Every time I see the daily special tweeted out by Rick LeBlanc of Rick's Atomic Cafe, I smile. Scratch that: my faith in humanity is restored. His is the fabulous Costa Mesa office park deli that has made it, feeding office drones with his dizzyingly eclectic tastes for five years. And while you can do no wrong with his regular menu, streamlined to salads and sandwiches for workers on the go, it's the specials where LeBlanc always shines.
Consider the above photo: just a simple carrot-ginger soup with a peanut…something. It's more vegan than eating bark, yet its heartiness transform such a seemingly simple potage into a stunning chamber orchestra of flavors. Still too crazy for you? Yesterday, he had habanero jerk chicken tacos. Last week? A tri-tip sandwich out of Santa Maria. Earlier this month? A cumin chicken pocket–who's bold enough to even do chicken pockets any more?
Every time LeBlanc tweets out a daily special, it means his Atomic Cafe has lived to see another day–the triumph of great, independent food.
Rick's Atomic Cafe, 3100 Airway Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 825-0570; Twitter @ricksatomiccafe