The Breakfast Club

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Newport Beach Breakfasts

For a satisfying first meal of the day, Newport Beach offers a spread of savory options. – By Beth Fhaner 

Health experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there’s no better way to begin your morning than with delicious eats and a good, strong cup of joe. Thankfully, Newport Beach and its environs provide many fine choices for the first meal of the day. Whether you’re up at dawn for a morning surf session, grabbing a bite before a shopping excursion, or enjoying a leisurely brunch with family or friends, the local breakfast spots cater to a variety of customers. Here are some of the best reasons in town to wake up early.

Breakfast Chow for Everyone

Open since May, Eat Chow is a relative newcomer to the Newport breakfast scene, although many are familiar with their first site in Costa Mesa, located just off of Newport Boulevard. Eat Chow’s second outpost sets right off the north side of PCH, and the eatery has been successfully serving up flavorful New American cuisine to an eclectic crowd.

Even though the dining space is small, the room feels open and airy, with skylights and several windows in front. Blonde wooden tables and powder blue booths add to the cheerful ambience, and service is super friendly. Breakfast is served from 7 to 11 a.m. on weekdays, and from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on weekends. With an extensive breakfast menu, daily specials and morning libations such as specialty mimosas, a Shochu Bloody Mary (made with sake) and various breakfast beers (Red Eye Luis, Stiegl “Radler” Shandy, Espresso Stout) available, Eat Chow is a stellar way to kick-start your morning. Recommended options include the mouthwatering French toast with blackberry compote and any of the Mexican Chow dishes, including breakfast carnitas tacos, a Chorizo scramble and an egg white mole burrito. But no matter which tantalizing dish you select for breakfast at Eat Chow, your taste buds will thank you.

“We get such a different crowd here, and everyone really likes the food,” says server Zac McHugh. “I really enjoy all of our customers. They’re from all walks of life, and that’s what I love about working here.” (211 62nd St.; 949-423-7080; eatchownow.com)

Coffee and Grinds for the Dawn Patrol 

For surfers looking to refuel after a morning spent shredding waves, Alta Coffee Warehouse and Restaurant, located on the Peninsula, is an ideal choice. Housed in an old bookstore, Alta started as a wholesale coffee-roasting warehouse in 1985 and eventually evolved into the quaint cafe it is today. With a mellow vibe, scrumptious eats, a great selection of beans and brews, and both indoor and al fresco dining, Alta is the perfect place for surfers and other morning beachgoers to chill. Breakfast is available Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. to noon, and on weekends from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and the appetizing fare ranges from burritos to omelets to the Sunrise Sandwich (scrambled eggs, ham and cheese on toasted homemade bread with tomato and avocado). Buckwheat pancakes and crepe cakes are also available on Saturday and Sunday only.

Alta’s indie appearance is complete with local artwork displayed and available for purchase, signage stating that cell phones are off-limits here (a refreshing policy), and shelves loaded with customers’ own personal coffee mugs. (Become a regular and add your own favorite mug to the collection). It all adds up to a cool little place for grabbing breakfast.

“After I get out of the ocean in Newport, there is nothing better than the Surfer’s Burrito from Alta,” says patron Matt Dingwall, an avid surfer and Recreation Supervisor for the City of Newport Beach. “It’s just the right amount of killer grinds to tide me over until my next surf session, and a little Costa Rican java to wash it all down with. Plus, there’s lots of eye candy here, too, which is a side benefit at no extra charge,” he adds with a laugh. (506 31st St.; 949-675-0233; altacoffeeshop.com)

A Local Favorite

My Galley is another noteworthy breakfast spot on the Peninsula that is somewhat of a locals’ secret. Although this casual, petite cafe has a few tables inside, most patrons prefer to sit out on the pleasant, canopy-shaded, dog-friendly patio (a few tables get direct sunlight). If it happens to be a chilly morning, just grab one of the cozy brown blankets available in the basket, and you’re all set to dig into the super-fresh fare.

Open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., My Galley serves breakfast all day, and favorite menu items include the breakfast burrito (two eggs, roasted potatoes, cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream and a choice of ham or bacon), veggie burrito (two eggs, sautéed red onions, red peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese), and steel-cut oatmeal. Bagels, scones and a variety of coffee, tea and smoothies are also available. Try the Balboa Twister smoothie—an incredibly tasty concoction of pineapple, banana, mixed berries and orange juice.

“I think people come here because we’ve become friends with them,” says manager Jamie Hoover. “It’s a small, friendly place, and the food is good. The majority of the people are regulars, except in the summer months when we’re overtaken with tourists.”

With delectable nosh, great customer service, free Wi-Fi and extremely affordable prices, what’s not to love? My Galley is clearly a local’s gem. (500 W. Balboa Blvd.; 949-375-4355; mygalleybalboa.com)

Family-Friendly Breakfast Fare

On Balboa Island, Wilma’s Patio has long been a favorite breakfast spot with a strong family atmosphere, ever since Maurice and Wilma Staudinger bought the restaurant in 1975. Today, the family legacy continues as Sheri Drewry, the Staudingers’ daughter, now serves as owner. With a casual ambience and a beach cottage-like interior, Wilma’s offers a choice of seating in the dining room, patio room or at the counter. A small, dog-friendly patio also accommodates a few who prefer to dine outdoors with Fido. As expected with a family-oriented place, children are greeted with a warm welcome and get their own breakfast menu.

