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Non-sweet, non-baked breakfasts, NELA/Pasadena?

Vaya Con Carne Mar 2, 2009 06:44 AM

My partner-in-crime and I like SAVORY breakfasts: omelettes, scrambles, bacon and eggs. We are also sticklers for high-quality ingredients - thick-sliced bacon, choices of cheese other than that standard-issue orange stuff, etc. We don't care for sweet first thing in the morning, so we don't do bakeries, waffles, and so forth.

Given those parameters, we found ourselves struggling to come up with a decent place for breakfast yesterday in the Northeast LA/Pasadena/South Pas region. We ended up at Whole Foods, which was surprisingly good, but would like some other options.

Here's where we've been recently, in order from good to bad:

My Taco - we both love the chorizo and eggs. Would have gone here if we hadn't just been there for dinner the night before.

Coffee Table, Eagle Rock - I loved the three-meat omelette. Partner-in-crime (a bacon and eggs man) hated everything about the place.

Auntie Em's - food was decent, but portions small. Too much emphasis on baked goods - if, like me, you choose your carbs judiciously, not enough left to eat after skipping the bread which most of their breakfasts are built upon.

Mike and Ann's - very little bacon in the bacon and cheese omelette. Food and service were good, but where's the bacon? I expect more for my money.

Heirloom - again, emphasis is on the sweet and the baked. Partner said bacon and eggs wasn't very good. The omelettes I've had there have been OK. I want to love this place - nice people and a nice space - but I don't think I'm their target market, as I prefer protein to cupcakes.

Wild Thyme - mediocre-at-best scrambles.

Shakers - that ubiquitous orange cheese with the Velveeta texture. Can't do it.

Gus's - hands down, worst breakfast in recent memory. I posted about this a couple weeks ago. Granted, it was opening day for breakfast, but *still* - first impressions should be good.

For the record, our gold standard for breakfast was long the late, lamented Pines Cafe out in Pearblossom. More local options we've enjoyed have been Nickel Diner and Blue Star.

We'd like to expand our options, and are also willing to travel toward Altadena or East Pasadena. I'd love to hear suggestions from the Hounds as to where to get good, savory breakfasts. Thanks in advance!

  1. b
    Burger Boy Mar 2, 2009 06:57 AM

    Somebody just did a report on chicken fried steak in Vernon, do a search or scroll down a week or so. It looked good and I am gonna giive it a try.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Burger Boy
      Vaya Con Carne Mar 2, 2009 08:16 AM

      That was me :)

      1. re: Vaya Con Carne
        b
        Burger Boy Mar 3, 2009 10:06 AM

        Go check it out and report back.........LOL

    2. p
      patz Mar 2, 2009 09:26 AM

      I've gone to Larkin's for brunch twice in the past month - the biscuits and gravy are incredible, salmon cakes are also very good. My SO really liked their grits. We haven't tried their eggs, so I can't give you an opinion on those, but based on everything else I've had, I imagine they're quite good.

      3 Replies
      1. re: patz
        Vaya Con Carne Mar 2, 2009 10:45 AM

        Thanks for the suggestion. I'd completely forgotten about Larkin's because of the long, long waits. But now that I'm an earlier riser, it might be worth a return visit - the aforementioned partner-in-crime would definitely be interested in good B&G!

        1. re: Vaya Con Carne
          p
          patz Mar 2, 2009 12:58 PM

          unfortunately, they don't open until 11 - but it's been pretty empty when I've been, I've never had to wait

          1. re: patz
            Vaya Con Carne Mar 2, 2009 02:49 PM

            Oh, my mistake! I was confused for a minute there - the place I was thinking of was Marston's :)

      2. sbritchky Mar 2, 2009 01:21 PM

        I haven't been in a long time, but Russell's used to have fine breakfasts -- outstanding hash-browns, especially, and with good bacon.

        patz, can you describe those Larkin's biscuits? Are they like Pann's -- crusty on the outside, alternately flaky and tender (but not bready) on the inside? Thanks.

