Calabasas residents, I have driven by the for years. Recently a friend raved about it, and I decided to have lunch there and see what the fuss was about.
The gated entry with vines woven into the ironwork is a nice touch, and my first impression was that this was going to be a pleasant spot to have lunch. This kind of restaurant is designed to be a bargain fast-food stop for local office employees, but anyone can eat there. There's ample seating, both inside and out, and the cafe offers a catering service at reasonable rates.
The menu offers standard items, like burgers, quesadillas and sandwiches, and weekly specials that feature home-cooked delicacies. The specials menu can be emailed to you in advance (you can sign up here.) On the day I visited, it included Franco's Mexican healthy wrap. Customers could choose from chicken or tuna and have it prepared Mexican style, with pico de gallo, black bean salad, guacamole and chopped lettuce with a sprinkle of fresh lime juice, all wrapped up in a healthy tortilla.
Also on the menu was the cafe's signature veggie lasagna. It always sells out quickly, according to manager Dean Ash. The cafe serves over 300 people daily for lunch alone, said Ash, and breakfast is similarly popular.
The reason? The food is made from scratch and to order. On top of that, many of the specials are just like home cooking, thanks to chef Francisco Sandoval.
Sandoval said that he uses only fresh ingredients, and he features many calorie-conscious offerings that include a Mediterranean wrap; grilled chicken and beef tacos; chicken and turkey wraps; and a veggie burger served with a four-inch stack of shaved tomato, red onion, lettuce and avocado.
My enormous veggie burger with a side of onion rings could have fed two people easily, and it only cost $5.75. That's less money than I would have spent for a combo from any horrible fast-food joint. All of the cafe's specialty sandwiches were around $5. They're all massive, made to order, and come with a side of coleslaw or potato salad. You and a pal can eat like a champ here for about $10.