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A counter with a large coffee machine.
The coffee counter.

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A Community-Oriented Cafe Brings Coffee and Local Seafood to Adams Avenue

Bica opens Saturday, July 15 in Normal Heights

A bright new addition to Normal Heights opens Saturday, July 15 with the arrival of Bica, which means “little cafe” in Portuguese. The daytime restaurant is one of a number of projects that San Diego natives Charles Knowles and Manny da Luz are hoping to bring to their hometown; Knowles grew up in the South Bay and da Luz in Point Loma where the duo’s commissary kitchen is located at the Portuguese Hall.

The chefs, who run the popular local supper club Cops and Robbers, are also behind the Butcher’s Plate, a new food stall launching National City’s Market on 8th that will serve rotisserie meats, salads, and sandwiches.

Bica lands on Adams Avenue across from White Rice Bodega, which is owned by longtime friend Phillip Esteban. The three chefs, all alums of Tender Greens, are collaborating on a block party this Saturday, with both spots offering food specials and beers brewed just for the occasion.

A storefront with large windows.
The Adams Avenue storefront.

Knowles (the Lodge at Torrey Pines) and Da Luz, who moved back to San Diego from Los Angeles where he cooked at Venice standouts Gjusta and Gjelina, will serve a nimble menu featuring seasonal local produce that’ll find its way into composed salads, veggie sandwiches, and house pickles as well as fresh seafood sourced from the Tuna Dockside Market. The chefs tell Eater that they’re hoping to lift up less high-profile catch like mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and squid, which will be cured and smoked and served up on tartines using Companion Bread and other chilled plates.

A counter with a large coffee machine.
The coffee set-up.

Open from early morning to late afternoon, the cafe will begin the day offering drinks from local roaster Provecho! Coffee and Paru Tea along with pastries from Prager Brothers Artisan Breads and housemade baked goods like citrus olive oil cake and Portuguese custard tarts called pastel de nata. The food will be available for takeout, but there’s also a shaded side patio for dining in.

Once they’re able to start pouring beer and natural wine, Knowles says they plan to expand the menu and start doing dinner service in the space.

A shaded patio.
The shaded patio.

Bica, 3569 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights; 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.


3569 Adams Avenue, , CA 92116 (619) 750-0121

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