Cafe in the Park at Balboa Park

Note: As of April 2012, this location is closed for renovaions

Cafe in the Park
I have mixed feelings about Cafe in the Park.

The Good

One of the best things about this restaurant is that the food is quite good. Food includes bagel & cream cheese, deli-style sandwiches, wraps, salads, muffins, cookies, ice creams, and the like. The usual bottle drinks are available; the coffee is from the Ryan Brothers (quite good coffee!); and the smoothies are refreshing and a must-try.

The price is good. Not exactly cheap, but definitely reasonable compared to the prices in other restaurants in Balboa Park.

Service is very good too. Everyone is quite friendly and, despite the long lines, seems quite happy to serve you.

Good food... good price... good service. So, what's the problem?

Cafe in the Park
The Bad

I guess the problem lies in the category of "decor and ambiance". There's none. Cafe in the Park is located in a dark, narrow hallway. During peak hours, the traffic gets quite heavy, there's no elbow room, and you always feel like you're in someone's way.

It's not all customers either, the Cafe is in between the Museum of Photographic Arts and the Museum of San Diego History. So you have to find your way among those in line, and those who want to get through the line.<

Cafe in the Park In addition, the hallway is dark. There's only 3 or 4 small tables where you can sit, and they are adjacent to an obscure stairwell. Most of the time, the tables are already taken, so you have no choice but to mill around eating as fast as you can, or just keep moving along.

The Solution

How do you solve this problem? Well, you can take your food To Go. Take it outside and find a bench outside, or a patch of grass where you can enjoy the fresh air and daylight AND the good food & drinks.

In summary, if you're ready to take the food To Go, then Cafe in the Park is a good deal. But, if it's raining or cold and you want to sit down for a meal - then it's not the best choice.


Cafe in the Park is located in the lobby of the Casa de Balboa in between the Museum of Photographic Arts and the Museum of San Diego History (near map location 14). You can recognize the Casa de Balboa by the unusual figures that hold up the eaves of the building. It quite the buzz.

Hours of Operation

9:00 am daily
2:30 pm (Mondays);
4:00 pm (Tues to Fri);
4:30 pm (Sat & Sun)