That's like in "Get Out Neighborhood Exploring", get it? :-D
I have done just that in my time here in Orange County and learning of the recent closing of a once popular Costa Mesa cafe brought back memories of the 1st time I visited it:
Newport Blvd. on a Friday night...
There are a few bars along the street seemingly more "happening" but if you aren't "hip" to that scene, or have rarely partaken of its pleasures then a good place to check out the Boulevard was the 8 year old Cafe Ruba (Formerly known as Rocket Java in another, longer life).
The site had a 24/7 Webcam if ya cared to eaves drop. :-D
The outside of the place was quite inviting and the 3rd best thing about the place, to me, after my first visit (I'll get to the other 2 in a bit.).
The first thing I noticed were several palm trees lit up with lights, beyond which were a bunch of black tables with 4 roomy plastic chairs for each and some lamps for extra lighting (But not used much, I gathered.).
A bar, a pool table ($2 a game) and several arcade and video games rounded things out.
Inside was a combination living room and deli counter with several menu boards.
There were several couches for lounging around, a computer for internet access, candy and drinks racks and a Newspaper stand.
The tasteful nature art on the walls was nice and the rock music playing in the background wasn't too jarring to those not into that sort of thing.
The 2 counter gals were young and friendly and the tip jar brought a smile to my face as I saw the smiling head of Jack Skellington (From A Nightmare Before Christmas) imploring me to be generous.
People watching is interesting.
Folks of all ages, ethnic make-up, dress and economic class apparently liked the place.
Rockers and not, well dressed and casual, singles, couples, groups, all began showing up not long after I arrived.
You had your yuppies and your covered in chains types, the t-shirt and shorts crowd, the suit and ties crowd and then there was ...me (All sweater and slacks, with a couple of magazines. my Writers Idea book and my notepad, spread on the table around me.).
What was I doing amidst all this ?
Soaking up community atmosphere and eating a healthy, cheap dinner, that's what. :-D
I ate the Newsstand (No not THAT one! It's a turkey sandwich) and a macaroni salad.
Both were delicious and my 2nd favorite thing about the place.
I found a nice table near the entrance, with a nice view of all of the goings on around me, and dug into my meal while reading OC WEEKLY and observing the observable.
The best thing (A bonus was the bike rack out front!) about the Cafe Ruba, though, were the 3 wonderful chaps at the table behind and next to me.
I didn't notice them when I arrived or when I sat down, but then I suddenly felt like I was being watched and turned slowly around.
There it was:
A wonderfully detailed, expressive and moody, wall mural portrait of Frank Sinatra (an older version) and James Dean, both dressed in black coats (With Frankie sporting a black fedora as well.), and a young Elvis dressed in a grayish white coat, smoking cigarettes and sitting around a black table, like mine, with a piping hot cup of coffee in the center of it.
The artist, Andrian, is to be commended for this fabulous piece of artwork.
With these guys looking over my shoulder, in the half-lighted patio, like me observing the passing parade, I felt a sense of comfort and the notion that my life would ...I don't know, get more interesting from that night on.
As the night wore on (I stayed from 9pm to 11pm.) more people began showing up and the cafe showed that it, too, was a "happening" place, as every table filled and the sound of conversation, laughter, and the smell and smoke of cigarettes, wafted through the night air.
Finally, reluctantly, it was time for me to leave.
I turned around and smiled at Frankie, Jimmy and Elvis, silently thanking them for the pleasant company they provided, got up, left a $1 tip in the tip jar inside and walked out into the night.
NOTE 1: When the Mural was eventually removed I felt a great sense of loss and could not bring myself to return to the cafe again.
The evening ended on one, final, rather surreal, note as I waited to cross Newport Blvd. and observed the amusing sight of a super-long white Limo pulling in to the parking lot of the Del Taco and parking in the back when the driver realizes that there is no way in hell that monstrosity was gonna make it in the drive-thru. :-D