85C Bakery Cafe (Balboa Mesa) - grand opening in San Diego

85C Bakery Cafe just opened a location in San Diego, to the delight of many locals who previously drove to Irvine or farther for the goods. The bakery's grand opening was Friday Nov. 14, 2014 which includes specials throughout this weekend (today and tomorrow).

  • buy any drink, get a free green tea drink coupon for next visit
  • buy $20 worth and get a free mug (while supplies last)

The night before, there was a "preview" between 6-8pm. Here the owners, managers, and staff were introduced, pretty much everyone who made this bakery possible! *applause applause*. I only found out last minute through facebook from a friend who was suddenly 'invited.' I drove over curious if I could get in too and it worked! Attendees had at least one 'ticket', which was good for their choice of a free baked good, cake or drink. My friend who had an invite got FOUR. Me, only one ticket.

The bakery items were on the right side of the bakery, in clear bins. Trays, liners, and tongs are available for shoppers to pick the items of their choice.

I wandered through the bakery area and picked up this Tomato Cheese Pastry (2.00?). Delicious. You really can't go wrong with multi cheese blend over roma tomato and flakey pastry. I especially like the garlicky topping. 

They also have a person that wraps each item individually in a plastic bag before you pay!

Closer to the entrance and to the left of the cashiers was the cake display. OMG. So beautiful! I wish I had thought to look at cakes first before picking up a pastry.

My friend had picked up two baked items, a drink plus this gorgeous strawberry cup dessert. Not sure what it was called but I'll update when I find out.

That's when I decided to go to the grand opening the next day, including the following reasons:

1. The first 500 purchases got a winning "raffle" ticket, with prizes ranging from a free drink up to a $500 bakery giftcard

2. The line can't be THAT bad since most people have to work and I actually have this Friday off!

3. Blaze Pizza across the street was giving away free pizza so I could hit 2 birds with 1 stone.

The next morning, I headed out and saw THIS.

(image credit 85C Bakery Cafe instagram)

The line was already circling 65% of the whole building where I stood (on the right wall of that huge building)! And behind me, another 75+ people lined up! What did I get myself into? After an hour, I was closer to the bakery sign, on the opposite side of the building. This far in, I just couldn't give up with the time I had already been invested.

Around 12:30pm we finally made it inside. It was so hectic inside too! I loaded up my tray with breads, a bit clueless of what I should get. Basically enough to get close to the $20 mark where you get a free mug. I also heard that the popular taro bread wouldn't be available for another 30 minutes. *sigh*

I had to get at least one cake slice. This is the Strawberry Tiramisu (3.20). And yes it was like a wonderful dream full of spongy cake, fluffy whipped frosting and strawberry mixed in. I also ordered a large Black Tea Milk (3.00) because of their weekend promo "buy any drink get 1 free green tea drink." The drink didn't really stand out but I didn't expect it to. I WILL try out their famous sea salt drink with my coupon in the future.

Here's everything packaged and ready to go. The cakes come in these perfect little to-go boxes!

Three hours later, we finally were done with the ridiculous line and cake/drink pickup. Let's celebrate. Here's my glory mug and mom-in-law's 5 free bakery win. Cathy and I only got a free drink raffle prize.

Bakery items:

Cheese Dog (1.60) - I've tried this one before and love the cheesy crust and the little hot dog inside.

Potato Cheese (1.60) - This was like mashed potato paste inside flaky pastry. Very different, but probably not something I'd care to get in the future per my tastes.

Boroh Danish (1.50) - This one reminds of a croissant inside with the layers but it was a bit on the drier side. Also I'm not sure what kind of taste there should be because the rough breadiness was a bit overwhelming.

Calamari Stick (1.00) - I heard this has squid ink in it! It's a saltier type of bread rather than sweet, so was a refreshing change between my other choices. Also the inside is completely hollow! 

Egg Tart (1.50) - The insides are creamy, buttery and a little sweet. I'd eat this over those hard looking egg custards at the dim sum places. 

