To this day, long before brunch ever became a thing, my entire extended family in Thailand always reconvenes every Sunday at 11 am for a meal together. It’s the time when commitments are minimal and the time when people are unwinding. It’s the time we use to catch up with one another and to prepare for the craziness of the next week.
As a diehard brunch addict, I can certainly attest that brunch isn’t just a meal, it’s a lifestyle. Brunch goes beyond the food on the table, brunch is about the conversations you share and the memories that you make. So, gather your friends and your family, and get ready, because this is the complete guide to finding the best brunch spots in California.
Obviously, the pancakes at Larchmont Bungalow are not your typical flapjacks. These vibrant beauties are blue and and red velvet pancakes stuffed with cream cheese and doused with maple syrup. Rest assured, they’re 100 percent delicious and not listed as dessert.
The fried egg tartine from the Sycamore Kitchen was just too darn addicting that it had to be offered all day, and we’re not complaining. It’s filling and it’s delicious but it won’t ruin your beach bod considering how healthy and green it is.
If you couldn’t already guess by the name, eggslut has devoted their entire menu to eggs. Whether you want them scrambled, coddled, over medium, or hard cooked, be prepared for a lengthy wait as the best breakfast sandwich of your life is being assembled.
Until District Commons in Washington DC decides to open up shop and start spinning out their ham and eggs flatbread on the West Coast, Osteria La Buca will reign supreme in the breakfast pizza category. Their offering is topped with a runny egg and strips on strips of bacon.
The Paramount Coffee Project is a trendy coffee shop that first originated in Australia before opening its doors in the heart of Los Angeles. In my humble opinion, their drinks are incomparable to Starbuck’s, Peet’s, or The Coffee Bean but the food and its beautiful garnishes are the real shining star here.
You have probably seen the tutorial for the poached egg inside an avocado wrapped in bacon circulating through Facebook but this glorious dish actually debuted at Estrella under the title “The Rolling Stone.” Talk about #eggporn
7. Bea Bea’s
Bea Bea’s certainly has something for everyone. Their five page long menu is filled with combinations of delightful dishes like Thai tea pancakes, Hawaiian bread French toast, and grilled chicken and bacon eggs benedict. So if you’re in a group full of picky eaters, or even adventurous ones, Bea Bea’s is definitely a must try.
The brunch pastas from Hugo’s are essentially a mash up of two of the best things in the world: pasta and breakfast. These dishes combines freshly made pasta with eggs, garlic, cheese, and a house special seasoning but one includes meat whereas the other doesn’t.
Sqirl will undoubtedly become your newest brunch obsession -– their food is healthy and fun. You honestly can’t go wrong with one of their rice bowls (rice is life, friends), green eggs and jam tartine, or their famed ricotta toast with a big dollop of their housemade jam.
10. Malibu Farm
The brunch menu at Malibu Farm isn’t the most expansive but that’s because all of the ingredients are sourced from local farms. So if you had your horizons set on a never ending menu, perhaps you should shift your focus to the crystal clear waters that your table overlooks. If not for the food, definitely come for the view.
11. Eat This Cafe
If you’re looking for no fuss, then Eat This Cafe has got your back with the fundamental brunch menu consisting solely of the classics. Why throw many options at someone so early in the morning when you can just eat this?
12. Cafe Los Feliz
The breakfasts at Cafe Los Feliz may seem run of the mill but the presentation is definitely exceptional because waffles have never looked this gorgeous. If you’re still craving something sweet then check out their crave-worthy baked goods and macarons.
If the saying is really true, and you really are what you eat, then you’re definitely going to be a doughboy or doughgirl after indulging in the pancakes at Doughboys. They’re offering some wild pancake concoctions like Rice Krispy pancakes, banana pecan butterscotch pancakes, and their original red velvet pancakes.
14. Trois Familia
Trois Familia isn’t your typical dining experience. This French-Mexican eatery offers family style dining on white-washed picnic tables. So if you were looking some alone time with your new boo, be prepared to share some conversations with strangers over some tasty dishes like the churro french toast or galette crêpe topped with avocado milk.
15. Olive & Thyme
When I was younger, I used to be obsessed with the quiches from Panera Bread and thought nothing could trump them…but Olive & Thyme is making me reconsider. Their house-made quiche is constantly rotated but always delicious, nonetheless. Their avocado toast also deserves a shout out.
16. Cafe St. Jorge
Cafe St. Jorge pays homage to their Portugal roots by incorporating these influences into their California cuisine. If you’re looking for some international flair, they offer a variety of dishes that incorporate Portuguese cheese and Portuguese sweet rolls. But if you’re looking for the classics, check out their take with the orange blossom waffle and chia bowls.
