Sunday morning in San Diego. The sun is shining (per usual!) and the biggest decision awaits — where to brunch?
Brunch is the best! The mimosas are flowing, patio doors are open wide, and breakfast and lunch converge to satisfy our cravings for sweet and savory eats. And if you’re looking to keep it healthy, your brunch just got that much better because we’ve rounded up a tasty list of healthy brunch spots to check out.
Come hungry and leave without the guilt… or leftovers.
Nestled on a quiet corner in Little Italy, Café Gratitude offers 100% organic, plant-based dining in a bright and inviting space. Breakfast toast, oatmeal, gluten-free pancakes, and breakfast tacos are just a few items on the menu. Thirsty? Café Gratitude has a long list of pressed juices, smoothies, spritzers, and kombucha. Fitt Tip: dine in on a Saturday to take advantage of farmers market people-watching — the Little Italy Mercato Farmers Market is a must!
It’s modern American fare, it’s comfort meets healthy, it’s Great Maple. Frequently voted one of the best brunch spots in San Diego, there’s plenty of reasons to check this place out. Great Maple first opened its doors in Newport Beach a few years back and has since spread its flavors south to Hillcrest and La Jolla. Chow down on vegan hashes, hearty salads, and quirky dishes like waffle lollipops. But why the name? Maple is one of the driving ingredients in every corner of the menu from maple-smoked bacon to maple bacon doughnuts to the Great Maple BLT. You get the point. It’s all so good that you’ll never get sick of it — we promise.
Do you take your bacon straight or with brown sugar? Sorry, this is a healthy post, isn’t it? Indulge in this California kitchen’s omelets, gluten-free toast (if that’s your jam), breakfast “sushi”, homemade granola, or a “skinny scramble”. Regardless of if you’re vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, Fig Tree (in Pacific Beach, Hillcrest, and Liberty Station) makes it easy for you to find your next delicious bite. Plus, the Pacific Beach location is located in a giant garden which invites the question, does it get any better than this?
Did you know San Diego has more small farms than anywhere in the country? Yep, farm-to-table has never been fresher than it is in San Diego. And Farmer’s Bottega in Mission Hills more than embraces the local fare. Dig into the house-made Meatloaf Hash, served with spinach, pesto, eggs, and toast. If you’re in for a feast, mix-and-match pancakes, sample their french toast, or go light with homemade granola and fresh fruit. Put your name in, explore Mission Hills, and then come on down for country chic eats.
This place may be tiny, but their menu sure isn’t. Think of every healthy breakfast food trend you’ve heard of in recent months (butter coffee, breakfast toasts, kombucha, etc.) and know that if you want to try any of them, this place is your stop. With a casual, order-at-the-counter atmosphere, this Leucadia cafe is surely a quick and delicious brunch option for anyone who’s on the go. Don’t worry, just because it’s casual doesn’t mean it skimps on taste. Their veggie bowl is packed with flavors like herbed cashew cheese and butternut squash, and their stuffed French toast features orange-infused almond milk ricotta and grain-free challah bread. We’re just saying, make sure you come hungry.
Enjoy the blue skies and sunshine of University Heights while sipping your morning mimosa amongst cedar walls and open ceilings. Madison on Park is the perfect spot for an outing with friends, or a brunch date (check out the cocktail selection to break the ice). Here, expect a variety of healthy eats—avocado toast with egg, shakshuka, Paleo Bowl, and the Mediterranean Breakfast to name a few—as well as an assortment of small plates. Full but looking to continue your conversation? Take a stroll through the neighborhood — the Sunday Hillcrest Farmers Market is only a mile away.
Come hungry because brunch at Café 21 is sure to leave you full and ready to tackle Sunday Funday. Their mouth-watering (and hearty) cast iron omelets are served hot, straight from the oven, and stuffed with fresh locally-grown organic veggies and proteins (shrimp, filet, turkey—take your pick). Their menus are seasonal, so you know you’re getting the freshest organic produce from Tom King Farms, their local farm partner. Take in the sights and sounds from the patios at their Downtown and University Heights locations while feasting on one of their house specials. Hint: The Farmers Board, with seasonal greens, local cheeses, and meats, is quite the spread.
