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San Diego's 10 Hottest Brunches

By Darlene Horn
March 24, 2014
Photo by: Darlene Horn

Brunch is big business in San Diego. Whether there's sunshine, clouds or even a rain shower, brunch-time crowds are a weekend guarantee. If you have yet to find your perfect go-to spot for French toast, pancakes, bacon, eggs and their endless variations, check out this list of the 10 hottest brunches in San Diego, including the dishes you shouldn't miss at each one.

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    Gelato Vero Caffe

    Why It's Hot: What was solely a coffee shop serving gelato and pastries has transformed into a brunch hot spot on Sundays. Mosaic artist and chef Kirstin Green has introduced her world travels to Finland, Ghana and India into all her breakfast creations.
    Must-Order: Finnish karelian pie: a rye pastry crust filled with creamy rice porridge and topped with buttery eggs (pictured) and chi bom, a West African-style egg sandwich
    Insider Tip: Check the Facebook page for rotating specials including creative waffles.
    Hit It Up: Saturdays and Sundays, 8 AM-2 PM

    3753 India St.; 619-295-9269

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    Café 21

    Why It's Hot: This place is so popular, it's opening a third location to meet demands. Meanwhile, their existing Downtown location is moving to a bigger spot a few doors down the way.
    Must-Order: Tiramisu pancakes (these cocoa-laced cakes layered with mascarpone cream) and the farmer's market board (pictured)
    Insider Tip: Reservations are accepted Monday through Friday. But on the weekend it’s first come, first served, which makes scoring a table trickier.
    Hit It Up: Every day, 8 AM-1 PM

    750 5th Ave.; 619-795-0721
    2736 Adams Ave.; 619-640-2121

  • Photo by: R Gang Eatery

    R Gang Eatery

    Why It’s Hot: Top Chef alum Rich Sweeney offers up unpretentious, down-home comfort food in a breezy, relaxed setting that’s popular among Hillcrest residents.
    Must Order: Housemade tater tots, which could be made with cheddar and chive one day, lobster the next
    Insider Tip: Reservations are accepted every day except Sunday.
    Hit It Up: 9 AM-11 PM, daily

    3683 Fifth Ave.; 619-677-2845

  • Photo by: Sea & Smoke

    Sea & Smoke

    Why It’s Hot: Chef Matt Gordon (Urban Solace, Solace and the Moonlight Lounge) hits a third home run for Del Mar residents who don't want to travel to North Park or Encinitas.
    Must Order: If it’s the weekend, indulge in the cinnamon roll bar, which allows you to pile the toppings of your choice onto a housemade pastry (more info, here). Any other day of the week, the French toast is a sure bet.
    Insider Tip: The restaurant has an entire gluten-free day menu, including omlets, frittatas and sandwiches on gluten-free bread.
    Hit It Up: Every day, 8:30 AM-3:30 PM

    2690 Via Da La Valle No. D210, Del Mar; 858-925-8212

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    Snooze, an AM Eatery

    Why It’s Hot: Despite the name, there’s nothing boring about this Colorado-based restaurant chain. Inventive creations like breakfast pot pie and a green eggs and hamwich have people lining up for brunch every day at their Hillcrest and Del Mar locations.
    Must Order: The pancake flight with your choice of three pancakes, which range from straightforward options, like blueberry and chocolate chip, to crazy ones, like pineapple upside down cake and molten chocolate lava.
    Insider Tip: No dinner is served here, only breakfast and a limited lunch menu. The restaurant closes promptly at 2:30 PM.
    Hit It Up: Every day, 6:30 AM-2:30 PM

    3940 Fifth Ave.; 619-500-3344
    3435 Del Mar Heights Rd. D3, Del Mar; 858-703-5300

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    The Mission

    Why It’s Hot: The menu includes something for everyone: from vegetarian-friendly breakfast fare to inventive dishes with Chino-Latino flair.
    Must Order: Anything with the crispy rosemary potatoes, Mission French toast made from fresh-baked cinnamon bread
    Insider Tip: Musician/actor Tom Waits has been spotted at the Mission Beach restaurant. This spot also has an extensive menu for gluten-free eaters.
    Hit It Up: Every day, 7 AM-3 PM

    3795 Mission Blvd.; 858-488-9060
    2801 University Ave.; 619-220-8992
    1250 J St.; 619-232-7662

  • Photo by: Flickr/j0mammma

    The Tractor Room

    Why It’s Hot:  This Hillcrest hot spot has the market cornered for exotic meats and game, like wild boar hash or elk sausage. Complimentary cornbread in a skillet is served with every breakfast.
    Must Order: The sage-fried chicken Benedict (pictured) comes on a fresh biscuit with spinach, hardwood-smoked bacon, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs.
    Insider Tip: If you’re wearing a plaid shirt, you’ll fit right in.
    Hit It Up: Saturdays and Sundays, 9 AM-3 PM

    3687 Fifth Ave.; 619-543-1007

  • Photo by: Hash House A Go Go

    Hash House A Go Go

    Why It’s Hot: Epic portions stuck with their signature rosemary stalk have people waiting for hours every weekend.
    Must Order: “The Tractor Driver Combo” includes one flapjack the size of a manhole with two eggs and bacon or potatoes.
    Insider Tip: Seven other locations exist around the country but the San Diego restaurant is the original.
    Hit It Up: Every day, 7:30 AM-2 PM

    3628 Fifth Ave.; 619-298-4646

  • Photo by: Flickr/noreylee

    Parkhouse Eatery

    Why It’s Hot: This former house transformed into University Height’s premier brunch place is a long-standing, community favorite.
    Must Order: Mimosa flight, Parkhouse Benedict (pictured)
    Insider Tip: Free coffee while you're waiting for a table to free up
    Hit It Up: Every day, 8 AM-2:30 PM

    4575 Park Blvd.; 619-295-7275

  • Photo by: Cafe 222

    Café 222

    Why It’s Hot: Known for the waffle-wearing owner in their adverts, the restaurant proudly serves Spam, and its peanut butter- and banana-stuffed French toast has been featured on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
    Must Order: Green eggs and Spam, peanut butter banana stuffed-French toast, obviously (pictured)
    Insider Tip: Want to replicate some of those recipes at home? Check out the restaurant's blog.
    Hit It Up: Every day, 7 AM-1:14 PM

    222 Island Ave.; 619-236-9902


Places Mentioned

The Mission

Latin American • North Park

Food26 Decor19 Service22 Cost$17
Hash House a Go Go

American • Hillcrest

Food25 Decor20 Service22 Cost$26
Food27 Decor26 Service25 Cost$19
The Tractor Room

American • Hillcrest

Food25 Decor25 Service24 Cost$28
The Mission

Asian • Mission Beach

Food26 Decor19 Service22 Cost$17
Parkhouse Eatery

Eclectic • University Heights

Food- Decor- Service- Cost$28
Cafe 222

Marina District

Food- Decor- Service- CostI

North Park

Food25 Decor21 Service24 Cost$23
The Mission

Asian • East Village

Food26 Decor19 Service22 Cost$17
Snooze AM Eatery

Breakfast • Carmel Valley

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
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