Brunch is a repast that’s both frivolous and practical. Bottomless mimosas? Frivolous. Breakfast and lunch combined as one? Practical. That duality finds a home in San Diego, a city made for brunch with sun-drenched weather and a multitude of indoor-outdoor eateries. Start your day off right at these 12 San Diego breakfast and brunch spots:
1. The Great Maple, La Jolla and Hillcrest
Nab a counter stool at this retro-style diner that nails the delicate balance between cozy and chic. Act like a kid and order dessert for breakfast—waffles on a stick or maple-bacon donuts—or choose one of Great Maple’s grown-up options: savory smoked brisket with popovers, vegan hash, chilaquiles, or portobello fries served in a metal bucket.
2. Provisional Kitchen, Gaslamp Quarter
This airy bistro inside the Pendry Hotel is surrounded by artisan retail shops, so you can browse while you wait for your order to arrive. The menu includes California standards like avocado toast, omelets, and eggs Benedict, plus a whimsical option that spawned a social media frenzy: a ginormous ostrich egg served sunny side-up. (Order in advance and expect one egg to feed your entire family.)
3. Werewolf American Pub, Gaslamp Quarter
This pub does double-duty as a late-night hangout and morning brunch spot. Buck the no-carb trend with a stack of Homer Cakes (pancakes with a donut glaze). Or if you don’t want to eat for the rest of the day, dig into a platter of pork-belly eggs Benedict on breaded potato cakes. Werewolf’s on-trend mimosas are made with different fruit flavors every day (sorry, orange juice).
4. Café 21, University Heights
Bored with traditional Sunday brunches? Café 21 serves breakfast tapas bursting with Middle Eastern flavors. Chef Leyla, who was raised in Azerbaijan, wields kitchen magic with locally grown produce, free-range chickens, and grass-fed beef. Order a handful of small plates to share: shrimp corn-cake eggs Benedict, tiramisu pancakes, Mediterranean fried rice, or a lamb kufta omelet.
If brunch isn’t brunch unless you can post photos of yourself eating it, Morning Glory is your mecca. This second-floor eatery is festive, dramatic, and just a little edgy. A ceiling art installation resembles a pink flower with a roaming electronic eyeball. A champagne vending machine dispenses bubbles. The waitstaff wear overalls, and the cloth napkins are imprinted with rock-and-roll skulls. Amid all this theater, the food is the star: Light-as-air soufflé pancakes provide soul-soothing nourishment.
6. Walking on Water Café, Ocean Beach Pier
Want to start your morning by gazing at the endless Pacific? At this eatery on the pier, you don’t need binoculars for ocean views because you’re sitting right on top of the surf. Breakfast is served all day, so show up whenever for a lobster omelet, blueberry pancakes, huevos rancheros, and ocean reverie.
7. Le Papagayo, Leucadia and Carlsbad Village
When you mix Mediterranean flavors with Latin American vibes and California coastal ingredients, your weekend brunch turns into a three-hour affair. Hang out on the patio while you nosh on chili verde eggs Benedict, shrimp and grits, or Grand Marnier French toast. Bottomless mimosas ensure a worry-free day.
8. The Henry, Coronado
Coronado Island is known for its five white-sand beaches, the historic Hotel del Coronado, and this classy café that takes brunch very seriously. Feel virtuous as you sip a greens-and-protein smoothie or spoon into a quinoa bowl, or simply indulge in decadent New England lobster toast. Whatever you eat, you’re participating in a casual-but-elegant Coronado experience.
9. Breakfast & Bubbles, North Park/Hillcrest
Chef Marco Provino has created an over-the-top homage to brunch at this Hillcrest eatery decked out in pink. From Oreo-topped French toast to caviar eggs Benedict and pink deviled eggs, every dish is an Instagram winner. Pair your entrée with a dazzling cocktail like the Mexican Widow, delivered to your table in a wispy cloud of dry ice.
10. Atypical Waffle Company, North Park
First things first: This hidden backyard hangout serves only waffles, so don’t show up craving biscuits and gravy. But for discerning carbohydrate fans, Atypical’s thick Liege waffles are miles away from the frozen waffles your 10-year-old “cooked” in a toaster. They’re yeast-risen, take two days to make, and are piled high with crave-worthy toppings from ricotta and jam to brown-sugar bacon and goat cheese.
11. Harry’s Coffee Shop, La Jolla
This neighborhood fixture has been serving breakfast for 60 years, so the kinks were worked out when Boomers were babies. Harry Rudolph opened the breakfast/brunch spot in 1961, and three of his kids still run it today. The breakfast-all-day menu includes morning favorites like 12 varieties of omelets, sticky cinnamon rolls, eggs Benedict served on a waffle, and perfectly crispy hash browns.
12. Breakfast Republic, multiple locations
When a restaurant has nine locations in the same city, they’re obviously doing something right. Maybe it’s the creative riffs on Sunday brunch staples: peanut butter-banana-bacon French toast, poached eggs over macaroni and cheese, churro pancakes. Maybe it’s the spicy habanero Bloody Marys. Or maybe it’s all that plus locally sourced ingredients, photo-ready interiors, and cool merchandise like hoodies, beanies, and t-shirts that let you show off your Breakfast Republic pride.
No matter whether your taste buds prefer sweet or savory, or if your drink is a bubbly mimosa, bacon-topped Bloody Mary, or potent triple mocha, these 12 places are guaranteed to make Sunday brunch your favorite meal. Then again, with so many great brunch spots to choose from, it’s best not to confine it to one day of the week.