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Brunch in San Diego, Broken Yolk or Harry's Coffee Shop?

My family and I will be visiting San Diego to look at college campuses. Our San Diego State University tour finishes at 12:00 pm and we will drive up to UCSD in the early afternoon to walk around the campus. We thought we would stop for brunch at either the Broken Yolk in Pacific Beach or Harry's Coffee Shop in La Jolla between visits. Any preferences between the two places? We've been to the Broken Yolk previously and enjoyed our meal but have never tried Harry's. Appreciate any thoughts on these places. Thanks for your help.

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  1. Harry's is like stepping back into the 60's, old school comfort food breakfast, pot of coffee on the table, friendly waitstaff and reasonable. I wouldn't say either place serves 'brunch', just good comfort food breakfast places.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cstr

      love love love Harry's and the Rudolph family and their staff are like my other family..
      It's not a brunch place but a 60's coffee shop with great food and excellent service.
      another alternative, is the Cottage on Fay.
      If you want brunch, try La Valencia Hotel out on the back patio overlooking the gorgeous Pacific ocean.

      1. re: cstr

        Thanks for both of your responses. I didn't mean "brunch" in the fancy, leisurely sense, just eating breakfast at lunch time. Harry's sounds exactly like what we are looking for, similar to the Broken Yolk.

      2. I wouldn't go to either of those places. My last meals at Harry's have been abominable.

        Unfortunately, there aren't a ton of great places between SDSU and UCSD for that kind of meal. If you're set on breakfast food, I'd suggest trying Cafe Chloe in the East Village. If you take the 94 from SDSU into Downtown, you can then grab the 5 North to get to UCSD.

        20 Replies
        1. re: Josh

          'My last meals at Harry's have been abominable'..
          Isn't that part of the Yeti family?

          Come on Josh..I've been going to Harry's since dirt was invented..can't really ever say my friends or family ever stated that Harry's has been 'abominable'..

          1. re: Beach Chick

            No offense....but if somebody sent me to the equivalent of Harry's while on vacation I would not be pleased. It is a La Jolla institution, which means, if you go there regularly you have lived in La Jolla a long time or belong in an institution :)
            Again, no offense, but the food is nothing to write home about, at all. Neither is the location or ambiance or wait (amazing though it may seem).
            Brockton Villa has Coast toast, easily as good as anything at Harry's and a view. A little pricier, but I would bet every visitor would prefer Brockton Villa to Harry's.

            1. re: rotochicken

              And would every visitor prefer the guana stench at Brockton Villa? Don't get me wrong, Harry's is just a little, local, endearing hang with average breakfast food. But I live a block away from BV and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

              1. re: foodiechick

                Okay, I'll be polite. You say Harry's has 'average breakfast food'. I basically agree. Nothing special at all, average at best. However, to anyone who hasn't lived in La Jolla for 20+ years, Harry's is not 'little', not 'local', and not 'endearing'. To visitors it is just a run-down diner with ok food on a busy street with no ambiance and a wait. While on vacation a place like Harry's is total downer.
                Is Brockton Villa a culinary destination? No. But, while on vacation, if given the choice between Harry's and BV? Never in a million trips would I ever choose Harry's. You can get Harry's literally anywhere. At least BV feels like a coastal town, with a view, and better food than Harry's. The Cottage is also a better choice.
                If the 'guana (is there a llama farm in LJ?)' stench is so bad at BV you won't eat there, why do you live a block away? For the record, the 'stench' is intermittent at best and never a prime consideration. Never have I been in that area and been so apalled as to change my plans.
                Seriously, not trying to be a jerk, but the average experience for a visitor at Harry's versus the average experience at BV? Not even close.
                Again, not trying to be a jerk. But Harry's has nothing to offer other than local nostalgia that visitors can't tap into.

                1. re: rotochicken

                  Have to disagree, I'm also there everyday, the stench is always there, the only break is after it rains, which doesn't happen too often.

