Cliché though it may be, breakfast is the best way to kick off the day. And in San Diego — where the scent of eucalyptus, salt, and sea are hunger inducing — the options are plentiful. Here, you can savor a morning meal that can be both traditional and unique, incorporating local ingredients, along with a cup of steaming coffee or tea. Here are six of the best places to rise and shine in the city.
1. Pannikin Coffee and Tea
This family-owned business, operating since 1968, is housed in a converted Santa Fe Railroad Station and a popular local favorite for onsite roasted coffee and an enormous selection of teas. Well worth the wait, Pannikin’s bakery case is packed with pastries, cakes, and pies. Tear into a fresh raspberry-studded muffin, often still warm from the oven.
2. Leaf and Kettle
Leaf and Kettle is a gorgeous tea shop with 100 strong selections of loose teas and tisanes, lovely wood tables, and gentle music playing overhead. For a contemplative morning sans food, step into this smart spot, read the paper, and ask a tea maven to whisk up a Matcha green tea — or steep a smoky Lapsang Souchong that is not only delicious with chocolate or heavy foods, but also a great take-home tea to add to soup or a spice rub. The ceramics, infusers, books, and even tea for the bath can be shipped home.
This neighborhood taco shop has early morning hours and a slew of breakfast options for the early riser. The menu runs from the traditional (omelets, burritos, and huevos rancheros) to the bold (carne asada tacos or fries, topped with guacamole and a mound of sharp pico de gallo). The dining room condiment cart is filled with tame and fiery salsas and pickled vegetable curtado for garnish. To drink, make the call between mellow and sweet horchata or tangy tamarindo.
4. Solace & The Moonlight Lounge
Solace brunch begins at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and, more ambitiously, 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. As a contemporary gastrolounge, it offers great cocktails, cold beer, and raw oysters, too. Begin with a Lucky Peach, made of rye, peach puree, and lemonade with crushed basil, mint, and cucumber. Next, we suggest diving into creamy organic polenta, fried eggs, roasted peppers, caramelized onion, and apple-gouda sausage. For something to share, there’s the crispy yukon potato-veggie hash with poached eggs and smoked ancho-chili hollandaise — or the house burger with smoked tomato jam.
5. Coffee Coffee
Sharing a wall with surf shop Surfy Surfy, Coffee Coffee has their own house roaster, Revolution Coffee, on site. A mug of the Ethiopian-sourced Dancing Goat brew will put serious pep in morning strugglers’ steps. For fuel, scones, donuts, and other pastries are an easy choice — but the real satisfier is a breakfast bagel, served open-faced with steamed eggs, cheese, tomato, and avocado. This morning meal is best enjoyed outside in the drape of bright fuchsia bougainvillea.
It’s easy to fall in love with this breakfast joint, founded by two brothers who have created a voluminous menu of egg dishes, pancakes, “sammies,” and cocktails. Check out the pancake flight of three flavors: sticky pineapple upside-down with cinnamon butter; sweet potato pancakes with homemade caramel, candied pecans, and ginger butter; sugar-shocking Peanut Butter Cup pancakes drizzled with chocolate. (These are all available gluten-free, too.) If you love savory, the Snooze Spuds Deluxe dish featuring signature hash browns covered in cheese, scallions, and scrambled eggs may cause a fork war.