America is finally mastering the most important meal of the day.
Europeans and other foreign-born gourmands continuously remind Americans that they’ve never been particularly good at breakfast. Eggs, overcooked sausage and bacon with a side of syrupy pancakes to start the day? Uh, they scoff, no thanks.
But LA’s Venice Beach is proving the conventional American breakfast is no longer the (first) order of the day. Its restaurants are serving freshly baked breads and pastries with homemade jams, as well as grain bowls and superfood-packed porridges. At these laid-back neighborhood eateries, you’ll find crowds of cool surfers (in designer sweatpants) and locals (with tanned toes peeking through their trendy Birkenstocks) grabbing their morning meals. Here are four spots to try.
One of the most famous restaurants in the area, Gjelina has become synonymous with the Venice Beach lifestyle — cool and laid-back, but not without a tiny dose of healthy pretension. The restaurant’s interior has an industrial feel, with charcoal walls and long wooden tables where patrons chow down communally. The focus is fresh, seasonal food with vegetables, spices and a little bit of health inserted into almost every dish. Scrambled eggs come with minced herbs, poached eggs are served with sautéed kale and even the pancakes are made with nine grains.
The Venice breakfast scene wouldn’t be complete without at least one vegetarian cafe and juice bar. Though the New York-founded Butcher’s Daughter serves up meatless (and vegan!) breakfasts all day long, it still manages to attract even the most carnivorous diners. If you accept that the gluten is absent from the cinnamon buns, the grits are made from cauliflower and the egg sandwich has kale (of course) on it, you’ll very much enjoy the mindful menu. (And should you need a drink to wash it all down, the Butcher’s Daughter does serve some sinful things: cocktails, wine and beer.) One of the biggest draws of the 2016-opened restaurant, helmed by wellness guru Heather Tierney, is the light and spacious interior, featuring clean white walls, a high, wood-clad ceiling and lush hanging plants.
This iconic Venice eatery first opened its doors in 1979. It underwent a complete makeover last year, but the space has retained its easygoing vibe, with a bright and breezy dining space and a large outdoor area. Once a hangout for artists, surfers and skaters, the Rose Cafe remains one of the area’s go-to hangouts. Guests can spread out and enjoy a leisurely breakfast of fresh pastries, house-made smoothies and juices, as well as eggs with various accompaniments like brussels sprouts, braised bacon and country bread. Also on the menu: the simple dish that has taken the world by storm, avocado toast.
A 2015 project by the folks behind Gjelina, this artisanal bakery is one of the coolest cafes in Venice. The only hard part about going there is deciding what to eat: Glass cabinets of heavenly pastries line cases in the warehouse-like space. Some highlights include freshly baked croissants and toasts topped with everything from crispy bacon to cured salmon. An a la carte menu has granola, grain bowls and baked eggs. Devour your choice of grub in the French Provencal-style courtyard.