San Diego's 10 Hottest Brunches

By Darlene Horn  |  September 29, 2014
Credit: Darlene Horn

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

  • Credit: Darlene Horn

    Café 21

    Why It's Hot: This duo is so popular that its Downtown location has moved to a bigger spot a few doors down to meet the demand every day of the week, not just on the weekends.
    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-Friday, but on the weekend it’s first come, first served, which makes scoring a table trickier.
    Hit It Up: Daily, 8 AM-1 PM.

    802 Fifth Ave.; 619-795-0721
    2736 Adams Ave.; 619-640-2121

  • Credit: Darlene Horn

    The Mission

    Why It’s Hot: The menu includes something for everyone, from veggie-friendly breakfast items to inventive dishes with Chino-Latino flair. Among the hip crowd, musician Tom Waits has been spotted chowing down at the Mission Beach locale.
    Must-Order: Mission French toast made from fresh-baked cinnamon bread; anything with crispy rosemary potatoes.
    Insider Tip: There's an extensive menu for gluten-free eaters.
    Hit It Up: Daily, 7 AM-3 PM.

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

  • Credit: 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 brings inspiration from 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); chi bom, a West African-style egg sandwich.
    Insider Tip: Check the Facebook page for rotating specials, including creative waffles.
    Hit It Up: Saturday-Sunday, 8 AM-2 PM.

    3753 India St.; 619-295-9269

  • Credit: Darlene Horn

    Snooze, an AM Eatery

    Why It’s Hot: Despite the name, there’s nothing boring about this Colorado-based restaurant chain. Inventive dishes like breakfast pot pie and a "green eggs and hamwich" have people lining up for brunch every day at their Hillcrest and Del Mar branches.
    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 at 2:30 PM.
    Hit It Up: Daily, 6:30 AM-2:30 PM.

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

  • Credit: 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 taken every day except Sunday.
    Hit It Up: Daily, 9 AM-11 PM.

    3683 Fifth Ave.; 619-677-2845

  • Credit: 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 neighbors 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: There's a full gluten-free day menu, including omelets, frittatas and sandwiches on gluten-free bread.
    Hit It Up:  Saturday-Sunday, 8:30 AM; Monday-Friday, 10:30 AM.

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

  • Credit: Flickr/j0mammma

    The Tractor Room

    Why It’s Hot: This Hillcrest hot spot has the market cornered on exotic meats and game, going into rarities like elk sausage and wild-boar hash. 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: Saturday-Sunday, 9 AM-3 PM.

    3687 Fifth Ave.; 619-543-1007

  • Credit: Hash House A Go Go

    Hash House A Go Go

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

    3628 Fifth Ave.; 619-298-4646

  • Credit: Cafe 222

    Café 222

    Why It’s Hot: Known for its waffle-wearing owner in their adverts, this eatery 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, and of course the stuffed French toast (pictured).
    Insider Tip: Want to replicate some of those recipes at home? Check out the restaurant's blog.
    Hit It Up: Daily, 7 AM-1 PM.

    222 Island Ave.; 619-236-9902

  • Credit: Flickr/noreylee

    Parkhouse Eatery

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

    4575 Park Blvd.; 619-295-7275