The Best Breakfast Spots In L.A.
Angelenos have a pretty unique relationship with breakfast. On weekends we suddenly call it brunch and pay three times more for it (an idea we seemed to have championed and spread throughout the rest of the country). And as a city with a disproportionate amount of people who do not have typical 9-to-5 jobs, we tend to eat breakfast almost all day. This is all to say that at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday, the person sitting next to you at a cafe is probably very much gainfully employed and a responsible adult. So, where can we look for some morning (early afternoon?) goodness? Here are our picks for some of the city's best breakfast destinations.
First off, Los Angeles has one of the strongest deli games in the country (you can leave now if you think otherwise). Pick your metric: pastrami, matzo ball soup, bagels, smoked fish—however it is you judge your Jewish delicatessens, Wexler's will be a finalist. And all this from a kitchen barely three years old. But breakfast remains their specialty. Whether you're eating at the counter at the original Grand Central Market location, or in a booth at their all-day Santa Monica location, order up an "Uncle Leo" (bagel, lox, egg, onions) or go easy and just get a bagel with smoked trout and cream cheese. And when you're finished, take a black and white cookie to go.
Wexler's Deli is located at 317 South Broadway at Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. (213) 620-0633. And at 616 Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica. (424) 744-8671
Paper or Plastik
It doesn't take a Russian hack to reveal that I'm a shakshuka-holic. Or that I have a serious coffee addiction. Paper or Plastik is not only a solid choice for each craving individually, but is essentially unmatched in putting the two together. Add that to their industrial-chic-yet-personable interior, and massive windows that offer brilliant morning light with a full view of the passing street life, and you wind up with one of the most pleasant breakfast spots in town. PoP also offers some killer morning pastries, and a delicious greek yogurt bowl.
Paper or Plastik Cafe is located at 5772 West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. (323) 935-0268
Aroma Coffee & Tea
For the better part of two decades, Aroma has been chugging along as one of those quintessential breakfast spots. There's the charming al fresco seating under two massive magnolia trees. There's the eggs Benedict with a hollandaise sauce that never misses. And we don't have to tell you twice about that Nutella bacon maple cronut. Suffice it to say, this is one of those places where you can just roll out of bed, sit at a table, enjoy coffee and breakfast, and then feel so cozy you don't even realize that three hours have passed.
Aroma Coffee & Tea Comapny is located at 4360 Tujunga Avenue in Studio City. (818) 508-0677
Let's be honest, neither you or I are getting into Vespertine anytime soon (assuming you can even afford it, you'll be hard-pressed to find a decent reservation at the 22-seater through the summer). But fret not, Destroyer, Jordan Kahn's side project while creating Vespertine, serves as something of a Vespertine-lite. The space's austere decor is balanced by the high art presentation of each dish. And, yes, the food is amazing—just as Jonathan Gold, or even film director Alejandro González Iñárritu have claimed. So, does Destroyer serve avocado toast? Well, how about avocado confit on toasted country bread?
Destroyer is located at 3583 Hayden Avenue in Culver City.
Square One Dining
For me, breakfast is like lived-in jeans. I don't want a show. I don't want high-concept. I don't want surprises. I want breakfast. Give it to me straight. I'm probably still tired, I may be hungover, and I'm definitely hungry—so just some eggs, bacon, and a side of fruit is perfect. And you know who pulls this off with the same consistency and quality that matches a Swedish mattress? Square One Dining. My spot is on the sunny patio (because it's always sunny in L.A.) overlooking the towering, blue specter that is the Scientology center on Fountain. What's the connection? None, really, but I always find it amusing to stare at it while covering my eggs in hot sauce. The service is homey, the menu is robust, and Instagramming your plate still feels gauche here. Do I still have to wait 30-45 minutes for a table on the weekends? Yes. But I'll take that as a sign of a good thing.
Square One Dining is located at 4854 Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles. (323) 661-1109
I loathe waiting in line for “trendy” brunch, which is unfortunate, since that’s pretty much L.A.’s official weekend-morning pastime (along with hiking, which I also don’t want to do.) The brunch at Kitchen Mouse in Highland Park, though, is the exception to the rule. The lines are long, but not unmanageably so, and the hearty vegan fare is worth the wait. The last Sunday morning I coaxed a group of hungry, hungover friends to make the trek to Kitchen Mouse, they complained until our food came, but all was forgiven once they tasted their Avocado TLTs (cherry tomatoes, avocado and tempeh so good you forget it’s healthy). Get your pre-brunch snack on while you wait with an Kitchen Mouse’s miniature, surprisingly delicious vegan donuts—I highly recommend the “vanilla latte” flavor. —Emma Specter
Kitchen Mouse is located at 5904 North Figueroa Street in Los Angeles. (323) 259-9555
No, not exactly a breakfast spot. But dim sum really is perfect for a late weekend morning, especially after a night of Dionysian revelry. The fats, the indulgence, the pairing of savory and sweet; the whole experience will restore you to your senses, leaving you feeling sated and at-peace.
So what's the best dim sum you can get in L.A.? The question is almost moot; often your decision will be based on proximity and the length of the line that's waiting outside the door. Lunasia is good, and Shanghai No 1 remains a favorite of locals, far-flung visitors, and the Goldster. But if you want to get the old school banquet hall experience (including the carts and the heavy din of chatter), there's nothing more throwback than NBC Seafood in Monterey Park. As with a lot of dim sum places; there's no need to be to finicky with the menu at NBC. Get yourself some har gow, dan tat, and a host of other regulars, then fill in the rest from there.
NBC Seafood is at 404 South Atlantic Boulevard in Monterey Park. (626) 282-2323.
Manhattan Beach Post
Our unscientific beach rankings put Malibu and Manhattan Beach at the top. For idyllic views, Malibu ranks higher, but for proximity to incredible food, Manhattan Beach wins. MB Post, in particular, is the most reliably delicious brunch in L.A.. It’s been around since 2011 and has developed a reputation around its bacon cheddar biscuits, but the rest of the menu is equally delicious (in particular the corned beef cheek hash). The interior is very Manhattan Beach-y and has a bit of a gastropub vibe, which can put a damper on the experience, but the food is too good to ignore. Plus, when you’re within walking distance to the softest sand and least tourist-y beach experience in L.A., the meal becomes so much more than a really good breakfast.—Annie Lloyd
Manhattan Beach Post is located at 1142 Manhattan Avenue in Manhattan Beach. (310) 545-5405