17. Cici’s Cafe
If you’re really indecisive, just like me, make sure to bring at least one assertive friend with you to Cici’s Cafe. Just the menu’s pancake section alone has enough options for you to debate for days. From green tea coconut to tiramisu, there are certainly pancakes for everyone at Cici’s, it’s just a matter of being able to narrow down the tasty options.
18. Rum Jungle Cafe
If there are two things that my generation is most obsessed with, besides brunch of course, it is açaí bowls and Instagram. Knowing this, you’ll be delighted to hear that the folks at Rum Jungle Cafe are serving up their açaí bowls in a hollowed out pineapple bowl. Not only are they tasty, they’re a perfect photo op for you and your bestie.
19. Fig Tree Cafe
Fig Tree Cafe offers huge portions and interesting menu items (who’s ever tried breakfast sushi?) but the real deal behind this spot is their atmosphere. The dining area is set up like a patio with greenery growing all around you. It’s a little hipster and definitely very inviting – I could have sat there munching for hours.
20. The Cottage
With San Diego being so close to the Mexican border, there are a lot of Hispanic influences in San Diegan cuisine. At the Cottage in La Jolla, their chefs perfectly fused these two cultures in their baja chicken hash which includes poached eggs and crispy tortilla shells.
21. Cody’s La Jolla
We can’t talk about the Cottage without mentioning Cody’s. They’re both located in La Jolla, they both start with C’s, and they’re both serving some bomb brunch. But among the many differences, the most notable would be that Cody’s offers a partial ocean view in addition to their pillowy piles of french toast.
In search of a heartier brunch? The chilaquiles at Prepkitchen La Jolla incorporate braised chicken, a runny egg, and creamy avocado atop of a bed of crunchy tortilla chips. Not only is it an explosion of flavors and textures but it will keep you satiated throughout your day.
Can’t wait until the weekend? Nutmeg Bakery & Cafe is serving up their special breakfasts Monday through Friday. So if hump day has got you feeling down, don’t be ashamed to stuff your face with their stuffed French toasts. They’re rotated daily as well so even more reason to make this a weekly affair.
Given the name of the restaurant, Hash House a Go Go is famous for their hash but their sage fried chicken and their gravy and biscuits also deserve a blue ribbon. Luckily for some of you, these drool worthy dishes can be found at their other locations in Nevada, the Midwest, and the East Coast.
The flights at Snooze, an A.M. Eatery don’t require you to fasten your seatbelt or an ID proving you’re of age because they are flights of pancakes. They recognize that there are simply too many delectable options on their menu that picking just one would be unfair, so you’re allowed to pick three different flavors.
26. Isabel’s Cantina
San Diego is so close to Mexico that you can practically grab your passport and cross the border for some traditional treats at a moment’s notice. But why wait in the long immigration line or exchange your currency when you can get delicious, authentic fare at Isabel’s Cantina? Their breakfast quesadillas and soy chorizo scrambles are muy delicioso.
The breakfast menu at the Werewolf will probably leave you confused as to whether you’re still dreaming or still buzzed but their brunch plates are actually as sinful as they seem. That’s right, you’re allowed to start your day with their pork belly benedict and breakfast balls.
Not only is the restaurant’s interior jaw-dropping, it has a very rustic feel with the weathered-wood walls, but so is the food. The menu may not be as expansive as others but their ingredients are locally sourced and their dutch pancakes are amazing.
Loosen your belts and put on your palazzo pants because indulging and overeating are impossible to resist at Brenda’s French Soul Food. To combat the self-indulgence, I recommend going with a big group, ordering a variety of dishes (the beignet flight is a must), and sharing everything. You won’t regret it.
Mom always said that sharing is caring and at Shakewell, the Spanish-inspired cuisine promotes a lot of that with their many tapas. But if you don’t feel inclined to share, your dining companions shouldn’t be too offended. From shashouka to asparagus tartine to sweet pea toast, these irresistible plates are justifiable for that ounce of selfishness.
Plow is probably the only place you will find coconut matcha mochi cake on the menu – but you better act fast as their selection changes daily and is often limited in supply. Besides some special menu items, this rustic restaurant predominantly serves breakfast classics with a twist like their almond flour pancakes or their croque monsieur with prosciutto and egg fried in chili and garlic.
32. Farm Table
Although toast can become pretty repetitive after awhile, Farm Table’s toast is something that I wouldn’t mind waking up to every morning. Their bread is slathered with a generous dose of mascarpone cheese before being dressed up with some freshly sliced fruit and garnished with crushed pistachios.
If you don’t go early, do expect a wait because the Beachcomber Cafe is located right on one of Southern California’s most beautiful beaches. So while you’re waiting, you can frolic in the water or take a stroll next to the ocean but you should probably be debating whether you will be ordering the beignets or the crepes.
