.Flats Bistro Offers Coffee, Pizza and Beach Vibes

The Rio Del Mar beachfront operation serves up traditionally made coffee and brick-oven pizza

After working at Flats Bistro for five years as a barista and cook, Brisa Lopez left to pursue a career in law enforcement—she was in the Army Reserves for six years. But she had to put her longtime dream on hold to take care of her father, who had developed severe health issues. Recently, the Flats owner asked Lopez if she’d return as a manager; she jumped at the opportunity. 

Known for craft coffee and artisanal pizza, the space has a casual beachy vibe—there’s outdoor patio dining, too. Flats’ outside-the-box pizza options include Da Beach, balsamic reduction drizzled on gorgonzola and pear toppings, and the Palo Alto, loaded with salmon, dill aioli, capers, red onion and fresh arugula. Sandwiches, empanadas, acai bowls and pastries are also offered. As for the coffee, Flats—open 7am-2pm Tuesday-Sunday—prepares its local joe by hand on an old-school espresso machine. 

Lopez still plans on going into law enforcement one day. In the meantime, she gave GT the lowdown on Flats’ incredible pizza and coffee convos. 

Is there a lot of “coffee talk” going on at Flats?

BRISA LOPEZ: We have a lot of regular local customers, as well as customers from all over the world. People come from all over Europe and often chat with us about the differences in coffee here and there. Traditionally, coffee there is stronger and more concentrated and comes in a smaller amount like an espresso shot. Whereas here, there are numerous sizes and more types of coffee drinks, as well as all the housemade flavorings we offer. People come here for the coffee but stay for our friendly and outgoing staff. 

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Describe the pizza.

It’s all made in-house, including the dough, which is made fresh every day. We also make our own sauce, and it’s all made-to-order. The crust has a sourdough base with a little tang, and the crust is fluffed up but has crispy edges and puffed dough spots. [The pizza] is cooked in a brick oven at least 600 degrees, which allows the bottom to get that smoky flavor with a nice and even char and melts the [cheese]. 

Flats Bistro, 113 Esplanade, Aptos, 831-661-5763; flatsbistro.com.

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