Gaslamp Quarter and University Heights
Indecisive drinkers will appreciate the mimosa, mojito, and sangria flights served at this colorful duo of restaurants with a large location smack dab in the center of the Gaslamp Quarter, and another on Adams Ave in University Heights. The overachieving brunch menu stars tempting items like tiramisu pancakes heaped with mascarpone whipped cream, plus crepes, pancakes, salads, cast-iron omelets, burgers, and so much more. And because the brunch menu is available 8am to 3pm daily, you don't have to wait until the weekend to get your fix.
There's only one rule for brunching at TRUST: You must order the sticky bun for reasons that should be immediately clear just by looking at the photo of it that's currently right in front of your face. A good partner for it is something savory, like smoked pork shoulder hash, egg in a hole, or the Wood Grill burger (a cheffy presentation that features sharp Asiago cheese, smoky bacon-tomato jam, pickled onions, and arugula on a house-made poppy seed bun). If that's not brunchy enough for you, get it with a fried egg & bacon on top for a few extra bucks.
There's a good variety of inventive and eye-catching dishes on the recently launched brunch menu at Madison, including this beet waffle topped with blackberry coconut puree that tastes like a grown-up version of Smucker's Boysenberry Syrup. On the savory side, you'll find plenty of delicious meat-based dishes like braised lamb and grilled leeks over a potato & beet hash, buffalo burgers topped with a creamy chive yogurt sauce, and skirt steak Benedicts on toasted 12-grain bread.
When you're looking for the classy brunch option, this East Village stunner delivers. The "Bottega Favorites" section is a good place to start; that's where you'll find the caramel-topped baked French toast (really just bread pudding in disguise) and Tuscan shrimp & grits with poached eggs and hollandaise. If you arrive closer to lunchtime craving carbs, there's also a solid variety of pasta and pizza dishes, plus "flowing mimosas" (bottomless for two hours with the purchase of a meal).
The team behind Hash House a go go and The Tractor Room is responsible for this midcentury-modern space serving creative spins on typical brunch fare, like lolliwaffles with dipping sauces, peanut butter & fried banana pancakes, and maple bacon donuts, served warm from the fryer. On weekends the place is mobbed, so if you intend to eat immediately, get there early. For a more laid-back experience, consider brunching mid-week. Brunch is served from 8am to 2pm on weekdays and 8am to 2:30pm on weekends, so you've got options.
Whether you go for traditional fare or one of several global-inspired egg dishes, one of those being eggs a la Africana with fava beans cooked in African spices with tomato yogurt sauce, you'll leave this tiny neighborhood cafe happy. Pancakes are always a prime pick. The carrot cake berry ricotta pancakes are the popular choice, but the blueberry 'cakes with a side of lemon curd cream are the unsung heroes.
From comfy booths that will accommodate a large group to bottomless mimosas, there's a lot of great reasons to hightail it to West Coast Tavern for brunch. Sure, you can get standard fare like steak and eggs or a classic breakfast, but choosing one of the many inventive options -- like the matcha bowl, short rib loco moco, or hot chicken waffle sandwich -- is highly recommended. If mimosas aren't your style, there's also bottomless rosé and Bloody Marys, plus tropical drinks sold by the pitcher.
This cheerful spot named after a city in New Zealand has a Tiki-treehouse vibe that somehow feels right at home in North Park. Inside, there's a large bar pouring $1 mimosas during weekend brunch, plus comfortable outdoor seating in full shade. Burgers and sandwiches feature prominently on the menu, but there are also plenty of creative options optimally designed for the midday meal, like ham and prosciutto quiche, croissant breakfast sandwiches, and the Dutch & Chicken -- a dutch baby pancake topped with spicy fried chicken and apple compote.
Little Italy, La Jolla, Del Mar
Each of the three Prepkitchen locations has a slightly different vibe, but the food and service are consistently excellent no matter which outpost you drop into for your brunch fix. When in doubt, go for the chilaquiles with tender chipotle chicken, sliced avocado, and queso fresco, or a plate of pancakes (toppings change seasonally, so you know the flavors will be on point).
The brunch menu at this wonderfully weird spot in South Park proves it's possible to put together a mean brunch spread without cracking any eggs (or frying bacon!). Though the options may be limited, there's something for every craving, including a basil- and chive-crusted tofu Benedict and caramelized banana pancakes, which are topped with so much caramel sauce and whipped coconut cream they might as well be a sundae. You're going to need a cocktail or two; luckily, the Bloody Mary game here is strong.
When you're craving something more exciting than standard brunch fare, look to this buzzy spot in Carlsbad with outdoor-chic decor and a spacious patio for deliciously unusual dishes like red-eye rubbed brisket (with rice, a fried egg, and chimichurri), smoke-braised pork shoulder Cubano sandwiches, and smoked beef hash. The drink menu is equally inspired, with options like spiked coffee with smoked sugar and ancho chile cream and Bloody Marys with kimchi. Whatever you do, though, do NOT forget the sourdough cinnamon bun.