As the old adage goes, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day"...well, not including lunch, dinner, brunch, supper, happy hour, high tea, midnight snacks and "fourthmeal" (whatever the hell that is). But since it is the first meal encountered over the course of a daily routine, one should try not to skip it. However, in the hustling, bustling, running-late-for-work, have-to-catch-a-flight world we live in, it's hard to commit to such an early obligatory ritual of food consumption. In the past we'd consider munching Altoids and downing a flat, half-empty can of Diet Coke as we run out the door to be "breakfast." For shame. In a city where so many delectable dishes are readily available in the morning hours, we've made a concerted effort in recent years to stop and smell the waffles (also, devour the waffles) and appreciate all that a.m. dining in L.A. has to offer. Here are 10 of our favorites, under $10.
Written by A. Joos
<strong>HONORABLE MENTION (not QUITE under $10), "Peanut Bubba" French Toast at <a href="http://www.thegriddlecafe.com/" target="_hplink">The Griddle</a></strong> -- We're all for nice round numbers, but we just had to give a shout out to the "Peanut Bubba" French Toast at The Griddle Cafe on Sunset. This one ever so slightly passes the 10-buck ceiling, and after eating one, it just might bust the seams on your skinny jeans. But there was just no way we could leave off this ode to breakfast gluttony. We've read stories of movie stars going on extreme caloric diets in order to play certain roles, so if they ever want to cast us in a remake of Bridget Jones's Diary, we'd be more than willing to go on a strict regimen of these fluffy, crunchy mounds of peanut-buttery goodness seven days a week to get into character. Actually, we might just go ahead and do it anyway.
<strong>$10, 5th & Main at <a href="http://www.nickeldiner.com/breakfast-menu.html" target="_hplink">Nickel Diner</a></strong> -- There are times when breakfast serves as more than just sustenance. We're referring to those mornings when the only thing that stands between you and an all-day hangover is the right breakfast dish. And after a long night of too many martinis (and not nearly enough good judgment), nothing cures what ails us quite like the 5th & Main at the Nickel Diner. BBQ pork hash & eggs may not seem the ideal way to overcome a wicked case of the hangovers, but trust us -- nothing will sop up all that excess alcohol in your system, while tantalizing your taste buds, quite like it. Savory and satisfying, this dish has saved us from more than one headache-worse-than-death. For those teetotalers out there, not to worry; it can be just as easily enjoyed without ravaging your liver the night before.
<strong>$9, Breakfast Bäco at <a href="http://bacomercat.com/" target="_hplink">Bäco Mercat</a></strong> -- We've fallen head over heels in love with Bäco Mercat. We've even spoken to a lawyer about the possibility of entering into a nuptial relationship with the restaurant. We'll keep you posted. Our adoration for this truly unique downtown eatery is due in no small part to the Bäco, chef Josef Centeno's kind-of-flatbread-sort-of-a-pita-or-is-it-a-taco invention that has redefined what a sandwich can be, filled with everything from crispy shrimp to oxtail hash to pork & beef carnitas. But on Saturdays and Sundays, the Bäco turns its attention to breakfast. The <a href="http://bacomercat.com/media/brunch.pdf" target="_hplink">Breakfast Bäco</a> is stuffed with eggs and chorizo and covered in a heavenly, creamy sauce that will definitely be dripping down your arm, so dress accordingly. It's possibly the best breakfast sandwich we've ever tasted -- mere Sausage McMuffins bow down before its greatness.
<strong>$8, Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes at <a href="http://www.littledoms.com/" target="_hplink">Little Dom's</a></strong> -- If there is one breakfast item we might never outgrow, it would have to be pancakes. As kids, there is nothing better than waking up on a Saturday morning to the smell of hot pancake batter on the griddle and knowing those sweet stacks would be waiting for us at the kitchen table. Sadly, we're not waking up to that smell these days, unless we happen to pass out in our cars in a Norm's parking lot (this has happened before). But pancakes for breakfast still puts a smile on our faces, especially when it's the grown-up version at Little Dom's made with smooth ricotta cheese and fresh blueberries, then topped with maple syrup. These thin, delicious pancakes may be nothing like the ones we grew up with, but they sure do make for just as happy a Saturday morning.
<strong>$7, Duck Porridge with Egg at <a href="http://losangeles.menupages.com/restaurants/siam-sunset/menu" target="_hplink">Siam Sunset</a></strong> -- Tucked away inside a discount motel on Sunset Blvd where we're 100 percent certain you have NEVER stayed, there is an unassuming, no-frills restaurant that dishes out some of the best Thai food in the city. And while the Duck Porridge with Egg at Siam Sunset may not be the "brunch at Toast" type of experience that you're used to, it certainly is uniquely delish. Called "jok," this simple rice porridge is made spectacular with the addition of egg, ginger and, yes, tender roast duck. It beats the hell out of milk and cereal any day of the week, and on those (occassional) chilly, rainy mornings, it may be the most warming, comforting breakfast imaginable.
