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Breakfast spread at Gold Finch Modern Delicatessen
Breakfast spread at Gold Finch Modern Delicatessen.
Kimberly Motos

20 Essential San Diego Breakfast Spots

Fuel up at these morning spots to kickstart your day.

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Breakfast spread at Gold Finch Modern Delicatessen.
| Kimberly Motos

When it comes to breakfast, San Diego is stocked with a slew of options to jumpstart your day, from savory egg dishes to sweet pastries and pancakes often inspired by global cuisines. From Oceanside down to Coronado, spanning retro diners to European-style cafes and everything in between, there’s a wide variety of morning-focused restaurants to choose from.

Check out Eater’s guide to San Diego’s 20 essential breakfast places. Did we miss your favorite spot? Leave it in the comments or talk to the tipline.

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Communal Coffee

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With locations in North Park, South Park, and Oceanside, customers can find healthy breakfast options at these cafés that are also conducive to working in. Founder Jen Byard offers a wide selection of coffee drinks with beans from Sightglass Coffee, an independent roaster based in San Francisco. The burrata confit tomato toast or shakshuka with spicy tomato sauce and soft-boiled eggs are favorites. 

Egg dish
Egg dish.
Jasmine Fitzwilliam, Let’s Frolic Together

VAGA Restaurant & Bar

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For an elevated breakfast experience overlooking South Ponto Beach, the restaurant offers patio dining with sweeping views of the ocean in the minimalist Alila Marea Beach Resort where Top Chef alum Claudette Zepeda remains involved as culinary director. Highlights include Baja halibut “lox” toast, shakshuka verde, and fresh-baked pastries. 

The Cottage Encinitas

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Specializing in SoCal breakfast cuisine for 30 years, the La Jolla institution recently expanded to an outpost in Encinitas to serve North County residents. Customers can order their famous granola (that ships all over the country), as well as stuffed French toast. A few items exclusive to Encinitas include the leg of lamb sandwich and tofu “huevos” rancheros.

Stuffed French toast
Stuffed French toast.
The Cottage Encinitas

Gold Finch Modern Delicatessen

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Recently opened in the Torrey Pines Mesa, this modern Jewish delicatessen showcases Ashkenazi and Sephardic-style cooking. The latest offering from Tracy Borkum of Urban Kitchen Group (CUCINA Urbana and Artifact at the Mingei Museum) features favorites like the loaded giant latke, tom challah French toast, or the flavorful matzo ball soup based on Borkum’s grandmother’s recipe. Open on weekdays now, Sunday brunch is coming soon.

Loaded giant latke
Loaded giant latke.
Kimberly Motos

Great Maple

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With San Diego locations in Hillcrest and La Jolla, customers don’t have to travel too far to get a fix of their signature sweet-and-savory maple bacon doughnuts. Have the doughnut on its own or topped with crispy fried chicken. Along with the signature Bloody Mary, check out the seasonal cocktails. 

Maple bacon donuts
Maple bacon donuts.
Great Maple

Pipes Cafe

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There’s nothing better to cap off a surf session than a hearty breakfast of sizzling eggs and Pipes’ potatoes from this iconic North County cafe. This laid-back, surf-themed restaurant also caters to those just looking for a coffee from their full-service expresso bar. Pipes’ egg burritos and cheeseburgers are also super popular.   

Seaside scramble with eggs, cheese, avocado, and sausages accompanied by Pipe’s potatoes
Seaside scramble with eggs, cheese, avocado, and sausages accompanied by Pipe’s potatoes.
Helen I. Hwang

Harry's Coffee Shop

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This nostalgic diner is La Jolla’s oldest family-owned restaurant, started by Harry S. Rudolph in 1960. He moved out from his native Brooklyn to follow the Dodgers to California and missed New York diners. Nowadays, Harry’s is still run by the third generation of his family, catering to regulars who’ve been coming for decades. The famous B.W. Benny is a favorite with a thin waffle embedded with bacon morsels, topped with more bacon, ham, and two poached eggs with hollandaise sauce. Try it with the horchata, made in-house daily.

B.W. Benny - waffle with bacon morsels, topped with bacon, ham, and two poached eggs with hollandaise sauce
B.W. Benny - waffle with bacon morsels, topped with bacon, ham, and two poached eggs with hollandaise sauce.
Helen I. Hwang

Wayfarer Bread & Pastry

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This Bird Rock destination bakery, run by Crystal White (Tartine Bakery in San Francisco), focuses on small batches of artisan bread and pastries. Working with ingredients from Chino Farms and other local purveyors, the menu changes regularly with the season. Almond croissants and cherry chocolate chip scones are must-tries. 

