By Frank Sabatini Jr. / Photos by Brevin Blach
If you're among the majority too bleary-eyed to flip eggs on precious weekend mornings, then forget the cereal box and schlep your bed head to those San Diego kitchens serving more than just omelets and hash browns.
In following the advice of late American nutritionist Adelle Davis - "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper" - we encountered some royally memorable dishes designed to get the blood flowing (or send you into a blissful afternoon nap).
Breakfast Pot Pie
3940 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest
For good reason, the chefs recommend choosing your egg topper "sunny-side up" for imparting oozy decadence into this golden-brown disc of puff pastry. Consoling to the last crumb, the pie is further enhanced by sausage-rosemary gravy and a side of steamy hash browns. Snooze's bright, high-ceilinged atmosphere and early bustle safeguard you from sinking into a delirious food coma afterwards.
German-style Baked Pancakes
Richard Walker's Pancake House
520 Front St., Downtown
So what if it looks like a moon crater stretching across your plate? These ultra-airy pancakes are baked to monstrous puffs in a 400-degree German oven, capturing enough hot air to transform the powdered sugar into a sinful glaze. A squeeze of fresh lemon on top eliminates the need for maple syrup.
Leroy's Kitchen + Lounge
1015 Orange Ave., Coronado
We suspect chef Gregory Chavez is no stranger to tequila shots, given his Hangover Soup, an effective, morning-after potage involving unctuous pork belly bobbing alongside Thai basil, fresh cilantro and a poached Niman Ranch egg. A bouquet of fresh veggies enters the equation as well, resulting in an elixir that rivals Advil.
Plate of Prosperity
3555 Rosecrans Ave., #109, Loma Portal
The healthiest breakfast plate in town turns out to be among the least boring. Organic quinoa and egg whites perform a morning waltz with spiced soy sausage and veggies. The only thing you'll need to jog off is the feta cheese.
Turkey-Chèvre French Toast
2Good2B Bakery & Café
204 N. El Camino Real, Ste. H, Encinitas
A sanctuary for those afflicted by celiac disease, 2Good2B offers a full slate of gluten-free standouts that include French toast stuffed with turkey, chèvre (goat cheese) and red peppers. If you're hankering for something fruity, the savories can be swapped for apples and cranberries. The chefs make the breads daily, using a safe and flavorful blend of brown rice flour, millet, buckwheat and potato starch.
Milton's Delicatessen Restaurant
2660 Via De La Valle, Del Mar
A rapid scramble of eggs, meat scraps, potatoes and onions gave German Jews a creative outlet for utilizing leftovers a century ago. Milton's has mastered the craft by adding bits of spicy salami and sweet bell peppers, bringing this dish with the funny name into modern-day vogue.
Pastrami Reuben Omelet
828 Sixth Ave., Gas lamp
Carb haters love this omelet, which uses eggs instead of rye bread to capture the ingredients that typically make up a peppery pastrami Reuben, replete with tangy sauerkraut and the obligatory Thousand Island dressing. Another popular way to break bread at Brian's is with the creamed chipped beef over fat slices of toast, a dish that reemerges from the bygone days when it was nicknamed S.O.S. (an anagram for the word "this," served "on a shingle." The best part is that insomniacs can partake in the breakfast fare here long after the DJ goes to bed and way before the sun rises, since the restaurant is open 24/7.
Chicken & Chili Hash
600 F St., Downtown
Your fondest memories of corned beef hash will fly straight off Andaz's fashionable seventh-floor rooftop when you bite into this hash of a higher order. Two poached eggs on top join forces with spicy lime Hollandaise sauce, serving as a luscious mantle for house-smoked chicken and green chilies lurking beneath. The ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote are also penthouse-worthy.
Stir Fried Rice Scramble
Beach Grass Café
159 S. Highwaway 101, Solana Beach
Owner Kevin Nelson says he dare not remove the stir-fried rice scramble from his recently revised menu because of its popularity that took root when the café opened 10 years ago. The dish strikes an uncommon mingling of brown rice, roasted yams, spicy sausage and two eggs, resulting in a morning kick-start that can carry you through dinner. New in the offing are oatmeal pancakes with pears and marshmallow cream, and eggs benedict over house-made chicken sausage.
Green Eggs and Spam
222 Island Ave., Gaslamp
Food Network's Bobby Flay ranked Café 222's banana and peanut butter-stuffed French toast among his all-time favorite breakfasts. But we became enamored (without nudging from Dr. Seuss' protagonist Sam I Am) with proprietor Terry Gavre's Green Eggs and Spam. As quirky as its creator (who's pictured on her website with a waffle on her head), the popular dish receives its color from spinach, its heartiness from Jack cheese and its glam from, well, Spam.
Flavor Del Mar
1555 Camino Del Mar, #322, Del Mar
Amid the açai parfaits served at this elegant, seaside perch during brunch, we shake things up by starting with chicken soup that isn't like your mama's. Thanks to the lemongrass, ginger and cilantro incorporated into the broth, the Asian-inspired concoction acts as an appetite inducer. The teasing contrast of coconut and chili oil further stimulates the palate, prompting an encroachment on eggs Benedict and crab sandwiches.
333 W. Harbor Dr., Marina District
Chef Aron Schwartz raises the bar on breakfast buffets with elegant stations that include a large selection of teas to compliment a dim sum stop. Omelets, frittatas and breakfast meats also come into play, but it's those bite-size nibbles hailing from steamer baskets that taste so novel at 8 a.m.
Chicken-n-Waffle Breakfast Pizza
URBN Coal Fired Pizza
3085 University Ave., North Park
It isn't listed on the menu, but ask and ye shall receive this latest flamboyant breakfast pizza featuring bone-in pieces of chicken on top of waffles on top of thin, crispy pizza dough. Bourbon-maple syrup is the sweet satiety gluing the whole thing together. The other blue ribbon goes to a pie layered with scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes and fennel sausage.
2736 Adams Ave., University Heights
Pretty enough to wear on your ring finger, these pin-wheeled brunch beauties incorporate swirls of sunny-yellow eggs, earthy green pesto, creamy avocado and stark-white feta. Glistening, pinkish salmon laced throughout clenches the deal, but the diamonds sparkle even brighter when served with a side of homemade "Azeri toast" that Azerbaijani chef Leyla Javadov stuffs with cream cheese and strawberries.
Cap'n Crunch Pancakes
4574 Park Blvd., University Heights
Say "good morning" to your inner child over a stack of pancakes textured with pieces of Cap'n Crunch cereal pressed into the batter. Served also with berries to mimic the captain's Crunch Berries recipe, the creation rotates through the brunch menu as an occasional special, competing for in-your-face time with coconut-caramel and Nutella pancakes.
Splice of Life
How "brunch" and similar words came to be
The word "brunch" is a portmanteau: a combination of two or more words (in this example, "breakfast" and "lunch," in case you haven't had your morning coffee) that create a new one. Here are a few more we like.
Bit: binary + digit
Brangelina: Brad + Angelina
Electrocute: electronic + execute
Flaunt: flout + vaunt
Internet: inter + network
Jackass: jack + Nick Lachey
Modem: modulator + demodulator
Motel: motor + hotel
Napalm: naphthene + palmitate
Orgasmatron: orgasm + electron
Pixel: picture + element
Sitcom: situation + comedy
Smog: smoke + fog
Splatter: splash + spatter
Taxicab: taximeter + cabriolet
Vitamin: vital + amine