I live within a few blocks of the ocean, so when it comes to the apocalypse, it’s not the earth moving (done that, took the edge off) but the ocean swelling that haunts my nightmares. No idea why: The nearest I’ve ever gotten to being dispatched by the deep was a modest rip tide that threw me a quarter of a mile off course in the shallows off San Diego. Still, getting engulfed by a huge wall of water terrifies me, in the best horror-movie sense. So after the tsunami hit Indonesia and the media hit the panic button, I took to nervously eyeballing the vertical distance between the beach and the lookout at Palisades Park to estimate how many seconds we in northern Santa Monica would have to get to higher ground.
Then, realizing that there’s no such thing as higher ground for miles, I threw up my hands and got down to planning the farewell party. If you’re going to go out eating and drinking in the front line of disaster, there’s no better place to gather friends and family than at Infuzion Café on Third Street and Wilshire Boulevard. Tucked around the corner from an outsize Starbucks and not close enough to Montana Avenue to be mobbed by spaghetti-strapped trophy wives, Infuzion is one of the few coffeehouses in Santa Monica where there’s guaranteed room to sit and read or work (Wi-Fi is free). Painted in cheerful ochres and rust-reds, the walls are unpretentiously covered with local art, Chinese gewgaws and the wedding photo of a proud middle-aged couple who met in the line for coffee. The chocolate croissants and giant heart-shaped palmiers are, well, to die for; and though I don’t do blended drinks or boba, I’m told they’re delicious. But it’s the unflappably welcoming smile of owner Henry Cong and his wait staff — even after a recent break-in — that makes Infuzion a refuge worth seeking out. On any given day they’ll be nice to your kids, set water and treats for your pooch, and join in the boisterous intertable chat of total strangers. Screenwriters are few, the range of age and color is wide, and, yes, everyone really does know your name. So if you’re going to out under the Big Wave, you might as well do it in great company, with a last supper of dainty tomato salad and artery-clogging cream cakes, washed down by a bottle of, by this point, the only pure water in sight.
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1149 Third St., Santa Monica, (310) 393-9985 or www. infuzioncafe.com.