Branching out from Madison on Park, Madi is its sister restaurant in Normal Heights with an emphasis on California-Mediterranean brunch every day of the week. Share items include waffle churro sticks. Try the chilaquiles verdes or blackberry goat cheese pancakes from a 60-year-old pancake recipe. Don’t forget to pair with the orange pineapple kale mimosa for a boozy vitamin kick.

Waffle churro sticks with jalapeno-blackberry sauce and maple cream cheese
Waffle churro sticks with jalapeno-blackberry sauce and maple cream cheese.
Diana Sciacca

Farmer's Bottega

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Tucked in Mission Hills is a farm-to-fork restaurant with a rustic farmhouse feel. Owner Alberto Morreale (Portobello) serves classics like egg Benedicts but with a seasonal twist like a Baja-style version with Mexican white shrimp. 

Nomad Donuts

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This North Park staple puts uber-creative twists on its award-winning, hand-crafted doughnuts, which include vegan alternatives; the caramel popcorn and ube taro coconut flavors are a couple of favorites. Its wood-fired Montreal-style bagels can be enjoyed on their own or as a sandwich; highlights from a recent menu update include the Buenas Dias, a housemade chicken chorizo patty with a fried egg, melted cheese, and avocado salsa and the Island Boy, a chicharron-crusted slice of Taylor ham topped with a runny egg and napa cabbage-scallion slaw with caramelized soy & chili oil.

Official Image [Nomad Donuts]

Breakfast Republic

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With a devotion to honoring the diversity of breakfast, this ever-expanding chain offers twists on French toast, eggs, and grits. Favorites include Mr. Presley (peanut-butter-stuffed French toast with bananas foster and bacon) and shrimp and grits. Pair your breakfast with a guava mimosa fueled with DOC prosecco from its partner Italian vineyard. 

Mr. Presley - peanut-butter-stuffed French toast with bananas foster and bacon
Mr. Presley - peanut-butter-stuffed French toast with bananas foster and bacon.
Helen I. Hwang

Hash House a Go Go

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This Hillcrest brunch spot is famous for its generous portions and creative combinations. The towering Andry’s World-Famous Sage Fried Chicken that customers can order atop a stack of waffles or eggs Benedict is crowned with a protruding herb stalk. The BLT Bloody Mary is a tall glass of Bloody Mary with heirloom tomato, lettuce, and crispy bacon, surrounded by white toast, so you can make your own alcohol-infused BLT.  

BLT Bloody Mary
BLT Bloody Mary.
Helen I. Hwang

Atypical Waffle Company

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This hidden gem cafe uses ingredients shipped in from Belgium and takes the proper time needed to make true Belgian waffles. With highlights like the nirvana parfait (waffle with yogurt and fruit) and squirl jam (waffle with whipped cream cheese and ricotta spread and Jackie’s weekly jam), you can’t make a wrong waffle choice. Check out what’s cooking in their Airstream that’s turned into a satellite kitchen, hosting pop-ups and brewing Drewski's Lemonade.

Atypical Waffle with Belgian-imported ingredients
Atypical Waffle with Belgian-imported ingredients.
Atypical Waffle Company

Little Lion Cafe

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In Point Loma, just outside Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, is a cozy cottage that houses a tiny breakfast restaurant that looks like it could be straight out of your European nana’s kitchen. Run by a trio of sisters who come from the legendary culinary family behind the Belgian Lion, the cafe charmer serves salmon mousse toast and brunch tacos with soyrizo and sweet potatoes. 

Salmon mousse toast
Salmon mousse toast.
Helen I. Hwang

Morning Glory

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This brunch restaurant and cocktail bar boasts steady lines and jaw-dropping decor designed for selfies. Here, avocado toast is called “millennial tears” under the Carbs with Culture section. Also on offer is an accomplished French-style omelet and luxe soft scrambled eggs topped with caviar. 

Cafe 222

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Veteran restaurateur Terryl Gavre is the creative vision behind this foundational breakfast spot in the Marina District. The peanut butter and banana-stuffed French toast is a popular choice, or try the famous pumpkin waffles or 5-grain waffles stuffed with the café’s granola.

Tartine

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The locally-owned European-style café has been a neighborhood favorite on Crown Island since 2001. Bakers start at 4 a.m. to bake scones, croissants, and cinnamon rolls. Try their billowy ham and gruyere cheese quiches, served bistro-style with a small salad. 

Ham and gruyere cheese quiche
Ham and gruyere cheese quiche.
Helen I. Hwang

Clayton's Coffee Shop

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A Coronado staple since 1938, the retro classic American diner includes classic favorites like hot cakes. Owner Mary Frese, a native Tennessean, has added Southern favorites like biscuits and gravy and chicken and waffles, bringing in raw ingredients from her native state. Pair with Clayton’s classic fresh strawberry shake. 

