In the wee morning hours, Los Angeles offers many ways to gorge oneself: You can roll out of bed and stumble to your local nondescript corner restaurant for something involving eggs (Kings Road Cafe comes to mind), you can drive to an LA institution for a specific craving (such as 101 Coffee Shop or Swingers), or you can booze it up with full-on brunch. What I’m going to be talking about today is breakfast, straight up. Forget leisurely sipping Bloody Marys or mimosas and laughing about last night’s debauchery. You just want to get in and pig out before you pass out from severe hunger. “You forgot Hugo’s, I love that place!” you scold as you scroll through my selections. I agree, it’s tasty, but I’m not doing a Top 11 Breakfasts, am I? These are what I believe to be LA’s most exciting breakfast options, because, as much as we should all be eating kale scrambles every morning, that doesn’t mean I find it very fun to pay someone to make them for me.
Echo Park has a Brite Spot (oh boy) when it comes to retro hangover delights. If you’re craving something greasy and fattening in a dish that could also frighten small children, you’ve come to the right place. Lines can be long, service can be slow, but remember, you feel like hell, so just take a nap until your Southern Decadence arrives. Somewhere in all that jazz is a slab of chicken fried chicken, topped with a large, flakey biscuit, cheese and a fried egg and topped with ample sausage gravy.
If you want to see what LA’s longest breakfast line looks like, venture downtown to Eggslut. Come even one minute past opening at this super popular new counter in the Grand Central Market, and you’re going to wait. Thankfully the crowds move quickly and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying one of the famous cheesy scrambled egg sandwiches on pillowy brioche (with a fork, it’s messy). If you’re feeling less hungry, order the Slut, which is a jar of egg/potato puree that you spread on sliced bread. If you’re like me, you’ll just order both.
Toast used to be the hottest breakfast in town until people grew tired of the crowds and dispersed in search of boozier brunches (Toast doesn’t serve alcohol). What you may not realize is how delicious the food still is. The famous Pasta Mattina is essentially breakfast pasta. It’s penne with scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, feta, pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s awesome. If you’re craving a future sugar crash, go for the Stuffed French Toast. It’s topped with caramelized bananas, walnuts, and banana pudding! Serving pudding on pretty much anything is something I can get behind.
Fred 62 (located in Los Feliz, the Silverlake of 10 years ago) has been wowing me with its Bearded Mr. Frenchy (French toast rolled in corn flakes), the New Yorker (an egg, cheese, sausage, and hash browns sandwich between fluffy brioche) and the Santa Fe Frittata (creamy chorizo omelet), since opening about 16 years ago. Its laid-back retro vibe is perfectly suited for those still in last night’s vintage dress and mussed Bettie Page hair who just want to show up and fill their belly.
Square One Dining
Looking for a semi-upscale, quiet breakfast spot in Hollywood? Not in the mood for the elusive Scientology brunch? (I’ve been and it’s quite the experience) Then head across the street and enjoy Square One Dining’s citrus banana brioche French toast, skillet baked eggs, or a Salmon Benedict on potato pancakes. Prices are a few dollars more than the next place, but you’re paying for high quality grub in a non-threatening setting.
The Original Pantry
This historic downtown institution’s doors have been opened since 1924. Literally, it’s never closed since (it’s open 24 hours), and slings a fantastic traditional breakfast. My favorite part of any meal at The Original Pantry is the toast; it’s certainly LA’s best. And probably 0% vegetarian, as I’m sure each slice of bread is lovingly fried on the bacon grease-smeared griddle, giving it that tasty sheen.
Grub is the only place on my list that serves alcohol (they have some fun flavored mimosas) but I go there to eat, not really to “brunch.” Grub (located in Hollywood in a cute little house) is famous for its croissant French toast, but don’t forget to try the Mamacita Breakfast Burrito, bursting with eggs, cheddar and chorizo, or the Ooh La La Breakfast Sandwich (an egg and bacon sandwich on French toast). All three items will wow your out-of-town guest who thinks that LA is just egg white scrambles. Note: come early, this place gets packed and stays packed.
The Sycamore Kitchen
The Sycamore Kitchen‘s setup irritates me (order your food and then pray to the God of your choice that you find a space to sit), but it serves such mouth-watering food, I just throw caution to the wind. Located on La Brea, this trendy but casual bakery is never not crowded. Come early or else. The three things you have to order:
You can’t go wrong with any of these very decadent menu items. Just bring your appetite and your patience. And your dog, if you’re sitting outside. Dogs love salted caramel, after all.
West LA doesn’t really have many great breakfast places (I actually can’t think of any) but John O’Groats makes up for it. It’s famous for its Huevos O’Groats, but I really love the delicious cilantro potato pancakes. They’re made from mashed potatoes so they’re not the least bit dry like latkes sometimes can be. Folks also go nuts for the biscuits. Might as well get both and pretend you’re carb loading for some imaginary marathon.
Dinah’s has the best baked apple pancakes I’ve ever had. Okay, so I’ve only had one or two in my life, but these were amazing! Forget the “famous” fried chicken (I found it a bit dry), come for these super thin, super light, super crispy flying apple saucers and maybe have a bite of someone else’s chicken. Preferably, from someone you know. Fun fact: KFC supposedly stole its bucket trademark from Dinah’s. Well, it’s not really proven, so let’s just call it a fun rumor.