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Upstart Crow perches in Seaport Village

by Christian Benavides

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It’s Friday morning. You get out of class, dragging your feet toward the mirage of a bed near the Love Library. Well, that’s my Friday morning summed up in one sentence. But something did lift my spirits that morning: Upstart Crow Bookstore and Coffeehouse.

I made my way to Seaport Village, San Diego’s tourist version of a fly trap. Of course, be prepared to park. It can get hectic on weekends, but you’re sure to find an open spot on weekdays.

Once I parked, I headed toward Upstart Crow. The exterior resembles the surrounding light-colored buildings, but the inside is a completely different world.

Photo by Christian Benavides, staff writer

Photo by Christian Benavides, staff writer

The creaking wooden floor welcomed me inside. In fact, the walls inside were lined with wood paneling, similar to a cabin. My stomach was growling, so I made my way toward the cash register to purchase a beverage. Once it was my turn, I ordered an iced vanilla late and a piece of chocolate cake that had caught my eye.

Books lined the walls, a virtual clock was projected on the wall and arbitrary crow paraphernalia was displayed all around. As an English major, I was automatically attracted to the vast amount of classic novels, practically drooling at the sight of all the cool covers.

A warm atmosphere is not all upstart Crow has to offer.

Once I got a quick visual breakdown of Upstart Crow, I took a big sip of my latte. It was a perfect blend of caffeine and vanilla—not too sweet, not too strong. My stomach was especially appreciative of the heavenly drink.

Next came the slice of chocolate cake, which lay on a clear plate decorated with chocolate syrup. I stabbed the slice with my fork and inserted the soft bread into my mouth. My taste buds went down a big hill on a roller coaster of deliciousness. Heed my warning: Take a friend and share. Halfway in, I had to raise a white flag, fearing my stomach would explode.

Photo by Christian Benavides, staff writer

Photo by Christian Benavides, staff writer

Upstart Crow contains an assortment of pastries and drinks to satisfy its diverse clientele, but don’t go in expecting a big meal.

Another unique aspect of Upstart Crow is its wide variety of knick-knacks and art. Some of the art on sale comes from local artists in San Diego, while others are made by people from other countries who travel to sell their creations. One such item I was shown was a hand-sewn hat made out of Coca-Cola cans. But my favorite things were the various plush toys of famous figures, including Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe and even Sigmund Freud.

“We’re open everyday of the year,” Upstart Crow Employee Berenice Santos said. “So, a lot of people do come from out of town. They come down with their families, have a good time, get a cup of coffee and even play a little bit of checkers.”

Among  regular customers are, of course, tourists.

“Usually when it’s winter time we get more international visitors because their weather is a lot colder,” Santos explained. “During the summer is when it’s completely full. We close a lot later for that reason.”

Upstart Crow is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Apart from the coffee and books, customers can enjoy Shakespeare readings, live music and other events throughout each month.

Upstart Crow is definitely one of the best places in San Diego to go for a quick breather from school, whether in the morning or at night. Its location at the edge of downtown provides easy access to other activities as well.

I promise after just one taste of this quaint, little place, you’ll arrange for regular visits very soon.

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