If you ever have a few hours to kill on a lazy Sunday, I would suggest heading to Besta-Wan in Cardiff and grabbing a seat on the deck. Have a dog? No problem. They welcome them and the dogs have a blast too. They are all on their best behavior and a few seem to have their own regular social scene going. It definitely adds some character to a place that is busting with it already.Besta-Wan feels like it should be on a lake in the Midwest. It has kind of a beach cabin feel, a little bit funky, and plenty of good vibes going around. There is a jukebox with a huge selection but should you decide to play deejay make sure you keep in mind your local beach-type audience and the time of day. The soundtrack on a recent Sunday leaned toward the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Wilco, Gomez and David Bowie.
There can be a wait during prime times, but even the wait is fun as it spills out into the parking lot with people and dogs hanging out in a very relaxed atmosphere. I’m not sure when the transformation happened at Besta-Wan as the last time I was there it did not have nearly the energy going as it does these days. It’s not a place to go in a hurry so if that’s what you are looking for, go during nonpeak hours. Otherwise, make some time to just sit back and relax, it’s a great place to do that. When the place is packed, cut the servers some slack, they are on top of it but bound to get in the weeds given the scenario.
So now that you have the perfect Sunday location and vibe going, I’d start the excursion off with a round of manmosas, which is their take on the standard mimosa and packs a delicious punch. A cold draft beer from one of their many taps is also an option. Relax over a beverage while you peruse the extensive menu.
The sign says Besta-Wan Pizza, but there is an enormous menu with something for everyone. The starters or “munchitude” section has 27 selections alone. There are 17 salads, 14 burgers and hot dog options, 28 sandwiches, 15 dinner plates, 20 pastas and of course the pizza selection. It’s almost overwhelming but with the guidance of our super cool and friendly server, we were able to narrow down our selections.
Everyone seems to be a regular at Besta-Wan so we got plenty of input from our neighbors at surrounding tables. Everyone seemed to have a favorite and with the easygoing vibe, conversation flows between the tables, especially if there are dogs involved. I went with a friend and his dog and it seemed like he had a conversation with almost every table in the place before the end of our leisurely lunch. I can only imagine what it’s like during evening hours; I’ll have to check that out soon.
As it turns out all of this socialization has resulted in many relationships developing and five weddings with a couple more pending. That’s great stuff.
We started with the barbecue Chicken pizza that had a zesty sauce and gouda cheese. The fish tacos had a nice crunch and the Philly cheesesteak was pretty true to the old school style. We took a breather then moved on to the chicken carbonara that had a smoky mix of chicken, bacon, mushrooms and a light parmesan garlic cream sauce. This came with two, sizeable pieces of garlic bread.
I’m a big fan of country fried steak and did not notice it on the menu until it was too late. It sounds great though with crispy fried steak topped with country gravy and served with cheddar mashed potatoes and steamed veggies.
To top it off, Besta-Wan sources their desserts from VG Doughnuts down the street. That place is a column in itself but take my word for it, they have some of the best doughnuts and pastries around.
The full menu along with plenty of dog photos can be found at thebestawanpizza.com. They are located at 148 Aberdeen in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday-Friday during the 7pm hour.
David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at [email protected] or (858) 395-6905.