San Diego is no longer satisfied being the fish taco and craft beer capital of the world: Now the city is taking on brunch. Sure, you can grab some scrambled eggs and toast at a simple diner along the coast, but there are a number of swankier spots that have visitors and locals lined around the block. Here are the top five brunch spots in America’s Finest City:
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Heels pointy, watch shiny, hair just so—no, you’re not going out for a night on the town, you’re heading to Snooze in Hillcrest. While they have other locations in Colorado, Arizona, and California (and an additional location in Del Mar), the Hillcrest location is the place to be. The eatery does everything it can to keep alternative vibes going in the retro-styled atmosphere. It’s ironic without the snark, and includes playful twists on classic favourites. They’re known for their pancakes, but don’t expect the usual blueberry or chocolate chip options. Take your pick of sweet potato, blueberry Danish, or pineapple upside down pancakes, to name a few. The sammies and benedicts are also on-point if you want to sample a few different options. You can also mix and match your benny’s to try two. The long line may make you sleepy, but Snooze is anything but a bore. See you there.
For most brunch spots, breakfast potatoes are an afterthought, a standard starch, a necessary evil. The Mission, located in Mission Beach, makes the salty spuds the star of the show. The crispy rosemary potatoes are prepared smashed style, with just enough hard, brown edges to balance the soft scoops in the middle. The Mission offers a largely Latino and beach bum-inspired menu, which includes items like scrambled egg whites with braised organic tofu; rancheros verde; and breakfast quesadillas—though the pancakes awesome, too. There is also a full café in house if you’d like a strong latte to go with your meal. But really, all you need are those potatoes to complete your mission to a full stomach.
The Great Maple
Want some New York flair to go with your eggs benedict? The Great Maple in University Heights is the place to be. With retro lamps providing a soft glow, servers walking past your table with trays of towering pastries, and a decidedly old world feel welcoming you to sit on a jumble of green booths and wood chairs, the Great Maple doesn’t feel like anywhere else in San Diego. Top menu items include its popovers, which feature anything from beef brisket and rock shrimp, to mustard greens. The Carlsbad Black Mussels with white wine, fennel, and chorizo picante is also a worthy dish to try on a breezy California morning. Fair warning: Parking can be a struggle if you’re arriving on a Sunday morning due to the local farmers market. However, finally finding a great spot is well worth the meal at the Maple.
Fig Tree Café
Walking down Cass Street in Pacific Beach, it’s easy to miss Fig Tree Café—unless you count the unusual amount of people lined up near a particular white-picket fence. The restaurant is located inside an old, large home, with plenty of outdoor space under tents and trees. It has a feminine feel to it, with wicker chairs and sweeping flowers, and it’s common to spot a number of lady brunches happening on the weekends. As far as orders go, don’t miss their brioche French toast bananas foster. Decadent, sweet, and all a bit much, it’s the perfect guilty pleasure to go with table gossip.
Didn’t think this one would get left out, did you? Giant crowds and epic portion sizes make Hash House in Hillcrest a San Diego staple. Routinely voted as one of the top brunch places in the city, a visit to this shrine of breakfast meat and syrup is a must. There isn’t a bad dish to order from Hash House, though each plate can feed two people so pick something you want leftovers for tomorrow. True to its name, the hashes are legendary. Enjoy hashes with anything from roasted chicken and ground turkey, to corned beef hash tossed with potatoes and eggs. The benedicts served on thick biscuits are always a safe bet as well. No need to hash out where to walk off the calories after breakfast. Balboa Park is only a few blocks away.
Surf, sea, and salty pork with eggs is what San Diego is all about on the weekends. The city may not win any World Series or Super Bowl rings anytime soon, but when it comes to food, we take the trophy every time. Take that, Los Angeles.
What’s your favourite brunch spot in San Diego?