More than 50 years of good taste and good fun at La Jolla’s beloved Harry’s Coffee Shop --- and diner

Owner John Rudolph stands in front of photos of both his father and grandfather, who operated a restaurant in New York.

By Will Parson

When it comes to the friendly folks tending the booth seats and barstools at Harry’s Coffee, you could say that time has been on their side. Owner John Rudolph can point out a few things that haven’t changed since his parents Harry and Cathy Rudolph opened the place over five decades ago. But Rudolph, who owns Harry’s with his siblings Liz Gotfredson and Harry Jr., also relishes the new additions.

“There are items on the menu that have been there from day one, and then there are some that have kind of changed with time or happened by accident, which I think are the best ways to come up with some creative items.”

One of those creative items is the BW Benny, a combination of two of the restaurant’s most popular dishes: the Eggs Benedict, and the Bacon Waffle. It’s not even on the menu yet, but Rudolph points out that about a third of his clientele don’t need menus anyway. He’s already sold hundreds of the new dish.

Other popular breakfast items include the Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs, Greek Omelet and granola as well as the Breakfast Burrito, which appeared at the request of diners. For lunch, the Tuna Melt, Chicken Salad Sandwich, Mexi Burger, and Club Sandwich are popular choices. Fresh fruits include blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and even Hawaiian papaya.

Another point of interest is the Root Beer Milkshake. Rudolph says it’s like drinking the best part of a Root Beer Float, and it is one of a variety of shakes that bring people to the barstools even at 7 o’clock in the morning.

The old-fashioned barstool is definitely the center of activity at Harry’s, and the best place to mix with a diverse array of regulars. One Sunday found Bruce and Carla Taub seated at the bar with their young daughter Bradey. Bruce said they’ve been visiting for several years. “It’s very close to my home and the food is consistently good and the wait staff and everybody that works here is great.”

Behind Taub on the wall are photos of Harry Rudolph Sr. standing next to baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays and one of Harry’s father, pictured in his New York restaurant. Norman Rockwell illustrations dominate the opposite wall, but some hang near the photos of the Rudolphs.

Appropriately, Rockwell’s colorful Americana blends with the true-to-life nostalgia of the Rudolph family and their restaurant.

Harry’s Coffee Shop

Address: 7545 Girard Ave.

The Vibe: Familial, Vintage, Nostalgic

Signature Dish: BW Benny

Open Since: 1960

Hours: Breakfast: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily


Phone: (858) 454-7381

Reservations: No

Patio Seating: Yes

Take Out: Yes

Happy Hour: No

On The Menu Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.

This week: Harry’s Silver Fox Milkshake.