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Where to Get Brunch in East County

Our annual guide to morningfood, featuring the best places to get brunch in each part of the county

By Troy Johnson, Amelia Rodriguez, Jackie Bryant, W. Scott Koenig, Michelle Stansbury, Mario A. Cortez, Mateo Hoke


Public Square Coffee House

Must Order: The Butter Flight

A bustling coffee spot with a built-out food menu in La Mesa Village, Public Square Coffee House has lighter fare as well as more robust savory options. The breakfast sandwich is good, but enthusiasts should go for the butter flight, which features a scone or two with a choice of three to six butters: cinnamon, blueberry, guava, maple cayenne, pumpkin spice, and nutella bacon.


Sheldon’s Service Station

Must Order: Sheldon’s Breakfast Bowl

A brunch spot by definition (it’s open every day from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Sheldon’s Service Station in La Mesa is a mostly outdoors, casual restaurant with full breakfast and lunch menus. A must-order is the decadent breakfast bowl, which includes eggs any style, hash browns, cheddar, green onions, tomato, bacon, and chipotle salsa.



Must Order: Breakfast Pizza

Lean into the novelty of hitting an Italian restaurant before noon and chow down on a pepperoni pizza loaded with crispy bacon and over-easy eggs at Lemon Grove cucina Giardino. And then, because it’s brunch, keep ordering. Go hard on the savory stuff here, like the benedict (wild boar sausage!) and short-rib-and-egg-topped fries.


Viewpoint Kitchen + Bar

Must Order: Biscuits and Gravy

Sycuan Casino, east of El Cajon proper, got a $290 million overhaul right before the world went dark, so it’s still spanking new, and it invested in food. Viewpoint is the place to participate in the sweetbread and egg arts as you regale friends with the gutsy gamble that paid off (ignoring the time you “hit” on 20). Craving sweets, for some odd reason? Here’s an apple cinnamon–stuffed French toast. Need a meal? A classic riff on biscuits and gravy with sausage gravy.


Lemon Grove Cafe

Must Order: Chicken Fried Steak

A no-frills hash house slinging American, Mexican, and Greek standbys, Lemon Grove Cafe (located, unsurprisingly, in Lemon Grove) offers everything you want in a diner: mega portions, wallet-friendly prices, and—bonus!—a shady patio where you can glug bottomless coffee in peace. Plus, the option to get pancakes instead of toast, as the good Lord intended.

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