Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Apr 25, 2009 08:53 AM

Breakfast Between the O.C. and LAX (2 Options)

Greetings L.A. Chowhounders,

I will be visiting from Chicago for a couple of days in June. I've visited L.A. for short periods a few times before so I'm somewhat familiar with the layout, etc, but not intimately so. I am staying overnight in the O.C. (in Laguna Niguel) before flying out from LAX at noon after dropping off my rental car. That morning may be my only chance to have a creative, unusual breakfast before flying out.

I have reviewed all the topics about best breakfasts, and have come up with two possible options, one in L.A. and one in the O.C.:

1. Drive to West Hollywood, have breakfast at the Griddle Cafe, then drive to the airport. All things equal, I would really prefer to eat at the Griddle Cafe, because it sounds so yummy! (I LOVE sweet items for breakfast!) I realize that this means doing most of my driving in the morning commuting rush, which means dramatically higher travel times, *and* that West Hollywood is not on the way to the airport. I'm guessing I would need to leave the O.C. around 6:45, and driving in traffic up the 5 and the 101 - hey, I can talk like an Angeleno, "the" this and "the" that, LOL! - should put me at the Griddle Cafe around 8:45 or 9, I'm guessing? If I arrive at the Griddle Cafe at 9:00 on a Friday, would I probably be seated immediately? Is one hour or so enough to be seated, order, eat, pay, and leave? I am assuming I would need to leave the Griddle Cafe by 10:00 or maybe 10:15 to drive to LAX, drop the rental car, and catch my flight at noon.

2. Have breakfast in Laguna Hills at Break of Dawn, then drive to the airport. Break of Dawn is my choice if I have breakfast in the O.C. Unfortunately, despite their name, they don't open until 8:00 a.m. I'm guessing it would take me an hour to eat there, correct? If I leave there at 9, I'm guessing I would have *just* enough time to drive up the 405 to the airport, drop the rental car, and catch my flight at noon, does that make sense? (Or maybe it would take less time to take the 5 to the 91 to the 605 to the 105 to the airport?)

Please let me know whether each of these plans makes sense, in terms of eating time and travel time. I realize there are other choices for breakfast - I went through 26 different recommendations and checked website menus before deciding on these two - so I'd like to try to see if either (or both) of these two plans works, before ditching them in favor of something else.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. THE most “Creative and unusual breakfast” I had in THE Chicago area was at THE Kitsch’n on Roscoe. I had THE “Green Eggs & Ham.” THE most Creative and unusual breakfast I ever had anyplace is here in L.A. at THE Original Tommy’s. THE breakfast sandwich is made on your choice of either a burger bun or English Muffin. I ask for it on THE English muffin with everything in it (sausage patty, fried egg, chili, cheese, tomato, pickles, onions and mayonnaise). NOW that is a creative and unusual breakfast but you mentioned that you love THE sweet things in life. THE Tommy's sandwich is not sweet but it is THE best, most creative and unusual breakfast in THE L.A. area.

    Original Tommy’s.
    9024 Recreation Circle (Located just off the 405 fry.)
    Walk-Up/Dining Room
    Sun-Thur: Open 8AM-1AM / Fri-Sat: Open 8AM-3AM
    Tommy’s has many L.A. Locations -- menu

    THE Griddle Café is good but THE commute will be beyond bad = BAD idea.

    If I were in THE Laguna Niguel area in THE month of June and about to head for THE LA airport to go fly away to HOT Chicago I would spend THE last morning enjoying THE cool ocean air driving north on THE Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) enjoying THE small beach towns and THE views of THE ocean . There is something special about THE ambiance of THE wind and THE water so I would have breakfast at Schooner or Later overlooking THE marina and THE boats. THE menu has some sweet items and THE servers are sweet also. They also have several creative and unusual breakfasts on THE menu. THE “Captain’s Benedict” is two eggs, bacon, on a grilled biscuit all smothered in sausage gravy with a choice of hash browns, fruit, or spinach. “THE Mess” is chopped ham, onion, and bell pepper grilled with hash browns and eggs and topped with melted Cheddar and served with sourdough toast. For an extra charge you can add chili, avocado, or sour cream. THE 405 fry is a short drive away and it will take you directly to THE airport. See THE link below for very good directions from Laguna and also from THE LA airport (which you would follow in reverse when leaving).
    241 Marina Drive
    Long Beach, CA
    (562) 430-3495

    1 Reply
    1. re: JeetJet

      LOL! But as noted above, I'm not looking for alternative suggestions. I'd like to know whether each of the above plans is feasible.

