Fueled by a relaxed indoor-outdoor lifestyle, every corner of Greater L.A. accommodates a perennial appetite for weekend brunch.
By Roger Grody
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 Beverly Hills luxury 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 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
189 by Dominique Ansel, a dining destination at the Grove from the pâtissier who invented the Cronut, offers one of L.A.’s most engaging brunches. The ground floor houses Ansel’s bakery, while the upstairs dining room showcases innovative American fare. Weekend brunch highlights include fried chicken with biscuits and 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. 1615 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, 323.676.8880, beautyandessex.com
Inside one of Beverly Hills’ most luxurious hotels, The Belvedere has always been among L.A.’s favorite places to brunch. 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 showstopping finales from pastry chef Stephanie Boswell. The Peninsula, 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310.975.2736, beverlyhills.peninsula.com
ROBERTSON BOULEVARD/WEST HOLLYWOOD
Handsome newcomer The Henry is drawing crowds to Robertson Plaza with its weekend brunch. Vegetarians can opt for the vegan-sausage and potato hash while their carnivorous dining companions indulge in chicken-fried chicken with buttermilk biscuits, but both will enjoy a visit from the bloody mary and mimosa cart. 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”) and 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. 120 N. Robertson Blvd., L.A., 424.204.1595, thehenryweho.com; 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
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 xiao long bao dumplings, sticky rice wraps and addictive sesame noodles contribute to a memorable brunch that is worth the wait. 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena, 626.585.6218, langhamhotels.com; The Americana at Brand, 177 Caruso Ave., Glendale, 818.551.5561, dintaifungusa.com
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