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Wake up LA: Square One Dining

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Square One Dining on Fountain Avenue, tucked behind the Scientology Center that extends from Sunset to Fountain in East Hollywood, is a restaurant of little pretension and noble purpose: it serves one of the finest breakfasts in Los Angeles. Although two years ago, LAist had careless service at Square One, despite the great food (it even made a staffer’s top ten list), the service on this and previous visits was attentive and polite – and the food is still great.

Outside, Square One has an unobtrusive sign. Inside, the walls are painted an eggy yellow; in case any punsters don’t get the yolk, the ceiling is covered in grey cardboard egg crates. There are about 20 tables – half inside, half outside on the spacious, pleasant patio. On a recent Friday morning at 9 a.m., the inside was not even half full, and no one was braving the winter chill on the patio. On weekends, however, Square One fills up early and stays busy. The extensive menu features ingredients from organic and small producers. The website states Square One’s philosophy: “Natural is always best and basic is not a trend.”

I’ve had breakfast at Square One several times and have yet to be disappointed. Although the Square One menuhas plenty of French toast and pancake selections for you sweet-loving carb loaders, my preference at breakfast is for salty-savory protein treats and in that area, this menu does not disappoint.

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I have never gotten past the baked-egg dishes, served in a personal-sized cast-iron skillet, that are a specialty. My baked eggs, on top of grits with braised greens and wild mushrooms, and sprinkled with melted gruyere, were ambrosial. (Who can argue with grits?) Also available in the skillet is a really tasty frittata with bacon, spinach, tomato and cheddar, and another baked egg dish with chorizo, roasted peppers, salsa roja, and a variety of other delights. There is a long list of omelets and two varieties of Eggs Benedict, as well as egg sandwiches and, for the purists, two eggs any way with sides. And yes, you can have a bowl of grits garnished as you like, or even oatmeal.

There are, alas, no lattés; the cheerful waitress explained, “We don’t have an espresso machine, but we do have fancy coffee.” And the big cup is bottomless. The prices for breakfast dishes run in the $7.50 to $13.50 range. These are not diner prices, but this is not diner food. This is breakfast made with care and deserving of attention.

Square One Dining
4854 Fountain Avenue
Los Angeles 90029
8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday
Breakfast is served all day; the lunch menu, available here, kicks in at 11:30 a.m.

Exterior photo by Elevatedon Flickr; breakfast photo by Beth Kopley

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