                  1. re: rotochicken

                    First of all, Harry's isn't a 'run down' Coffee Shop..it's a kitchy 60's style place to have a good breakfast or lunch..will it win the James Beard award..probably not.
                    Last time I was there, Phil Mickelson was there, along with 2 Senators, Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 and his band, me, a Hollywood 50's starlet and 2 local tv anchors..not that this means anything except, you have a hodge podge of people and everyone from the tourist to the local all becomes one...tourists love it because they get up and personal with big name stars that they would never be able to otherwise.
                    Brockton Villa blows big time for the food and the smell of guana goes beyond the stench of what should be acceptable while dining.

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      To me "good" implies well executed food and quality ingredients. IMO, Harry's offers neither. Nostalgia doesn't compensate for lousy grub.

                      There are so many better options for either of those meals in La Jolla I can't imagine why people still go there.

                    2. re: rotochicken

                      There is no stench a block away.

                2. re: Beach Chick

                  You go BC, Josh, it's american comfort food, nothing more. Harry's is not and doesn't intend to be anything more than that. There are better places that serve more sofisticated breakfasts, in the gourmet vein, for more $$ but, the OP is not looking that. Also, I'd avoid the BV the Pelican and Sea Gull guano stinch makes me gag as does their food, which is aweful and over-priced.

                  1. re: cstr

                    Harry's isn't cheap. If you could eat at Harry's for $4 vs. say $10-12 at Cafe Chloe, you might have a point. But Harry's breakfast pricing is easily in the same range as Chloe, and it's nowhere near as good. It's also weird to see this usage of "gourmet". Chloe is simple bistro food, and def. not gourmet.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Ok how about upscale vs.comfort for a comparison.

                      Here's an example of a basic breakfast:

                      2 eggs and bacon

                      Cafe Chloe: $9.00
                      Harry's: $6.60

                      Cafe Chloe is only 27% higher than Harry's, hardly the same range.
                      Check you their menus for yourself.

                      harryscoffeeshop.com
                      cafechloe.com

                      1. re: cstr

                        I read that as $7 vs. $9, with the two extra bucks buying a far better plate of food. No contest, IMO.

                        1. re: Josh

                          I see it as it is $6.60, thank you. It's my techie background. Also, Cafe Chloe doesn't include hash browns, Harry's does so you get more bang for your $6.60 buck! In addition, Harry's coffee pot is $1.80, Cafe Chloe doesn't list a coffee price, the menu says 'expresso bar available' with no prices but, their iced tea is $3.50, so if you use that as a 'baseline' coffee is about the same price. I agree, no contest for Harry's, they're totally different places. BTW - I do like CC, I think their chow is good.

                          1. re: cstr

                            Do you just go for the amount of food you get ? It doesn't matter which coffee (quality of coffee beans etc.) you get or if the food quality at Cafe Chloe is much better even if you don't get hash browns ? No offense but this argument is exactly the reason why lousy chains like Olive Garden and Cheesecake Factory are so successful in SD

                            1. re: honkman

                              No, quantity is never a motivating factor for me and I am very particular about coffee, as I prefer a full bodied well brewed cup. Keeping this in the OP's context, I'm just stating that Harry's and BY for that matter, offers a complete, american comfort food type breakfast, which includes hash browns, whereas Cafe Chloe is more refined, not comfort food style. As for chains, believe me honkman, you'll never catch me at any of those places that you named, I'm for the local restauranteur who puts love into their plates.

                            2. re: cstr

                              I'll take a $9 plate of good food over a $6.60 plate of lousy food anytime, regardless of the quantity of lousy food.

                              I mean seriously, how is this even an issue for debate? It's like arguing for Subway over a sandwich from Bread & Cie by pointing out that Subway's sandwich is bigger and comes with a bag of chips. As long as consumers opt for large quantities of low quality food, our restaurants will continue to suck.

                              1. re: Josh

                                I'd just like to agree with the suggestion that San Diego dinners are much too eager to value cheap over quality. And agree as well with the conclusion that this causes San Diego food in general to be lower quality. Until this attitude changes the average restaurant owner will have little motive for even care about quality food. The idea that it's a bad thing for better food to cost more is a good way to drive out good food choices.

                                I'm sure that there are lot's of reasons for people to like Harry's. But I wish "it's cheap" wasn't a reason to pick it over Cafe Chloe.