        -----
        Russell's
        30 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

        1 Reply
        1. re: sbritchky
          p
          patz Mar 4, 2009 08:52 AM

          sbritchky, I've never had Pann's biscuits so I can't compare, but the Larkins ones are very flaky and tender on the inside - the outside is a little crustier, but not much

        2. c
          crystaw Mar 2, 2009 02:55 PM

          I had brunch at Cafe Verde on Green Street over the weekend and they have a number of savory options

          2 Replies
          1. re: crystaw
            Vaya Con Carne Mar 2, 2009 03:24 PM

            Thank you - another one for me to try. I hadn't even heard of Cafe Verde before.

            1. re: Vaya Con Carne
              j
              Jack Flash Mar 2, 2009 04:17 PM

              My favorite breakfast place (actually, my favorite overall restaurant) in Pasadena.

              Consider also Central Park (in Pasadena), which has decent breakfasts. It is a step up from Shaker's & Wild Thyme (which would itself be a lot better if Ana from Big Love were really waiting tables there).

              For something more casual yet still satisfying, try Armon's coffee shop in Eagle Rock.

              Also, a fairly new entry into our Pasadena breakfast rotation is the Novel Cafe, on Colorado almost across the street from PCC. Service can be a bit obtuse (in 4 weekend morning visits, we've never seen the same waitstaff twice) but the food is good. Lots of savory options, my favorite being a darned fine breakfast sandwich (eggs, cheese, bacon, etc.) served on a croissant.

          2. p
            pasadena8696 Mar 2, 2009 03:22 PM

            You might want to try Amy's Patio Cafe in Altadena (900 E Altadena Dr). I haven't been there in awhile, but enjoyed their savory breakfast options. Very small cafe with quirky parking lot, but a lovely staff.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pasadena8696
              Vaya Con Carne Mar 2, 2009 03:24 PM

              Good to know - thanks! I've long wondered about that place but can never seem to remember it when I'm hungry.

            2. d
              dunnbates Mar 2, 2009 03:33 PM

              No bacon 'n' eggs at Little Flower on the Eagle Rock side of Pasadena, but they do make one of the best quiches anywhere, so consider that. Also, I'd suggest trying Central Park on Fair Oaks. It's a cleverly disguised coffee shop, nothing amazing, but reliably good and reasonably priced. I've never been for breakfast, just lunch, but they have a full eggs-huevos-omelets-bacon menu.

              3 Replies
              1. re: dunnbates
                Vaya Con Carne Mar 2, 2009 03:40 PM

                We were considering Central Park yesterday, but got scared off by knowing that it's the same ownership as Shakers, Wild Thyme and Main Street Diner. The ingredients at those three seem to be pretty low-quality, so we expected Central Park would be more of the same but with higher prices. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

                And thanks re: Little Flower - I'll definitely check out their quiche when I'm alone or in quiche-minded company :)

                1. re: Vaya Con Carne
                  Will Owen Mar 6, 2009 01:14 PM

                  Central Park is owned by the same group, but the ingredients are a cut or three above, I'd say. I have had only lunch and dinner there - didn't even know they did breakfast - but I've had only one item that just was not right, and I think that was a fluke.

                  1. re: Will Owen
                    ipsedixit Mar 6, 2009 01:26 PM

                    No question that Central Park is better.

                    Wild Thyme, Shakers = Denny's or Marie Calendar's

                    Central Park = Houston's

              2. r
                RoxyGrl Mar 2, 2009 06:39 PM

                It's a little farther East than you have outlined but The Peach Cafe in Monrovia might be a good option for you.

                I was there Sunday and we all thoroughly enjoyed our meal

                Menu linked below but they typically have about a dozen yummy specials at any given time

                http://www.thepeachcafe.com/Breakfast...

