The Best Brunch in Los Angeles in 2016
Happy holidays, fellow foodies and welcome to the 2016 Brunchies, recognizing the best brunch in Los Angeles in 2016.
In Los Angeles, Brunch is a part of our culture. It’s oversized sunglasses and purposefully tousled ponytails, three-day-old beards, and whatever wasn’t already in the laundry when you got dressed. It’s bottomless mimosas and craft Bloody Marys. Brunch is a celebration of all things — the end of a fabulous (or not fabulous) weekend! Our fabulous lives! Our abysmal lives! A day that ends in ‘y’! Whatever. It’s delicious. Who cares.
In 2014, when I was freelancing for The Bold Italic’s short-lived Los Angeles bureau, I was charged with giving out a series of Brunch awards, which I lovingly named “The Brunchies.” Alas, they are a defunct bureau yet my love of Brunch lives on in infinitum. So I decided to resurrect the honors and let you all in on the biggest hits of my 2016 brunch life.
The Penthouse (Santa Monica)
I’ve cited this one before but you just can’t beat their view. The food is good — you’ll find traditional items like Benedict and baked eggs but you’ll also find a killer rigatoni and pan seared Branzino. Make sure you save some room and your calories so you can start the meal with their cinnamon rolls or enjoy some dessert afterward. You get 360 degree views there but ladies, make a stop in the bathroom, too. The view from the last stall is something patrons wait in line for!
Honorable Mention: The Castaway (Burbank) — and complimentary champagne is included in their brunch buffet!
Best Avocado Toast
Flower Child (Santa Monica)
I don’t know what these magical wizards do over there but this simple combination of avocado, a soft egg, black sesame and a little white cheddar on their dense, whole grain toast is so good that you may actually order two pieces. And by the way, it’s only $6 and 360 calories so in addition to being utterly delicious, it’s guilt-free.
I’m pretty obsessed with this place, by the way. It’s worth mentioning that their whole menu is delicious and I’m gutted that it’s not closer to where I live.
Honorable Mention: BLD (Mid-city).
BLD’s Avocado Toast puts a unique spin on the trendy menu item. They bake poached eggs, chorizo, manchego cheese, smoked paprika right into the avocado and serve thick, lightly-toasted sourdough on the side. The chorizo really elevates the flavor.
Best Group Brunch
The Church Key (West Hollywood)
I love The Church Key’s sprawling space that can open up in the front to the street so that you can enjoy the indoor/outdoor dining West Hollywood Brunches are meant for. With all their space and vintage charm, a lot of their big tables are like their own tableaus and what’s more, they have many tables set up with large groups in mind. The first time I enjoyed brunch there with a large group, we sat around a big, round table, which is always ideal to me so that no one feels cast away to the end of a row and is unable to chat with the folks at the other end. Also clutch for any group brunch? They take reservations.
Mercado (locations in Santa Monica, Mid-City and on the Cahuenga Pass)
Everything at Mercado arrives on your table looking and tasting fresh. As a second honor, I might also reward them with “Best Breakfast Burrito” — the massive wrap is stuffed with scrambled eggs, nueske bacon, mexican rice, frijoles negros, roasted potatoes, pico de gallo and oaxaca cheese. Their “Chilaquiles Rojos con Huevos” is a true winner as well but you must add the carnitas to it because the way they prepare their carnitas alone is unbelievably delicious.
Got room for an appetizer? Their chips are just as fresh as anything else on the menu, made in house. The queso will leave you wishing the portion was bigger but only after you’ve also polished off their guacamole, topped with spicy pepitas.
Best Bloody Mary
Hyperion Public (Locations in Studio City and Silver Lake)
Even though they may be best known best for their “f yeah” fries and their “omg dip,” their simple, classic Bloody Mary leaves a mark. The mix is made on site and though you won’t find it bacon infused or loaded with a slider-on-a-stick, there is nothing flawed about it. Now that they’ve opened their second location in Studio City, there are two locations to enjoy it at. (P.S. They also started offering bottomless mimosas this year and lord-have-mercy do they make a great stack of pancakes!)
