The Brunch Guide to Pasadena: 5 Ways to Brunch
Brunch is back and leisurely weekend feasts have officially been revived across Pasadena, where even the brunch is a Southern Californian crossroads of food, culture, art, and human connection. There are five ways to brunch in Pasadena, including the modern brunch, brunch in historic buildings and cottages, plant-based vegan and vegetarian brunch, Cali-Mex or Tex-Mex brunch, and the classic no-frills diner brunch.
1. Modern Brunch
Let Southeast Asian flavors infiltrate your brunch at Bone Kettle, where you can start with oysters and a spicy papaya salad on the beautiful back patio. Pair with some mimosas and sangrias while choosing from Bali Shakshuka, Pandan and Ube waffles, an island rice plate, or the famous 36-hour broth. The French toast menu is exciting – there’s a monte cristo option with bacon, ham, cheese, turkey, and seasonal jelly. There’s also an ube jam and toasted coconut flavor.
In Old Pasadena, Popping Yolk is the brunch spot for egg lovers. The menu offers creative dishes that incorporate eggs in various ways, such as benedicts, scrambles, omelets, and sandwiches. Enjoy the cozy and charming atmosphere, with a casual, rustic interior and outdoor seating available on the patio.
AGNES RESTAURANT & CHEESERY
As you walk through the massive barn doors on Green Street, Agnes welcomes with a full market and cheesery. What used to be a horse stable is now home to an impressive open hearth loaded with sizzling meats, blending Midwestern nostalgia with LA modernity. The cornbread eclair is served with chicken liver mousse, the meat and cheese board is perfectly curated, and the tinned fish platter is perfect for slow grazing during brunch hour. Try the sticky toffee pancakes and beet carpaccio or get egg-y with the pimento cheese omelet or braised bacon benny with pork belly and poached eggs.
Located on Colorado Boulevard, Plate 38 serves new American fare inside a modernized industrial-cool space. Brunch is made from scratch and features a four-cheese sexy mac, brioche French toast, duck confit buffalo chicken wings, a wide selection of sandwiches and more. Try the bottomless mimosa option here or enjoy mimosas and bellinis by the glass.
2. Brunch in Historic Buildings and Cottages
LA GRANDE ORANGE
Grab the whole crew and head inside the historic 1934 Del Mar train station for a classic American diner brunch experience with a modern twist. Popular starters at La Grande Orange include bacon-wrapped dates and deviled eggs. Enjoy a lineup of signature cocktails, frozen cocktails, or brunch cocktails. Choose from brunch classics such as short rib hash, chilaquiles, and eggs benedict, or go for the highly recommended pizzas on the menu. There are also taco platters, burgers, and sandwiches, as well as gluten-free and vegetarian substitutions.
Brunch in a historic Craftsman-style house decorated with a mix of modern and vintage furnishings at Magnolia House in the South Lake Shopping District. The forager omelet is served with king oyster and crimini mushrooms and their popular home fries. There are also Belgian waffles, chicken and waffles, huevos rancheros, and chilaquiles. Pair with brunch cocktails like the Almost Palmer made with Lapsang Souchong tea or the California Dreaming crafted with apricot and rhubarb.
North of Memorial Park, Sally and Otis Marston’s charming Craftsmen cottage breakfast and lunch restaurant opened in 1987. Enjoy classic American breakfast items in a cozy setting, where paintings of scenic landscapes and florals hang on the walls. Be sure to try their French Toast, it’s quite famous.
Brunch at Edwin Mills might include bottomless mimosas in a building that dates back to 1856. The chilaquiles are made with braised short ribs, the Confused Burrito is made with wheat tortilla, and there’s bananas foster pancake that is served with toasted walnut and a rum flambée. The walls serve as a gallery space for local artists.
3. Cali-Mex and Mexican-Style Brunch
Just south of Route 66 in the East Pasadena neighborhood, the family behind Margaritas Mexican Restaurant has been serving the rich flavors of bustling mercados, corner taquerias, and seaside palapas since 1977. The Sunday Champagne Brunch is a Pasadena main stay, featuring a buffet of rice and beans, chicharrónes, chicken meat, home-made tortillas, and an omelet station. The brunch entrees include menudo, pozole, and frijoles charros.
Family-owned and operated, Vero’s is a small rest-stop style diner with a small front dining area and patio that lends a small-town feel. A local favorite, Vero’s serves generous portions of homestyle Mexican meals and fresh juices with a side of family.
