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Jul 14, 2006 08:25 PM

early breakfast from laguna hills to san diego

Hi Chowhounds!

Leaving from Laguna Hills (Irvine Spectrum area) to SD around 5:30am this weekend... if not earlier.

Any recommendations for good breakfast stop along the way down? Good biscuits and gravy? Breakfast burrito? Sausage, eggs, pancakes, ANYTHING?!

as always with many thanks,

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  1. Yeah. Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad. Call for their hours, though.

    Here's an excerpt from my blog:
    * * *
    After a morning errand in Carlsbad, I headed over to Tip Top Meats. Ostensibly a European deli and meat market that makes German charcuterie, they also have a restaurant that serves their delicious house-made sausages, hams and bacon. I had the Big John breakfast, a bargain for the big breakfast eater: three eggs, home fried potatoes, toast and all you can eat smokehouse bacon, pork link sausage, Polish sausage, bratwurst, or ham, for $6. It’s really a smart way to convince you to buy more product on your way out. I tried all of their sausage offerings, and couldn’t possibly finish it. They offer huge volume for the money, but also very high quality.

    The smoked breakfast links were the best of the bunch, and I ended up buying some to take home. The fat brats and flavorful Polish sausages were griddled slowly to a dark brown, yet still juicy perfection. These sausage makers also know how to cook them well. I have to say I’ve had better brats in Sheboygan, Wisconsin (the brat capital of the nation), but Tip Top make a fine showing for Southern California.

    They sell smoked beef bones for your ever faithful dog. They stock unusual wild game, like wild boar, ostrich, the Cajun specialty turducken, the Pennsylvania Dutch pork loaf called scrapple. They sell a half dozen varieties of German style liverwursts. If it mooed, oinked, clucked or grazed at one point, they have it here, or they’ll order it for you.

    Their butcher shop sells excellent fresh meats, and house smoked hams, bacon, and turkeys. They cure their own corned beef and pastrami, which I’ll have to take home next time. I bought an unsliced slab of double smoked, dry cured bacon. Most supermarket bacon is wet cured, pumped full of brine and artificially flavored with smoke flavor. We end up paying for a lot of water at bacon prices. Before refrigeration was taken for granted, bacon was preserved by dry curing: i.e. packed with salt, sugar, flavorings (and nitrites) to draw out water from the pork belly, then hung in a cool smokehouse for hours which further dehydrates the meat and adds flavor. Can’t wait to try it!

    I also took home a chunk of black pepper ham. The lingering burn of coarse ground peppercorns smolders for a long time in the mouth, complementing the understated smokiness of the mostly lean ham. A bit spicy for wee kids and invalids, but a good choice for grownups who love black pepper.

    They sell all manner of imported goods from across (mostly Northern) Europe, such as the Scandinavian lye-preserved codfish called lutefisk. Take a homesick European there, and you’ll bring back one happy Euro. After reading about it for years, I finally tried licorice drops from Holland. Some two dozen varieties are stocked, each with a different shape, texture, or flavor. Unlike American licorice, the less sweet Dutch varieties are spiked more heavily with that distinct anise flavor, and surprisingly, salt. Sometimes lots of salt. One variety used an overwhelming amount: definitely an acquired habit. However, I’m glad that Tip Top stocks so many, and I’ll try some others when I take the family to see the famous Carlsbad flower fields in a few weeks.

    Tip Top Meats & European Delicatessen
    6118 Paseo del Norte
    Carlsbad, CA
    * * *

    4 Replies
    1. re: Professor Salt

      "Take a homesick European there, and you’ll bring back one happy Euro."

      As European/German I can tell you that you couldn't be further from the truth. Their sausages are average, nothing to write home about. (The blood sausages is an exception but not made by them). Their imported goods are way overpriced. And their restaurant serve average food with sauerkraut and red cabbage which is simply bad.
      The reason why I still recommend Tip Top to others is that it is still better than most of the crap you get in a lot of other supermarkets, though Sausage King is the place to go for sausages in SD.

      1. re: honkman

        I was born in Poland, raised in Detroit. My husband was born in Finland, raised in Boston. Tip Top is closer to both of our parents' home cooking and the smoked meats are great. The meat counter is quality. The rest of the store has some oddball imported stuff that is priced as such. The bakery stuff comes from up North. Sausage King is good also. Its totally in SD and not necessarily what the OP is looking for.

