13 Unique Brunch Spots in San Diego You MUST Try!

San Diego is one of the most beautiful vacation spots in California – known for its gorgeous beaches and diverse action-packed adventures whether on land or water. But there’s another thing that San Diego serves better than other counties in California and that’s brunch! During the 5 years that I lived in San Diego as a university student, I became OBSESSED with brunch and I always dragged my friends to have brunch on the weekends. With a variety of brunch styles within and around San Diego, the choices are endless. This is a curated list of 13 mid-range $$, unique, classic and popular San Diego brunch spots that embody the essence of San Diego – each with their own unique style and well-known dishes!

If you’re looking for new Instagram – worthy brunch spots with pretty decorations and super aesthetic interiors, I’ve got another list for you (though you will find some of these restaurants on that list as well).

1. The Mission

Link to Breakfast Menu

This restaurant serves delicious classics as well as fusion dishes that blend Chino-Latino cuisine. The interior of the restaurant is decorated with vibrant local artworks and large windows that provide the best natural lighting for photos of your aesthetic and healthy dishes! Read more about the Mission’s concept here. My friend and I enjoyed both their house special Mission French Toast as well as the tender Hangar Steak Hash and Eggs!

Locations:

Mission Beach: 3795 Mission Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92109

North Park: 2801 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

SoMa East Village: 1250 J St., San Diego, CA 92101

2. Caroline’s Seaside Cafe

Link to Breakfast Menu

The perfect brunch spot to observe the morning waves washing gently onto shore – literally right next to La Jolla Shores. It can be a little chilly as the wind blows inward from the ocean but don’t worry about sand getting into your food because they have glass walls set up in the outdoor dining area! It’s technically located on the UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus so you may see a lot of students and professors dining together here. I would recommend trying one of their sandwiches!

TIP: If you are a UCSD student or staff member, show your UCSD ID card for a discount!!

Location:

La Jolla: 8610 Kennel Way, La Jolla, CA 92037

3. Fig Tree Cafe

Link to Brunch Menus: Pacific Beach Menu , Liberty Station Menu

This is one of the most unique brunch spots I’ve ever visited and one of my favorites during my days as a university student because the Pacific Beach location’s outdoor seating arrangement contains a dog-friendly patio with botanical and rustic decor that creates a pleasant garden-like setting. (So yes, dogs are welcome at the PB location and they even have a menu of dog treats!) The ambiance is comfortable and the array of brunch options makes this brunch spot one extremely popular among San Diegans – there are two locations!

Tip: They don’t take phone reservations, you have to be there in person to put your name down and then wait , *BUT the neighborhood has lovely houses you can stroll around and if your wait with another 20 people. If your wait is at least 30+ minutes you can make your way down the street towards the ocean and see Tourmaline Beach, or more specifically to a parking lot where surfers park their cars before diving into the waves. The view is lovely even if you don’t go all the way down to the shore!

Literally walk down Tourmaline St. to get a view of Tourmaline Beach!
This is the Pacific Beach location mentioned above*

Locations:

Pacific Beach: 5119 Cass St, San Diego, CA 92109 *

Liberty Station: 2400 Historic Decatur Rd Suite 103, San Diego, CA 92106

4. Breakfast Republic

Link to Brunch Menu

Another popular brunch restaurant – so popular there are SEVEN locations just in San Diego. The American restaurant has a farm theme and is one of the few brunch spots that serve American classics such as shrimp & grits and s’mores french toast in addition to omelettes and scrambles. One of my personal favorites is their breakfast jambalaya and their french toast sampler! They have a variety of unique vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options as well.

Locations:

North Park: 2730 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104

Liberty Station: 2865 Sims Road, Ste 106, San Diego, CA 92106

East Village: 707 G Street, San Diego, CA 92101

Ocean Beach: 4839 Newport Avenue, San Diego, CA 92107

Carmel Valley: 6025 Village Way, Suite F101, San Diego, CA 92130

Pacific Beach: 4465 Mission Blvd., San Diego, CA 92109

Mission Valley: 1570 Camino de la Reina, San Diego, CA 92108

5. Brockton Villa

Link to Breakfast Menu, Lunch Menu, Drinks Menu

Dine on the charming outdoor patio of one of the original beach cottages of La Jolla with a view of the beautiful La Jolla Cove! Situated on a cliff facing the ocean, this restaurant is extremely popular among locals and university students alike. Their house specialty Coast Toast is SO FAMOUS that you can actually order it at ANY TIME of the day – not limited to brunch. If you had to choose only one of these brunch restaurants from this list to visit, I would say this is the one that will give you the ultimate experience of San Diego’s coastal brunch! A word of caution – as you approach the restaurant and wait in line, you may smell the sea lions pungent smell but once you are seated I promise you shouldn’t smell anything but their famous coast toast!