Homestate is the Angeleno’s favorite Tex-Mex eatery, and the Pasadena location features a lazy patio with a cozy interior highlighting home décor and vintage art. Enjoy breakfast tacos or anytime tacos made with house made flour tortillas. The Frito Pie in a Bag is a crowd favorite and there’s a wide selection of refreshing alcohol-free cocktails next to their booze menu.
HAWG HEAVEN BBQ
Located in Old Pasadena, Hawg Heaven BBQ hosts a Sunday Champagne Brunch with live jazz by The Jazz Cartel in the outdoor patio. A wide selection of Cali Mex menu items including a smoky guacamole, BBQ quesadilla, Mexican pizza, brisket sandwich, and alligator and bison from the grill. There’s a small menu of vegan tacos, made with jackfruit, grilled veggies, and butternut squash.
Enjoy classic Cali-Mex comfort foods for brunch at Foothill Restaurant, such as the short rib quesadilla, the pork chorizo burrito, mushroom omelet and crab cake benedict. With an expansive bar, enjoy cocktails such as the bacon old fashioned or a torero loaded michelada made with bacon wrapped shrimp.
Looking for big Mexican breakfast dishes all day long? A Pasadena staple, Mijares is a hacienda-style restaurant that has been owned by the same family since 1920. The charming patio out back is a perfect place for sipping on jumbo sized margaritas in the summer. Slowly savor the giant “garbage burrito” or enjoy a variety of Cali-Mex combo platters and seafood entrees.
4. Plant-Based: Vegan & Vegetarian Brunch
With a tremendous number of restaurants, Pasadena is filled with adventurous things to eat that are also inclusive to vegans, vegetarians, and anyone avoiding nuts, gluten, or soy. Here are some exclusively vegan-friendly restaurants, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a place that doesn’t accommodate dietary restrictions in Pasadena.
TRUE FOOD KITCHEN
Nestled inside the bustling shopping area of Old Pasadena, True Food Kitchen is an expansive restaurant with a weekend brunch menu that features lemon ricotta muffins, breakfast tacos, smoked gouda crustless quiche, and a green goddess smoothie that is sure to nourish. Decked out in marble and and welcoming interiors, the brunch menu is perfectly petite for a meal before a day of shopping.
REAL FOOD DAILY
Real Food Daily focuses on plant-based nutrition with a weekend brunch that kicks things off with butterscotch pancakes, breakfast pizzas with tempeh bacon, no-huevos rancheros, and a sea cake benedict made with yam and sea vegetable croquettes. Pair with bottomless mimosas or bellinis and bloody marys for a lovely brunch in the South Lake Shopping District.
Head over to Old Pasadena for Sage Bistro and grab a carafe of house made Sangria to share while deciding between all the creative dishes in a spacious and inviting space, great for large groups. The Sweet Potato Pancakes served with cacao nibs and goji berries, the Cornbread Jalapeño Pancakes, Polenta tots, and Avocado Hash with habanero ‘cream cheese’ are just a small sampling of the offerings, all made ingredients from their regenerative organic farm.
5. No-Frills Diner Brunch
Sometimes the joy of a sensible breakfast with a sturdy meal of eggs, toast and bacon is what will satisfy the brunch craving.
MY PLACE CAFÉ
Build your own breakfast sandwich at My Place Café, a Black-owned eatery that feels just like grandma’s house. Add sausage, cheese, spinach, and more inside a croissant or an everything bagel. Enjoy the house made oatmeal bowls, juice smoothies, and iced mocha coffee. The walls serve as a gallery wall for local artists. It’s a small spot with mismatched furnishings and lots of outdoor seating. Guests are always welcomed like family.
This charming East Washington café serves an extensive breakfast menu all day long. It can get busy, so be sure to plan accordingly and get on Millie's Yelp waitlist. The “messes and scrambles” menu is filled with delicious egg-centric meals, including a veggie mess, a machaca made with barbacoa, and neptune’s mess made with smoked salmon. There are also breakfast specials, omelets, eggs benedict, pancake, French toast, waffles, and event granola and acai bowls.
Find the neon sign on Fair Oaks in Old Pasadena, where a line forms outside of Russell’s every weekend, almost as if on cue. This local favorite is coming up on 100 years, serving American diner classics with a slightly ritzy ambiance.
GREEN STREET RESTAURANT
Since 1979, Green Street Restaurant has been serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to the Pasadena community. Still owned by the same family who started it as a one room, 18 table cafe, the restaurant is a neighborhood staple where the smell of fresh baked zucchini bread lingers.