Ian Anderson 2:45 p.m., Feb. 24
- Take a chance on Morning Glory’s Japanese style souffle pancakes
San Diego brunches every day
Morning Glory, Eclipse, Mexipino, Brockton Villa, Great Maple, Feast & Fairway
550 West Date Street, Little Italy
- Morning Glory
- 550 West Date Street
- Little Italy
- Since debuting less than a year ago, Morning Glory has been handily dispelling the notion that you can attract brunch crowds only on weekends. Part of the lure is the architecture: a steampunk-inspired dining room conceived to turn heads, beginning with its visual centerpiece — a giant, red-petaled flower hovering over the bar. But the food’s architecture may be just as appealing, especially if you’re willing to take a chance on the restaurant’s Japanese-style souffle pancakes ($14). Made to order, these may take 15 minutes or 45, depending how busy the cooks are when you order. To cover your appetite while you wait, explore the full-bore cocktail program and the menu ranging from classic American breakfast to global items. Highlights include khachapuri, a Georgian dish fittingly compared to an open faced calzone topped with an egg ($14), and pork belly breakfast fried rice ($13). The souffle pancakes stand tall and wobble like jello molds, due to their custardy interiors, so scrumptious with real maple syrup, or bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup on demand. Morning Glory earns extra points for offering traditional English tea service: tea with a three-tiered platter of deviled eggs, pastries, macarons, and little finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off. A bargain at $15 per person, that’s some genuine tea-drinking style.
2145 Fern Street, South Park
- Best known for making gourmet dark chocolate confections, this candy maker serves its sweet and savory brunch menu daily. That sweet component comes from the fact most of these 12-dollar items find a way to feature dulcet ingredients such as chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. Such a thing is easy to accomplish with pancakes and French toast. For example, pancake stack options include dark chocolate chip and chili spice pecan with banana, either topped by white chocolate with cream, berries, and orange vanilla butter. It’s trickier to make work with something like an eggs Benedict, but Eclipse succeeds. Its Benedict tops buttermilk brioche with avocado, sous vide egg, and chili burnt-caramel hollandaise, with an option to add cider-braised pulled pork ($4). What’s better is how the chocolate maker plies a similar approach to both coffee and breakfast cocktails. The latter include the cocoa mole-infused bloody mary , or vanilla bean sangria with orange and berries. Caffeine fiends can hardly do better than the bistro’s mocha brew: one of Eclipses indulgent drinking chocolates spiked with two ristretto shots and a steamed dose of vanilla bean cold brew. Here in South Park, you don’t have to wait until dinner for dessert, any more than you have to wait until Sunday for brunch.
1660 Broadway #14, Chula Vista
- Almost as important as the fusion between Mexican and Filipino cultures celebrated by this Chula Vista upstart is the meeting of each culture with daily brunch offerings. For example, pancakes are given color not with blueberries, but with pieces of the purple yam ube ($9), a staple ingredient of Filipino cuisine. Instead of Benedicts, the restaurant serves “Bensons,” ($13) swapping English muffins for Filipino pan de sal, and dressing poached eggs with saucy alternatives to hollandaise. So the crispy bangus (aka milk fish) of Filipino cuisine is paired with sun-dried tomato sauce, while other choices, including spam or chunky chorizo, are drenched in a creamy green poblano sauce. A series of hashes likewise highlight Mexican proteins (say, achiote chicken) and Filipino ones (longanisa sausage), often in combination. The signature Mexipino Hash ($14), the eatery’s largest example of cultural fusion if not its best, is a veritable mountain of potatoes, black rice, ube, longanisa, ham, black beans, achiote chicken, and queso fresco. But the biggest winner from a visual perspective is the popular Mexipino Breakfast Sandwich ($14): a pile of prime smoked beef, chorizo, avocado, and spam, served with a fried egg on a pink concha — the shell-shaped sweet roll of panaderias, aka Mexican bakeries.
