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10 Best Restaurants for Brunch in Los Angeles

Brisket hash at Tavern
Brisket hash at Tavern
Christine Chiao

See also: 10 Best Breakfast Spots in Los Angeles

Brunch is one thing that's done well in Los Angeles, a town that's very well-versed in mashups -- Carmeggedons I and II, for starters -- that grab more attention than should be necessary. And while it may not be the favorite meal service of chefs, this internal struggle is not transparent when you're enjoying Casey Lane's version of biscuits and gravy or a curiously well-coordinated composite of contrasts in the pastrami and eggs with slices of tart Windrose apples at Farmshop.

When tracing the lineage of L.A.'s approach, it's less in the New York City tradition of eggs Benedict and bagels with lox, and more circa 1930s Hollywood when stars made late morning meals a part of their travel itineraries. It may explain why in L.A. brunch became a meal that rolls with the punches of late nights and later mornings, defined more by its social nature than the exact content of your plate.

This may also be the reason why chefs and cooks in town have adopted various interpretations to brunch: Breakfast entrees with lunch-type accoutrements; breakfast as lunch; lunch as breakfast. Given the temporary permissibility of daytime drinking, it's what is in your glass -- beer, wine, mimosa, bellini -- that seems to tie the whole operation together. Or mugs for that matter, with many restaurants refilling your order of coffee often and without prompt as you catch up with friends over eggs and toast.

Beef cheek hash at MB Post
Beef cheek hash at MB Post
Christine Chiao

10. BLD:

Named after an acronym for the three main meals of the day, Neal Fraser's BLD inhabits the spirit of a neighborhood eatery being different things to different diets. The menus may rotate every so often, but there always remain at least several entrees amenable to vegetarians (slightly less for vegans). Not necessarily limited to the weekend, breakfast can be ordered anytime morning through afternoon tea hours. Of all the dietary lifestyles covered, those with a sweet tooth are the most rewarded. This can mean crêpes and housemade pastries on the regular or specials like the recent banana and peanut butter stuffed French toast topped with powder sugar and whipped cream, served with a tin house-shaped container of maple syrup. 7450 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax District; (323) 687-8002.

Stuffed French toast
Stuffed French toast
Christine Chiao

9. Bar Ama:

There are plenty of restaurants offering breakfast during the week, but only a handful provide the elusive option of the mid-week brunch -- here it's breakfast as lunch -- like Josef Centeno's newish Bar Ama. Available from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the handful of morning entrees come in only savory form, but mimosas and Bloody Marys rarely pair well with sweet breakfast foods. You'd be too distracted by Centeno's take on migas anyway, a testament to the chef's skill in elevating comfort flavors through classic culinary training and no small amount of creativity. The full bar, replete with spiked agua frescas, made-to-order cocktails and a lengthier list of mezcals, won't hurt either. 118 W. 4th St., dwntwn; (213) 687-8002.

Migas at Bar Ama
Migas at Bar Ama
Christine Chiao

8. KTCHN DTLA:

In its current iteration, Felix Barron's semi-permanent pop-up brunch KTCHN DTLA takes over The Gorbals on Saturdays. The setup is comfortably current, with elements one might find in the average pop-up: Unfussy service, tech-savvy and food decidedly personal to the chef. The one-page food menu is refreshed at will; jalapeno corn fritters, carnitas hash and eggs, and sun-dried tomato scramble turned up on a recent visit. Barron's approach is at its best in the introduction of cornbread as a rejoinder to the soggy, dry, or worse bland French toast that lurk around town. He and his crew make a version immersed in custard, which was light in texture and taste. It made all the difference for the blueberry compote and whipped cream served as condiments, enhancing rather than overwhelming the whole affair. 501 S. Spring St., dwntwn; (213) 488-3408.

 

Fried chicken with cornbread French toast
Fried chicken with cornbread French toast
Christine Chiao

7. The Griddle Cafe:

Steps away from the Director's Guild of America, The Griddle Café produces pancakes in rather mythic proportions and impossibly long waits during the weekend as a result. Once you and your party are seated, you'll find the space is not meant for long leisurely conversations. It should be a non-issue, as you just spent an hour or so catching up with one another while you waited outside. Pancakes arrive in stacks of three with each in the circumference of an Olympic discus. Whereas quantity might otherwise hinder quality, The Griddle Café's manages to avoid this fate. The array of toppings and stylings can average on the sweeter than sweet side. For those who prefer balance in their breakfast sweets, there is the Bluesberry, a set of blueberry-filled pancakes topped with blueberry sour cream. 7916 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood Hills West; (323) 874-0377.

blueberry pancakes
blueberry pancakes
Christine Chiao

6. Fig:

A resident at Fairmont Hotel, Fig sees a fair share of locals and visitors dining on its locally sourced slate of Southern California favorites in breakfast and lunch. Ray Garcia's philosophy of ingredients speaks to the neighborhood, with Fig just blocks away from the twice-a-week farmers market. Like its name, the restaurant interior departs from the more austere lobby. Brunch is similar in sentiment, giving a sense of ease with entrees leaning on what's familiar to Angelenos: a breakfast burrito, huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, a quinoa salad, and a bacon waffle. 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 319-3111.