        The Original Poster is looking for breakfast and will be leaving Laguna Hills at 0530 or sooner. They are loooking for breakfast and presumably to beat crowds, since whatever their destination, it won't be for eating. If I were driving in that direction, left when they did, I'd want to stop about the time I hit Carlsbad and take a break.

        1. re: Cathy

          You are absolutely right-- we will be needing to have food in our stomachs by the time we reach SD-- so something quick, good, and filling at that time in the morning will fit our bill!

          You have all been extremely helpful- Thank You!!


          1. re: Cathy

            I was just responding to the post about Tip Top Meat as a good place to stop to eat which I don't believe it is. If you want to stop for breakfast I would recommend Honey's Bistro and Bakery in Encinitas, even the Daily News Cafe in Carlsbad is better.

      2. After a recommendation, I tried Tip Top Meats. It was packed with a line to get in; but the b'fast wasn't memorable.

        I've also had b'fast @ The Potato Shack, which was also highly recommended. I thought it was just okay too.

        120 West "I" Street
        Encinitas, California 92024

        Maybe my taste buds don't kick in that early, b/c when I drive down, I prefer Molcasalsa's b'fast burrito (off the 5 @ Mission Blvd).

        1. Sugar Shack
          2319 S El Camino Real
          San Clemente, CA 92672
          (949) 498-0684

          A favorite after a morning of surfing.


          1. JRDN at Tower 23 In Pacific Beach.
            723 Felspar St.
            (858) 270-5736

            They have a luxurious eggs benedict made with crab cakes and a citrus-mustard hollandaise. Also excellent is the wild berry french toast with Chantilly cream.

            Great ocean view, validated underground parking, Open at 7am.

            For a review and link visit my site



            4 Replies
            1. re: Captain Jack

              oh my goodness that sounds DELICIOUS!! any similar places that open earlier??

              1. re: so_hungry

                Hi so hungry,
                I just called to make sure but it is 7am. If you leave at 5:30am by the time you get off the freeway and drive to the beach you should be close to 7am. Also be wary about all this Tip Top advice. I shop there for German/Austrian specialty items and they have a pretty good butcher shop BUT the food is nothing special especially for breakfast. It is always crowded with seniors on fixed incomes cuz it's cheap. If you are already in Carlsbad another 20 minutes and you could Be at JRDN. The food is as good as it sounds. Plus it is a real restaurant, not high scool cafeteria seating.

                1. re: Captain Jack

                  Ummm.... the website for JRDN ( says it opens for breakfast at 7 am M-F and 11 am on Saturday and Sunday.

                  ...and I am not gonna go near the beach on the first weekend of OTL....

                  ...and I am not a senior, nor on a fixed income, but I don't want to pay $8-10 for an omelet, nor $3 for a side order of bacon, much less $2 for one egg......because I know I would be paying more for the location than for the food.

                  1. re: Cathy

                    Hi Cathy,
                    Did not mean to imply you were. JRDN is worth a couple of ducats more for a gourmet breakfast, I did not recommend bacon or basic eggs. I am not banging on Tip Top, I actually enjoy their veal cordon bleu for lunch. you really think the breakfast is memorable past the good sausage and big portions and cheap prices? Give JRDN a try, OTL does not really impact this place with the underground validated parking. OTL is not at the beach, it is on Fiesta Island on the bay.
                    P.S. Called JRDN and they said open at 7am Saturday (remember they have hotel guests.)
                    P.P.S. You are not going to OTL's first weekend? I will be there. It is the best weekend of the two.

            2. Tip Top opens at 0600. It is a meat store, German owned (as is everything named Tip Top-where I grew up there was a Tip Top Bakery, a Tip Top Bar...). The meats are smoked there.

              The Big John Breakfast (3 eggs, potato, toast and ALL YOU CAN EAT of bacon, homemade breakfast sausage, homemade brats and ham (can get 2 meats at a time- they cook you a portion when you order) is $6.

              If you like meat...quality meat, this is the place...not fancy; you order, sit, have your number called, pick up the tray, get your own coffee...its served on plastic plates...and its good.

              It also should be uncrowded when you are driving past there, because it will have just opened.

              1 Reply