Only at Brunch: San Diego's Extravagant Buffets, Innovative a la Carte Menus
By Katie Dillon
San Diego Local Expert
Brunch in San Diego isn’t just for holidays and special occasions. This popular meal can be enjoyed on any weekend, and even some weekdays, in hotels and trendy restaurants across the county. It’s family-friendly, ranges from casual to upscale, and might just cure your hangover blues. Wasabi Bloody Mary? Bring it on, but save room--San Diego chefs have turned brunch into quite a culinary event that isn't just about eggs and bacon.
Brunch in San Diego exists in the all-you-can-eat buffet style, such as the seven stations at the Crown Room where you may also partake in bottomless mimosas. Or, perhaps you'd just like to try a gigantic cinnamon roll at Urban Solace, where the brunch menu is a la carte. Either way, these restaurants have offerings and experiences that are completely exclusive to brunch.
If you're having trouble deciding where to go, we’ve made a list of San Diego’s 10 best brunches. While there are lot of places that offer breakfast until late in the day, these venues have a proper brunch menu. We’ve done our best to list the days that brunch is offered, but let’s face it, you should call ahead as things can and do change. It would definitely behoove you to make a reservation in advance, too.
Allow enough time for a post-brunch nap. These innovative brunches are so good that you’ll surely want to indulge.
10 The Shores Restaurant - La Jolla Shores Hotel
Located steps away from the ocean, The Shores Restaurant has one of the best views in all of San Diego. It is almost as if you can reach out the window and touch the sand. Sunday brunch is a la carte and features favorites such as huevos rancheros, brioche french toast, chilaquiles and more. Renowned chef and award-winning cookbook authour, Bernard Guillas, changes the menu based on what is in season. The Shores Restaurant is a part of the La Jolla Shores Hotel and provides room service to the lucky guests. If brunch isn't your speed, try their happy hour. (8584560600)
9 R-Gang Eatery
Season 5 Top Chef contestant Rich Sweeney created R-Gang Eatery as a fun, unpretentious place to share his modernized versions of classic favorites. Brunch is no exception, and served every day but Monday. Tater tots have been transformed into culinary masterpieces. Try the blue cheese and bacon stuffed or the jalapeno, cheddar and sour cream stuffed tots. Perhaps the Captain Crunch-stuffed french toast, biscuits and gravy or a gourmet benny will do. All ages will enjoy R-Gang Eatery, but those not driving will need to sample a morning favorite such as the Wasabi Bloody Mary. You can also enjoy bottomless mimosas. (6196772845)
8 Hash House A Go Go
Modern diner Hash House A Go Go specializes in BIG "Twisted Farm Food" so bring your appetite. For brunch (served a la carte), indulge in a plate of hash with meatloaf, salmon, or corned beef. Try flapjacks such as the traditional buttermilk variety, or something different like blackberry-granola or butterscotch-almond. Nursing a hangover? Order the "O'Hare of the Dog," a 24-oz Budweiser in a brown bag and a side of bacon. Lunch and dinner choices are just as mammoth including a one-pound burger stuffed with mashed potatoes and bacon, or go for the stellar sage fried chicken. Hit the shops in Hillcrest after brunch. (619-298-4646)
7 Urban Solace
Owned and operated by Chef Matt Gordon and his wife, Urban Solace in North Park offers brunch-goers two options. "Blunch" on Saturdays includes breakfast-type items such as Kitchen Sink Biscuits and Gravy, Eggaroni (cheesy macaroni and egg baked casserole with smoked ham and charred tomatoe), salads and sandwiches. Bluegrass brunch is only on Sundays, where diners can enjoy live bluegrass music over a larger menu including beef cheek hash, grits, butter-pecan french toast and more. Specialty cocktails including mojitos, bellinis and more will certainly put you in a cheery mood. Urban Solace is just that--a neighborhood eatery that prides itself on good, creative food and excellent service. (6192956464)