Chilaquiles at Fig
Chilaquiles at Fig
Christine Chiao

5. The Kitchen:

The Kitchen's brunch menu speaks to the restaurant's age, officially old enough to claim its brunch menu as a classic. It is a well-deserved label, with a pear pancake in caramel sauce having defied a familiar terrain of lemon ricottas for as long as it has done. Suggesting more dinner than breakfast, lunch, or brunch, the fried chicken with eggs that come with garlic mashed potatoes and gravy has nevertheless become a mid-morning favorite. The mimosa and similarly fizzy drinks are priced around $5, which means it takes half the price of the same cocktails at comparable spots to get a friendly buzz. 4348 Fountain Ave., Silver Lake; (323) 874-037.

 

Pear pancakes at The Kitchen
Pear pancakes at The Kitchen
Christine Chiao

4. Milo & Olive:

No actual brunch service is designated at Milo & Olive, but the essentials are all there at Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb's pizzeria. It is sensible decision for a space that is as cozy as your living room, but operates like one big communal dining room. Deep in the heart of Santa Monica, this is a Westside alternative to BLD and Bar Ama for a mid-week brunch get-together. Whereas mimosas are the norm among brunch cocktails elsewhere, the grapefruit sparkler composed of Prosecco and red wine hits notes often missing in its popular counterpart. It pulls enough weight to pair with the wild mushroom grits or the baked eggs farm eggs over a stew of kale, potatoes and white beans. You won't miss waffles or pancakes at the sight of the glass-partitioned display of freshly baked pastries that might include a berry jam-topped scone one day and a caramel coated bran muffin the next. 2723 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 453-6776.

Breads at Milo and Olive
Breads at Milo and Olive
Amy Scattergood

3. MB Post:

Brunch at M.B. Post is impossibly convivial. On an early Sunday afternoon, you might hear the Nas-Amy Winehouse collabo "Cherry Wine" playing a few decibels higher than the steady din of chatter. The varying sounds are less noise than soundtrack to one of the better weekend parties you'll attend. All dishes come compact and easily shareable -- conducive to the kind of social experiment that brings together two parties who happen to sit next to one another. You'll get asked about the Old George, a cocktail -- pink from raspberry pepper jam -- poured into a glass with a salt rim. Later, the corned beef cheek hash with gremolata will arrive, as does a new round of questions. By the time, your pineapple lemon skillet cake with vanilla maple syrup comes around, you've probably conversed with your neighbor enough to offer her a slice. 1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach; (310) 545-5405.

The pineapple lemon skillet cake at M.B. Post
The pineapple lemon skillet cake at M.B. Post
Christine Chiao

2. Cook's County:

Like a few other restaurants on this list, Cook's County places a particular emphasis on ingredients sourced from local purveyors. The menu highlights a mix of farmers market favorites. But you mightn't be able to recall this when you're busy reconfiguring your fried eggs entree, making sure equal hits of yogurt and harissa top the tartine you just made with eggs and fried chickpeas over the grilled olive bread. If breakfast pastries are etched in your rubric for best brunch practices, Roxana Jullapat's handiwork will become one of the standards by which others are measured. A pastry basket might consist of a Meyer lemon cornmeal muffin, ginger scone, cheddar buttermilk biscuit and jelly donut. 8009 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove; (323) 653-8009.

 

The pastry basket at Cook's County
The pastry basket at Cook's County
Christine Chiao

1. Tavern:

On an essay question of what composes the ideal L.A. dining experience, Suzanne Goin and Carolyn Styne's Tavern could be the nuanced response, capable of redeeming the worst stereotypes of restaurants in town. While some may aim for the sunlit dining room, you'll be just as comfortable seated in the lounge area. The menu is more classic than progressive, with eggs soft-scrambled, baked, or served poached as a Benedict. We've seen enough menus offering beef hash and/or lemon ricotta pancakes with some form of blueberry accompaniment to know that it's all about the execution. When we visited, there were no misses in any component of a brisket hash with sunny-side eggs and mild horseradish cream. Or try the pecan sticky buns with bacon. 11648 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 806-6464.

See also: 10 Best Breakfast Spots in Los Angeles

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