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Normal Heights now brunches at Madi

The team behind Madison on Park serves weekend brunch all week long on Adams

White bean shakshuka with carnitas
White bean shakshuka with carnitas

It is known that, since the day it opened, University Heights restaurant Madison on Park has been one of the best places in the city to start, finish, or spend your evening. Especially when said evening involves cocktails, dinner, and romance. Slightly less well known is that the same venue, and its signature barreled ceiling, also serves a splendid weekend brunch.

Place

Madi

3737 Adams Ave., San Diego

That brunch now has a second, seven-days-a-week home, only a couple neighborhoods over, in Normal Heights. This Adams Avenue sister restaurant goes by an abbreviated name, Madi, yet offers similar panache to go with a near-identical, Mediterranean-inflected menu of breakfast and lunch staples.

Which means at a recent, weekday brunch stop, I was able to start my meal with one of Madison’s most inspired morning creations: waffle churro sticks ($13). Each stick represents what would be a single column of a large waffle’s grid, which grants it more surface area to caramelize to a crisp. That winning crust is coated with cinnamon and sugar, and served with fresh berries and a pair of dipping sauces: one made with maple-infused cream cheese, the other combining blackberry and jalapeño.

I’m pretty sure the waffle sticks are meant to be shared, but I never seem to be in the mood, so kindly keep your hands away from my plate.

Waffle churro sticks, served with maple cream cheese and blackberry jalapeño sauces

A good portion of the Madi menu is prone to adding such a Mediterranean, Mexican, and/or gourmet twist to familiar breakfast items: think goat cheese on a breakfast panini ($15); or poached eggs to go with carnitas on the green chilaquiles ($15.50). Those carnitas reappear a couple of times, including as an alternative to soyrizo in the breakfast tacos ($16), and as part of the breakfast side’s most indelible order: a vibrant white bean shakshuka ($16), served with grilled flatbread.

For those in favor of the lunch side of a brunch menu, you’ll find an assortment of salads, and hot sandwiches including a tuna melt, chicken pesto, and a half-pound, white cheddar and bacon burger ($16.50 each).

Chicken pesto sandwich

However, the thing that truly makes this an everyday stop for those in the neighborhood is the Build Your Own Bowl option. For 16 bucks, you get a choice of protein over grains and/or greens, with several picks from a long list of vegetables and sauces. Hundreds of permutations can be assembled from the likes of eggs, falafel, salmon, quinoa, broccoli, beets, hummus, “herby yogurt sauce,” tahini citrus dressing, and cotija ranch. In effect, you can get a healthy first meal of the day here all week long, and never eat the same thing twice.

Judging by the midweek crowds I’ve found, Normal Heights has been in need of a dedicated brunch spot, and this one’s bolstered by the several requisite mimosa options, agave breakfast cocktails, and terrific coffee (from Mission Hills roaster, Heartwork). And Madi does manage to meet the high standards set by Madison in a number of ways.

A noisy dining room with rear view mirrors mounted at each end

However, I might have to characterize it as a place that’s better to be seen than heard. To begin with, there are rearview mirrors installed at each end of the interior, angled to provide a view of the dining room to those facing the wall, and vice versa. So, if any friends happen to be dining on the other side of the restaurant, you might easily catch their eye, even with your backs to one another.

But don’t bother calling out to one another. Inside the box-shaped dining room, the clatter and chatter of even a modest crowd tends to bounce off the walls, leading to that vicious cycle where everyone has to speak louder to be heard, which in turn creates a cacophony. I can only imagine the clamor when a mimosa and paloma crowd starts to feel its morning booze on weekends. For those seeking a more intimate midday meal, it may be worth enduring a longer wait, for a seat on the pleasant, covered patio.

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White bean shakshuka with carnitas
White bean shakshuka with carnitas

It is known that, since the day it opened, University Heights restaurant Madison on Park has been one of the best places in the city to start, finish, or spend your evening. Especially when said evening involves cocktails, dinner, and romance. Slightly less well known is that the same venue, and its signature barreled ceiling, also serves a splendid weekend brunch.

Place

Madi

3737 Adams Ave., San Diego

That brunch now has a second, seven-days-a-week home, only a couple neighborhoods over, in Normal Heights. This Adams Avenue sister restaurant goes by an abbreviated name, Madi, yet offers similar panache to go with a near-identical, Mediterranean-inflected menu of breakfast and lunch staples.

Which means at a recent, weekday brunch stop, I was able to start my meal with one of Madison’s most inspired morning creations: waffle churro sticks ($13). Each stick represents what would be a single column of a large waffle’s grid, which grants it more surface area to caramelize to a crisp. That winning crust is coated with cinnamon and sugar, and served with fresh berries and a pair of dipping sauces: one made with maple-infused cream cheese, the other combining blackberry and jalapeño.

I’m pretty sure the waffle sticks are meant to be shared, but I never seem to be in the mood, so kindly keep your hands away from my plate.

Waffle churro sticks, served with maple cream cheese and blackberry jalapeño sauces

A good portion of the Madi menu is prone to adding such a Mediterranean, Mexican, and/or gourmet twist to familiar breakfast items: think goat cheese on a breakfast panini ($15); or poached eggs to go with carnitas on the green chilaquiles ($15.50). Those carnitas reappear a couple of times, including as an alternative to soyrizo in the breakfast tacos ($16), and as part of the breakfast side’s most indelible order: a vibrant white bean shakshuka ($16), served with grilled flatbread.

For those in favor of the lunch side of a brunch menu, you’ll find an assortment of salads, and hot sandwiches including a tuna melt, chicken pesto, and a half-pound, white cheddar and bacon burger ($16.50 each).

Chicken pesto sandwich

However, the thing that truly makes this an everyday stop for those in the neighborhood is the Build Your Own Bowl option. For 16 bucks, you get a choice of protein over grains and/or greens, with several picks from a long list of vegetables and sauces. Hundreds of permutations can be assembled from the likes of eggs, falafel, salmon, quinoa, broccoli, beets, hummus, “herby yogurt sauce,” tahini citrus dressing, and cotija ranch. In effect, you can get a healthy first meal of the day here all week long, and never eat the same thing twice.

Judging by the midweek crowds I’ve found, Normal Heights has been in need of a dedicated brunch spot, and this one’s bolstered by the several requisite mimosa options, agave breakfast cocktails, and terrific coffee (from Mission Hills roaster, Heartwork). And Madi does manage to meet the high standards set by Madison in a number of ways.

A noisy dining room with rear view mirrors mounted at each end

However, I might have to characterize it as a place that’s better to be seen than heard. To begin with, there are rearview mirrors installed at each end of the interior, angled to provide a view of the dining room to those facing the wall, and vice versa. So, if any friends happen to be dining on the other side of the restaurant, you might easily catch their eye, even with your backs to one another.

But don’t bother calling out to one another. Inside the box-shaped dining room, the clatter and chatter of even a modest crowd tends to bounce off the walls, leading to that vicious cycle where everyone has to speak louder to be heard, which in turn creates a cacophony. I can only imagine the clamor when a mimosa and paloma crowd starts to feel its morning booze on weekends. For those seeking a more intimate midday meal, it may be worth enduring a longer wait, for a seat on the pleasant, covered patio.

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