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Battle of the Breakfasts: Ned Vs Fred
Recently we had two very neighborhoodish breakfast experiences, and we thought we'd take a look at them sort of head-to-head to see how they stack up in comparison. So this is a sort of "Battle of the Breakfasts" featuring the morning fare of North Hollywood's Ned's on Magnolia versus Los Feliz's Fred 62. What these two spots share is a fairly varietal breakfast menu, and a panache for catering to the neighborhoods in which they're located. Fred 62 is a hipster mainstay that passes in and out of vogue, probably more in when late night drunkenness and cravings dictate necissity, and out when locals moan about tired food options in their 'hood. Ned's can be a likewise fairweather friend--only open for the breakfast and lunch crowd, full of actors pondering which headshot to drop off at any of the nearby theatres, and some of the more rough and tumble eccentrics that put the "arts" in NoHo Arts District.
Ned's has undergone a few changes of hands over the past few years (Ned himself long parted ways from his own restaurant) and the latest regime has kept the menu, but seems to have misplaced its charm. Once upon a time, smiling, friendly (if not harried) servers took care of the customers, recommending you try a muffin grilled, now the narrow rows of tables are prowled by a sterner sort, who seem unnerved that you are there and are not sure if or how to talk to you. The food at Ned's is thankfully the same mix of standards and specialities; their tasty zuchinni shredders can replace hashbrowns, and you can still get a muffin grilled. We like their omlettes, and went with a favorite choice, stuffed with goat cheese and ham, served with herbed potatoes on the side. It's the bill that always gets us here in this hole in the wall--most dishes run $7-$11, and with a cup of coffee, tax, and a tip, the tag always hits about $13. So how do they compare to Fred 62?
Well, price-wise we're looking at equivalents. Any breakfast without the word "Mc" in front of it, or not served at a greasy spoon counter is likely to come priced in the $10 ballpark. Fred's menu is a little more expansive than Ned's, and has tons of options when it comes to breakfast griddle goods, like their Treasure Island french toast served with carmelized mango and pineapple. Our selection, the Eggs Fredstone, is two poached eggs served on beefsteak tomato slices with crumbled applewood bacon and topped with hollandaise sauce, with hashbrowns on the side (pictured). Things are pretty laid back inside Fred 62--so laid back that we were hard pressed to find and flag down our server just to get a refill on our coffee--but roomier and more comfortable than Ned's, for sure. We could see ourselves as more likely to linger over breakfast at Fred's, and dwell in the dimly lit interior while listening to their ultra lounge music on the sound system. The meal was delicious, the sauce not too rich, and the eggs poached just right. So in this Battle of the Breakfasts, it looks like Ned's and Fred 62 are on par with price and service, with Fred edging Ned out with atomosphere and menu selection. Of course, when you're looking for fuel for the morning after, whatever block you stumble down is up to you.
Ned's on Magnolia
11108 Magnolia Boulevard, North Hollywood
1850 North Vermont Avenue