1235 Coast Boulevard, La Jolla
- Perched on a hillside overlooking La Jolla Cove, this coastal restaurant with a view has a quarter-century of serving brunch on weekdays in its history. But it’s a much longer history that makes it special: the restaurant is built into a 125-year-old bungalow and makes good use of its wraparound veranda. Between the 19th-century construction and killer view, it’s the kind of brunch spot that could probably get by with mediocre food. However, the Villa seems to go the extra distance to keep up with its own real estate, whether by adding local honeycomb to its seasonal berry parfait ($13), or beer brined corned beef to its breakfast hash ($15). There are two clear winners on the menu that every San Diegan should try at least once. First, the cinnamon roll pancakes ($12), made even better than they sound by the addition of cream cheese frosting and strawberries. Second (and most memorable) is the restaurant’s signature Coast Toast ($14.50), described as a soufflé style French toast owing to the almost unnatural creaminess of its center, delicate as a soufflé. As you sink your fork past the buttery crust and dusting of powdered sugar for the next decadent bite, you’ll wonder how bread could be transformed into such a thing.
5970 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad
- Toast Gastrobrunch
- 5970 Avenida Encinas
- A Holstein bull statue stands sentry for the dining room of this new Carlsbad brunch concept. As the name suggests, its contemporariness does include this Millenium’s signature brunch reinvention: toast. These requisite open faced sandwiches ($11-14) are built around the choices of avocado, smoked salmon, duck confit, and lobster, depending how committed you wish to appear to your Instagram followers. The most photogenic dish may be the $16 Eggs In Purgatory: shakshuka served in a Sourdough bread bowl. Which means it’s a North African egg dish served in a spicy tomato sauce, and, in this case, with pork belly, mushrooms, scallions, feta cheese, and mint. But you’ll find the quirky breakfast-maker does a fine job gussying up its menu of eggs Benedict for visual consumption. Whether you opt for the Canadian bacon on English muffin standard, short rib on grilled sourdough, or fried chicken on cheddar cornbread with bechamel in place of hollandaise; your Benedict will be served with a lineup of spherical side dishes. There are roasted cherry tomatoes, crispy fried mashed potato balls, and a chocolate-dipped apple. In other words, plenty to nosh on while you cycle through the menu of mimosas, bellinis, and bloody marys.
1451 Washington Street, University Heights
- Some will argue you can’t have brunch without juiced-up wines and morning cocktails, and to those people I say, grab a booth at Great Maple and spend the your day nibbling through a succession of bloody marys. I say nibbling because these notorious bloodies are garnished with full-fledged snacks. It might be a whole pickle, it might be an octopus tentacle, it might be a slab of pizza toast. Whichever, it’ll give you something to chew on while you mull the eternal brunch dilemma: do I feel more like breakfast or lunch? Arguments here compel in both directions, with particularly difficult choices presented by the likes of a ribeye French dip sandwich and a sage sausage breakfast pot pie. If you need more time, order a plate of the restaurant’s signature maple bacon doughnuts for the table. Generously glazed with a heavy sprinkling of crumbled bacon strips, they should be enough to fuel another round of cocktails. Don’t feel the need to rush: decked out in atomic age decor, Great Maple always somehow feels like its New Year’s morning in Vegas.
2000 Visalia Row, Coronado
- When atmosphere tops your list of brunch priorities, this new spot on the Coronado municipal golf course delivers some of the best in town. The gorgeous backdrop is not only due to the manicured greens surrounding the restaurant, bar, and patio. Sparkling Glorietta Bay sits on one side, and the iconic Coronado Bridge shows off its curves on the other. I don’t care if you play golf, like golf, or even know what golf is: to spend a late morning here sipping on booze and eating breakfast and lunch items is to find a moment of peace in your week. American breakfast standards are well represented, and the biggest surprises on that side of the menu are a collection of vegan items, including soy chorizo omelet and vegan sausage Benedict. But if you’ve got a sugar-loving soul, the must-tries will be found in the French toast section. The simple brioche toast is a winner at $9, so imagine how much better it gets with bananas foster ($10) or caramel apple crumble a la mode. It’s simple math: golf greens + bridge + bay + ice cream = brunch success.