Vintage above ground: Subterranean Coffee opens La Jolla location

entrance to subterranean coffee new location in La Jolla

Though its location is obscured from street view, a local cafe owner is revealing his take on cafe classics to La Jolla.

Gene Padigos opened Subterranean Coffee Sept 9 at 1237 Prospect St., Suite V. 

“Our thing is a quick bite with our specialties on a hidden patio.”-Gene Padigos. Owner.

This is Subterranean’s third location; Padigos has owned the original North Park cafe since 2012, opening a South Park location a few years later. 

“I love La Jolla,” Padigos said, adding he’s always wanted to have a cafe near the beach. “I found this spot, and I jumped on it. … It’s a great community.”

The cafe menu features various coffee drinks and prepared plates, though Padigos points to the lox bagel and açai bowl varieties as his specialties. 

The La Jolla location is also the only home for Subterranean’s ube affogato, ube ice cream, and a shot of espresso. “It’s pretty special,” Padigos said.

Padigos also roasts his own coffee from multiple sources, he said, though he generally prefers beans from Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Colombia.

The cafe’s name grew from Padigos’ favorite book, Jack Kerouac’s “The Subterraneans” and his love for the term “subterranean,” meaning underground, hidden or outside the mainstream. 

As a name for his cafes, “‘Subterranean’ resonated when I said it,” he said.

Following that theme, the cafe decor follows a “remember when” vibe, Padigos said, conveyed in La Jolla through an antique Edison phonograph and string bass given prime real estate next to the cafe’s counter.

“I love music and vinyl, and that just spoke to me,” Padigos said of the still-functional phonograph.

Padigos opened his first cafe after being drawn to the business, spending years working for various coffee shops around San Diego County.

Subterranean Coffee in La Jolla is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, “but if you see me here, I’m going to serve you,” Padigos said.

On the menu:

Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.
Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.

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