Food & Drink

7 San Diego Brunch Dishes You Must Try Right Now

Published On 01/25/2016 Published On 01/25/2016
Erin Jackson/Thrillist

From boozy options to chef’s picks, San Diego is bursting with great places for brunch. The lazy, late afternoon meal is a prime opportunity to experience what a restaurant is all about, especially if they're serving up tasty dishes like the seven we’ve collected for your weekend munching pleasure. If you’re keen on trying something a little more exciting than the standard fare, this list is for you. Now go forth, all ye millenials who can't (won't?) wake up at a decent hour, and eat!

Pork French toast

Waypoint Public

Address and Info

North Park

Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 3pm
Thick-cut brioche dipped in an eggy batter with potato chips and Parmesan sounds pretty excellent, but there’s no way Chef Rich Sweeney would stop there. On top of this must-try brunch dish, there’s a saucy pile of juicy pulled pork and a perfectly executed sunny-side-up egg (complete with crispy, browned edges, and a bright, runny yolk). If you’re not super into the brunch crowd, go ahead and sleep in; it’s also available as an appetizer on the dinner menu.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Loco moco

Ocean Pacific Grille

Address and Info

Gaslamp

Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 1pm
Filipino-fusion fare is the house speciality at this casually elegant spot in the Gaslamp Quarter. Bites like pork and shrimp lumpia, adobo-style baby back ribs, and Filipino tocino toast make it tempting to order a meal composed entirely of appetizers, and while that’s not a bad idea (at all!) you’d be missing out on the Loco Moco, which would be very sad indeed. OPG’s slightly elevated version of the classic Hawaiian dish features an expertly seasoned beef patty, caramelized onions, two over-easy eggs, and fried rice drenched with savory mushroom gravy. Enlist a friend to help conquer this hefty plate (or plan on an afternoon nap) -- it’s a lot to handle on your own.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Blueberry (or chocolate) pancakes

Stella Public House

Address and Info

East Village

Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 2pm
During brunch service, the wood-fired pizza oven at Stella Public House is turned down low so these pancakes can bake at the perfect temperature in their mini cast-iron pans. The result is nothing short of spectacular: the thick and fluffy pancakes have a golden brown top, slightly crispy bottom, and tender interior full of nooks and crannies that soak up the butter and syrup you can (and 100% should!) pour on top. They’re just large enough to share, but we won’t blame you if you want to keep every bite for yourself.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Pancake plate

Kindred

Address and Info

South Park

Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 2pm
If you read our profile on Kindred, you’re already hip to the fact that this bar and restaurant is all about comfort food that’s full of flavor and just happens to be vegan. The brand-new brunch menu is loaded with tempting dishes like fried potato bread and banana bread french toast, but a stack of pancakes is what you want. Chef Jeremy Scullin puts lemon juice, vegan butter, and maple syrup in the batter, so they’re already delicious before the toppings are even introduced. We’re loving the ‘cakes (pictured above) with caramelized banana, whiskey butterscotch sauce, toasted walnuts, and vegan whipped cream, but the other pancake plate -- topped with orange cream, mango, mint, blueberry, and almonds -- is equally stellar.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Huevos rancheros

Galaxy Taco

Address and Info

La Jolla

Brunch hours: Sunday, 10am to 3pm
It’s tempting to go straight to the taco section at Galaxy Taco, but if you’re there for brunch, the huevos rancheros is the smarter choice because it eats like a taco and has a little bit of everything: eggs, salsa roja, beans, and crumbled cotija on a crisp blue corn tortilla (made daily in house from heirloom blue corn!). If that’s not quite enough to convince you, there’s also a good-sized mound of guacamole and a chile relleno on the side. For the best possible experience, share a side of Totopos (house-made blue corn chips topped with spicy salsa, queso fresco, crema, and green onion). You’ll want a few chips to scoop up the guac anyway.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

'Nduja sausage polenta bowl

BIGA

Address and Info

Gaslamp

Brunch hours: Saturday, 8am to 3pm (Sunday brunch service will launch in February)
Biga’s polenta bowls are so filling and nourishing, they’re like getting a big, squishy hug from an Italian grandmother. If you like heat, go with the Nduja sausage polenta bowl with spicy house-made Nduja (think sausage pate), kale, savory roasted garlic paste, cannellini beans, creamy cambozola, a soft egg, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top of a generous portion of polenta. It would be wrong to eat brunch here without a caffeinated beverage. The lattes, made with Bird Rock Coffee beans and house-made syrup, are a great choice (and Biga’s baristas are some of the friendliest we’ve encountered).

