The Studio City Du-par's is a clubhouse for gaffers in the early morning and high school kids late at night, screenwriters pounding on PowerBooks, young moms with strollers, gray-haired couples holding hands -- practically everybody in the Valley who prefers coffee with cream to grande skinny lattes. At the Farmers Market Du-par's, some of the regulars look as if they've been sitting at the same table since Governor Reagan's first term. (On weekend mornings, the restaurant is, as a friend puts it, filled with young women in love and men who need pancakes.) And pretty much anybody will concede that Du-par's serves the best French toast in Los Angeles -- essentially, supermarket balloon bread transformed into a rich, eggy bread pudding, slicked with melted butter, dusted with confectioners' sugar. (In good French toast, milk and egg invade a slice of bread the way the creatures in I Married a Monster From Outer Space took over police officers.) 12036 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (323) 877-5876. Also in Farmers Market, Third Street at Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles; (323) 933-8446. And at 75 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; (805) 373-8785. All locations open seven days; call for hours. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $15$20. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
Eat 'n Park
At Eat 'n Park, there are nicely grilled Polish and Italian sausages, and scalloped hash browns (with onions upon request) that are among the best in town. A big sign painted on the side of the building says, "Best Omelets in Burbank." Though my knowledge of omelets in Burbank is far from definitive, still, putting aside any and all hypothetical comparisons, at Eat 'n Park a thin, four-egg mat wraps huge portions of fillings: Italian sausage with mounds of sautéed onions and green pepper; something like a Denver with those vegetables and minced ham; an odd thing involving hot dogs and cheese; and 15 or so others. If you want, you can get these giant omelets even gianter for two. 2517 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank; (818) 953-9302. Open daily 6 a.m.2 p.m. Breakfast for two, $6$10. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only.
At breakfast, Marston's -- located just blocks from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena -- serves exactly the sort of food a missionary might crave after a stint in rural Chile. The thin blueberry pancakes are dense and dark, pliable as crepes, barely sweetened, studded with fruit: blueberry pancakes for grown-ups. The macadamia-nut pancakes are basically thin scrims of buttermilk-pancake batter stretched between crumbs of roasted nut, served with a shot of maple syrup and dusted with more nuts. If Marston's is a little Calvinist in its hours (it's closed on Sundays -- and Mondays -- and stops serving breakfast abruptly at 11 a.m., or 11:30 on Saturday), perhaps it's guided by the notion that laggards don't deserve to eat anything as good as its French toast -- thick, egg-saturated slices dipped in crumbled corn flakes before frying for a crunchy, golden crust. 151 E. Walnut St., Pasadena; (626) 796-2459. Open Tues.Sat. for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast for two, food only, $8$13. Beer and wine. Lot parking. MC, V.
Nick's ham comes in thick slices fried to smoky denseness, ribboned with sweet fat, fibrous and chewy in a way that only real ham can be, and blackened crisp at the rim. There are ham omelets here, sandwiches made with ham alone, and hardcore sandwiches made with ham and a fried egg, but the best way to have the ham may be straight up, doused with the restaurant's fine, searing house-made salsa and served with a bland pillow of hash browns. If the world were just, Nick's would be as renowned for ham and eggs as El Tepeyac is for burritos. 1300 N. Spring St.; (323) 222-1450. Open Mon.Fri. 5:30 a.m.2 p.m., Sat. 611:30 a.m. Breakfast or lunch for two, food only, $6$12. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. Cash only.
Pie 'N Burger
Pie 'N Burger is locally famous for its big omelets, its pancake breakfasts, its crisp, slightly oily hash browns. It's also the best neighborhood hamburger joint in a neighborhood that includes San Marino and Caltech, which means the guy next to you may be reading a long physics proof over his chili size as if it were the morning paper, and the Barbara Bush pearls the woman at the end of the counter is wearing could very well be real. Like all good hamburgers, Pie 'N Burger's are all about texture, the crunchy sheaf of lettuce, the carbonized surface of the meat, the outer rim of the bun crisped to almost the consistency of toast. The slice of American cheese, if you have ordered a cheeseburger, does not melt into the patty, but stands glossily aloof from it, as if it were mocking the richness of the sandwich rather than adding to the general effect. 913 E. California Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 795-1123. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lunch for two, food only, $15$20. Beer and wine. Takeout. Cash only.
Visualize an enormous oval restaurant plate, then imagine that plate blanketed with a golden, oval pancake half an inch thick. Sliding across the surface of the pancake, a robin's egg of melting butter leaves a salty trail. Next to the plate is a little bowl of fresh tomato salsa, juicy in the Central California manner rather than spicy, and another of chopped jalapeño peppers. The pancake, an occasional Pines special called a tortilla cake -- the batter is enriched with masa, cornmeal and ground hominy -- tastes the way you've always wanted a tortilla to taste, warm and soft and sweet as corn, fragrant, slightly burned around the edges. Or picture the same plate striped like the flag of some obscure African republic: yellow of a three-egg omelet, white of biscuits 'n' gravy, sandy brown of a half-pound or so of well-done fried potatoes, a weighty analogue to the nouvelle presentation of a Michael's or a Le Dome, but no less carefully done. 4343 Pearblossom Hwy., Palmdale; (805) 285-0455. Open daily 7 a.m.2 p.m. (Reopens August 27.) Breakfast for two, food only, $8$15. No alcohol. Cash only.
Ruen Pair is one of the best Thai-Chinese places in town, its strong, clean flavors overlaid with a characteristic Thai funkiness. Fried flower stems, though, are typically Thai-Chinese. So are anise-scented roast fowl; 1,000-year eggs sautéed with chile; fried Chinese sausage; crumbles of pork cooked with salty Chinese olives. If you walk into the place around 2 a.m., you can look across the crowded restaurant and everybody's eating the same thing: omelets, the flat, crisp, well-done kind, like Thai frittatas stuffed with shrimp or pickled turnip; and morning-glory stems fried with garlic -- delicious. 5257 Hollywood Blvd.; (323) 466-0153. Open daily 4 p.m.3 a.m. Dinner for two, food only, $9$15. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. Cash only.