Breakfast in Los Angeles: From the Sweet to the Sublime

Breakfast has been taken to an art form in Los Angeles, for this is the place that invented the "power breakfast." But you don't need to be meeting the head of a Hollywood movie studio or a key player in the military-industrial complex that thrives in Southern California to treat yourself to a great morning meal. From classic diners to gorgeous bakeries all the way to posh hotels where the power brokers meet to eat, L.A. has everything a breakfast-loving foodie could ask for. Pancake lovers will find decadent versions of those fluffy pillows at Du-par's and Cici's Cafe; if it's the best baked breakfast morsels on the planet that make a morning complete, then get thee straight to Claudine Artisan Kitchen and Bakeshop and Pitchoun! For the perfect SoCal experience, head to The Kettle in Manhattan Beach, indulge in their famed Breakfast Potato Nachos, then walk it off along the sand, watching the waves crash against the shore. That's California breakfast at its best.


Manhattan Beach
The Kettle
Photo courtesy of The Kettle

The Kettle has been a 24-hour fixture in Manhattan Beach, Calif., since 1973. Perched just up the steep hill from that city's famed pier and just steps from the ocean, The Kettle is a classic breakfast/Sunday brunch place, with an outdoor patio that's perfect for soaking up a little sun and inhaling the sea breeze. Known for their homemade muffins and their Mexican-influenced breakfast platters, The Kettle also serves up mimosas, Bloody Marys and any other hair of the dog you might be craving after a tough night on the town. Be sure to taste their signature Breakfast Potato Nachos, a mess of a plate piled high with crispy breakfast potatoes topped with jack and cheddar cheeses, scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, chopped jalapenos, cholula crema and avocado. You won't be hungry again for a day after that repast!

Bottega Louie Restaurant, Gourmet Market and Patisserie
Photo courtesy of Bottega Louie

The lure of Bottega Louie is obvious from the moment you step through the doors. Suddenly, your senses are assaulted by the brilliant colors of a bakery case chock full of French Macaron cookies, gorgeously displayed. Keep walking and you'll see even more delectable desserts, croissants and breads in the case, with a massive espresso machine nearby. But Bottega Louie is much more than just a lovely patisserie with delicious coffee. It's a huge, noisy restaurant with 255 seats and a friendly staff ready to serve up brilliant breakfast dishes every day of the week. Try the Prosciutto and Burrata melange served on a potato pancake for an exciting variation on more traditional offerings, or go old-school New York with a bagel and a schmear. There's even beignets on the breakfast menu, a treat not found often in Los Angeles.

Sweet Butter Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Sweet Butter Kitchen

Breakfast is served all day at Sweet Butter Kitchen, but there are a few special treats that chef-owner Leslie Danelian and her talented employees only whip up for a few hours. Think Egg in a Cup, an egg baked in a ramekin filled with Mama Lil's Spicy Peppers and Laura Chenel Goat Cheese, or homemade Porridge; both are only available until 11 a.m. But there's plenty of other delectable dishes served up at this French-influenced cafe and bakery. Be certain to taste the Bistro Breakfast Sandwich, a slightly messy concoction of scrambled eggs, Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon, Grafton cheddar cheese slathered with Dijon aioli and served on a brioche bun. There are flaky croissants, a delicate avocado toast and an excellent Croque Madame sandwich that requires plenty of napkins, too. Sweet Butter Kitchen also offers vegan choices on their menu as well as extensive lunch offerings.

Cici's Cafe
Photo courtesy of David Prasad/Flickr

Cici's Cafe in the San Fernando Valley is a place where pancake lovers converge. Sure, this homey place makes all your breakfast favorites â€" think Eggs Benedict, French Toast, omelettes, bacon and eggs â€" but it really is all about the pancake here. Debates rage over whether the Monkey Business (banana flambe on buttermilk pancakes) is more satisfying than the Go-Go Cobbler (baked apples and almonds on whole wheat bran pancakes), but no matter which you choose, know that there will be a few calories involved. For the ultimate decadence, try the Night Rider. Once you've gotten through those chocolate velvet pancakes topped with bananas, chocolate chips, Nutella and whipped cream, it will be time to go home for an afternoon nap.

