10 Best Classic French Toasts in Los Angeles

French toast at Lemon Poppy Kitchen
French toast at Lemon Poppy Kitchen
Christine Chiao

This is a list celebrating the best classic French toast in Los Angeles, from Montecito Heights to Venice, Northridge to San Pedro. We chose to highlight the basics of this decadent breakfast treat: bread dipped in egg, dairy or some mix of the two, then fried in a copious amount of oil (or butter if the cook feels generous). These are not French toasts coated with crispy cereal for crunch nor stuffed with cheese cream or ricotta. For while sizes and garnishes range, sometimes you just need French toast, fantastic without too much fuss.

When you’ve started enough of your days with French toast (it's a hard job, but somebody's got to do it), you’ll discern an empirical truth about local interpretations of the syrupy brunch staple: bread matters, and it better be one outside the quotidian supermarket variety. Give us challah, brioche or Hawaiian. We’ll even take a baguette or maybe sourdough — as long as it’s well-leavened and sliced on the thicker side so as to stand up to its own custard bath. 

We also looked into flavor profiles, opting for restaurants adept at turning out a well-rounded toast. In the genus of sweet breakfast foods, it's pancakes versus French toast versus waffles, entrées grouped more by size and their accompaniments than anything else. Unlike pancakes and waffles, though, French toast is slower to absorb syrup or preserves, appealing more to palates leaning center in the taste and texture gamut, not too partial toward sweet over savory. Whereas we like dessert as breakfast on occasion, we seek a bit more balance when we order French toast as our main. 

So with all that in mind, read on to find our picks for the top 10 classic French toasts in L.A., ones that we'd gladly order at breakfast or brunch or pretty much any given time on any given day of the week.

French toast at The Coffee Co.
French toast at The Coffee Co.
Christine Chiao

10. The Coffee Co.
French toast here begins with Hawaiian bread, dipped in eggs long enough to create a thin custard layer under the crust. The server will almost immediately set you up with a clear squeeze bottle of maple syrup, sometimes warm to the touch. You may not need to use any, since the already sweet bread gets dusted with powdered sugar. You can pair it with eggs cooked how you like and a side of chicken wings — or bacon or hot turkey sausage. Roughly five minutes — well, at least 25 during current construction these days — from LAX, the restaurant is no less hectic than a domestic terminal during peak brunch hours midweek and certainly on weekends. 8751 La Tijera Blvd., Westchester; (310) 645-7315.

Brioche French toast bites at Square One at the Boathouse
Brioche French toast bites at Square One at the Boathouse
Christine Chiao

9. Square One at the Boathouse
Square One at the Boathouse borrowed a few culinary tricks from its older sister, Square One Dining in Los Feliz, including the beloved recipe for French toast. The lakeside snack shop has put its own remix, doing away with toppings, cutting up the toasts into bites, or fingers, and pairing them with a maple-flavored cream whipped stiff to two degrees away from becoming soft cheese. Not insignificantly steeped in eggs and cinnamon, the French toast bites are more fork- than finger-friendly. They are nevertheless portable enough for a jaunt to a nearby bench with your preferred view of Echo Park Lake. 751 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park; (213) 481-8495.

French toast at Aloha Cafe
French toast at Aloha Cafe
Christine Chiao

8. Aloha Cafe
Before it settled in its strip-mall digs on the edge of Little Tokyo, Aloha Cafe was in Monterey Park, slinging Big Island morning meals in the vein of eggs and Spam, Portuguese sausage and fried rice. French toast, three chubby slices per order, pan-fried to tawny gold, is made with Hawaiian bread, natch. Butter and maple syrup come with the regular plate, though you could add fresh whipped cream and strawberries or choose one of six meats, from char siu to bacon. The outside is hardly indicative of the steady hum of regulars maximizing their lunch hour with island comfort favorites. 410 E. Second St., Downtown; (213) 346-9930.



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