“When you come to the island, it’s magical,” says server Sondi Hensley, who has been with Wilma’s Patio since 1997. “We treat every customer like they’re our family. That’s always been our motto here.”

Breakfast at Wilma’s can be ordered at any time, with the exception of the waffles, which aren’t served after 2 p.m. Diners will find a variety of eggs, omelets, scrambles, Mexican-style breakfast dishes, pancakes and French toast on the extensive menu. Popular options include the Belgian waffles (which can be ordered with pecans or strawberries and whipped cream), or any of the Mexican egg dishes, which have been created from family recipes of the cooks. Try the satisfying, highly recommended Eggs Enchiladas, which consist of scrambled eggs wrapped in flour tortillas with enchilada sauce, jack and cheddar cheese, and served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa on the side. Patrons with hearty appetites might be tempted by a Balboa Belly Bomber—a hollowed mini-boule (round French bread) stuffed with their choice of a scrambled egg mixture, and served with hash browns or fresh fruit. Wilma’s ample, home-style dishes and comfortable, friendly vibe continue to make this eatery a top choice among both locals and visitors. (203 Marine Ave.; 949-675-5542; wilmaspatio.com)

Pre-Shopping Breakfast Bites

Shoppers headed to Fashion Island have several places to indulge in breakfast, but Le Pain Quotidien (Belgian for “the daily bread”) offers a unique experience. Inspired by its Belgian roots, this restaurant exudes a bustling, urban ambience with high ceilings, wooden tables, coffee bar, patisserie and lively chatter. There’s even a communal table if you want to make new friends while you’re dining; patrons can opt to sit outdoors on the large, inviting patio, too.

Breakfast is served until noon on weekdays, and until 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Seasonal specials are listed on the chalkboard at the back of the restaurant, and vegan options are available, including Organic Riz Au Lait (brown rice pudding with agave). All of Le Pain’s beverages are organic, and coffee is served in pots and then sipped from bowls, which is a nice touch. Omelets are a popular breakfast choice and come with mixed greens and freshly baked breads (don’t miss the apricot, four red fruits, or praline hazelnut spreads on each table). For a dish to truly rave about, order the delish avocado and tomato omelet.

“I find Le Pain Quotidien very convenient to the Apple Store,” says frequent patron Molly Britt, a Newport Beach resident and mother of four. “I love to put my name in and then wander down to Apple for something that’s been on my list for a while. Mostly, I like to go there because it’s convenient, but I don’t feel like I’m in Fashion Island when I’m there. It almost feels a little New York City to me.” For a sweet midday or afternoon treat, try the decadent Belgian brownie, coconut macaroon or apricot almond Madeleine. (#1103 Fashion Island, 401 Newport Center Dr.; 949-287-5592; lepainquotidien.us)

A Business Breakfast

Professionals seeking a suitable place to conduct a breakfast meeting with clients should consider heading to Haute Cakes Caffe, an eatery with an upscale, trendy vibe and an extensive breakfast menu. Nestled in a shopping plaza on Westcliff Drive surrounded by home decorating shops, Haute Cakes opens at 7 a.m. and offers patrons a choice of limited indoor seating or al fresco dining in the charming courtyard. Order at the counter from a menu written on a chalkboard, then take a seat and the food will be delivered to your table. Favorites among the fresh, flavorful cuisine include the blueberry cornmeal Haute Cakes, the huevos Benedictos (corn cakes topped with poached eggs, black beans, Cotija cheese, chipotle hollandaise and salsa), or any of the scrambles. With delicious fare and an inviting ambience, Haute Cakes is a place to impress.

“Haute Cakes’ varied menu ensures a tasty option for even the pickiest palates, which is essential if you’re meeting with a client you don’t know well,” says Kendra Strey, a local publishing professional. “Though the seating inside may be too tight for meetings with presentation materials, the patio offers a pleasant place to stretch out a bit.” (1807 Westcliff Dr.; 949-642-4114; hautecakescaffe.com)

With so many worthy establishments serving up enticing breakfast fare, the area’s restaurants provide a good incentive for starting your day on a savory note. So, rise and shine, Newport! NBM

The Ultimate Java Experience

For a world-class cup of coffee, Kéan Coffee is a must-stop for anyone seeking their daily caffeine fix. Proprietors Martin and Karen Diedrich’s sophisticated coffeehouse serves organic and fair-trade coffees, along with an appealing selection of teas and pastries. Indulge in signature drinks such as the Turkish or honey vanilla lattes, or Caffe Napoli with hazelnut and white chocolate. Shakes are delectable, too (try the blissful Honey Chai Shake). Kéan draws a diverse crowd, and although this place is packed on weekends (actually, there’s often a line no matter when you go!), the wait for an exceptional brew is definitely worth it. (2043 Westcliff Dr.; 949-642-5326; keancoffee.com)

 

 

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