Isabelle Briens French Pastry Cafe

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In this tiny cafe, proprietor Isabelle Brien offers a wide range of delicate crepes and pastries, made in the style of her native France. Her satisfying crepes are mobile too; she’s available to host private crepe parties. She also runs an Isabelle Route Des Croissants, delivering her pastries throughout North County on Sunday mornings.

Communal Coffee

With locations in North Park, South Park, and Oceanside, customers can find healthy breakfast options at these cafés that are also conducive to working in. Founder Jen Byard offers a wide selection of coffee drinks with beans from Sightglass Coffee, an independent roaster based in San Francisco. The burrata confit tomato toast or shakshuka with spicy tomato sauce and soft-boiled eggs are favorites. 

Egg dish
Egg dish.
Jasmine Fitzwilliam, Let’s Frolic Together

VAGA Restaurant & Bar

For an elevated breakfast experience overlooking South Ponto Beach, the restaurant offers patio dining with sweeping views of the ocean in the minimalist Alila Marea Beach Resort where Top Chef alum Claudette Zepeda remains involved as culinary director. Highlights include Baja halibut “lox” toast, shakshuka verde, and fresh-baked pastries. 

The Cottage Encinitas

Specializing in SoCal breakfast cuisine for 30 years, the La Jolla institution recently expanded to an outpost in Encinitas to serve North County residents. Customers can order their famous granola (that ships all over the country), as well as stuffed French toast. A few items exclusive to Encinitas include the leg of lamb sandwich and tofu “huevos” rancheros.

Stuffed French toast
Stuffed French toast.
The Cottage Encinitas

Gold Finch Modern Delicatessen

Recently opened in the Torrey Pines Mesa, this modern Jewish delicatessen showcases Ashkenazi and Sephardic-style cooking. The latest offering from Tracy Borkum of Urban Kitchen Group (CUCINA Urbana and Artifact at the Mingei Museum) features favorites like the loaded giant latke, tom challah French toast, or the flavorful matzo ball soup based on Borkum’s grandmother’s recipe. Open on weekdays now, Sunday brunch is coming soon.

Loaded giant latke
Loaded giant latke.
Kimberly Motos

Great Maple

With San Diego locations in Hillcrest and La Jolla, customers don’t have to travel too far to get a fix of their signature sweet-and-savory maple bacon doughnuts. Have the doughnut on its own or topped with crispy fried chicken. Along with the signature Bloody Mary, check out the seasonal cocktails. 

Maple bacon donuts
Maple bacon donuts.
Great Maple

Pipes Cafe

There’s nothing better to cap off a surf session than a hearty breakfast of sizzling eggs and Pipes’ potatoes from this iconic North County cafe. This laid-back, surf-themed restaurant also caters to those just looking for a coffee from their full-service expresso bar. Pipes’ egg burritos and cheeseburgers are also super popular.   

Seaside scramble with eggs, cheese, avocado, and sausages accompanied by Pipe’s potatoes
Seaside scramble with eggs, cheese, avocado, and sausages accompanied by Pipe’s potatoes.
Helen I. Hwang

Harry's Coffee Shop

This nostalgic diner is La Jolla’s oldest family-owned restaurant, started by Harry S. Rudolph in 1960. He moved out from his native Brooklyn to follow the Dodgers to California and missed New York diners. Nowadays, Harry’s is still run by the third generation of his family, catering to regulars who’ve been coming for decades. The famous B.W. Benny is a favorite with a thin waffle embedded with bacon morsels, topped with more bacon, ham, and two poached eggs with hollandaise sauce. Try it with the horchata, made in-house daily.

B.W. Benny - waffle with bacon morsels, topped with bacon, ham, and two poached eggs with hollandaise sauce
B.W. Benny - waffle with bacon morsels, topped with bacon, ham, and two poached eggs with hollandaise sauce.
Helen I. Hwang

Wayfarer Bread & Pastry

This Bird Rock destination bakery, run by Crystal White (Tartine Bakery in San Francisco), focuses on small batches of artisan bread and pastries. Working with ingredients from Chino Farms and other local purveyors, the menu changes regularly with the season. Almond croissants and cherry chocolate chip scones are must-tries. 

Madi

Branching out from Madison on Park, Madi is its sister restaurant in Normal Heights with an emphasis on California-Mediterranean brunch every day of the week. Share items include waffle churro sticks. Try the chilaquiles verdes or blackberry goat cheese pancakes from a 60-year-old pancake recipe. Don’t forget to pair with the orange pineapple kale mimosa for a boozy vitamin kick.

