Sometimes breakfast is all that stands between you and strangling every other driver on the road because they never learned how to merge. Sometimes breakfast gets snobby and calls itself brunch because we slam bubbly orange juice with our pancakes and pretend it's sophisticated. And sometimes breakfast is dinner at the greasy spoon just a few blocks away, where the corned beef hash glistens under heat lamps next to a side of bacon and a heaping plate of S.O.S. Whatever role breakfast plays in our lives, it will always be the most important meal of the day. So make it count.
Honey Bee's House of Breakfast
The Portuguese sausage at Honey Bee's House of Breakfast is pretty perfect. And the full Portuguese breakfast, which includes eggs, hash browns, rice and toast along with that sausage, will set you back only about $8. If your sweet tooth is aching, the buttermilk pancakes and plantains will keep you plenty satisfied. Getting a table on the weekend is tough since this place is tiny, so get a pupusa while you wait.
4715 W. Adams Blvd., West Adams. (323) 731-7203.
Pann's is the real deal for anyone truly in love with breakfast. Sitting at a diner counter with a bottomless cup of black coffee alongside a plate of eggs, home fries and bacon is a truly life-affirming experience. And if you require something even more hearty, Pann's country-fried steak and gravy rivals anything you'd find along the Jersey Turnpike, where the diner experience is a way of life. Sadly, Pann's doesn't serve dinner anymore, but you can always get it all to go and have a root beer float while you wait. Treat yourself.
6710 La Tijera Blvd., Westchester. (323) 776-3770.
Standing in line for a $13 breakfast sandwich might sound like a waste of time and money, but you really should pay that price for this breakfast sandwich. Sunny side–up egg with crunchy edges sitting atop the sweet and salty marriage of pork belly sausage and mayo, all held together with melted American cheese. Be forewarned, though, it's tough to find an empty seat in-house.
624 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park. (310)362-6115.
After the kind of night that requires pho the next morning, commuting to find a better bowl on the other side of Alhambra might not be an option. And this iconic Chinatown stalwart offers a really solid rendition of the Vietnamese classic. Good aromatics soothe the soul, and sriracha makes the mind buoyant. Never underestimate the restorative nature of those shiny fat bubbles glistening with the power to crush your hangover before that 9 a.m. conference call. Good thing Pho Hoa opens at 7 a.m.
818 N. Spring St., Chinatown. (213) 485-0074.
Pacific French Bakery
If sweet, quick and affordable is what you look for in breakfast, then Pacific French Bakery in Arlington Heights is the place to go. You can walk out of here with a handful of freshly filled creampuffs and a small box of coconut macaroons for about $5. Grab a few bolillos; leaving the premises without a creamy batido de arroz would be a mistake. Long lines of local fans spill out into the street during the weekend, but the staff keeps it all moving at a brisk pace.
4152 W. Washington Blvd., Arlington Heights. (323) 735-1700.
The Coffee Co.
French toast is tough to get right, believe it or not. It's either too thick or too thin, and overstuffed with something that disintegrates the integrity of the bread itself. The Coffee Co. respects its Hawaiian bread, leaving it swim in the egg wash just long enough to form a custardy touch beneath the crunchy surface. Add a light dusting of powdered sugar and a warm drop of syrup, and that's all you really need. Well, that and the hot turkey sausage.
8751 La Tijera Blvd., Westchester. (310) 645-7315.
Nat's Early Bite
Nat's is the kind of place that inspires you to get a small glass of tomato juice with your corned beef hash and eggs. Not because it's healthy but because that's what your parents drank at breakfast when they took you to the diner as a kid. The muffins and cinnamon rolls are knee-buckling, and the vibe is timeless. It would be the perfect place to do the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle if not for the gaggle of people waiting in line to pounce on your table like a pack of hungry hyenas.
14115 Burbank Blvd., Van Nuys. (818) 781-3040.
There's a lot of value in the $4 biscuit sandwiches at Division 3 in Glassell Park. You're paying just a few bucks for top-flight ingredients and a lot of cheffy work in a perfectly portable size. So, instead of buying two disappointing Egg McMuffins from the drive-thru, why not buy one intensely satisfying breakfast sandwich for just a little more? Division 3 has plenty of delicious nonbiscuit things to eat, too, but frankly, they just distract one from the biscuits.
3329 Division St., Glassell Park.
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Sure, there's lots of wonderful history at Canter's, but what really matters is the pastrami and eggs, and the matzo ball soup. For those of us who enjoy nothing more than a good nap at work, start with the heart-stopping Monte Cristo. If you're traipsing about the neighborhood in the early hours of the morning, Canter's will always be there to soak up all that whiskey with a plate of delicious waffles. Open all night, because that's what real diners do.
419 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax. (323) 651-2030.
Sometimes Angelenos forget just how spoiled they are by Randy's Donuts. While the rest of the country chases the fancy doughnut trend, Randy's just keeps turning out tasty French crullers as it always has. You may not want to be a hero at your office, but if you bring in a box of glazed doughnuts from Randy's, it's going to happen anyway. And it'll only cost you a few bucks.
805 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood. (310) 645-4707.