                                1. re: Josh

                                  Don't mis-interperet what I'm saying, the 2 places are totally different in style, and what they deliver for breakfast. Harry's is basic old school breakfast, Cafe Chloe is more refined and they offer some unique choices that are clearly a 180 from Harry's. However, and this is my point, there is a price variance per cover, which there should be, for what each place is charging for the fare. As for my personal preferance, I never will sacrifice good quality house-made fare for commercial, out of the Sysco freezer grade junk that alot of places try to pawn off as 'food'.

                            3. re: cstr

                              To be fair Chloe's isn't in the same league, so it's hard to compare menu items. 2 eggs and bacon at one place aren't anything like 2 eggs and bacon at the other. Even Chloe's french fries are like from another planet. So it's a little apples and oranges. People go to Harrys partly for ambiance and location.

                        2. re: Beach Chick

                          Sorry, don't know a better adjective to describe the food. To me it's just another in a long line of San Diego institutions that coasts on reputation.

                      2. Second the Cottage, but no one has mentioned what is possibly the best bet ...Nine-Ten http://www.nine-ten.com/eat-and-drink...

                        They do breakfast until 11:30 most days and 12:30 on Sunday's. Lunch from 11:30 all days.

                        If you want to grab a decent bite before you leave SDSU go north on College Ave, across the I-8 and up to the 1st stoplight which will be Del Cerro Blvd (Chevron station on the corner). Turn right and then make the first left which will be a driveway going up into a parking lot. Can't miss it, just look for the functioning windmill.

                        You're looking for K n B Wine Cellars. They have do breakfast, brunch, lunch. Order inside, find a seat inside or out, take a seat and they'll bring you your meal. Their coffee is pretty good. I've had good luck with their sandwiches.

                        BTW, the sandwiches to-go next door from the deli counter at Windmill Farms are very good, reasonably priced ($3.99 for a large, made-to-order) and you'll see a lot of SDSU students in there.

                        1. The last time I ate at Harry's, I sat at the counter. I saw my order come up when the cook placed it in the elevated pick up area for the waitress. Then it sat, .... and it sat,..........and it sat. It was very frustrating watching my food grow cold for no reason, with my waitress no where in sight. I wanted to leap over the counter and grab the damn plate myself. Never again.

                          Broken Yolk? Why people wait in line at that place is beyond my comprehension. Lemming mentality I guess.

                          If you actually want good food for breakfast/brunch, why not hit Isabel's Cantina on Felspar St. in Pacific Beach. The Coconut French Toast, Banana Blackberry Pancakes, and Roast Beef Hash and Eggs are all big winners.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Captain Jack

                            Oooo, good call on Isabel's Cantina. Had breakfast there about 3 weeks ago. Still good.

                            1. re: Captain Jack

                              Isabel's Cantina - good call. Also Coffee Cup Cafe on Wall street, good food and retro coffee shop feel.

                              1. re: foodiechick

                                I 2nd foodiechick--hit up Coffee Cup Cafe on Wall St. Sister establishment to Isabel's Cantina and satisfies the "good food for good prices" requirement. Also the "location" request from the OP. It's our favorite breakfast place in La Jolla.

                                1. re: daantaat

                                  The Coffee Cup was great for us last week. I go there for one thing: The Breakfast Tamales. They come with a side of black beans sprinkled with a wee bit of jack cheese and an "unscrambled" scrambled egg. (Translation: they don't cook the egg until it's brown, yuk.)

                                  Just a heads up: although they do seem to make the most of their skinny joint by placing bench seating against the open windows, suck in your gut as you needle your way past the tables to avoid scraping somebody's fruit bowl.

                                  1. re: Sampaguita

                                    Along w/ their Breakfast Tamales, we love their pancake and waffle specials, jalapeno potatoes, grilled marinated tofu and basically everything on the menu!

                            2. I wanted to express my appreciation to everyone who responded with your comments, opinions and suggestions. There has been some spirited discussions that I found interesting, informative and passionate, one of the great things about Chowhound.

                              For better or worse, Harry's appeals to me, an old school coffee shop, comfort food, 60's vibe. Being convenient to UCSD is a plus. That won't prevent me from doing further research on the other suggestions made here, some of which I would never have known existed if it wasn't for you San Diego hounds. So thanks again everyone for your help, I'm confident we'll enjoy our breakfast whichever place we end up.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: curiousgeo

                                Lake Murray Cafe is very close to SDSU, though in the wrong direction if you're going to UCSD afterwards. I like their breakfast, but I imagine Josh would not.