Waffle churro sticks with jalapeno-blackberry sauce and maple cream cheese
Waffle churro sticks with jalapeno-blackberry sauce and maple cream cheese.
Diana Sciacca

Farmer's Bottega

Tucked in Mission Hills is a farm-to-fork restaurant with a rustic farmhouse feel. Owner Alberto Morreale (Portobello) serves classics like egg Benedicts but with a seasonal twist like a Baja-style version with Mexican white shrimp. 

Nomad Donuts

This North Park staple puts uber-creative twists on its award-winning, hand-crafted doughnuts, which include vegan alternatives; the caramel popcorn and ube taro coconut flavors are a couple of favorites. Its wood-fired Montreal-style bagels can be enjoyed on their own or as a sandwich; highlights from a recent menu update include the Buenas Dias, a housemade chicken chorizo patty with a fried egg, melted cheese, and avocado salsa and the Island Boy, a chicharron-crusted slice of Taylor ham topped with a runny egg and napa cabbage-scallion slaw with caramelized soy & chili oil.

Official Image [Nomad Donuts]

Breakfast Republic

With a devotion to honoring the diversity of breakfast, this ever-expanding chain offers twists on French toast, eggs, and grits. Favorites include Mr. Presley (peanut-butter-stuffed French toast with bananas foster and bacon) and shrimp and grits. Pair your breakfast with a guava mimosa fueled with DOC prosecco from its partner Italian vineyard. 

Mr. Presley - peanut-butter-stuffed French toast with bananas foster and bacon
Mr. Presley - peanut-butter-stuffed French toast with bananas foster and bacon.
Helen I. Hwang

Hash House a Go Go

This Hillcrest brunch spot is famous for its generous portions and creative combinations. The towering Andry’s World-Famous Sage Fried Chicken that customers can order atop a stack of waffles or eggs Benedict is crowned with a protruding herb stalk. The BLT Bloody Mary is a tall glass of Bloody Mary with heirloom tomato, lettuce, and crispy bacon, surrounded by white toast, so you can make your own alcohol-infused BLT.  

BLT Bloody Mary
BLT Bloody Mary.
Helen I. Hwang

Atypical Waffle Company

This hidden gem cafe uses ingredients shipped in from Belgium and takes the proper time needed to make true Belgian waffles. With highlights like the nirvana parfait (waffle with yogurt and fruit) and squirl jam (waffle with whipped cream cheese and ricotta spread and Jackie’s weekly jam), you can’t make a wrong waffle choice. Check out what’s cooking in their Airstream that’s turned into a satellite kitchen, hosting pop-ups and brewing Drewski's Lemonade.

Atypical Waffle with Belgian-imported ingredients
Atypical Waffle with Belgian-imported ingredients.
Atypical Waffle Company

Little Lion Cafe

In Point Loma, just outside Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, is a cozy cottage that houses a tiny breakfast restaurant that looks like it could be straight out of your European nana’s kitchen. Run by a trio of sisters who come from the legendary culinary family behind the Belgian Lion, the cafe charmer serves salmon mousse toast and brunch tacos with soyrizo and sweet potatoes. 

Salmon mousse toast
Salmon mousse toast.
Helen I. Hwang

Related Maps

Morning Glory

This brunch restaurant and cocktail bar boasts steady lines and jaw-dropping decor designed for selfies. Here, avocado toast is called “millennial tears” under the Carbs with Culture section. Also on offer is an accomplished French-style omelet and luxe soft scrambled eggs topped with caviar. 

Cafe 222

Veteran restaurateur Terryl Gavre is the creative vision behind this foundational breakfast spot in the Marina District. The peanut butter and banana-stuffed French toast is a popular choice, or try the famous pumpkin waffles or 5-grain waffles stuffed with the café’s granola.

Tartine

The locally-owned European-style café has been a neighborhood favorite on Crown Island since 2001. Bakers start at 4 a.m. to bake scones, croissants, and cinnamon rolls. Try their billowy ham and gruyere cheese quiches, served bistro-style with a small salad. 

Ham and gruyere cheese quiche
Ham and gruyere cheese quiche.
Helen I. Hwang

Clayton's Coffee Shop

A Coronado staple since 1938, the retro classic American diner includes classic favorites like hot cakes. Owner Mary Frese, a native Tennessean, has added Southern favorites like biscuits and gravy and chicken and waffles, bringing in raw ingredients from her native state. Pair with Clayton’s classic fresh strawberry shake. 

Isabelle Briens French Pastry Cafe

In this tiny cafe, proprietor Isabelle Brien offers a wide range of delicate crepes and pastries, made in the style of her native France. Her satisfying crepes are mobile too; she’s available to host private crepe parties. She also runs an Isabelle Route Des Croissants, delivering her pastries throughout North County on Sunday mornings.