                1 Reply
                1. re: RoxyGrl
                  Vaya Con Carne Mar 3, 2009 06:03 AM

                  This place sounds amazing - exactly what we were looking for (albeit a bit farther than we wanted to travel). Will definitely check it out!

                2. h
                  happybaker Mar 2, 2009 07:25 PM

                  Homegirl cafe downtown (by the chinatown/gold line stop) is surprisingly good. Very complex sauces, great beans, amazing bread from the homeboy bakery - and it's very reasonably priced for the quality ($7 per breakfast dish.)

                  http://www.homeboy-industries.org/homegirl-menu.php

                  Cafe Angelique downtown has lovely omelets and scrambles --
                  http://losangeles.citysearch.com/profile/23438/los_angeles_ca/angelique_cafe.html

                  And, it's gotten way too well known for me but, the food at Square One in Los Feliz is excellent. High quality, savory and I cannot resist the pressed egg sandwich.

                  http://www.squareonedining.com/breakf...

                  Good luck!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: happybaker
                    Vaya Con Carne Mar 3, 2009 06:07 AM

                    Yeah, we considered Square One but thought the wait would be too long. Still hoping to try it someday though.

                    Angelique and Homegirl are great suggestions - only downside is that Homegirl only has *tofu* chorizo (which is just *wrong* to a girl whose username is Vaya Con Carne!). But that omelette with roasted poblano pepper & cheese sure sounds good.

                    1. re: happybaker
                      b
                      Briggs Mar 5, 2009 10:38 PM

                      My wife likes Square One, but it's a stretch to say it's in Los Feliz. East Hollywood would be more accurate.

                      1. re: Briggs
                        Will Owen Mar 6, 2009 01:21 PM

                        Hollywood proper. Catty-corner west from the backside of the gigundo Scientology complex. The Best Breakfast Meats In LA County, except when I've gotten a CARE package from Tennessee or Kentucky...

                    2. PurpleTeeth Mar 3, 2009 08:39 AM

                      Petit Beaujolais in Eagle Rock has excellent eggs. The Eggs florentine or pefectly poached.

                      1. o
                        ohdaylay Mar 3, 2009 03:57 PM

                        An unheralded spot for savory breakfast has to be Lucky Boy Burger on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena. The options are few, but you have to go with the breakfast burrito. You have to get the green sauce with it. I believe they make it themselves and it tastes of tomatillo. Very nice surprise.

                        1. The Oracle Mar 5, 2009 04:44 PM

                          Second the Russell's & Petite Beaujolais recs.

                          Peach Cafe is good, but if you have portion size issues with Auntie Em's, you'll definitely think the portions are too small at Peach. (Yet bigger than the joke that is Mike & Anne's portions). And, I took Amy's Patio Cafe off my list for that same reason (portion size seemed to dwindle) and barely there fillings in their b'fast burrito put me over the edge.

                          Have you been to LeRoy's - think old school vibe. Nothing fancy/frilly about the menu, but my favorite scrambled eggs live here.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: The Oracle
                            Vaya Con Carne Mar 5, 2009 08:12 PM

                            My issue with Auntie Em's portion sizes was that (at least when I went - couple years back) everything was served as a "breakfast sandwich." For folks like me who don't want to start our day with two big slices of white (albeit artisanal) bread, that left maybe one egg and a bit of meat for eight bucks.

                            Been meaning to check out LeRoy's for-like-EVER - thanks for the reminder!

                            1. re: The Oracle
                              c
                              crystaw Mar 5, 2009 10:17 PM

                              Maybe the economy has taken a toll on Peach Cafe? I've always thought their portions were sufficient to generous.

                            2. h
                              hilarywood Mar 5, 2009 04:52 PM

                              i like savory too and would have said auntie em's but then again i seem to go back to the cobb salad even for breakfast...

                              i love Armons on Eagle Rock blvd. old joint (been around since the 60s) really classic omelettes, bacon, biscuits etc.

