Who makes the best Sunday brunch in San Diego? That’s a question The San Diego Reader seeks an answer to with our Reader Brunch at the Park event. Last year’s winner, as chosen by fans, was Cocina 35, best known for the many variations of its specialty dish: chilaquiles. Who will be this year’s winner? Only time will tell, but possible candidates include these longtime favorites — some may be closed due to the pandemic, but they are well known by locals to serve some of San Diego’s best Sunday brunches.
Of all the places in San Diego to be named after the city’s founding Mission, absolutely none of them serve a better Cinnamon bread french toast than this café with locations in North Park, Mission Beach, and East Village. Thanks to an in-house bakery and local, farm-fresh eggs, The Mission has been a favorite for Sunday brunch, and every other day of the week people crave its chicken apple sausage, roast beef hash, and sandwiches ranging from breakfast to club. A bevy of Mexican breakfast dishes a perfect for our border town, particularly those made with veggie-friendly soy chorizo.
Jake’s Del Mar
San Diego Sunday brunch doesn’t come with a better view than you’ll find at this classic Del Mar restaurant. Jake’s Del Mar sits right on top of the city beach, meaning all you can see through the window of its dining room are beachgoers, sand, and ocean. Sunday brunch employs many of the best ingredients from its modern kitchen, including the house hash, made with braised short rib, and the classic steak and eggs featuring prime top sirloin. Sunday brunch by the sea wouldn’t be fitting without seafood options, so fans dive into the likes of lump crabcake benedict, poke stack of ahi and kanpachi, and achiote roasted fish.
For those whose Sunday brunch begins and ends with a bloody mary, you won’t do finer than to spend your midday sampling the outrageous breakfast cocktails of Great Maple. Whether Hillcrest or La Jolla, the mid-century stylish diner garnishes its craft bloodies with outright snacks, whether a whole pickle, cheesy toast, or a grilled octopus tentacle! Great Maple loved to take its actual brunch dishes to similar extremes. For example, why settle for corned beef and bacon when you can go for smoked brisket and pork belly? Here’s where you’ll find some of San Diego’s most creative brunch specials, including breakfast pot pie, waffles on a stick, and its famous maple bacon donuts.
Eclipse Chocolate Bar + Bistro
Another San Diego original with perhaps the most distinctive brunch menu you’ll ever see is Eclipse Chocolate Bar + Bistro in South Park. The artisanal chocolate maker doubles as a full-time café and restaurant, as well known for its candy infused entrees as its menu of flavored drinking chocolates. But it’s the exquisite balance between sugar and spice that helps Eclipse’s sweet and savory brunch makes a lasting impression. It sees French toast and pancakes enhanced with roasted white chocolate and orange-vanilla butter; adds chile burnt caramel hollandaise and maple muscovado glazed bacon crumbles to quiche; and tops its biscuits with white chocolate and vanilla sausage gravy, and a dash of chile salt.
Weekly crowds in La Jolla and Carlsbad prove Shorehouse Kitchen is no best-kept secret of Sunday brunch in San Diego. Still, the relatively low key pair of beachy breakfast and lunch spots earn consideration as the best Sunday brunch in San Diego for a wonderfully Southern California take on California cuisine. You can’t go wrong with its eggs benedicts: bearnaise- and hollandaise-drenched options include honey-cured bacon over crispy parmesan risotto, seared salmon with baby kale, and roasted turkey with brussels sprouts. But the lunch menu puts the definite -unch in brunch, offering the most inventive collection of salads on the entire coast, and sandwich temptations including grilled chicken with pistachio pesto and burrata!