Delicious brunch need not be fancy, nor need it be expensive. Hear me out. Just because I am the Queen of Brunch does not mean I assign a price minimum or dress code requirement to the activity. Truth be told, I love me a good greasy spoon or diner. So here are a few I highly recommend.
NAT’S EARLY BITE – SHERMAN OAKS [website]
Set in a rather slummy strip mall on the edge of Sherman Oaks, Nat’s Early Bite (pictured above) offers nothing in decor but more than makes up for it with a huge menu, charming staff who’s probably treated like family by the owners, and great prices.
Eggs Benedict? $9.95. Two eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast? $9.25. And we’re talkin’ those good, O.G. hash browns. Not potatoes, not “home fries,” HASH BROWNS. French toast with eggs and bacon? $9.50.
Stop by and don’t let the outside scare you. It’s clean, it’s delicious, and it opens at 6 AM. Tell your brunch buddies you’ve found a real gem set aside from all the celebrity chefs trying to outdo one another with gluten-free Tahitian vanilla waffles with a light berry compote or housemade apple sausage over fennel with a lump crab egg whites scramble (and I did not make those dishes up, guys). Sometimes, dammit, you just want bacon and eggs and refillable coffee.
BEABEA’s – BURBANK [website]
Brace yourself. It’s pretty hard to go to BeaBea’s without waiting for a table. But you might try your luck at an “off hour” and see where that gets you. Regardless, it’s worth it because HOLY CRAP PANCAKES.
- Apple Cobbler: Baked apples & almonds on buttermilk pancakes
- Chocolate Tuxedo: Chocolate chips & brownie pieces topped with mascarpone cream, whipped cream & powdered sugar
I’m just giving you a thorough tour but I promise you can’t go wrong here with just a plain stack of buttermilk pancakes. Nor can you go wrong with their french toast – just as many crazy choices here – or simply eggs, bacon, etc. Not quite the greasy spoon you’re looking at with Nat’s; it’s a little more well-kempt, but you’re not in Beverly Hills either – there is not an ounce of pretension in the place.
Pro-tip: Like I said, you’ll wait for a table and there’s not really anywhere to wait except outside, which trickles into the parking lot. If it’s hot, this could suck. Dress accordingly, bring sunscreen and sunglasses. I’m not even joking! I came home from BeaBea’s with a sunburn the first time I went. Of course, I’m also a pasty white broad who burns faster than toast. Also, if you don’t care where you sit (i.e. the makeshift outdoor seating or the counter), you’ll get seated a lot faster.
JINKY’S STUDIO CAFE – STUDIO CITY [website]
I’m not really sure what the history is here. Originally named just “Studio Cafe” but owned by the rather famous Jinky’s Cafe guys, maybe they were trying to establish a new brand? But I don’t think the place ever really drew a crowd til they threw “Jinky’s” up on the sign, changed the umbrellas and then BOOM.
You’ll wait here as well and what’s more, be warned that parking BLOWS. Find a street spot in the nearby neighborhoods and walk there. Thank me later.
So you’re basically getting a BeaBea’s redux here — lots of crazy pancake dishes to choose from, including the amazing, decadent red velvet pancakes that lead Jinky’s to breakfast fame — but with some added bonuses. For starters, TATER TOTS. And if you prefer, sweet potato tater tots. (I’m the only person in Los Angeles that hates sweet potatoes but I know that’s weird.)
Studio Cafe also has a proper patio. And even though you’re on a busy corner, it manages to be kind of private, intimate and quiet. They also discourage cell phone use, which I kinda dig, even though it gives me the shakes. But nothing cures the shakes more than a good mimosa, and of all the places mentioned here, Studio Cafe is the only one with a FULL BAR, so that’s a terrific perk! They also have TVs in case there’s a major sporting event you don’t want to miss and they’re open late (10 PM, 11 PM Thursday – Sunday) in case you get a late night breakfast craving, because it’s served all day and night!
(Note: They do post signs discouraging cell phones but I also found out they offer free WiFi so your guess is as good as mine, kids.)
SO WHAT’S MISSING?
I kept this list to my neighborhood but there are plenty of other, similar spots across town like Cici’s in Tarzana or even Du-par’s, which has a few locations – even one in Las Vegas (they’re only ok but they’re open 24 hours which probably serves them well in a town where very little else is). If you’ve got a great diner in mind that I should add to my bookmarks, please share it in the comments! I love to expand my brunch database!