Food & Drink

The Best Breakfast Spots in San Diego

Published On 04/13/2015 Published On 04/13/2015
best breakfast spots in san diego
Sara Norris/Thrillist

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day according to everyone's mom. So it only makes sense to tip our five-paneled hats to the places that make a habit of having it available all week long -- none of this "weekend brunch only" business. Here are San Diego's best spots to get your morning meal on:

Café 222

Downtown

Café 222 has been serving breakfast bright and early seven days a week for more than 20 years. Of course, the menu is full of classic breakfast staples like waffles and scrambles, but the "in-house specialties" are where you’ll find the really good stuff, like pork tamales and eggs covered in Mexican gravy, properly shredded corned beef hash, and chicken fried steak and eggs.

Sara Norris/Thrillist

Harry’s Coffee Shop

La Jolla

There’s a reason Harry’s Coffee Shop is on so many "best diner" lists, including our own. It's been doing San Diego's finest take on a proper NYC greasy spoon in La Jolla since before bell-bottoms were a thing. Harry’s opens at 6am so early birds can get their eggs and bacon at the crack of dawn, but breakfast is served all day for those who can't function before noon -- which is a whole bunch of you. It's famous for The B.W. Benny, made from a golden waffle with bacon inside and out, stacked with grilled ham, poached eggs, and drizzled with hollandaise.

Courtesy of Fig Tree Café

Fig Tree Café

Pacific Beach & other locations

The Fig Tree Café has a trio of locations to satisfy your breakfast cravings. Since it only uses the freshest local produce, eggs from a family-owned ranch in Ramona, and humanely-raised meats, chowing down at Fig Tree might be the most ethical thing you'll do all week. For all of you vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free types, Fig Tree has you more than covered -- though you'll miss out on the joy that is ordering a side of Man Candy: thick bacon with brown sugar and paprika.

Courtesy of Hash House

Hash House a go go

Hillcrest

Hash House is not the place you go for a light breakfast. Hash House is the place you go for a breakfast so huge it would sustain you for an entire month if you were a snake (shoutout to all the reptilian people out there). The guys in the kitchen are not only making the best breakfast you’ll ever shove into your face, they're also engineering geniuses who are breaking down the barriers between architecture and food by making everything on your plate as deliciously vertical as possible. Now, who's ready for a fried chicken Benedict on a biscuit with maple reduction and bacon mashed potatoes?

Flickr/Joe Wolf

Snooze

Hillcrest & Del Mar

You definitely want to hit Snooze for breakfast (hehe). If the breakfast pot pie with its flaky puff-pastry crust drowning in rosemary sausage gravy or the six different dishes covered in hollandaise don’t have you drooling, maybe the following two words will: Pancake. Flights.

The Mission

The Mission

Mission Beach & other locations

The Mission is a breakfast institution in San Diego. Your menu options are healthy-ish and the perfect mix of traditional breakfast favorites, like French toast made with house-baked cinnamon bread on a palate of berry purée, and Latin dishes, like Mission chilaquiles that have yet to meet a hangover they can't cure.

Sara Norris/Thrillist

Kono’s Café

Pacific Beach

There are only three reasons why people in PB are awake at the crack of dawn: 1. Surfing. 2. They haven’t gone to bed yet. 3. Breakfast at Kono’s. You couldn’t ask for a better way to start your day than sitting right on the beach with a giant breakfast burrito in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

Courtesy of Café 21

Café 21

Gaslamp & University Heights

Amidst the bars and greasy food in the Gaslamp, Café 21 serves farm-to-table breakfast with a twist. If you’re into drinking your breakfast, there’s a variety of ginormous Bloody Mary's on the menu that could be entire meals themselves, but the omelettes are really where it’s at. They’re baked in cast-iron skillets and full of protein like prosciutto, lamb, short ribs, and beet-cured salmon.

Courtesy of Breakfast Republic

Breakfast Republic

Liberty Village & other locations

True to its name, this local chain with locations in Liberty Village, East Village, and North Park serves up a mean breakfast. Standout items include the cinnamon roll pancakes, Vietnamese Chicken Wing Breakfast Bowl, and the Breakfast Sammie, made with thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon marinated in paprika and brown sugar with a sunny-side up egg (dubbed by us to be one of the best in SD). The chain has its sights set on major expansion plans: additional locations in Carmel Valley and Encinitas are slated to open soon. It's Breakfast Republic's world; we're just eating in it.

Parkhouse Eatery

University Heights

Located in the heart of University Heights, this longtime favorite offers early morning eats like hearty scrambles, lemon ricotta pancakes, and a slew of sandwiches in a casual, comfortable space with three distinct rooms: the front living room, the cozy “hearth room” (which has a wood-burning fireplace), and an outdoor patio. The beverage selection is particularly notable, with boozy options like Tamarindo Micheladas and eight different varieties of mimosas available by the glass or in a flight.

Du-par's Restaurant & Bakery Studio City

Du-par’s

Gaslamp

This LA-based 24-hour joint recently landed in the Marina District, but its retro decor makes it look like the kitchen has been churning out plates of pancakes and eggs to hungry (and hungover) diners for decades. Spacious leather booths, friendly service, and a bakery display that's bursting with the likes of pies and doughnuts will make you feel at home no matter when you roll in. The full menu is available all day, so if you’re craving breakfast for dinner (or dinner for breakfast), you’re all set.

