Editor's note: An updated list of L.A.'s best brunches can be found here.
Brunch is done well in Los Angeles, a town that's experienced in mash-ups. Blending two of the day's meals in one, brunch is an invitation to flout what you may think you know about breakfast or lunch. In L.A., the brunch's history is less in line with the New York City tradition of eggs Benedict or bagels with lox and more attuned to Hollywood circa 1930s, when stars made late-morning meals a part of their daily itineraries. That may explain why the L.A. brunch seems so ready to roll with the punches of late nights and later mornings, defined as much by its social nature as by what's on your plate.
Chefs and cooks in town have adopted various interpretations of 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. Indulgence is expected.
And while it may not be the favorite meal service of chefs, this internal struggle is not apparent when you're tearing into a chimichanga at Gracias Madre or delicately nibbling on the gravlax tartine at Terrine.
Without further ado, here are 10 of our favorite brunches:
10. 26 Beach
Savory plates make up nearly half of the brunch menu at 26 Beach. There are interesting combos, too. A half rack of baby back ribs comes with scrambled eggs and breakfast potatoes. A rainbow of egg scrambles, whether with pasta or over brown rice, makes an unusual breakfast out of comfort-food ingredients. And the panoply of French toasts come covered or stuffed with ingredients more commonly found in cakes and pies. The menu isn't the only place you'll find a hodgepodge. The decidedly mismatched furniture adds to the anything-goes attitude. 3100 W. Washington Blvd., Venice; (310) 823-7526, 26beach.com.
9. The Kitchen
For weekend brunch, the Kitchen slings a well-edited list of classics. You won’t see 50 types of a particular brunch entree, nor will you find a take on short rib hash or lemon ricotta pancakes. What you will find is a sweet riff on eggs-in-the-hole and pear pancakes in caramel sauce. The fried chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and gravy alongside eggs might send you straight to an afternoon nap, but maybe that's the point. A nap can be helped along by a handful of fizzy cocktails priced at around $5 each. 4348 Fountain Ave., Silver Lake; (323) 874-037, thekitchen.la.
8. The Breakfast Bar
Long Beach doesn’t want for brunch options, and the Breakfast Bar, newer kid to this long block, is proof. True to its name, there’s an L-shaped counter inside that operates like, well, a bar, where mimosas and morning beverages can be had. At this family-run operation, servers zip about, bringing with them plenty of orders of the famous breakfast casserole, based on the owner's uncle's secret family recipe, which is made with cream and eggs and takes 24 hours to prep. The rest of the breakfast menu makes for homestyle brunch with a twist: its take on a Benedict is made on rosemary bread with a spiced hollandaise; the “steak and eggs” comes with beef, pork and soyrizo meatloaf instead of a New York strip; and even the basic sausage and eggs has a home-style touch, with a spiced house-made patty and a latke-like potato pancake instead of hash browns. 70 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach; (562) 726-1700, the-breakfast-bar.com.
7. Gracias Madre
Even though vegan food is more plentiful than ever, some of us are skeptics when faced with the prospect of a meat-free, nondairy and, especially, eggless brunch. Gracias Madre cheerfully accepts this challenge. Order the biscuits with gravy or the chimichanga, and any reservations will disappear. That is, if their cocktails (see: Mexican mimosa) didn't already endear you. The newly converted will enjoy hearing a carnivore seated at a neighboring table proclaim — as he downs that chimichanga — that any lingering doubts about vegan brunch are erased. 8905 Merlose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 978-2170, graciasmadreweho.com.
At Terrine, the brunch menu channels Southern California soul food via a Lyon brasserie. Grits, not waffles, make a bed for fried chicken. This brunch is not for the meat-shy, unless you're a pescatarian. (Gravlax tartine and tuna niçoise are among the lighter alternatives.) That's crispy veal tongue, in lieu of Canadian bacon, in your eggs Benedict. It's a welcome deviation from the usual range of Benedicts — portobello mushrooms, crabcakes — we've come to know. And the elegant patio couldn't be a better brunch backdrop. 8265 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove; (323) 746-5130, terrinela.com.
5. Milo & Olive
No actual brunch service is designated at Milo & Olive, but the essentials are all there at Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb's now-expanded Cal-Italian bistro. Deep in the heart of Santa Monica, this is a Westside must for a midweek brunch. Erin Eastland, executive chef, will switch up the menu according to season, so you'll be rewarded for checking the posted specials. Whereas mimosas are the norm among brunch cocktails elsewhere, a citrus sparkler composed of Prosecco and blood orange hits even higher notes. Pair it with the house-made pork belly sausage patty, a requisite side. 2723 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 453-6776, miloandolive.com.
4. Bar Amá
In his corner of the Historic Core, known to some as the Old Bank District, Josef Centeno starts Bar Amá's brunch later (at 11:30 a.m.) than most restaurants. You'll forgive the delay. Centeno's takes on migas and green enchiladas are a testament to how deft he is at elevating comfort food to culinary creativity. The full bar offers spiked agua frescas, made-to-order cocktails and a lengthier list of mezcals, which doesn't hurt either. 118 W. Fourth St., downtown; (213) 687-8002, bar-ama.com.
It’s quite a trick that Walter and Margarita Manzke have pulled off at République, a kind of sophisticated elasticity that allows the restaurant to be whatever you need at any given moment. On the weekend, stop by for brunch, when the light streams in through the front windows and the bowls of shakshouka and kimchi fried rice are devoured by happy diners at long wooden tables. You'll order at the counter, to the left of the entrance, before finding a table. After 9:30 a.m. or so, there'll be a line. The pastry case, with its piles of thick cookies, flaky tawny pastries and tarts, will tide you over. 624 La Brea Ave., Hancock Park; (310) 362-6115, republiquela.com
If you wonder where the super-stylish go for a lazy weekend brunch, you'll find them at Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's expanded A.O.C. near West Hollywood. You'll want Goin's bacon-wrapped dates and the grilled blueberry bread with house butter. Request a table in the courtyardlike space and indulge in a worthy staycation. 8700 W. Third St., Beverly Grove; (310) 859-9859, aocwinebar.com
1. M.B. Post
At David LeFevre’s Manhattan Beach Post, seasonal menu changes are constant, but the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits are eternal. M.B. Post is impossibly convivial. On an early Sunday afternoon, you might hear a throwback '90s track 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. Most dishes are easily shareable — conducive to the kind of social experiment that brings together two parties who happen to sit next to one another. 1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach; (310) 545-5405, eatmbpost.com.