Cafe Sevilla Sunday Brunch
By Jaqueline Gutierrez
Photographed By: Alazzia Gaoay
The first thing you notice about Café Sevilla is its overwhelming ambience. There are lights strung across the Riverside restaurant, star-shaped lanterns hanging from the ceiling and a beautiful floor-to-ceiling mural of a Spanish neighborhood. When our photographer and I arrived around 10 a.m., the whole restaurant was filled with golden SoCal morning light filtering through huge windows. The musician was warming up with his guitar while we settled into the former 1920s tractor showroom that was converted into a beautiful two-story restaurant.
The real star on Sundays is the buffet style brunch. Café Sevilla offers an impressive spread – a veritable feast of everything from steamed mussels to a chocolate fountain. With an overwhelming number of Sunday brunch items, I had to narrow the list of what to write about.
Our server Sally made it clear that what made the food taste so good, besides the talented kitchen staff, was the quality of the ingredients. Quality is important at Café Sevilla, and that’s evident from your experience, start to finish.
On the centerpiece table, where the main dishes are, lie quite a few gems. The grilled ahi tuna was so fresh and meaty that I almost mistook it for pink pork. Café Sevilla spreads it over a large platter like little pink gems surrounding a blended form of chimichurri sauce, as opposed to a minced version. All of the restaurant’s seafood was as fresh as it was generous. The shrimp was plump and almost sweet and the steamed chilled mussels were served with a simple bright picadillo. It practically sparkled on the taste buds with a sip of mimosa.
By the way, it’s not brunch without mimosas.
If the seafood doesn’t get your attention, the platter of cured meats will. This isn’t your typical salami on a charcuterie platter. Sevilla offers three types of thinly sliced meats that are pink and a bright saffron red, with strategically placed dried chilies to let you know this plate is going to be fire. There is also a cup filled with a combination of Spanish olives mixed with the restaurant’s signature Moorish spice mix. The olives are mix of traditional Manzanilla, black olives, large Gordal, garlic cloves and Basque chilies.
The meats and the olives go hand in hand. There is spicy Chorizo Soria – red from smoked paprika; Jamón Serrano cured in pure sea salt and typically served cut with a sabre straight from the leg; and Jamón Ibérico, the “Pride of Spain” made from Black Iberian pigs. The meat has bite in texture and taste. The sunlight on Andalusian grassy fields is in every mouthful of olives, Jamón and crostini topped with parsley, garlic and drizzled with olive oil.
Café Sevilla also offers traditional breakfast fare such as sausage, bacon and eggs benedict. Also, not so breakfast but noteworthy is the mac and cheese – ooey and gooey and given Spanish flare with manchego cheese and paprika. The eggs benedict is also made with Spanish ham and topped with paprika.
Tucked away in the corner of the table is a dish you can’t miss. The chorizo empanadas are like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way. They are empanadas made with puff pastry filled with chopped Spanish chorizo, peas, paprika and cheese. The ingredients were balanced – not too much of anything and completely in sync. As I typed notes into my phone, I had a Freudian slip and wrote “chorizo croissant” with little heart emojis. That’s just how flaky they were.
Some other standouts were the paella and the watermelon pineapple salad – one traditional and one innovative. It should come as no surprise that Café Sevilla makes a mean paella. Besides the masterful flavor execution, what impressed me was the rice. It was fluffy and perfect, with not a grain over or undercooked.
The watermelon and pineapple salad looks harmless enough – the main components being watermelon, pineapple and cucumber. When you taste it, however, there is a surprising heat that envelops your mouth and warms the back of your throat. Like the olives, the salad is tossed with the Moorish spices, and the culprit of the heat is an infused habanero oil. Really, it’s an ingenious ingredient, as the oil coats your mouth and lingers moments after.
That table alone could have made the brunch complete, but there was more. If you’re having brunch and you have a mimosa, you need a crepe or a waffle, or both. If you’re like me, you always want a crepe and or Belgian waffle, but I digress. Café Sevilla has got you covered with a carving, omelet, crepe and waffle station. The crepes are tender and paper-thin. Ask for the banana and Nutella crepe – it’s like a little burrito of pure happiness. The waffles are crispy and slightly tangy from the buttermilk in the batter. You can have the waffles with butter and maple syrup, or you can take it to the next level with strawberry cream cheese that’s made with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
Now that you’ve had your mandatory brunch elements, you suddenly remember that chocolate fountain, along with a whole array of other desserts. Eclairs before noon? Yes, please. The selection includes eclairs, strawberry and chocolate mousse, cake, cheesecake, a sort of coconut blondie- sweetened condensed milk hybrid, a unique espresso crème brulee, and, of course, the chocolate fountain.
Café Sevilla is an out-of-the-ordinary restaurant that is a pro at everything it does. It also does an excellent job of transporting you to sunny Spain, while you sip and munch and listen to the guitarist singing “Besame Mucho.” Don’t be surprised if you find yourself looking at flights to Spain and sighing dreamily.
I know exactly where I’m going for my next Sunday brunch – to Spain in Downtown Riverside.
No passport necessary.