This past month I didn’t try all that many new places. I was fortunate enough to get into a Yelp Elite Event at San Diego’s new Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao, but I feel like although the food was AMAZING, it was also free for the event and so I don’t think I can adequately review a true dining experience.
I figure instead, I’d do a “Favorites” post because although I love finding and trying new restaurants, there are times when I crave what I’ve already had before, knowing what I’ve already had was just that good. I also think I’ll make this a multiple-part-post because there’s just so much to review and I don’t want to bore anyone with a mile-long post!
Let’s start with my favorite Breakfast. Now, San Diego is crawling with amazing places to get breakfast and/or brunch. From your more traditional breakfasts like pancakes at Snooze or omelets at Broken Yolk, to more eclectic fare like chicken curry cakes at Cafe 21, there is plenty to try and plenty to enjoy. My #1 spot though is Leilani’s.
Leilani’s is a Hawaiian cafe nestled in the neighborhoods of Pacific Beach. They offer more traditional items like omelets and bagel sandwiches, but their shining stars are the island fare that is just so ono. My favorites are the spam musubi (rice, spam, egg, furikake seasoning, wrapped in seaweed and served with spicy mayo dipping sauce) and their Kings Hawaiian bread french toast. If it’s getting later in the day and I want something more lunch oriented, I will get the ahi poke. I LOVE poke, and this is one of the only places in San Diego to get poke like they have on the islands. Another traditional Hawaiian dish with a twist is their Hilo Style Loco Moco. Loco Moco’s are basically rice, hamburger patty, and eggs over easy all topped with yummy gravy. Leilani’s Hilo Style uses their spicy fried rice instead of regular rice to make this dish extra delicious and extra filling.
Leilani’s is a cash-only, mainly outdoor, casual kind of place where you order at the counter and they bring out your food to you. The food is served on plastic plates with plastic utensils and not your ideal breakfast spot if you’re looking for something super fancy and gourmet. They are my favorite though because of all these things. The food tastes hearty and home-cooked, made with love as if you were going to your Hawaiian auntie’s house and she wants to feed you so much because she hasn’t seen you in so long. Everyone is really friendly and sitting back on the front patio on a sun shiny day is my ideal way to relax on a weekend — or my boyfriend and my new tradition, recharge and indulge after a 5K run.
I can’t talk about breakfast without talking about coffee. Like my profile says, I am a caffeine addict – caffeine in the form of coffee beans (and recovering from drinking red bulls twice a week) and most days I skip breakfast in favor of a soy latte from one of my favorite coffee shops. I blame college and the Peabody’s coffee carts all over SDSU for this addiction, and now I can’t go a day without coffee — on the rare days when I don’t have time to grab a cup, I notice, and it’s all I can think about. But I digress.
So I have two favorites and before you say that’s cheating, I have to tell you I like them for very different reasons. I love Zumbar because they have, in my opinion, the best tasting espresso. It’s the only place I can sip on a double shot of straight up espresso and not cringe at the bitterness. It’s still bitter, I mean obviously, it’s coffee, but its just sweet enough that I can really enjoy the coffee flavor without adding any sugar or milk. The same goes for their iced coffee — no additives needed and if I really wanted to cut down on sugar intake, I need to make this place my most regular coffee spot. It would be easy too — it’s close to my house, right next to the train tracks and 5-South freeway entrance in Sorrento Valley. They cater to the business crowd in the area, a bustling atmosphere with people always in and out and on the run, with a slightly hipster feel, but not so much that you’d feel uncomfortable. If you’re in North County, they also just opened a new location in Encinitas!
I love Better Buzz Coffee because their sugary drinks are absolutely delicious and addicting. Their quality of beans is great too (all roasted in their facility in Vista), but I just can’t help but get a White Mocha Buzz (blended drink with espresso, milk and white mocha powder) to satisfy my sweet tooth. If you’ve never tried them, I’d recommend the Best Drink Ever for your first time. It’s basically a vanilla americano (espresso, water, vanilla powder) but what I love is that it tastes rich and creamy without having to add any milk. Even my boyfriend, who is not a coffee drinker and not big on sweets either, thinks this drink lives up to its name. They have locations all over San Diego — Pacific Beach, Downtown SD, Fashion Valley Mall, but my favorite is their Mission Beach shop. It’s aesthetically pleasing (I absolutely love the light fixtures above their white La Marzocco) and there is plenty of seating as well as outlets and free WiFi if you need to get work done. Being in Mission beach you get a very laid back, California atmosphere from the clientele as well as employees, and the fact that its a 2 minute walk from the beach makes it an ideal place to hang out on your day off.
Leilani’s, Zumbar, and Better Buzz are favorites of mine not only because I like what they sell, but because they have a little something extra to keep me coming back. Atmosphere is a huge factor to me and these places all have that special something to make them stand out for me. Hopefully these will be good recommendations for you if you want to try a new breakfast or coffee spot. If you decide to check them out, please Instagram and hashtag! #graciousdelights #eatsofeden #indulge #favorites I love finding new places but even more I love sharing these places with others, so please let me know what you think!