Going out for brunch in the San Fernando Valley (or most of Los Angeles) used to mean either gorging on an all-you-can-eat extravaganza or your basic coffee shop, deli or IHOP. Now, there are numerous great breakfast/brunch haunts in the Ssan Fernando Valley offering a wide variety of options seven days a week for every taste.
Here are six personal favorites – that are not available everywhere else – that have become my regular options for meeting a friend for breakfast or lunch, entertaining an out of town relative, or for taking a child for a special brunch with mom:
Cici’s Café is an always-busy spot breakfast lovers heaven. There is an extensive, I mean extensive, menu with literally pages of pancakes, pages of waffles, pages of egg dishes … you get the picture! I know they have salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes on later pages, but never make it that far before I have too many options I am trying to decide between. My personal favorites are their pancakes, specifically the Bewitched, baked apples and walnuts on pumpkin pancakes; the Pink Lady, raspberries and macadamia nuts mixed in buttermilk pancakes and then topped with raspberry sauce and whipped cream; and The Two B’s, which are blueberries and bananas. I highly recommend CiCi’s, but be aware that the wait can be up to an hour at peak weekend times, and they are only open for breakfast and lunch. Cici’s Café is at 18912 Ventura Boulevard, Tarzana (818) 881-6704.
Myke’s Café is an oasis in a not-that-great, but okay for daytime, neighborhood. The menu is partly gourmet breakfast, partly Mexican breakfast, various hamburgers and many Mexican food options. I particularly recommend brunch with their variety of mimosas (and other drinks), choices of 21 different omelets options, 20 types of pancakes, various french toasts and nice selection of huevos dishes. Personal favorites here are the Berrylemonicious, raspberries cooked in buttermilk pancakes and topped with lemon curd, or the chocolate chip and banana buttermilk pancakes topped with chocolate sauce. Myke’s Café is at 13171 Van Nuys Boulevard, Pacoima, CA 91331 (818) 890-4815.
Porto’s Bakery and Café is a phenomenal Cuban bakery that is always jammed, but the lines move fast. Founder Rosa Porto opened a small bakery when the family immigrated to America more than 50 years ago that has grown into three facilities that are each about 20,000 square feet and thriving. Technically breakfast dishes, such as omelet sandwiches are only served until 11 a.m., but the bakery goods are all day. I highly recommend the guava strudel (pastel de guayaba), the spinach feta croissants, and the croquets (typically they have chicken and/or ham). Note: the hours vary by locations, but typically closing is around 7:30 p.m. Porto’s Bakery and Café’s three locations are at 3614 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank (818) 846-9100; 315 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale (818) 956-5996; and 8233 Firestone Boulevard, Downey (562) 862-8888.
Leo & Lily is a charming neighborhood café that fuses Mediterranean and healthy flavors into otherwise traditional dishes. The menu offers hearty, filling fare and a lot of daily specials. Besides the usual breakfast options, the eatery offers homemade honey-nut granola, a BLTAE (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and fried egg sandwich), multigrain cinnamon pancakes, almond-crusted whole wheat French toast and some ethnic dishes like Sephardic borekas (akin to empanadas) filled with feta, goat and asiago cheese among other things. Leo & Lily is at 22420 Ventura Boulevard, Woodland Hills (818) 222-6622.
Marmalade Café menus vary by location, but all offer a great casual place to meet others for brunch and some have outdoor seating. They take reservations, which helps for Mother’s Day or other notoriously busy times. They also have great options for lunch and dinner. For brunch, however, personal favorites include the Portobello Benedict, which features poached eggs on a muffins topped with a Portobello mushroom covered with roasted tomatoes and spinach as well as Hollandaise sauce, or their take on French toast with thick egg bread dipped in a vanilla cinnamon egg batter then served topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and banana slices. Marmalade Café has locations in Calabasas, El Segundo, the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market area, LAX, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks and Westlake Village.
Coral Tree Café is a little healthier in its fare, offering what they call “honest to goodness” California-style cuisine, that is largely organic, in casual indoor and outdoor setting. Some breakfast favorites include the Arugula Pesto scramble with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and sautéed organic spinach; the Mykonos scramble, with spinach and feta cheese topped with sliced avocado; the Valencia French toast, which is made with sliced brioche dipped in an orange vanilla batter with a powdered sugar dusting; or the Lemon Ricotta buttermilk pancakes that are served topped with fresh lemon and powdered sugar. Coral Tree has three locations: 17499 Ventura Boulevard, Encino (818) 789-8733; 11645 San Vicente Boulevard, Los Angeles (Brentwood) (310) 979-8733; and 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles (Century City) (310) 553-8733.
These are six great brunch options with locations in the San Fernando Valley. Brunch anyone?
By Dyanne Weiss