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Getting Brunch in Santa Monica (just off The 3rd Street Promenade)

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While I've always enjoyed shopping and strolling down the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, it's never really been on the top of my list of dining destinations. Most of the restaurants on 3rd Street are overpriced and/or serve mediocre food. Though I'm a fan of Angelato (they boast 100 flavors of gelato, what's not to love?) and usually stop by the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for my usual ice blended drink, finding a decent place for a tasty brunch is another matter.

Bypassing Cafe Crepe this time, my dining companion and I strayed a few blocks down to Jack 'n Jill's Cafe near the corner of 5th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard. While I've strolled past the bright yellow facade of this bakery cafe many a time, it always seemed to be just after a hearty meal...


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Jack 'n Jill's seems to cater to a more local clientele, and if you're not a regular the ordering system can be a little overwhelming. While it is technically a sit-down restaurant, you have to order and pay at the counter before being seated. This makes service more efficient but can be rather nerve wracking if you're unfamiliar with the menu. Bakery cases are also located near the entrance to the restaurant, so it's a bit tricky trying to pick out a cupcake or other baked treat while other customers are jostling for a spot at the register.

Be warned, the menu is quite extensive and almost everything sounds amazing. Jack 'n Jill's serves breakfast all day in addition to salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and panini. The drink selection is also broad, and they carry a wide variety of teas and offer several kinds of espresso drinks.

After deciding against the Eggs Benedict and the chocolate chip pecan pancakes, I settled on the breakfast panini and an iced vanilla latte. The latte wasn't bad but it hadn't quite 'iced' by the the time it got to the table. The breakfast panini, however, was exceptional. Three over-hard eggs, turkey bacon, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and avocado are grilled between two slices of crispy bread. I've never really been a fan of turkey bacon, but it worked well in relation to the other ingredients, and pork bacon would have been too fatty with the eggs and avocado. Though the bread lacked the traditional grill marks of a panini it still served as a good base for the sandwich. The over-hard eggs actually were a little overcooked, the eggs a little chewier than I would have liked. The portion size was also huge -- this could easily have fed two people, as potatoes also accompany the panini.

My dining companion opted for the "Sunset" omelette that features asparagus, mushroom, spinach, onions, tomato, herbs, and jack cheese. The asparagus was tender and the spinach and mushrooms tasted fresh. The omelette also came with a huge chunk of corn bread that seemed fresh baked but unfortunately was so crumbly that it made it difficult to butter. She also had the lemonade, which was just a little tart but not too sour. Jack 'n Jill's also offers free refills on lemonade.

We also tried the chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting. The cake seemed rather dry (maybe it had been sitting in the case a while?) and the frosting was a bit overbearing. I've definitely had better.

All in all Jack 'n Jill's was a pleasant dining experience. They also have a location in Beverly Hills that has a similar menu. My tips: look at the menu ahead of time, go early in the day for the freshest goods, and order a few items to share. The service here is quick and the restaurant wasn't too crowded but that might be because we went on a weekday.

Jack 'n Jill's Cafe
510 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401