Hot Breakfast Spots in San Diego
Flapjacks. Omelets. And someone else doing the cooking.
Whether your scenario involves a stressful workweek and one too many gin-and-tonics the night before or simply the desire to start your day with a menu full of morning choices, the remedy is a warm of eggs or pancakes served with fresh-squeezed OJ and an ocean breeze. Check out our list of the 26 hottest breakfast spots in town — from downtown to Encinitas, diet-friendly to decadent, classic to creative.
Claire’s on Cedros, 246 North Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach, 858-259-8597, clairesoncedros.com. The coastal cottage-like café is loved for its Clairecakes: fluffy, cinnamon-spiced pancakes named for chef/co-owner Claire Allison. She started making the old-fashioned pancakes for her family; they have become so popular at the restaurant that a packaged mix is now available for customers to take home. For a healthy start, try the multigrain variety topped with seasonal berries.
Richard Walker’s Pancake House, 520 Front Street, downtown, 619-231-7777, richardwalkers.com. Like a mutt of regular ol’ pancakes and Julian pie, the downtown eatery’s baked apple pancakes come out of the oven gooey, thick and packed with the flavor of Granny Smith apples. Thinner but perhaps equally sinful are the bacon-stuffed flapjacks and banana crêpes topped with apricot sauce.
Kitchen 1540, 1540 Camino del Mar, Del Mar, 858-793-6460, laubergedelmar.com/kitchen1540. Except for the bits of candied lemon on top, the Meyer lemon – ricotta pancakes served at L’Auberge Del Mar’s restaurant, Kitchen 1540, don’t look like anything special. But take a bite and you can’t help but say “Wow.” Light and slightly sweet, the pancakes’ citrus flavor is amplified by maple syrup that the kitchen infuses with orange peel.
Parkhouse Eatery, 4574 Park Boulevard, University Heights, 619-295-7275, parkhouseatery.com. Bring an empty stomach to tackle
the pancakes at this friendly University Heights eatery. Two of the best items on the breakfast menu are the pumpkin spice pancakes and the sun-dried berry buttermilk pancakes served with warm raspberry sauce.
Light & Bright
Naked Café, 3555 Rosecrans Street, Point Loma, 619-226-7866, thenakedcafe.com. What the Point Loma strip mall location may lack in ambience, the meals more than make up in nutritional value. On the “Look Good Naked” menu, find a 564-calorie soy chorizo burrito and a 472-calorie vegetarian-friendly platter of organic quinoa, scrambled egg whites, soy sausage, feta cheese and grilled vegetables with a spinach tortilla.
Swami’s Café, 1163 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, 760-944-0612, swamis.signonsandiego.com. When East Coasters think of SoCal hippie cuisine, they probably imagine a spot like Swami’s Café. This chill North County eatery features more than a dozen smoothies as well as egg-based entrées using ingredients like mock bacon, avocado and tofu.
Cody’s La Jolla, 8030 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, 858-459-0040, codyslajolla.com. If you’re on a
health kick, look past the French toast and grits to find entrées that even a figure-conscious Hollywood starlet would eat. The breakfast salad includes two poached eggs over greens, roasted mushrooms, asparagus and goat cheese. Or try the house-made maple nut granola with vanilla yogurt and fresh fruit.
Café Zinc, 132 South Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach, 858-793-5436, zinccafe.com. Proving that breakfast burritos don’t have to leave us with “Why did I eat that whole thing?” guilt, this Solana Beach café serves a light burrito made with scrambled eggs (or egg whites), vegetarian sausage, cheese, onion and tomato. For an extra boost, pair it with the Zinc Sunrise, a blend of orange and peach juices and raspberry purée.
Mission Coffee Cup, 1109 Wall Street, La Jolla, 858-551-8514, isabelscantina.com/coffee-cup.php. Sizzling frying pans can be heard all the way out to the patio of this La Jolla eatery. Its “Power Menu” includes healthy entrées like an egg-and-pesto scramble and black beans with rice. Staffers love the Omar Special, a dish of egg whites, grilled chicken and veggies that’s named for longtime chef Omar Guzman.
Long Lines (but Worth the Wait)
Hash House a Go Go, 3628 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest, 619-298-4646, hashhouseagogo.com. “This place must be popular,” says a passerby, glancing at two dozen people crowding the Fifth Avenue sidewalk outside of Hash House. Yes, ma’am, it sure is. After putting your name on the list, go a few doors down to Pappalecco cafe for an espresso, then give your tummy a pep talk for the massive breakfast it’s about to face— for instance, the scramble laden with chuck roast, asparagus, chipotle charred tomato and mozzarella.
Kono’s Surf Club, 704 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach, 858-483-1669. If you go on a weekend, be prepared to stand in a line extending down Garnet Avenue. There’s no way around it, so slather on sunscreen, snag a menu from the front and scour the options while you wait. Your endurance will be rewarded with quick and satisfying breakfast platters — $5 sausage breakfast burritos and $4 pancakes — and a killer ocean view.
The Mission, 1250 J Street, downtown, 619-232-7662, missionsoma.signonsandiego.com. The rosemary potatoes and banana blackberry pancakes draw a crowd that can create a half-hour line on weekends — even longer on Padres game days. Slip inside to the coffee bar and order a latte or Thai coffee to sip as you wait.
Café 222, 222 Island Avenue, downtown, 619-236-9902, cafe222.com. The Gaslamp rises early for the pleasures on these plates, such as tamales and eggs topped with “Mexican gravy,” which Café 222 starts serving daily at 7. Nutty, citrusy and delicious, the orange-pecan pancakes offer another reason to share some sidewalk space while waiting for a seat.
Broken Yolk Cafe, 1851 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach, 858-270-9655, thebrokenyolkcafe.com. When Adam Richman of the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food came to P.B.’s Broken Yolk, he had to eat a 6-pound breakfast of 12 eggs, potatoes, chili and biscuits in less than an hour. Fortunately, Adam’s timer didn’t start at the moment he stepped in line. To beat the weekend crowd, go before 9:30 a.m. or after 12:30 p.m.
Café 976, 976 Felspar Street, Pacific Beach, 858-272-0976, cafe976.com. A few blocks from the beach is a 1920s house that was a home, a school and an antique store before becoming the homey café it is today. Snag a seat on the garden patio for eggs, waffles or a colorful bowl of Brazilian açai topped with guarana, bananas and berries.
T’s Café, 271 North Highway 101, Solana Beach, 858-755-7642, tscafesolanabeach.com. A mother and her two daughters have been running the diner-style café, open since 1978, for the past 13 years. The mostly locals crowd comes for the corned beef hash skillets, breakfast quesadillas (two Mexican chefs helped craft the “Goin’ South” part of the menu) and a unique Bloody Mary mix that can be purchased in take-home growlers for $15.
Bibby’s Crêpe Café, 723 Pearl Street, La Jolla, 858-459-0558. Farmers’ markets aside, crêpes can be hard to find in San Diego. This La Jolla crêperie serves tasty breakfast and dessert crêpes in a simple dining room with blue-and-white checkered tablecloths. Many of the savory crêpes are filled with French cheeses like Gruyère and melted Brie. If skinny little pancakes aren’t your thing, try the Belgian waffles with house-made jam.
World Famous, 711 Pacific Beach Drive, Pacific Beach, 858-272-3100, worldfamous.signonsandiego.com. Between Surfer Beach Hotel and the sand, World Famous is the place to go for people-watching, wave-watching and eggs Benedict. Sit on the patio and try the lobster Benedict — served over focaccia with lemon hollandaise — or the crab cake Florentine, made with potato-crusted crab cakes.
Café 1134, 1134 Orange Avenue, Coronado, 619-437-1134. Attracting both locals and tourists from the nearby Hotel Del, Coronado’s cheery café offers quiche, baked goods and savory omelets with ingredients like sautéed shrimp, avocado and jack cheese. After breakfast, complete the morning with a stroll along the beach or Orange Avenue.