                              and this might be too trendy for your taste, but i had breakfast at Mustard Seed Cafe on Hillhurst the other day and the chilaquiles were boss. try it out. coffee is also great.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: hilarywood
                                Vaya Con Carne Mar 5, 2009 08:14 PM

                                Armons, really? Passed it a million times and never stopped - figured it would be in the velveeta-style-cheese category.

                                Mustard Seed has been on the must-try list for a while now, but until now I haven't heard much about it.

                                Thanks for the suggestions - both sound like they're worth checking out.

                                1. re: Vaya Con Carne
                                  h
                                  hilarywood Mar 6, 2009 03:57 PM

                                  yes Armons is good. i only eat omelettes but they are great. large. fresh. i always add a couple veggies as their set ones are missing 1 thing i want usually. their salsa is AMAZING. i can eat it with a spoon. fresh chopped pico-ish salsa. friendly service, LARGE water glasses. pretty cheap. try it out.

                                  and Mustard seed was really surprisingly good. would like to go back and try the lunch. a guy near me got a california burger and it looked heavenly.

                              2. toomanypots Mar 5, 2009 09:28 PM

                                "... For the record, our gold standard for breakfast was long the late, lamented Pines Cafe out in Pearblossom. ..."

                                OMG, are they gone?? That was the only meal I ever said, 'I can't eat all this, I'm skiing in an hour.' and ate it all anyway!! (just don't ask for ketchup!) stunning food and portions. And pancakes worth the carbs.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: toomanypots
                                  Vaya Con Carne Mar 6, 2009 03:40 PM

                                  The Pines died a slow death. There were several changes of ownership, a couple of which really tried to keep the integrity of the original (except they did start offering ketchup!). The current incarnation is a Mexican restaurant called Habanero Grill. For a short time they continued to offer the Pines menu on weekends, but now they're all Mexican, all the time.

                                  For the record, I have no idea if Habanero Grill's Mexican food is any good - if anyone can comment, please do!

                                2. ipsedixit Mar 5, 2009 09:42 PM

                                  Julienne www.juliennetogo.com

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    sbritchky Mar 5, 2009 10:34 PM

                                    ipsedixit, I wouldn't have figured you for a Julienne kind of guy. I've only gone over there a few times for breakfast and had luck with one of the egg dishes but thought other items lacked robust flavor. Have I missed something fine?

                                    1. re: sbritchky
                                      ipsedixit Mar 6, 2009 07:48 AM

                                      I really enjoy some of their french toasts and pancakes offerings (not all of them though).

                                      But to stay on topic, for the savory type dishes at breakfast, I think the quiche, roasted potatoes, and the applewood smoked bacon are fantastic.

                                      What things did you not like? Not all the breakfast items are hits (e.g. bread pudding french toast) because they are just too rich. They're good, but just not first thing in the morning type of good.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        sbritchky Mar 6, 2009 01:30 PM

                                        If memory serves -- it's been more than a year since my last visit -- I didn't like the potatoes, because they were dry, mealy Idahoes (at least the one time I had them), and the quiche was OK but nothing compared to the deliciously jiggly version I used to get at Fleur de Cocoa in Los Gatos (when I lived in Saratoga). It has been a while, so I'll try Julienne's again.

                                        My memory of the place might be corrupted, because the last time I was there some lady passed out in the adjacent store and was just lying on the cold floor waiting for an ambulance when I walked through after lunch in the cafe. I kept saying to myself, "What what she eating, what did *I* eat?" (As far as I knew, she hadn't eaten anything and had fainted from hunger.)

                                  2. Kitchen Queen Mar 5, 2009 09:55 PM

                                    My dear friends and I just went to Europane for their egg salad sammys. Served open on your choice of bread smeared with a tomato pesto and topped with a bit of greens - That and a cup o'joe - it's was divine! They have other savory sammys as well but, oh that egg salad!!!! Then grab a sweet to go cuz, it's the right thing to do! I took home a delectable slice of blueberry cake.

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