Your mission this Sunday (or any day of the week), should you accept it, is to find your zen — your Zen Breakfast, that is. One of The Mission’s favorite dishes, you’ll feast on scrambled egg whites, tofu, brown rice, and grilled veggies — healthy protein that will fill any grumbling belly. The menu has everything from granola pancakes to sandwiches (served on their freshly baked bread) to Latino breakfast favorites (homemade salsa anyone?). While you wait for a plate, check out artwork from local artists decorating the walls of all three locations (Mission Beach, North Park, and SoMa East Village).
Instead of hitting the snooze button, head over to Snooze A.M. Eatery for a morning to remember. Yes, there will be a wait, but for good reason — their three locations, Del Mar, La Jolla, and Hillcrest, have some delicious, seasonally-inspired grub waiting for you. Get lost in “Sweet Utopia” (their pancakes are on another level) or take a trip to the lighter side with their “Light as a Feather” menu. Eyeing a Benedict? Order half of two different items, combine them, and voilà! Benedict brunch heaven.
You don’t even need an address for this place — just look for the longest line on the street every Saturday and Sunday morning, and it’s likely you’ve stumbled upon a Breakfast Republic. With seven locations across San Diego—from Encinitas to East Village—this eatery isn’t hard to come by, but its flavors are one of a kind. Featuring American, Mexican, and Portuguese fare, the variety at Breakfast Republic is sure to satisfy any craving. Not only do they offer plenty of international dishes, but they also serve up some pretty unconventional pancakes and french toasts (did we mention their Oreo cookie, strawberry cheesecake, and banana split flavors?). If you’re not looking to utilize your weekly cheat day, fear not — they recently incorporated vegan dishes into their menu, and believe us when we say you really can’t go wrong with the soy chorizo vegan bowl.
This casual and cozy Solana Beach cafe feels just like home. Think breakfast at grandma’s. Their wholesome menu is jam-packed with locally-sourced fresh veggies, meats, and cheeses. Enjoy your eggs however you like ’em, or opt for something unique like their Quinoa Cake Benedict. Their freshly-made scones, muffins, and breads (the base for their flavorful french toast) will change your morning for the better. If you’re in a rush, visit Claire’s Too instead, their coffee shop and bakery just across the parking lot. With several grab-and-go options, you can get quality Claire’s food even faster. Whether you want to spend your whole morning at the cafe or just pop into the bakery for a quick visit, Claire’s is the perfect place to roll out of bed, grab a bite, and then catch some waves at the beach nearby.
Look for the big clock on Park Blvd. (It’s obviously brunch time, we know). The landmark and the line of hungry brunchers will no doubt point you to Parkhouse Eatery. They have a rustic, antique vibe — some serious character. Choose an egg scramble (all except one can be prepared gluten-free) or take a walk on the wild side with the breakfast pizza. Don’t forget to order one of their Lemon Ricotta Pancakes oozing with homemade blueberry sauce for the table. Sit outside on the patio, eat up, and cleanse your palate with a sweet mimosa flight.
Come for the atmosphere, stay for the cuisine. The only thing better than eating high-quality, seasonally-infused, gourmet brunch fare is enjoying said food from a rooftop. And few places combine both of these elements better than Rustic Root downtown on 5th Ave. Their scramble skillets (veggie or meat-lover friendly) are made from scratch, as are all their other menu items. Lighter options include an egg white frittata and avocado toast trio (because one type of avocado toast is way too boring). And if you end up coming on one of the six rainy days that San Diego experiences per year, don’t panic! They also have dining available downstairs with live music on Sunday mornings.
**Updated by Lauren Keary, February 2019