I live in the South Bay, and I have some pretty specific breakfast-spot criteria: by the beach (why is this so hard to get in Southern California?); serves real coffee, i.e., espresso; and serves real breakfast food (there goes Starbucks). Martha's 22nd Street Grill is my answer. I can sit at a table, looking at the palm trees and the beach, sipping an espresso and eating cornmeal pancakes. Yes. Life is good. Now, I didn't say “on the beach.” But you're only half a block away. You can see it from the window tables and the groovy outdoor tables. And you're in Hermosa already, for chrissake. There are the usual breakfast offerings and also the ones that make California great, like any kind of omelet that includes avocado. This is where I take my out-of-town friends to prove to them that they're in L.A. California uber alles! Get there before 8 a.m. on weekends if you don't want to sit around waiting for your name to be called for a table. 25 22nd St., Hermosa Beach. (310) 379-7786.

—Jedd Birkner