Courtesy of Monello

Nutella pancakes

Monello

Address and Info

Little Italy

Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 3:30pm
If the simple name of the Nutella pancakes doesn’t give you all the encouragement you need to order Monello’s newest presentation, know that these fluffy whole wheat pancakes with bananas nestled into the batter are topped with sliced almonds, fresh strawberry coulis, and (you guessed it) a generous side of the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Once you’ve accepted the fact that Nutella is an appropriate topping, life might never be the same.

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Erin Jackson is San Diego-based food writer and photographer who loves sharing her latest finds. Follow her on Twitter if you enjoy food content, random thoughts, and cat photos, @erinjax.

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1. Waypoint Public 3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

Waypoint Public is run by a powerhouse duo: enjoy house-made charcuterie and plenty of other fare from Amanda Baumgarten (from Top Chef and Herringbone) alongside a beer and wine program designed by Bottlecraft's Brian Jensen.

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2. Ocean Pacific Grille 531 F St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

This Filipino restaurant is serving up quality seafood in a contemporary and sleek atmosphere. Don't forget to check out the handcrafted cocktail menu too.

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3. Stella Public House 1429 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

If a cocktail lounge/coffeehouse had a love child with a wood-fired pizza and craft beer restaurant, this is what you would get. Stella Public House and Halcyon are shacked up together in a 3,000sqft space on Island Ave Downtown, and San Diegans reap the benefits of this twofer establishment. With pizza, booze, beer, and coffee all under one roof, what’s not to love? Hydroponic basil (grown in tomato tins on top of the bar), house-made mozzarella, Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, and a crisp, light crust come together in perfect harmony on Stella’s picture-perfect margherita pie (the benchmark of any great Neapolitan-style pizzeria). But those with a taste for adventure will also enjoy some of executive chef Jade Griego’s more inventive creations. A carefully curated draft list stocked with 33 rotating craft beers and a patio overlooking the neighborhood’s newest park are two major bonuses of getting your fix here.

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4. Kindred 1503 30th St, San Diego, CA (South Park)

San Diego chef Kory Stetina of the pop-up dinner series Love.Like.Beer went brick and mortar with this vegan restaurant in South Park, and he's got plenty of tasty treats to offer, like tempeh sandwiches, crusted tofu and soy bbq. The space in itself, with a mixture of pink patterned wallpaper and dark, heavy accents like a massive mounted wolf head, is a reflection of Stetina's quirky style, and the cocktails have the names to match (Earth is Chill, Depth Dweller, Witchfinder General, to name a few).

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5. Galaxy Taco 2259 Avenida de La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037

Galaxy Taco delivers on its name's magical promise with a 4,000 sq ft space that weaves extravagant colors of dazzling purple, teal, and orange all throughout its booths, wall-length murals, and bar counter. The menu ranges from classic tacos, like the baja fried fish taco, to main courses like the vegetable tamales and chicken enchiladas. And given the group-friendly size of the restaurant, there's also a portion dedicated to shared items, like the totopos and grilled blue corn quesadilla.

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6. BIGA 950 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

This fast-casual Italian joint in Gaslamp serves up quality Neapolitan Pizzas and authentic Italian fare in a light and airy setting. Fluffy focaccia, sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread, pasta, oven-roasted vegetable small plates, Bird Rock espresso-based drinks and gelato are just some of the amazing menu items offered. If you want something extra indulgent, custom-build a fried pizza. The brief dip in hot oil gives the crust a crisp, flaky texture that you need to experience at least once.

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7. Monello 750 W Fir St, Ste 102 B, Little Italy, CA 92101 (Little Italy)

Pizza makers at this hopping Italian restaurant in Little Italy owned by the same team behind Bencotto put the same dedication into crafting a perfect pizza dough as they do fresh pasta next door. The dough (made with yeast and flour imported from Italy) slowly ferments over several days before it’s stretched, topped, and baked in a brick-lined gas oven. There's also a nifty cocktail menu that includes Italian drinks, signature cocktails, and several Grappa infusions.

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