Lunch date #53, 3/21/14
Noticed that the location in Mission Plaza that was formerly "Z Café Express" (and "Sisters" before that) had re-opened under new ownership so decided to give it a try. Bon Dia Café (1987 Santa Rita Rd) had only been open for 12 weeks by the date of our visit. Not sure why this location seems tough for cafés to stay in business—obviously not much drive by traffic, so word of mouth will probably determine the success of the place.
Location 3.5 points: Mission Plaza across from Fiesta Taco. Plenty of parking.
Ambiance 3 points: Nothing has changed, that we could tell, from the former establishment. Very plain, café style—but it was clean and on that day, not very crowded. Looks like the hope is to also market the place as a wine bar. Outside seating is also available.
Menu selection 3 points: Fairly limited to sandwiches and salads (I doubt the place has an actual kitchen), but they have a panini maker and offer a good variety of hot sandwiches as well. They offer some breakfast items and have a bakery case, and do a variety of special coffees (espresso style).
Service—we elected not to review service for the type of place where you order at the counter and other than delivering your food, the rest is self-service, but we wanted to comment about the owner, Robert. He was running the show that day—and was very friendly and helpful. He was obviously very enthused about his café and trying (effectively) to make customers feel welcome! He also gave us good recommendations on the sandwich choices. The A/C was cranking, so we took a table in by the window for some sun-warmth. Robert noticed we were chilly and offered to turn off the A/C!
Food 4.5 points: We both ordered the turkey-avo-pepperjack panini. They were full of delicious roasted turkey, on a soft dutch-crunch roll, nicely grilled, but not over done to the point of becoming brittle. The portion size was good-Mom took home ½ for another meal.
Value 5 points: quite a good deal: sandwiches under $7 with hot coffee/tea at $2. Several dollars less overall than most places, with good quality and portion size in a pleasing environment.
Overall score for the new Bon Via Café: 3.8 points. This one measured up pretty well by our standards and we felt it was a great find! We will definitely return-and have been recommending to friends for coffee, breakfast or lunch. Hope Robert makes it and becomes a successful, long-term inhabitant of the space!