    2. Jeez...I guess it depends on when you want to spend your time in traffic: either before b'fast (Griddle Cafe) or after (Break of Dawn).

      If you don't mind the commute prior to b'fast, and since you'd prefer GC, and since you have the peace of mind that your travel to LAX would be 30-45 minutes instead of 90 up the 405, I'd say go w/GC.

      5 Replies
      1. re: OCAnn

        Would I be likely to hit traffic if I ate at Break of Dawn and left there around 9:00? Wouldn't most of the traffic have started clearing by then?

        1. re: nsxtasy

          I think you could do BoD, leave at 09:00 and be okay...but there's the occasional accident that can throw your time off and 50 miles of fwy is a long stretch.

          Stay on the 405, barring any accidents; the 5/91/605/105 is a good alternative if there's a sigalert (la-speak for fwy incident; is a good site to keep your eye on traffic conditions).

          BTW, we in OC call it "OC" not "The OC". That's tv talk. =)

          1. re: OCAnn

            In my reply above I was trying to stay on topic when I made a rec for something different than THE two options THE OP decided upon because I do not feel either option will work and, after all, this is not traffic advisor dot com. I fear this reply, if the entire thread, may be taken down for being off topic but here goes. Sorry Team but I have a post on THE Chicago Board and hope to get some help from this….

            To the OP

            1, THE Griddle Café is located at 7916 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. You assume that most of your driving will be in the morning commuting through THE “rush” (THE Orange Crush plus a major fry construction project slowing both sides of the 5 fry for many miles at Beach Blvd. plus the L.A. rush) from OC to THE Griddle. That could take 2 to 3 hrs (even without a Sig Alert – two added hours) but then you need to consider two more problems. First, THE Griddle is not close to a fry, Second, THE Great Wall of the Westside (The 405 fry, a.k.a., “The parking lot”) lies between THE Griddle and THE L.A. airport. THE Great Wall can make THE Orange Crush look like child’s play at any time of the day. That traffic problem may be on topic because it is discussed here very much. Many posters request “Westside only” because they dread trying to cross THE Great Wall to THE “Other side” even for great food. THE Griddle opens at 7 a.m. on Fridays. That helps you and you should take as much advantage of it as you can. I would want to be in my car leaving THE Griddle closer to 8:30 to drop my car and catch a noon plane (LAX at times request being there two hours ahead of departure).

            THE Orange Crush can be seen from Space.

            2, THE Break of Dawn opening at 8 a.m. allows you maybe 3 hrs to navigate THE Orange Crush, and THE LA rush, drop THE car and make it to THE airport. That is NOT going to work. NO way in hell!

            BACK on topic --Enjoy your breakfast, therefore, re-read my post above and consider being at Schooner or Later within one hour after opening time – 6:30 a.m.

            1. re: JeetJet

              JJ is right; I was thinking that you have to be @ the airport by noon and not that your flight was @ noon...that's a two hour difference. I'd save both GC & BoD for another time.

              Get a burrito to go instead....

              1. re: OCAnn

                Okay, thanks for the feedback!

                Maybe I'll try to squeeze in a visit to Griddle Cafe the previous day.

      2. Did you check out Plums in Costa Mesa? If you consider going just there early. They always have a crowd but move people in and out surprisingly fast. Creative menu options with very fresh ingredients. A few highlights: fresh fruit with lemon poppy seed curd, deep dish pancake, lemon curd and meringue waffle, coconut french toast, Benedict with chipotle-cilantro hollandaise

        7 Replies
        1. re: jayspun

          re: jayspun Good suggestion, exactly the kind of place I'm looking for! I love their breakfast menu ( ). Unfortunately, they open at 8:00, so from a timing perspective, it's only a little better than the Break of Dawn option (since Costa Mesa is a bit further up the 405). I'll keep it in mind, maybe it will work. Thanks!

          I'm also searching and finding breakfast recommendations in Long Beach and in Torrance and even around LAX, which may work better from the timing perspective. I've found some comprehensive topics here for those areas!

          1. re: nsxtasy

            How about the Original Pancake house in Redondo Beach. They have outstanding food there. The bacon is delicious, strawberries are in season so be sure to get some with their delicfious homemade whipped cream. It would take you less than 1/2 hour to get to the airport. a straight shot up PCH / Sepulveda.