Best Brunch That’s Not For Me
Au Fudge (West Hollywood)
Founded by Jessica Biel, the cleverly named Au Fudge is a restaurant that caters to children first. You enter through a rustic, country gift shop that sells baked goods along with tchotchkes and toys. Beyond, a bubbly cafe setting adorned with marble, pastels and plenty of kitschy kid-friendly space. (Even the bathrooms have kid-friendly sinks and toilets!) The hub of the restaurant is a large creative space that runs the whole length of the restaurant. It is enclosed, filled with craft tables, toys, and staffed. It is available for parents to drop their kids into at a rate of $15 for two hours so they can dine “in peace” though plenty of patrons bring their kids to the table where a rather indulgent kids menu and crayons await. It is a super-energetic space where you seldom hear the word “no” among the noise and clutter of it all. My meal was delicious, my company was lovely, but it’s never going to be my first choice because I’m quite the snobby bruncher.
Eveleigh (West Hollywood)
Eveleigh may be located in the heart of WeHo but once you walk through the restaurant and out to their rear patio, it’s like being transported to an chic, rustic tree-house escape. The one thing I’ll caution is that the breathtaking setting might leave you with rose-colored glasses. The food is good, but not great. The service is adequate though the servers are all modelesque and not particularly warm. And the prices are a bit high. So it’s up to you how badly you want to dine in this setting!
Honorable Mention: Terrine (Mid-City)
Best Brunch Nachos
Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern (West Hills)
Jimmy’s “Totchos” are tater tots, cheese sauce, sour cream, bacon and salsa and they. are. everything. It’s not a fancy spot, set in the new outdoor half of Westfield Topanga, but it’s comfortable and the staff is exceptionally friendly and accommodating. Jimmy’s puts their own spin on American classics with everything prepared by hand in small batches with high-quality, fresh ingredients. The result is super flavorful, elevated pub food that will have you passing your fork around the table for a bite of everything. And the Totchos. Definitely have the Totchos. (Pictured below with the sour cream on the side because someone at our table doesn’t like the stuff. Insanity.)
Best Non-Traditional Brunch
Barrel and Ashes (Studio City)
The South comes to the San Fernando Valley with a Brunch that includes BBQ, small plates, craft cocktails and a boatload of charm. They’s also doing a good service by opening for brunch at 10:30 in a town where most places open their doors at 11. I’ve narrowed my favorite menu items to two: The Frito Pie and the Hoe Cake. The first is essentially white trash nachos — a Fritos bag popped open on it’s side and loaded up with goodies like chili, cheddar cheese, sour cream, peppers and onions. The latter is a cornmeal flatbread loaded with maple butter and green onion, served on a sizzling skillet. They have some hoe cakes with toppings on the menu but all I’ve ever needed is the “regular.”
Best Sleeper Brunch
Cannibal (Culver City)
Why wasn’t this place more crowded when I went? Was it an off day? Are people intimidated by menu items like the “Double Down” – a sandwich with bacon, ham, sausage, cheese, two eggs and avocado pesto served on bread that is actually hash brown patties? Cannibal, which doubles as a hip butcher shop, is an indulgent experience but if you can shove your guilt way down deep, it’s so freakin’ delicious. Surely it must be on it’s way to being one of the most popular brunch spots in Los Angeles.
Honorable Mention: Ledlow (Downtown)
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So what is, OVERALL, the best brunch in Los Angeles in 2016? It’s just too hard to say and there are still so many I need to try! So I just refuse to answer that question. When someone asks me for a recommendation, I always respond by asking what area they want to be in, what kind of setting they’r seeking, what they want to spend… It’s impossible to name the best brunch in Los Angeles, but I think that’s a GREAT idea of how much the city has to offer! Thank you, 2016, for some amazing Sunday meals with friends! And now…
Brunches I Need to Try in 2017
- Post & Beam (Baldwin Hills)
- Spear Steak & Seafood (Downtown LA)
- Odys + Penelope (Mid-City)
- Magnolia House (Pasadena)
- Sonoma Wine Garden (Santa Monica)
- Sunny Spot (Venice)
- Wolf (Mid-City)
Don’t forget! If you love brunch as much as I do — or hell, even half as much as I do, you’ll want to put your email address into the newsletter subscription box in the top right corner to receive reviews and exclusive content. 2017 will be a whole new year of brunch adventures!