With a farm-to-table approach, Whisknladle succeeds in making simple food taste extraordinary. The menu changes with the season and is void of fuss. Everything is made from scratch, including the tonics and purees for the artisanal cocktails. Favorite dished include pan-seared scallops, mussels frites, house made sorbets and gelatos, and more. Happy hour is 7 days per week from 3:00-7:00pm with discounts on tapas, sangria, wine and cocktails. Make a reservation in order to avoid disappointment and leave the fancy dress behind (if you like). They also have a private dining room that seats up to 16 people and a supper club social where people make new friends and eat incredible food. (8585517575)
5 Cafe 21
Located about 1.5 miles away from Qualcomm Stadium, Cafe 21 is a great option for any reason. This extremely popular restaurant is Turkish and if you don't order the baklava... well, let's just say you should. The restaurant is so popular that they added a second location in the Gaslamp Quarter. The dishes are great value for money with brunch (try the bananas foster stuffed french toast and the prosciutto omelette) as a popular time to go. At dinner, try the flat iron steak flat bread and the kabobs. Tea lovers will appreciate the extensive menu, but those craving a tipple will find plenty of craft cocktails, craft beer, wine and sangria. This cozy restaurant doesn't have a parking lot so park on the street. ((619) 640-2121)
4 Le Fontainebleau
The Westgate Hotel is meant to be a re-creation of an anteroom in the Palace of Versailles with antiques, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, plush carpets and brocade chairs. Le Fontainebleau, the hotel's modern-French restaurant, hosts an extravagant Sunday brunch with enormous variety. Highlights include a full service breakfast station with made-to-order omelettes and eggs, a sushi table, gourmet cheese and meats, fresh seafood display, a carving station and much more. The extensive brunch menu is available online. Dress smartly for this elegant affair and be sure to make reservations in advance. Live music on the piano entertains guests while dining in the beautiful restaurant. (619-238-1818)
Celebrity Chef Brian Malarkey of TLC's Mega Bites and Bravo's Top Chef, opened Searsucker in the heart of San Diego's trendy Gaslamp Quarter. Champagne Sunday brunch is an excellent time to try this venue, which also made our list of San Diego's best restaurants. The creative and witty New American menu features local favorites such as the Two-handed Burger (it has baconaise, need I say more?) and egg scrambles featuring lobster, chorizo and manchego. Alongside Bloody Mary's, Man-mosas (bourbon, blackberry, maple syrup, champagne) and Tooth of the Dog (prickly pear, tequila, lime) cocktails will surely right the ship after a long night out. (6192337327)
2 Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, located in Hillcrest, is sort of how you'd imagine breakfast with the Jetsons to be. Decor is retro and full of vibrant colors. Try the Sandwich I Am, which is an Udi's soft pretzel roll with eggs, cheese and sausage served with a side of smoked cheddar hollandaise. Equally tempting are the pineapple upside down pancakes or sticky bun french toast. Snooze serves breakfast and brunch, however, if standard morning fare isn't your thing, a hamburger or fish tacos should do nicely. Snooze recycles and composts an impressive 90% of their waste. They look for the same level of commitment from their suppliers, too. Park at the street meters. (6195003344)
1 Crown Room at Hotel del Coronado
Sunday brunch in the Crown Room at the Hotel del Coronado has been a long-time local favorite and award-winning year after year. Patrons dine under Victorian-era, dark vaulted ceilings and stunning crown chandeliers. Seven dining stations feature favorites that might include farm-to-table gourmet salads, braised short ribs, Alaskan king crab, charcuterie, prime rib, vintage candy and more. The menu changes based on what ingredients are in season. Also included are mimosas, Bloody Mary's or freshly squeezed screwdrivers. The Crown Room can accommodate large groups, however, be sure to make a reservation in advance, regardless of how many are in your party. (619-522-8490)
About Katie Dillon
Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as expats in London and Hong Kong. After traveling the world, they returned to the La Jolla sunshine, with a young daughter in tow. Katie now writes a lifestyle site called La Jolla Mom and is the author of a book called, “Flying With Kids.” Her work can be seen on NBC San Diego, Red Tricycle, Yahoo! Shine and Have Family Will Travel, a Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts blog.
Read more about Katie Dillon here.