Fueled by a relaxed indoor-outdoor lifestyle, every corner of the city accommodates a perennial appetite for weekend brunch in Los Angeles.
By Roger Grody, adapted from WHERE Los Angeles magazine
Brunch, which manages to be sexy and decadent in the light of day, has always been a tradition well-suited to laid-back L.A. Ranging from croissants and café au lait at a beachside café in Venice to an elaborate buffet at a luxury Beverly Hills hotel, the meal takes on various forms, and every L.A. neighborhood is rich in options.
Among the city’s best Italian restaurants is Rossoblu, where chef/owner Steve Samson is inspired by the cuisine of Bologna, his mother’s hometown. The brunch menu features lemon-ricotta pancakes, Nutella-stuffed French toast and a burger topped with Bolognese ragù, slaw and Fontina. They can be washed down with an Old-Fashioned sweetened with maple syrup aged in whiskey barrels. Sweets include “Breakfast in Sicily”: sugar-dusted brioche with almond granita. The restaurant, which occupies a historic produce market in the Fashion District, boasts a brunch-worthy veranda and patio.
1124 San Julian St., downtown, 213.749.1099. rossoblula.com
One of L.A.’s most engaging brunches is offered at 189 by Dominique Ansel, from the pâtissier who invented the Cronut. Located at the Grove, the ground floor houses Ansel’s bakery, while the upstairs dining room showcases innovative American fare. At weekend brunch, servers meander through the room offering riffs on iconic comfort foods, shared family-style at the table. Highlights include fried chicken with biscuits, merguez sausages, cast-iron crocks of creamy scrambled eggs, and even build-your-own lobster rolls. Like a dim sum house, a menu card is stamped when each dish is delivered, then tallied at the conclusion.
189 The Grove Drive, L.A., 323.602.0096. dominiqueansella.com
At Dream Hollywood hotel is Beauty & Essex, whose over-the-top theatrical decor provides a backdrop for the inventive but familiar fare from Chopped judge Chris Santos. Some of the nostalgic dishes are sweet (e.g., red-velvet waffles, sticky buns with bourbon-vanilla caramel), while others are more savory. Grilled cheese sandwich-like dumplings, each presented in a spoon filled with tomato soup, represent Santos’ modern comfort cuisine, while his eclecticism is revealed in shrimp and grits with salsa madre, and tuna poke wonton tacos.
1615 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, 323.676.8880. beautyandessex.com
Located in one of Beverly Hills’ most luxurious hotels, The Belvedere has always been among L.A.’s favorite places to brunch, and a recent makeover has only enhanced its reputation. A fortune’s worth of modern art lines the dining room’s walls, while a leafy patio encourages lingering. A lavish Sunday buffet brunch features interactive stations, with local, sustainable seafood a signature. Consider dishes like Yukon Gold-tarragon waffles topped with lobster and béarnaise, paired with free-flowing Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne and show-stopping finales from pastry chef Stephanie Boswell.
The Peninsula, 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310.975.2736. beverlyhills.peninsula.com
Brunch is typically decadent, but at Gracias Madre, one of the city’s top plant-based restaurants, indulgence is a healthy illusion. Paired with a pitcher of spicy Mexican-inspired mimosas are dishes like a butternut-squash quesadilla (incorporating cashew “cheese”) or biscuits in gravy flavored with surprisingly satisfying tempeh “bacon.” Avocado toast, chilaquiles and plantain French toast fill out a menu that embraces the spirit of brunch without the excessive guilt. The restaurant’s shady patio is tailor-made for a leisurely brunch.
8905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323.978.2170. graciasmadreweho.com
At her new upmarket bistro, Native, chef Nyesha Arrington features inventive, multicultural dishes grounded in French technique. For brunch, the indoor-outdoor restaurant is laid-back and festive, its menu sunny and engaging. A tartine of smoked trout is spiked with caper berries and pickled chilies, while its pain au lait “syrup sandwich” (inspired by Kendrick Lamar lyrics) is dusted with maple powder and nicely paired with thick-cut bacon. Crème fraîche cools Arrington’s kimchi latkes, and a cocktail called Morning Smoke combines Sombra mezcal, crème de cacao, St. George NOLA coffee liqueur and bitters.
620 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, 310.458.4427. eatnative.la
Pasadena and Glendale
The Terrace at the Langham Huntington, a sumptuously stately property, offers a Sunday buffet brunch that includes a formidable spread of dim sum and Peking duck, in addition to an elaborate omelet station and bottomless mimosas. Many local dim sum enthusiasts, however, patiently stand in line at a Glendale shopping center for a seat at Din Tai Fung, a chain originating in Taipei. Its signature xiaolongbao dumplings, sticky rice wraps and addictive sesame noodles contribute to a memorable brunch that is worth the wait.
Much in demand by seafood-centric brunch lovers is Belmont Shore’s Roe Seafood from ambitious chef Arthur Gonzalez. At Roe, an omelet is loaded with shrimp, crab and lobster, while Gonzalez’s version of Benedict translates into fresh-caught seafood (we’ve seen shrimp and black cod) layered over a lighter, fluffier version of an English muffin and bathed in spicy hollandaise. UV Sriracha vodka goes into a spirited interpretation of a bloody mary, finished with a crab claw, while ocean colors and a stunning jellyfish mural make this breezy restaurant inviting for brunch.
5374 E. 2nd St., Long Beach, 562.546.7110. roeseafood.com
Crunchy Over Crispy Fried Chicken photo courtesy of 189 by Dominique Ansel. Chilaquiles at Gracias Madre photo by Eric Wolfinger. Native photo by Jake Ahles.