The breakfast options in North County are as plentiful and diverse as our continually expanding dinner choices. They offer everything from a quick, after surf breakfast burrito to a leisurely brunch accentuated with delicious mimosas. Here is a look at some of my favorites in no particular order.
Claire’s on Cedros in Solana Beach would fall under the category of leisurely breakfast options. You don’t want to be in a hurry at Claire’s as it’s just such a relaxing, nice atmosphere designed for long conversations and catching up with an old friend. The caprese frittata is one of many spectacular breakfast options. It’s an open faced omelet with homemade ricotta, provolone, oven roasted and fresh sliced tomatoes, topped with arugula salad and finished with fresh pesto and a drizzle of basil oil.
Beach Grass in Solana Beach is another one of those take-your-time places. It’s a great looking space and selecting from a plethora of amazing looking and unique options can be quite stressful. I love utilizing leftover dinner for breakfast and that’s what a lot of their selections remind me of. Like the fried pasta with linguini, tomatoes, feta cheese and fresh basil scrambled with eggs.
Pipes Café in Cardiff is always full of hungry surfers, a good sign if you are looking for large portions and a good value. I’ve been there after surfing and was still not able to finish one of their gigantic breakfast burritos. That’s fine as they work really well as a snack later on.
VG Donut & Bakery, also in Cardiff has been serving up the area’s best donuts, pastries, and cakes since 1969. That type of longevity should be testament enough to this palace of sweet delights. If you have ever been bar hopping in Cardiff at night, you have surely been teased by delectable aromas from their night-time baking and really wished they were open.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating. The breakfast scramble at Cardiff Seaside Market for $4.99 is one of the best values anywhere. The high-quality ingredient options are plentiful, it’s made to order, and the portion size is perfect.
Up the road in Encinitas, Swami’s Café is another one of those golden locations you just want to hang out at for a while. It’s outdoor seating on Coast Highway across from the Self Realization Fellowship is as good as it gets for people watching and just pure good vibes They lean towards the healthy side of things with wheatgrass and acai options galore along with some healthy twists on traditional breakfast offerings.
Across the street Union is doing a strong brunch on the weekend from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. While I’m not a huge fan of the loud and trendy nighttime Union, it is a really cool space and the brunch vibe is much more in line with their Encinitas location. The breakfast flatbread with house made bacon and sausage with egg and cheese is good stuff.
Encinitas Café has always been my choice for that old-school diner vibe with something for everyone. It’s one of those classic places that just feels good. You can’t go wrong with any of the breakfast options and if you feel like a burger, not a problem.
Darshan Bakery and Café in Encinitas is fairly new to the scene but is already developing a reputation as a bakery that is well versed in the art of croissants, quiche, and pastries —along with some beautiful breakfast sandwiches. I will vouch for all three and this place is now on my short list of breakfast favorites.
Juanita’s in Leucadia is still my quick breakfast burrito go-to with their create your own burrito options. If it’s after a surf session I go for the egg, bean, potato, bacon and cheese option. Followed, if I’m lucky by a post surf/breakfast nap.
If I had to pick a favorite breakfast place based on the combination of the vibe, food, location and people watching, I’d have to go with the Pannikin in Leucadia. It has everything I mentioned plus fresh baked goods, fresh roasted coffee, and the best quiche around.
And finally, the Yellow Deli in Vista, open 24 hours a day, Sunday at noon through Friday at noon, (random hours for sure) has some great homemade offerings and a breakfast lambwich as they call it that is crazy good.
I will update this list in a few months as there are many more very worthy breakfast options in the area.
All of these options can be found online with a quick search.
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday-Friday during the 7pm hour.
David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (858) 395-6905.