#SpoonTip: They also give you a treat on your birthday so if you’re in town on your special day, make an effort to stop by.
34. Grits Fullerton
The pancake balls at Grits Fullerton are literally so exciting, they have a section on their brunch menu dedicated to your typical brunch fare labeled as “boring.” So if you’re looking for a bit of an adventure to your brunch routine, check out some of their offerings like biscuits and bone marrow, salmon and hoecakes, or the aforementioned pancake balls.
35. Early Bird
Your tastebuds definitely won’t be dulled at Early Bird Cafe. Their brunch menu is always rotating weekly specials but if you’re looking for a go to favorite that will always be there, check out the duck confit hash like the one pictured above. The duck is a delicacy and adds a certain pizzaz that just can’t be found with chicken or beef.
36. Bagels & Brew
The bagels at Bagel & Brew are giving the bagels in New York some serious competition, especially with the most recent addition to their menu items: the unicorn bagel. This colorful bagel can even be stuffed with any of their homemade schmears like birthday cake or oreo.
Cereal or french toast? Well, at Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, they save you the trouble of having to make such a difficult decision by combining Fruity Pebbles and their decadent french toast. Talk about the best of both worlds.
38. The Iron Press
Are You Cereal? Yes, that is in fact the name of the Iron Press’s iconic waffle dish topped with your choice of Oreos, Cap N’ Crunch, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. But if you’re not feeling the cereal, this specialty waffle restaurant is serving up a variety of other flavors like sugar coated churro, jalapeño cheddar, and bacon and smoked Gouda.
4th Street Market is a conglomerate of different vendors whipping up goodies like pressed juice, artisanal popsicles, and robust meals. So while the food there might skirt the line of brunch, just remember that the addition of a fried egg to the pork belly fries from Pig Pen Delicacy is basically another version of eggs, bacon, and hash browns.
This Cal gem is actually owned and operated by one of their very own alumni who completed a program in environmental design. Her dedication to her studies really shines with the layout of the breathtaking patio and lush garden. If you get the chance, ask for outdoor seating and an order of their creme fraiche pancakes.
41. 900 Grayson
The menu at 900 Grayson is whimsical and is definitely a good conversation starter if you’re reconnecting with an old pal. Their Saturday brunch is called the Day of Leisure and their many dishes each have their own title as well like Demon Lover, code for fried chicken and waffles, or Tom Boy, code for poached eggs and corned beef hash.
The Sunny Side Cafe is predominantly known for their Insta-worthy wall with the quote, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” but the all day breakfasts are just as noteworthy. Come on a weekday to get the largest selection of offerings and to snap a new profile picture.
43. Cafe M
For the quality they give at the prices they offer, it is no wonder Cafe M is such a popular destination in Berkeley. Their ingredients are mostly organic and they offer items such as an Irish benedict that combines corned beef and eggs benedict as well as a portabella benedict for those who prefer veggies to carbs.
44. Scarlett Begonia
Santa Barbara is pretty well known for being a college town full of surfers and good looking people. So rest assured that the brunch at Scarlett Begonia offers some very clean eating with their organic and locally sourced ingredients. Their house made granola and quinoa oatmeal will make you feel like you’re indulging without having to forego your skinniest skinny jeans.
45. Backyard Bowls
There are a lot of açaí bowls in the world but the ones at Backyard Bowls have an extra special boost with the addition of goji berries and honey granules. Beyond the toppings, they also offer a mix of variations, one of which is a green bowl that includes blended kale.
46. Stella Mare’s
Stella Mare’s is a French bistro giving you a taste of the Parisian lifestyle right in Santa Barbara. Their menu offers plates that you would typically find while roaming around antiquated, European cobblestones like escargots, crêpe au saumon, and croque madame. As they would say in France, délicieux.
47. The Table
It’s not every day that you can go to brunch, or Europe for that matter. So if you’re lucky enough to pay a visit to the Table, definitely try their scotch egg. A scotch egg was first created in London and is essentially a hard boiled egg, wrapped in sausage meat, coated in bread crumbs, and then fried or baked.
Zachary’s Restaurant has been a Santa Cruz favorite for locals and tourists alike since the 1980s. This American diner is serving up some hearty meals that are almost completely homemade, right down to the bread. So if you get the chance, definitely check out their infamous sourdough pancakes.
49. Sara’s Kitchen
Sara’s Kitchen produces plates that resemble the delicious home cooked breakfasts that moms would make for their families on weekends. So if you’re just a little too far away from home, check out Sara’s Kitchen for a taste of comfort.
Get a taste of the United Kingdom with the fare at Fox & Goose Public House. They’re serving up a classic English breakfast, English crumpets, and Irish corned beef hash. All we’re missing is the bangers and mash.