                                5465 Lake Murray Blvd
                                (between Lesa Rd & Maryland Ave)
                                La Mesa, CA 91942

                                1. re: thirtyeyes

                                  If it's served to you lukewarm with greasy potatoes and cold toast then you're right, I probably wouldn't.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    Josh, do NOT even THINK about trying the Lake Murray Cafe. The East County isn't exactly known for great dining and the LMC isn't going to do much to change that. It's not just bad, it's very, very bad. This place is less than 3 miles from my mother's house. When she was doing her kitchen remodel 2 years ago we had to eat our for every meal for 12 weeks or so. We avoided the Lake Murray Cafe like the plague. Gus's #2 on Baltimore, less than a 1/2 mile east of the Lake Murray Cafe was cheaper, faster and the food was miles better!

                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                      I completely agree with that. I live right off Lake Murray Blvd and never go to LMC. Gus's is a much better option for breakfast in the area.

                                2. re: curiousgeo

                                  I don't think anyone mentioned this: The Broken Yolk is usually full of college-aged people recovering from the previous evening's partying. The vibe is very SD-as-college-town which might be appealing to your child and give you another facet to college life in SD since you are here for college visits. BY recently renovated, which gives it the feel of a semi-upscale diner (former Jersey girl talking here) and, maybe I am imagining this, the crowd seems better behaved than it used to be. The last time I went there it was late, so that might have been the difference.

                                  I've never been to Harry's, so I can't vouch for its clientele.

                                  Although not on your list (but definitely between SDSU and UCSD) is Perry's Cafe in Old Town which I love, but only if I am sitting at the counter. I love their coffee and like getting their salsa with my eggs. Definitely a greasy spoon and scratches the itch I get when I miss a good ol' New Jersey diner breakfast.

                                3. From what I am reading, I think you might like the Original Pancake House in Kearny Mesa. It's pretty much between those two schools, and they should still be serving breakfast at that time. It's a chain and all that, but a lot of people (including some Chowhounders) swear by it.

                                  -----
                                  Original Pancake House
                                  3906 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                    Yeah, good call. Don't know how I didn't think of that. That's a great option. Funny thing is, they actually did win a James Beard award. It's not the typical chain, getting a franchise from them is hard to do.

                                    1. re: new foodie

                                      It depends on what you mean by helpful. I know if I was seeking a recommendation between two places, if several people said the place was no good I probably wouldn't go there.

                                      I've heard a lot of mixed things about Red Door. What about the brunch makes it stand out?

                                  2. To answer your original question, I'd go with the Broken Yolk primarily because whether you go to SDSU or UCSD, it is highly likely that at some point you'll live in PB (Pacific Beach), and a lot less likely you'll be living in La Jolla. So, you might as well cruise down Garnet Ave., check out Mission Blvd. and the boardwalk if you have time and then drive up the coast through La Jolla to UCSD. I'd second the alternative of the Cantina in PB or JRDN at Tower 23 hotel (not sure if they serve breakfast at lunch time). Good luck with the applications.

                                    1. One place that wasn't mentioned that is kind of in between those 2 restaurants mentioned in the original post is The Eggery. It is located in Pacific Beach in the Hooters/Tony Roma shopping center (south of Grand). I've been going there for 10 years now and have only sent back one dish. They have some awesome apple pancakes and I love their Huevos Rancheros plate. Try the Eggs Benedict with some avocado added - I think you'll like it.

                                      I like the pancakes at Harry's but for consistency in food preparation, I'd go with The Eggery every time.

                                      1. Wow serious discuss over breakfast, love it.

                                        Just want to add a visitor's view point. In La Jolla we ate the Cottage and Harry's.

                                        The 60s coffee shop feel was right on about Harry's. And its hard to find these types of places anymore. I really liked it and a wait while you are on vacation is fine. Put a big pot of coffee on the table and I can wait and people watch on the patio for my food.

                                        The Cottage was a step up in food quality for sure. Service was more friendly too.

                                        But either one can't go wrong.