Under $10 Westside Free WiFi Watch: Bolivar Cafe


Cafe Bolivar is one of my top three favorite cafe offices. You can go to Yelp and learn about the varied experiences of casual patrons who don’t really know what they’re talking about and who base their review on 1.5 visits (though it is rated quite high by most yelpers, I should add); meantime, I’m here to tell you that you should come to this cafe and work for three reasons:

  • The green sauce
  • The yellow lentil soup
  • The arepas
  • The guava pastries

Oh. That was four. Anyway, OMG I love those guava pastries. Haven’t had one in ages, ’cuz I can’t eat that wheat poison no more. But as far as wheat poison goes, it’s pretty terrific.

The arepas are Venezuelan masa sandwiches. I love me the arepas; it’s the closest I get to a sandwich these days. Plus, it comes with the GREEN SAUCE. This is not just any condiment. People come in and ask for just the green sauce in a big container to go. People put it on their salads, on bagels…I’ve seen it in lots of different things, but Bolivar, by default, only serves it with the arepas. Here are my best guesses at the ingredients of the green sauce:

  • cilantro – a lot of cilantro
  • white vinegar
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

No, this is not a spicy sauce. Deal with it, people! Not everything has to be spicy to be good. Get you some arepas stuffed with black beans and your choice of cheese. I am partial to the panela or the gouda. The gouda really kicks it up a notch, but the panela is more autentica. Oh, that green sauce. Trust me, that green sauce ingredient list is not complete. There’s something in that sauce to make it SPECIAL and SECRET. It keeps me coming back to Bolivar despite the

  • hard seats
  • little to no long term parking
  • insufficient exhaust fan to purge the cafe of the occasional odor of burning butter on the arepa grill

One more thing that keeps me coming back:

  • Yerba Matte Latte

The Yerba Matte Latte is like eating pureed grass with green tea, honey, and steamed soy milk. I love it! It’s weird! And it gives a strong caffeine boost without the corresponding dehydration and other ill effects of your cup of joe. Make sure to order it with light honey.


The wifi signal is good. They’ll let you stay forever, and the service is pretty good. They’re nice in a calm, centered way. Like, they’re not going to lick your toes or anything, but they’ll get you what you need, fairly efficiently, and leave you alone. The music is good; they’ve usually got some putomayo something-or-other going. I never feel like I wish I had brought my ear plugs or my iPod.

Myself, and some other patrons like myself, we’re just trying to get our work done. We know each other by sight and give each other a nod sometimes. We keep it on the QT, we keep it low profile. Bolivar knows what we’re doing and we know they know, and we know they know we know they know. And so on. And it’s all good.

Finally, I’ve read on yelp that some people had a little problem with food poisoning. I’m here to tell you I’ve been going there for three years and never had a problem. But, I never order the tuna (though I can see it’s popular) or the chicken. Why, when you can have jamon serrano instead? Or a guava pastry? Or yellow lentil curry soup? Did I mention the salad? Wonderfull large salads. Did I mention the juices? They do this one juice, it’s basically beet juice, orange juice, and carrot juice. It’s pretty, plus it tastes good! And I always feel like I’ve had my allotment of that veggie/fruit stuff I’ve been avoiding all month. I also hear their Oaxacan hot chocolate is the bomb.

Cafe Bolivar

1741 Ocean Park Blvd
Santa Monica 90405