Location: La Jolla: 1235 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037

6. Coffee Cup Cafe

Link to Menus: Breakfast, Lunch

A small quaint cafe located in La Jolla, this is another one of Isabel Cruz’s Latin-Asian fusion restaurants for healthy yet delicious brunch options! Less flashy and eccentric compared to Isabel’s (above) but still a very pleasant place to enjoy brunch. Outdoor seating is available but beware there is usually a slight breeze in La Jolla.

Location: La Jolla: 1109 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037

7. Richard Walker’s Pancake House

Link to Menu

This world-famous pancake house is the haven gourmet pancakes! In addition to crepes and omelettes, their pancake selection includes unique flavors such as buckwheat pancakes, pecan pancakes, bacon pancakes, cherry pancakes, and options for gluten-free/vegan/peanut-free pancakes! Unique only to them are the gourmet griddle cakes which include swedish pancakes and potato pancakes! Even if other dishes look enticing, you must at least try one pancake dish. If you are a pancake connoisseur, this is definitely the place to visit!

Locations:

La Jolla: 909 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037

Downtown San Diego: 520 Front St., San Diego, CA 92101

8. Cafe 21

Breakfast menu

An incredibly unique and aesthetic restaurant located in downtown San Diego, they serve everything from brunch to dinner. The ambiance is cozy and lively with occasional live music and beautiful indoor lighting. Some unique brunch options only they serve include savory/sweet crepe cakes, cast iron omelets, and the popular bananas fosters cast iron dutch pancake!

Locations:

Downtown: 802 FIFTH AVE, SAN DIEGO CA 92101

University Heights: 2736 ADAMS AVE, SAN DIEGO CA 92116

9. The Cottage

Link to Menus: Breakfast, Lunch

Located about 14 minutes from UCSD and 14 minutes to La Jolla Shores by the streets lined with various clothing and antique shops, the restaurant is largely outdoor seating with shade from fine umbrellas and large trees. The outdoor seating area is enclosed with a lovely white fence and gives a very cozy ambiance. The portions were generous and the presentation is very neat as well – absolutely instagrammable! The omelettes and french toast are delightful!

Location: La Jolla: 7702 Fay Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037

10. Isabel’s

Link to Menus: Breakfast, Lunch

This restaurant features Latin-Asian fusion cuisine in their brunch and lunch dishes! The interior is very thoughtfully decorated with ethnic icons that set the mood for an dynamic dining experience. Isabel Cruz is one of San Diego’s most loved fusion chefs and has published two cookbooks alongside award-winning cocktails. Enjoy a sweet and/or savory dish accompanied by a refreshing cocktail! Street parking is a little difficult in the area so you may park a distance away – make sure to note down your car’s location so you don’t end up looking for your car for an hour like me and my friend.

Location: Pacific Beach: 966 Felspar St, San Diego, CA 92109

11. Shorehouse Kitchen

Link to Menus: Breakfast (served all day), Lunch starting from 11am

This restaurant definitely encompasses the beach/surfer vibe and is a lovely place to enjoy a sunny healthy brunch with refreshing drinks! Breakfast is served all day for you to enjoy. They have a unique selection of pancakes, espresso, and cocktails, and this may be one another one of the few restaurants that provide a menu of treats for your four-legged fur friends! Check out their Doggie Menu, isn’t it adorable??

Location: La Jolla: 2236 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037

12. Cody’s La Jolla

Link to Menus: Breakfast, Lunch

Located on a very popular tourist street in La Jolla that slopes towards Ellen Browning Scripps Park and La Jolla Cove, Cody’s restaurant is in the center of all things touristy about La Jolla. It is flanked by souvenir shops and gelato shops and only a few streets away from little shops reflecting the luxury of La Jolla – definitely take the time to explore the surroundings before or after brunch!

Location: La Jolla: 1025 Prospect St #210, La Jolla, CA 92037

13. Provisional Kitchen

Link to Brunch Menu

Pendry San Diego’s Provisional Kitchen is THE most gourmet and elegant brunch restaurant on this list, and also the most expensive one. I decided to include this on the list because they offer a unique dish that no other restaurant can top and that is the the Pendry Ostrich Egg Breakfast Platter ($90) that can feed 3-4 people. If you want a unique brunch experience in downtown San Diego and can afford to splurge, this is it. Taste-wise I hardly tasted a difference between the ostrich egg and regular chicken eggs, but the components of the platter was delicious altogether and it was a neat experience for me and my friends.

Location: Downtown: 425 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

I hope this list is helpful to those of you who are looking to experience San Diego’s unique brunch culture – even during these times of COVID. As I researched each restaurant I was happy to discover that they are all still operating within safe COVID measures and face covering/social distancing practices.

Let me know your thoughts/comments about this list in the comment section! Are there any brunch places I missed that you love?

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