Scratch beneath the surface of this glitzy city and you’ll find its real stars: dining establishments – from the hip to the haute – serving some of the most creative breakfast fare in America. Here are six for starters.
It’s no secret that folks in the US like their meat – nowhere more so than at Salt’s Cure, a “New American Restaurant and Butcher” in West Hollywood. This farm-to-table eatery promises that “if it’s not within six hours of the restaurant, it’s not on the plate”. Everything is locally sourced and, as the tagline implies, meat is a specialty: butchered and cured on site. Expect a carnivore-centric breakfast/brunch. The open-faced ham and egg sandwich, layered with strips of thick-cut home-cured bacon, elevates this ordinary dish to new heights. Other worthy mentions include the 2x2x2 (two eggs, two sausages, two slabs of bacon with biscuits and jam) and the pork chop. There are excellent options for non-meat lovers, too; but, frankly, why bother? On the weekends, add a bottomless mimosa to your order – the perfect lubricant to wash down all that meaty goodness.
7494 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood
In LA’s hipster-central Silver Lake neighbourhood, you’ll find the hippest of them all: Sqirl. This place is so über-cool it advertises itself as being “bacon-serving but vegan friendly”, and somehow manages to get away with it. Sqirl began life as an artisanal jam factory and then slowly expanded to include dining options. With a history like this, you can’t go wrong ordering the basic jam and bread. Locals swear by the strawberry-geranium jam, and the burnt brioche and ricotta toast is magic. Homesick Aussies will take comfort in the delicious avocado toast. And hipsters everywhere will delight in the abundance of kale on the menu, featured prominently in dishes such as Sqirl’s signature pesto rice bowl. Best of all, breakfast is served every day until the very sensible hour of 4pm.
720 Virgil Avenue, Suite 4, Los Angeles
Always packed, always bustling, this Santa Monica café is loved by locals. The weekday breakfast is good but the weekend brunch is the stand-out; a huge selection of innovative and interesting dishes that nonetheless manage to retain a comfort-food feel. You have to line up to place your order at the counter, and the wait can be long, but it’s worth it for the yummy beef brisket hash, the oozy egg sandwich or the utterly more-ish “green eggs and ham” (eggs sunny side up on a muffin topped with prosciutto, arugula and pesto). But Huckleberry is most famous for its staggering array of baked goods, reflecting the classical bakery training of the owners. Rack after rack of sinfully sugary, scrumptious pastries will tempt even the most diligent dieter over to the dark side.
1014 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica
Don’t bother with this place unless you like pancakes. But if you do, consider heading here straight from the airport. Breakfast is served all day, and there are many options, but no-one in their right mind would pass up the giant (and I mean GIANT) pancakes. Crowd-pleasers include the signature Red Velvet pancake but the Oreo-filled flapjacks and Nutella French toast are pretty damned delicious, too. Although for me it’s the Eyes Wide Open that does it: a shot of espresso and fistfuls of chocolate chips folded into a mammoth-sized pancake that’s covered in powdered sugar and drenched in Vermont maple syrup (the real stuff). If this doesn’t get your heart racing first thing in the morning, nothing will.
7916 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood
A low-key, well-priced, elegant haunt frequented mainly by those Angelenos in the know. Square One has a large breakfast menu of American café classics: cooked egg dishes – including various omelettes – pancakes, French toast, fruit salad and granola. But while the menu might seem straightforward, the trick here is that everything is done absolutely right. There’s the light and airy space (with a lovely outdoor patio), the perfectly brewed coffee, the fresh organic ingredients (bought daily from farmers’ markets) and the flawless execution of each and every dish. If there were an haute cuisine equivalent for breakfast, this would be it.
4854 Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles
If LA’s hectic vibe is getting to you, a trip to one of Café Gratitude’s three outlets will be just the tonic. The food is strictly organic and strictly vegan and the waitstaff float about in a state of blissful happiness, serving a clientele representing a cross-section of all the weird and wonderful people who call Los Angeles home. Menu items are all inspirationally named creations packed full of things that are good for you; like the Open Hearted (gluten-free pancakes), the Fabulous (cashew crêpes), the Free (chia-seed porridge) and the Peace (a raw open-faced bagel – my personal favourite). But rest assured that this is not just New Age schtick – the food is really, really good and even a die-hard carnivore will struggle to fault it. Plus, after brekkie at Café Gratitude you’ll feel not just full but uplifted as well.
512 Rose Avenue, Venice
639 N Larchmont Boulevard, Los Angeles
300 S Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles