Bassam's is quite possibly what I miss most about San Diego right now. This is one of my favorite coffee shops for studying, people watching, and sipping espresso that could revive the dead. Newly settled on Fifth Street in Banker's Hill (just across the street and up a block from one of my other all-time favorites, Extraordinary Desserts), Cafe Bassam is part antique shop, part European coffeehouse, and part wine bar.
The atmosphere of far-away places and people (I love listening in on conversations in other languages) is enough to get me in the doors, but the food and drink delivered to your table is what makes me stay for hours. The espresso with steamed milk in a darling little porcelain cup is my standard pick me up from Bassam's, but the chai or hot chocolate are so delicious that many times I have ordered them post-espresso. If you would prefer a glass of wine, the cheese platters with toast are also delicious and could serve as a very filling meal.
Play a game of checkers, write a book, or just watch Mr. Bassam himself mingle the locals from under his fedora and round glasses. I once saw him charm some policemen out of giving him a ticket for parking illegally in front of his shop by inviting them inside for an espresso flush (espresso over ice cream). The man asleep in the photo above? Bassam.