<strong>$6, Steel Cut Oatmeal at <a href="http://www.squareonedining.com/breakfast.php" target="_hplink">Square One Dining</a></strong> -- Ah, the "nutritious" breakfast: your mother (whom you don't call enough), your personal physician (who keeps sending reminders about a check-up), and your yoga instructor (whose classes you've been cutting) have been extolling its virtues for as long as you can remember. "There's no better way to start the day," is the claim most often made, and yet we can think of a hundred ways we'd rather start the day than with high-fiber soy flakes or some sort of veggie "superfood" smoothie (at least a dozen of those ways involve a decent Bloody Mary, but that is a top 10 list for another time). There are exceptions, of course, and one of them is the Steel Cut Oatmeal at Square One Dining. Theirs is a hearty version of a tried-and-true classic; a health regimen whose whole grains we can wholeheartedly get behind. For a couple bucks more, you can customize with an array of toppings (including bourbon pecans!) that allow you to consume your oats as you see fit... and fit you shall feel after this nourishing start to your day.
<strong>$5, Breakfast Burrito at <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/franks-restaurant-los-angeles" target="_hplink">Frank's</a></strong> -- There may be no more quintessential L.A. breakfast than the breakfast burrito. You can find it at various establishments in every neighborhood in every part of town. It can be fancy or no-frills. It's often portable, undeniably filling, and as a complete multi-course breakfast wrapped lovingly and conveniently in a warm tortilla, it's always exactly what you're craving in the morning. We're a fan of the breakfast burrito in all of its variations and permutations, but when push comes to shove, we'd say our favorite can be found at Frank's on Fairfax. It might just be potatoes, eggs & cheese (plus your choice of preferred meat product), but it's combined in such scrumptious and economic fashion that it truly is a breakfast bundle greater than the sum of its parts.
<strong>$3, Housemade English Muffin at <a href="http://mstreetkitchen.com/" target="_hplink">M Street Kitchen</a></strong> -- Thanks in no small part to the aforementioned "McMuffin," the English Muffin has been relegated mostly to the task of bookending breakfast sandwiches. But the big, toasty Housemade English Muffins at M Street Kitchen are more than mere sandwich bread. Sure, you can grab a six-pack of these for those mornings when you're pressed for time and need breakfast on the go. But whenever possible, we like to take our time at this relaxing Main Street eatery, just a breezy block away from the beach, and have ours brought to us with a pat of melting butter running over every nook and cranny.
<strong>$4, Pain au Chocolat at <a href="http://www.maison-giraud.com/#/restaurant" target="_hplink">Maison Giraud</a></strong> -- We at Broke Girls Guide have made no secret about our adoration for all things French. We are particularly prone to prattling on and on (<a href="http://www.brokegirlsguide.com/guide/article/a-parisian-day-in-la" target="_hplink">and on</a>) about Paris. All things being equal, we'd probably be living there right now were it not for the whole..."broke" thing. We've managed to fill that void in our lives by stopping by Maison Giraud any time we happen to be in the Palisades for their Pain Au Chocolat. Flaky and light, but with a rich chocolate center, this pastry gives us our cocoa fix while at the same time helping to thwart any attempts to pack our bags, scrape together our nonexistent savings, and head to Europe. So since we're stuck stateside, these serve as a warm little taste of the Parisian sidewalk cafes we only get to visit in our daydreams.
<strong>$2, Bacon Wrapped Eggs at <a href="http://eggslutla.tumblr.com/" target="_hplink">The EggSlut Truck</a></strong> -- When you read on the EggSlut Truck menu that you can get a Bacon Wrapped Egg for $2, you might not have very high expectations. After all, bacon and eggs is probably as "basic" a breakfast as you're likely to find. But like all of the egg-intensive dishes at this fanatically-followed food truck, there is nothing basic about it... unless you consider a hard-boiled egg wrapped in smoky bacon and covered with a Sriracha-infused mayo to be "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKY0FsUEMyw" target="_hplink">basic</a>." The egg (not too hard, not too soft), the bacon (not too thick, not too thin), and the mayo (just the right amount to spicy) come together in a deliciously compact three-bite-breakfast. Of course, if you order another one (and perhaps another one after that), three bites may not be sufficient.
<strong>$1, Everything Bagel at <a href="http://www.bagelbroker.com/images/menu.pdf" target="_hplink">The Bagel Broker</a></strong> -- In New York, great bagels are a dime a dozen (actually, they're probably more like $10 a dozen, but you get the idea). In L.A., a decent bagel is a little harder to find, especially for those with discerning bagel tastes (i.e. anyone who actually knows what a "schmear" is). We find most of them to be thick, doughy messes, causing us to occasionally pine for any corner deli in Manhattan. While you may never find a "true" N.Y. bagel out here, the ones they make at The Bagel Broker come pretty darn close. With just the right texture, you can't go wrong with any of their varieties; we are partial to their Everything Bagel. It's a little taste of New York, without having to swallow the cost of cross-country airfare.
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