Hob Nob Hill, 2271 First Avenue, Bankers Hill, 619-239-8176, hobnobhill.com. For more than 60 years, this Bankers Hill spot has epitomized cozy and traditional with a no-frills American menu. Served 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., breakfast offerings include roast beef hash and eggs, oat raisin French toast and pastries baked fresh daily. Longtime servers offer plenty of conversation at the counter along with fresh coffee.
The Eggery, 4150 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach, 858-274-3122, theeggery.com. Long before the bacon movement swept the nation, The Eggery was known for its “Bacado” treatment, topping omelettes and eggs Benedict with strips of bacon and fresh avocado slices. Quieter and more kid-friendly than most neighboring P.B. spots, the café is less than
a block from the sand.
The Cottage, 7702 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, 858-454-8409, cottagelajolla.com. The Cottage offers one of the most classic and consistent breakfasts in La Jolla, and its dining areas are more contemporary than the white picket fence suggests. Go anytime before 3 p.m. for Eggs La Jolla — a Benedict with Canadian bacon and sautéed mushrooms — or get adventurous with French toast that’s stuffed with strawberry compote and mascarpone cheese. Of course there are pancakes, too, like those we feature on the cover. Freshly squeezed juices include grapefruit, apple and tangerine.
Red Sails Inn, 2614 Shelter Island Drive, Point Loma, 619-223-3030, theredsails.com. The bartenders claim the same Bloody Mary recipe has been used at Red Sails for more than 30 years. Many regulars have been coming for just as long, returning to the breezy bayside tables for high-protein plates of broiled fish and eggs, seafood omelets and huevos rancheros.
Con Pane, 2750 Dewey Road, Point Loma, 619-224-4344, thefreshloaf.com/node/398. At this casual bakery/café on the outskirts of Liberty Station, choose among loaves with myriad shapes and flavors: football-shaped raisin bread, rectangular ciabatta and wheat stalk – shaped epi baguettes. A trio of blackboards announces the daily breads and sweets; in December, try the seasonal cranberry, almond and eggnog scones.
Bread & Cie, 350 University Avenue, Hillcrest, 619-683-9322, breadandciecatering.com. Loved for its fresh-baked breads in flavors like black olive and goat cheese with garlic, the Hillcrest boulangerie also serves a breakfast menu of paninis, oatmeal and smoked salmon platters. The quiche supply can deplete by mid-morning, so go early for a rich taste of spinach, feta and egg.
Charlie’s Best Bread, 1808 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach, 858-272-3521. At 10 p.m., the staff starts preparing the next day’s bread for delivery to Jimbo’s, Ocean Beach Co-Op and farmers’ markets. To go straight to the source, stop by this storefront for honey-based soft-crust breads, sourdoughs, challah and fat-free muffins.
Azucar, 4820 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach, 619-523-2020, iloveazucar.com. Chef/owner Vivian Hernandez grew up in Miami but opted to open a bakery in Ocean Beach instead of South Beach, where Cuban restaurants are a dime a dozen. Her morning specialties include raspberry scones with passionfruit icing, ham quiche and café con leche (sweet Cuban espresso with hot milk).
Brunch Be gone?
Don’t see your choice brunch spots on our list? That’s because they’re not. We thought early-morning, no-lunch-confusion meals deserved their very own feature. But we’d be remiss not to mention a few spectacular ideas for the late-rising crowd:
- George’s: It’s fabulous for any meal, but especially so for brunch. Dress to impress, and make a reservation for the rooftop. georgesatthecove.com.
- Tower23: We love the boardwalk patio, the mimosa menu and the three free hours of validated parking. jrdn.com.
- Jayne’s Gastropub: Sneak off to the back patio with wicker chairs and winding ivy for a traditional English brunch menu. jaynesgastropub.com.