Miracle Mile/Fairfax District
Photo courtesy of Jenny Peters

It doesn't matter what time of day or night you are ready for breakfast, Du-par's is open and ready to feed you. Since 1938, this homey diner has been satisfying just about any craving you could have, with a hearty breakfast of fresh eggs, their famous fluffy pancakes, French toast or a daily blue-plate special. For lunch or dinner, Du-par's offers a wide range of sandwiches (BLT, Monte Cristo, French dip, Reuben, to name a few), salads, appetizers and entrees, but they have made their name because of their pancakes and their pies. There are more than 10 mouth-watering pie choices baked daily right on the premises (beyond the Original Farmer's Market restaurant, there are locations in Pasadena, Encino and Studio City), as well as seasonal specials like pumpkin, peach or apricot. Pie for breakfast? Why not?

The Griddle Cafe

Regulars at The Griddle Cafe are used to long lines and a distinct lack of atmosphere, but with delights like chili-and-cheese omelettes or Apple Cobbler French Toast in mind, patrons wait contentedly for tables. Portions are truly enormous, so think twice before ordering platters like a strawberries-and-cream waffle (topped with sour cream) or the Caballero (eggs, cheese, potatoes, chiles and chicken chorizo stuffed in a huge tortilla), unless you plan to take some home for later. With delicious food and a menu with a sense of humor, this local standby is worth the wait. Make sure to pack your celebrity sunglasses as Hollywood stars have been known to flock here in the late morning hours for a daytime nosh.

Pitchoun! French Bakery Cafe
Photo courtesy of Pitchoun! French Bakery Photo by Anne Fishbien

At Pitchoun! French Bakery Cafe, Frederic and Fabienne Soulies prepare everything from scratch using their family's traditional recipes. The couple migrated from France to Downtown Los Angeles in order to bring those unique French boulangerie tastes to Southern California. So you'll find crusty baguettes, of course, along with croissants, brioches and other baked goods. Breakfast is served all morning, with French Omelettes and Provencal Eggs sening you right back to the last time you were in Paris. But it's the Pitchoun! desserts that will make you swoon, all made with eggs from free-range and pasture-raised chickens, and the highest quality pressed extra virgin olive oil or canola oils. Think Macarons, Madeleines, Tart Tatin, Creme Brulee and more. All are so good you'll be hard pressed to choose just one; but take at least one with you after breakfast, for when hunger strikes later on.

Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air
Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air

Wolfgang Puck took over Hotel Bel Air's food and beverage operations after an extensive 2-year renovation and overhaul of the entire property. Reopened in Fall 2011, the onsite restaurant features healthy California cuisine, with Mediterranean and European touches. Choose to dine outdoors on a large terrace or indoors in private alcoves. The new and improved menu features fresh ingredients from local farms, sustainable seafood, and natural poultry. Start with a ricotta lemon blintz, move onto a corned beef hash cake benedict, and end your breakfast with a macadamia nut waffle. Or go the healthy route with Puck's berry-packed Acai bowl or his egg-white frittata studded with asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.

KIngs Road Cafe, with its adjoining bakery, is an inviting place to linger over a cup of their famous coffee and a platter of breakfast foods cooked to perfection. The sidewalk patio affords excellent people-watching opportunities (yes, people actually walk in this part of Los Angeles) and is a sunny place ideal for sipping endless cups of that notoriously strong coffee. Indulge in their house-made biscotti, muffins, croissants and scones during your breakfast, which is served all day, or dive into the Baja Breakfast section of the menu and have a spicy Burrito or Huevos Rancheros to start your day out right.

Claudine Artisan Kitchen and Bakeshop
Photo courtesy of Claudine Artisan Kitchen and Bakeshop, photo by Ryan Tanaka

Claudine Artisan Kitchen and Bakeshop wants you to return to your childhood breakfast memories. Start with the ultimate childhood treat, one made with first-class ingredients, instead of coming out of a cardboard box. Claudine's Nutella Poptart is a flaky, crumbly version of the Kellogg's original, similar in name only, for the Claudine version will make you drool as you gobble it up. They also make a Raspberry Poptart, as well as an assortment of other utterly delicious baked goods, including the Browned Butter Rice Crispy Treat, a ramped-up, luscious version of those squares you probably made yourself from the recipe on the box. Plus, there's a full breakfast menu that leans toward Mexican morning-food delights.


Meet Jenny Peters

Jenny Peters – aka Jet Set Jen – is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, editor and party columnist specializing in travel, entertainment, film, food, wine, fashion and the other good...  More About Jenny