            Original Pancake House
            1756 S Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

            1. re: JEN10

              There's a big plus and a big minus with the Original Pancake House - and they're the same reason. I LOVE the OPH, including the apple pancake, the German pancake, the Swedish pancakes, the omelets, etc. However, it's my "go to" place for breakfast in the absence of any other recommendations when I'm out of town. I've been to a lot of their locations, in eight different states, including the "original Original" in Portland. I realize they have some of the best breakfast food around, here at home as well as in many other areas. I should also note that the OPH quality varies; some locations are terrific, while others range from just okay to not very good. The two worst I've hit are in San Jose CA and Brookfield WI (the latter was simply dreadful, and on repeat visits, too); the best so far are the six Walker Brothers OPH locations in the suburbs north of Chicago, which is probably why they are the only OPH franchisee allowed to put their own name on the restaurant. Based on the many positive recommendations I've seen here in Chowhound, I will assume that the ones in the Southland are among the best. But if possible, I'd prefer to go somewhere other than a place I can go at home in Chicago. Hope that makes sense. But thanks for the thought!

              1. re: nsxtasy

                In Manhattan Beach there is Uncle Bills, a real institution, usually a wait. They are know for their cakes. The kettle has been there forever as well. Ocean Diner in Hermosa Beach could be a great place to hit up. Rick bakes up all kinds of delicious goodies.

                Ocean Diner
                959 Aviation Blvd, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

                Uncle Bill's Pancake House
                1305 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

                1138 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

                1. re: JEN10

                  Ooooh, Ocean Diner's menu on their website ( ) shows that they have four different kinds of French toast, yum!

                  Thanks to everyone for the suggestions!!!

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    You will love ocean diner, the food is top notch! Have a great meal after your long drive.

                2. re: nsxtasy

                  Thanks for the review on OPH. I will keep this helpful info. I have been to two in Chicago and thought they were great. I have been to maybe 6 locations and found the cooffee bad at all of them but the 49er Flap Jacks to be great including three loacations in the LA / OC area.

                  Do go to GC on Thursday morning if you can. On Friday morning head north on the 405 from Laguna Niguel toward LAX and tune into KFWB ch, 98 AM for traffic reports. The 405 will steer you away from “THE Crush, etc., and direct you straight to LAX and away from the LA rush. Best of all, you can exit at Atlantic in Long Beach and have a sweet breakfast at Bake 'n Broil. Try the Cinnamon Roll French Toast or one of their many other breakfast. This home style coffee shop has a great “U” shaped counter in front and booths and tables throughout w/ a nice cottage ambiance. This coffee shop is also a bakery and they make some of the best sweet things in LA.

                  Have breakfast and maybe get a slice of pie, a cupcake, cinnamon roll or sticky bun to enjoy on the plane. Their Lemon Lush Pie (IMO the best pie in LA) has crunchy crushed pecans or walnuts on the top of the best pie crust covered w/ a layer of sweetened cream cheese, topped w/ tangy lemon which is then covered w/ fresh whipped cream. The banana cream and pecan pie are great also with that same great crust and whipped cream. Read the pie menu because you may wish to take a whole pie, or two, home – maybe Lemon Lush or Walnut / Chocolate Chip. The cookies and apple pie are NOT their best items but they make up for it with some great cakes and cupcakes. The moist Red Velvet (IMO, the best in LA) is actually a sexy naughty crimson and the chocolate and German Chocolate are perfect also.

                  Jongewaard's Bake 'n Broil
                  3697 Atlantic Ave (4 blocks north of the 405 fry at the corner of 37th. Look closely at a good map and be sure you re-enter the 405 in the right direction and merge to the left ASAP so not to transition to the 710 going to Pasadena)
                  Long Beach, CA 90807
                  (562) 595-0396
                  Fri -- open at 6:30 for breakfast BUT you should call ahead about the cakes or pies to get a whole pie that early. They will put fresh whipped cream when you get it. but you will need to call the day before because they normally are not ready before 10:30 am.

                  Great review of BnB w/ pics by our very own Abby

                  Breakfast -- and more at BnB


          2. Here's a recent b'fast review, if you're in the mood for Hawaiian:

   -- REVIEW w/ pics: Hawaiian Breakfast at Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop

            Probably about 30 min from LAX post b'fast.

            1. Original Pancake House in Redondo Beach