Milk Pudding (1.50) - This one makes me think of the staff yelling "fresh bread" ... because they did that multiple times while we were there. The inside is filled with a custard and it's encased by soft fluffy dough. Yummy if you like a creamy filling.

Verdict:

So my numbered reasonings above were mostly fails. 1. We didn't win anything big. 2. Line was too long. 3. I forgot about the free pizza. I probably didn't want to wait in any more lines.

So is 85C Bakery Cafe worth it otherwise? I would like to think so because their products are indeed tasty (from what I've tried) and prices are reasonable. Just not 1+ hours worth. Or 3 in my case.

85C Bakery Cafe (Balboa Mesa)
5575 Balboa Ave
San Diego CA 92111
(858) 278-8585

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Comments

J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats's picture
Submitted by J.S. @ Sun Dieg... (not verified) on Sun, 11/16/2014 - 4:21pm

Ahh can't believe you had to wait 3 hours!! I think the egg tart and milk pudding look quite good. My friend always brings me egg tarts from this bakery in Arcadia that are amazing and I have never found anything quite like it in SD. I want to try out 85c...in 2 months when all the lines are gone :P

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Sun, 11/16/2014 - 4:27pm

I was under the impression that the lines in Irvine were about an hour on the weekends (turns out it's 20-30 minutes) AND I thought the line would move a lot faster. *sigh* I can never get those hours back... 

Cathy attended a grand opening for Rita's, waited for less time than this, AND got free coupons for a whole year. Now THAT would have been worth the promo wait...

Fran @ G'day Souffle''s picture
Submitted by Fran @ G'day So... (not verified) on Sun, 11/16/2014 - 8:04pm

This bakery reminds me of a similar concept in Adelaide, South Australia (where I live part of the year). It's called 'Breadtop'. I like the self-serve concept and reasonable prices. I wonder why they call it 85 C (that's a very hot temperature)!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Sun, 11/16/2014 - 11:08pm

there's another asian bakery called paris baguette that is also popular but without the lines. someone told me that 85C prices are lower but i don't shop either enough to know for sure.

i looked it up and the cafe creators believe "coffee holds its flavor best at a steady temperature of 85 degrees Celsius." i learn something new every day!

Jenny (vintagesugarcube)'s picture
Submitted by Jenny (vintages... (not verified) on Fri, 11/21/2014 - 7:30pm

Hi Lynn,

I really enjoyed reading your review. I can't wait to go, but I'm going to wait a couple more weeks, til the crowds go down. Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to you.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Sun, 11/23/2014 - 10:17pm

the lines may never go away since it's the only location in san diego but hopefully you can find a non-peak time to check it out. i'm all about the 'sneak peek' next time i'm driving in the area. 10 minutes or less and i'll go in!

Mary's picture
Submitted by Mary (not verified) on Tue, 11/25/2014 - 10:33am

Hardcore, man. I figured it would be completely insane there for awhile so I haven't gone yet, but people keep telling me about it so obviously I must go soon. It looks delicious!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 6:00pm

I drove into the plaza the other day just to check if there was a line and there was... I still need to redeem my free tea though so I'll have to brave it eventually!

Faye's picture
Submitted by Faye (not verified) on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 9:42am

I agree with Mary. Hardcore man. I never understood the 85c hype but that's just me. I would always go to the Irvine location to buy a few things for my sis (when I would drive back from LA) but she eventually thought the breads started to taste 'meh' . She did visit the SD location last week and was impatient about her 20 min wait to get inside. BUT, what she said sucked, was the wait to CHECK OUT. There weren't enough cashiers to keep up w/ the masses. We did think the huge round sweet brioche bread was awesome ! I'm glad you at least got a free mug.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 6:05pm

My cousins say there's no line in the Garden Grove location in O.C. (but there's usually one in Irvine). I kinda feel like stopping by THERE next time we're nearby to see if that's true! I do feel quite a bit impatient these days. At least the mug is pretty.

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