Brunch has been a hot dining trend for years, and a number of new North County restaurants have recently joined the mix. Here’s a roundup of new breakfast and lunch alternatives up North.
The Florence, Sabre Springs
Although this promising new restaurant in the Kilroy Sabre Springs business park won’t open for dinner or bar service until May, it offered a preview of what’s to come in March, when it opened for breakfast and lunch service. Weekend brunch service will begin on Mother’s Day weekend. Chef Ricardo Heredia has developed an internationally influenced menu inspired by the restaurant’s legendary namesake, San Diego-raised long-distance swimmer Florence Chadwick, who trained and set world records around the world. The limited brunch menu, served from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, for now, includes creative breakfast dishes, pastries, salads, sandwiches and plated entrees. A hearty and surprising standout is the broken rice porridge, with hefty chicken meatballs hidden inside, shavings of cured egg yolk on top, ginger, crispy fried scallions and a drizzle of sweet chili oil (just $8). Also excellent is the beautifully plated shrimp Louis salad, inspired by a dish on the Chadwick family’s 1940s-era restaurants, with housemade green goddess dressing ($14). And be sure to grab some of the swim-themed fish-shaped taiyaki pastries to go. 13480 Evening Creek Drive North, Suite 150, San Diego. (858) 33-1545. theflorencesd.com
Homestead, Solana Beach
After years of resisting the temptation, Root Cellar Catering Co. co-founders Jamie and Marie Brawn of Leucadia finally opened their first restaurant in November in the former Lockwood Table space in the Cedros Design District. Open for breakfast and lunch only, the patio restaurant is serving a limited, 20-item menu without a dud in the bunch. The menu’s star is the delectable brown butter waffle, made with a gluten-free flour alternative that bakes up crispy but is featherlight. It’s topped with a raspberry coulis, fresh berries and scoops of housemade walnut butter, made in homage to Lockwood Table’s most beloved ingredient ($12). Root Cellar is famous for its braised beef short rib, which can be found in Homestead’s hearty signature sandwich ($14) and breakfast burrito ($11). Also, arrive early if you want to get a gluten-free chicken pot hand pie ($7). They usually sell out by noon. Hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. 346B S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. (858) 209-0149. homesteadsolanabeach.com
Gravity Heights, Sorrento Mesa
This stunning 12,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar debuted in January as the first brewery project from San Diego’s Whisknladle Hospitality group. A brunch menu is still to come, but the lunch menu is a good reflection of the company’s made-from-scratch culinary ethos. No doubt because Gravity Heights opened near Qualcomm headquarters, the menu has a global influence, with dishes like a falafel burger and bhel puri chilled grain salad. A top-seller is the Mac & Cheese, a cast-iron skillet-baked dish of rotini pasta layered with American, Fontina, chive Havarti and Parmesan cheeses and a generous topping of crispy prosciutto ($12.95). Also worth trying are the Neopolitan-style pizzas, like the White pizza with goat, Pecorino, Fontina and whipped burrata cheeses and a surprise drizzle of truffle honey on top ($16.75). The extensive brewed-onsite beer list is impressive and available all day, from 11 a.m. to close. 9920 Pacific Heights Blvd., San Diego. (858) 283-8206. gravityheights.com
Viewpoint Brewing, Del Mar
Del Mar’s first brewery restaurant opened in 2017 in an airy indoor/outdoor warehouse space overlooking the San Dieguito Lagoon. Initially, it served only lunch and dinner with its housemade beers, but weekend brunch service was added last year. Founding chef Gunnar Planter’s brunch menu is relatively small, and customers wanting coffee with their meal will need to stop for java on the way over (since there’s none on the menu). The brunch dishes are mostly savory gastropub fare with a gourmet touch, like the crab cake eggs Benedict duo ($15.95) and the cold-smoked salmon with housemade pickles ($16). A house signature is the churro French toast made with brioche bread and cinnamon sugar on a bed of Mexican chocolate/Nutella sauce ($10.95). And a unique offering is the traditional Scottish egg, wrapped and baked in breakfast sausage and served with maple aioli and fresh-cut hash browns ($12.95). Brunch service begins at 10 a.m. on weekends.
2201 San Dieguito Drive, Del Mar. (858) 356-9346. viewpointbrewing.com
Richard Walker’s Pancake House, Carlsbad
In March, San Diego resident Richard Walker Jr.opened his second North County cafe in the new Square at Bressi Ranch center. It’s the third San Diego County outlet of the breakfast chain co-founded by his father, Richard Sr., also of San Diego. The Walkers’ restaurants are known for making everything fresh in-house daily with never-frozen ingredients and everything served in enormous portions. There are more than 70 dishes on the menu, including 22 egg dishes. Top-sellers include its oven-baked omelettes, souffle-like German pancake and its delicious signature baked apple pancake, a mountainous cake stuffed with fresh-sliced Granny Smith apples and cinnamon glaze. Most dishes are priced from $10.95 to $15.95. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
The Square at Bressi Ranch, 2656 Gateway Road, Carlsbad. (760) 893-8400. richardwalkers.com
Toast Gastrobrunch, Carlsbad
In February, the Ladeki Restaurant Group made over its Peruvian restaurant, Pisco, into this family-friendly brunch spot with whimsical decor and a mix of American and international breakfast and lunch dishes. The Toast house specialty, inspired by founder Sami Ladeki’s native Lebanon, is Kanafeh. The sweet, baklava-like dish is made with toasted shredded phyllo dough, ricotta cheese, orange flower water, toasted coconut and chopped pistachios on a thick slice of toasted Bread & Cie brioche. There’s also Eggs in Purgatory, a sourdough bread bowl twist on the Moroccan shakshouka eggs-and-tomato skillet dish. Chef Alfie Szeprethy’s favorite dish is the smoked salmon toast, with capers, house-pickled onions, hard-boiled egg and jalapeño cream cheese. Mine is the stuffed French toast, with battered brioche sandwiched with mascarpone cheese in a pool of passionfruit caramel sauce, berries and whipped cream. The coffee is Italian LavAzza, but there’s also a full bar serves boozy brunch drinks. Hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
5970 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad. (760) 438-1212. toastgastrobrunch.com