Cafe Bassam is amazing—it feels very magical, as though you've stepped into a place where time stops and the rest of the world has disappeared completely. They are the oldest coffeehouse in San Diego. The cafe is larger than the image shows, and the fellow in the lower right corner is Bassam, who was meeting with a friend when I snapped this photo. He's often seen hanging out here.
They make hot sandwiches, have some pastries, and sell varieties of coffee, tea, port, wine, and beer. If you get a cup of tea, you are given a large cup of hot water and then you are sent over to the rows of glass tea canisters to choose what you would like. At Bassam's, you don't pay until you are walking out the door, which encourages patrons to sit and relax on one of the couches or talk with a friend without feeling rushed.
The decor is really interesting, with antique photos, jewelry, paintings, guns, clocks, and other unique items are scattered about the cafe. It doesn't feel stuffy at all; instead, it feels like a place where the plots of novels are first considered and composed, or where a profound philosophical idea takes root.
Tip: They have free wifi and, unlike most other cafes around San Diego, they are open late.