California Eatin'

With Thanksgiving over and all things Christmas taking over our every waking second, I wanted to get in one more non-holiday related post. The week before Thanksgiving I actually had a little holiday of my own in San Diego. I was there for work but I made sure to capitalize on my free time, which turned out to be mostly breakfast. San Diego is a huge, unconnected city so I tested out the tried and true places in the Gaslamp District and Hillcrest neighborhood. I will most definitely be back to see and taste more of this fun city but in the meantime, here are the places worth sampling.

Day one commenced with a grumbling stomach at five in the morning but thankfully many of these places open on the other side of seven a.m. To make the most of the rather long day ahead of me I cabbed it up 5th Avenue to the more residential Hillcrest area to my first and tastiest recommendation. I arrive at my destination, Snooze an A.M. Eatery, and am shocked to find it's huge. I mean vaulted ceilings and tables as far as I can see huge. It's probably necessary because their food is insane and by the time seven a.m. rolled around it was quite busy for a Thursday.

I sat at the bar, talking to Rachel aka Ariel (don't look for a red head) and soaking in the retro design and color palette while trying to decide on my meal. The front windows were open so wide I was afraid to question their structural integrity but they made for great people watching. I very much enjoyed watching the city come to life under palm trees rustling in the sweet morning breeze. 

I was tempted to get a mix and match Benny (more breakfast places should make note of this) but ended up with the Late Harvest Benny and a pumpkin pancake. The dishes may sound ordinary but this is beyond traditional breakfast. My Benny came on roasted red pepper grit cakes, topped with kale, butternut squash and cauliflower (whaaaaaaaaaaaat). The beautifully poached egg was topped with crack-I mean, smoked cheddar hollandaise. I had to ask Ariel for more because I couldn't handle the dish without it. I also told myself I need to find a way to recreate that ASAP. It was savory breakfast at it finest; earthy flavors and tender vegetables that have a healthy yet hearty finish.

If that wasn't enough, I had my pumpkin pancake. Now, let me ask you, when the hell was the last time your pumpkin pancake looked like this:

The correct answer is never. The flavor reminded me more of gingerbread but I don't care, it was phenomenal. As the girl who usually goes savory over sweet, I'm telling you it was dynamite. This over sized fluffy pancake dripping with bourbon infused sweet cream and artfully sprinkled with crunchy maple pepitas is an object of envy for brunches everywhere. 

The next establishment became the group favorite since we returned on more than one occasion. The Broken Yolk was exactly what I pictured a Calfornian breakfast cafe to be. Let's just start with the fact that the service is outstanding. I can say that because we went on multiple occasions and were impressed more than once. If a group of New Yorkers says you have great service it is the best compliment you will probably get all year. On top of it all, the food is varied (the menu is easily 6 pages front and back), comforting and California inspired.

My coworkers got some burrito contraption of egg, avocado and other delicious breakfast things and both cleared their plates in record time. My Border Benedict was tamal aka cornbread topped with meat and a poached egg but most importantly, the poblano hollandaise. I'm aware I have a thing for hollandaise. More specifically, a really good condiment. Like the smoked cheddar sauce before it, this verdant mixture went on everything. I got this every time. Sure, the Hawaiian French toast looked great as did a selection of omelettes but if ain't broke...

Our last breakfast sampling was at Cafe 222 whose waffles "are kind of a big deal" according to the (now defunct) Gourmet magazine. Just because the magazine is no longer around doesn't mean good taste is not. My blueberry cornmeal waffle was gritty, bursting with berries and perfectly crisp on the exterior. I sneaked a piece of a coworkers Nutella stuffed banana French toast and let's just say it's a good thing we're friends. If I took something that good off anyone else's plate I'd be impaled on their fork.

My stay may have been brief but the meals were plentiful. Some of the even better breakfast places (The Mission, The Cottage) were a bit beyond my radius but all the more reason to return. Perhaps I should put airfare to San Diego on my Christmas list this year. Until the next dish, ciao!