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Erin Jackson is a San Diego-based food writer and photographer who loves sharing her latest finds. If you enjoy food and cat photos, by all means, follow her on Instagram.

Sara Norris is a photographer and writer now based in Nashville. Follow her on Instagram at @saraknorris.

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1. Cafe 222 222 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Cafe 222 has been serving breakfast bright and early (from 7am to 1:45pm) seven days a week for more than 20 years. The breakfast menu is filled with next-level waffles, scrambles, and pancakes, plus house specialities like biscuits and gravy, and chicken fried steak and eggs. Lunch service is offered Monday-Friday.

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2. Harry's Coffee Shop 7545 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037 (La Jolla)

This New York-style diner in the heart of California surfer territory ditches the NYC attitude, while serving up 12 styles of omelets and creative coffee options, like a mocha with Mexican chocolate and espresso.

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3. Fig Tree Cafe 5119 Cass St, San Diego, CA 92109 (Pacific Beach)

The original outpost of the Fig Tree Café trio, Fig Tree Café Pacific Beach is situated in an old cottage with a dog-friendly patio. The romantic, picturesque location serves up breakfast and lunch, including omelets, eggs benedict, French toast, pancakes, sandwiches, salads, and sides. Try the beloved lobster and blue crab cakes benedict with potatoes and an order of brioche French toast; the poached egg is practically drowning in Hollandaise, and the maple syrup is infused with citrus. Given Fig Tree Café’s reasonable prices and its commitment to using homegrown rosemary, selecting produce and eggs from a family farm in Ramona, and giving back to the Pacific Beach community, the only thing you can possibly feel guilty about is just how much you’ve stuffed your face.

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4. Hash House A Go Go 3628 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 (Hillcrest)

SD's gargantuanly proportioned "Twisted Farm Food(ery)" has got awesome breakfast fare in Hillcrest.

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5. Snooze 3940 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 (Hillcrest)

Snooze is an airy breakfast-/ brunch-ery in a high ceiling'd locale perforated by giant skylights and a front facade that rolls up. They dole out fare so groundbreakingly customizable you'll swear you cooked it yourself, as long as you don't look at and/or taste it.

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6. The Mission North Park 2801 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

The Mission is a bistro-style breakfast eatery that partners with San Diego-area coffee roasters and makes a killer stack of pancakes.

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7. Kono's Cafe 704 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 (Pacific Beach)

Kono's is the best spot in Pacific Beach for a huge breakfast that costs about five bucks. Located on the boardwalk, this place opens at 7am every morning to serve the locals hot coffee and heaping plates of classic morning fare, from pancakes to bacon and eggs. The interior is completely beach-themed, with bright blue walls covered in surfboards and posters of waves, while there are three outdoor decks for those who can't get away from the real thing. The spot is open for lunch as well, serving traditional American eats like burgers and fries alongside the all-day breakfast menu.

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8. Cafe 21 750 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Extending their reach from 2121 Adams Ave, the twice-as-big, brick walled Gaslamp locale's outfitted with laser-cut metal, classic Turkish designs, and is serving up everything from sandwiches and kabobs to ridiculous, decadent brunch fare. There's a whole section of the drink menu devoted to Bloody Mary and Mimosa variations, giving you ultimate customization opportunities. Be sure to stop by for happy hour when there are 21 tapas to mix and match.

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9. Breakfast Republic 2730 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

True to its name, Breakfast Republic serves up a mean breakfast. Some of the items on their menu include omelets, scrambles, seven kinds of French toast, and eight different kinds of pancakes.

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10. Parkhouse Eatery 4574 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116 (University Heights)

Separated into three distinct eating areas, Parkhouse is a casual, welcoming restaurant with a sophisticated American cuisine. The vibrant patio is great in nice weather, but the bright front living room and cozy, wood-stove warmed “hearth room” offer a similarly pleasant atmosphere for enjoying savory grilled breakfast pizza (made with eggs, bacon, and fontina), filling Cowboy Benedict (made with flat iron steak and poblano hollandaise), or dense lemon ricotta pancakes with a tart blueberry drizzle along with flights (or glasses) of fruity mimosas. Along with four rotating local taps and a hearty wine list, Parkhouse offers a sweet and spicy panko-crusted, bone-in pork chop, a juicy, gorgonzola-topped lamb burger topped with hand-cut fries, and decadently creamy lobster ravioli for dinner.

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11. Du-par's Restaurant & Bakery 440 J St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

Like any self-respecting American diner, LA-born Du-par’s serves its greasy breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day long. While we can’t condone forgoing the hefty stack of fluffy Buttermilk Hot Cakes or sweet brioche french toast… you could order crispy fried steak, hearty beef stew in a sweet brioche bowl, or buttery, flakey chicken pot pie for breakfast. The upholstered, red booths harken back to America’s diner glory days and the casual atmosphere is great for families meals or a quiet lunch where you can enjoy the gooey swiss and juice soaked rye of Tiny’s Classic Patty Melt alone in the cozy, exposed brick-wall environment. Leave your diet at home because the portions are large and the house-made malted milkshakes are heavenly.

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