By Gretchen Williams, Cuisine Writer
The irresistible aroma of fresh coffee, sizzling bacon and baking waffles wafting from the local breakfast place tends to bring the neighbors out early. Morning hours keep the atmosphere casual, the dress code informal and the prices low. Each neighborhood worthy of the name has an establishment that attracts the local buzz while providing excellent caffeine and a variety of good things to eat in the a.m.
Spiffy yourself before dining at Think Café, on 5th Street in San Pedro, because you are going to see someone you know there. The only place in town with lovely linen table service for breakfast, Think Café has maintained its interesting menu and good service. Throughout the years, it has become central to the downtown. The pleasant, leafy outdoor space is perfect for dining al fresco in warm weather. Such conditions might command a stiff tab elsewhere, but Think is reasonable as well as comfortable. Breakfast items include favorites like ham and eggs but stretch to cover tasty but unusual dishes like eggs scrambled with smoked salmon or breakfast spaghetti. Espresso, latte’ and other coffee drinks are always available; though champagne may be just the ticket some mornings. Local politico and celebrity sightings are not unknown at Think Café.
Think Café is at 302 W. 5th St. in San Pedro.
Details: (310) 519-3662
The Dandy Lion Restaurant is a true portrait of its neighborhood, shaded and nuanced with sports, local culinary tradition and a smattering of gossip. Most diners are regulars, well versed in the short menu and daily specials, a great deal with breakfast as low as $4.99. Ketchup is a vital ingredient in the kitchen salsa, resulting in a slightly sweet, hot mix very good with scrambled eggs or the house made sausage patties. Hash browns, home fries or grits are all good choices in a breakfast cuisine meant to appeal to many different people. Hot cakes are not shy in this parade, covering the plate and ready for serious applications of butter and syrup. The Dandy Lion is warm and welcoming and is especially lively for Lakers and Dodgers fans.
The Dandy Lion Restaurant is at 18902 Avalon Blvd. in Carson.
Details: (310) 327-9150
The skull and crossbones standard crowns the yard arm over the listing deck of The Chowder Barge, but the pirates aboard seem semi-retired and the modern wi-fi connection seems to buffer the dubious history of the vessel. Originally built as support boat for the filming of the 1934 version of Mutiny on the Bounty and then to serve as brothel and minor league gambling den, The Chowder Barge enjoys its present moorings at Leeward Bay and legitimate role as chief disseminator of chowder. The dress code is decidedly casual at The Chowder Barge, just the place to go for a cold brew and breakfast after the game or garden or garage. The specials board is always worth checking out. The clam chowder is awesome!
The Chowder Barge is at Leeward Bay Marina, 611 N Henry Ford Ave. in Wilmington
Details: (310) 830-7937
Jongewaard’s Bake N’ Broil is a neighborhood jewel on Atlantic in Bixby Knolls. Family owned and operated onto its third generation, The Bake N’ Broil is like going to your favorite auntie’s house for breakfast. The décor is cozy and homey, charming with pattern and soft colors. The homemade preserves on each table give a hint of the wonderful things to come. Baked goods are the pride of the kitchen, turning out muffins, pies, cakes and coffee cakes every day. The signature dish of Bake N’Broil is a tender chicken pot pie, packed with breast meat and crowned with flaky crust. Breakfast is a contender for favorite as gorgeous omelets and scrumptious pancakes fly out of the tiny kitchen. Blueberry muffins are splendid, brimming with fresh berries. Quiche is different each day, ranging from ham and cheese to vegetable with green chilies or mushrooms or olives. Bake N’ Broil is reassurance that great coffee will be made, breakfast will be well prepared and served and all is right with the world.
Jongewaard’s Bake N’ Broil is at 3697 Atlantic Ave. in Long Beach.
Details: (562) 595-0396
Belmont Shore has become an enclave of Mediterranean cuisine, hosting several able competitors for the Med’s prize of top kitchen. The newest contender, Boubouffe, has brought all of the successful elements of Mediterranean cuisine under one roof to tremendous effect. Boubouffe offers breakfast until 11:30 each day, with a special menu demonstrating the many different morning meals eaten around the Mediterranean. Eggs are served in different styles, as you like with apple wood smoked bacon, or poached and served with smoked salmon and grilled asparagus, or fried atop a seasoned lamb burger, or in an omelet with kalamata olives and mint. Pita and hummus and baba ganoush with fruit and olives is a very typical Mediterranean breakfast. Lemon blueberry crepes are not so typical, but wildly delicious nonetheless. Coffee and espresso are directly from Italy, using Italian beans and espresso machine. Observe the fascinating Belmont Shore scene from Boubouffe while drinking the best coffee since “Roman Holiday”.
Boubouffe is at 5313 E .2nd St. in Long Beach.
Details: (562) 433-7000
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