Scarpetta brunch - Photo by Mar Yvette

Weekend Warrior: Brunch in LA

Ah, brunch. Arguably the most important meal of the week, it’s when we say good-bye to a busy workweek filled with hurried lunches and usher in lazy mornings and a relaxing meal spent with friends, family, good food and maybe even a few surprises. Whether you’re looking for an all-you-can-eat deal, brunch with the Beatles, a few hula dancers with your danish, or a French Riviera escape without leaving LA, here are some great ideas for brunch in Los Angeles.

Zengo's Veggie Benedict - Photo by Mar YvetteZengo – Santa Monica
Wait … $35 for all you can eat and drink, WHAT?!?! And I’m not just talking bottomless mimosas. (Although those are included.) We’re talking free-flowing sake sangria, Lychee Bellinis and Bacon Bloody Marys from 11:30am to 3pm every weekend! And don’t forget the enormous menu of unlimited Latin-Asian small plates like veggie benedict (pictured), grilled achiote salmon, pan dulce French toast, sushi rolls, dim sum, duck hash and oh yeah, awesome views overlooking the ocean and Third Street Promenade.

FarmShop's shirred eggs & bacon - Photo by Mar YvetteFarmShop – Brentwood Country Mart
The charmingly rustic FarmShop is the quintessential brunch spot. Already a local favorite (read: each time I’ve been here I’ve seen someone famous), the food here is ridiculously fresh, the service is friendly, and the open kitchen gives you a front-row seat to all the culinary action (Thomas Keller’s right hand man Jeff Cerciello is in charge). Prices are a little inflated (duh, you’re in Brentwood), but you’ll gladly pay $5 for a side of Hobbs’ bacon and (gulp) $22 for a frittata. Just remember: menu items you love one week might not be there the next. This is a we-only-use-the-freshest-stuff-from-the-farmer’s-market kinda place.

Scarpetta's brunch melange - Photo by Mar YvetteScarpetta – Beverly Hills
Now that Scarpetta has made its home at the Montage, it’s giving the well-heeled crowd an Italian alternative to Bouchon. If you really want to see how the pros do it, stop by for Sunday brunch from 11am to 3pm and get ready for a major feast. The setup is a little strange with the various stations that criss-cross the restaurant, but it’s worth the walk back to the huge exhibition kitchen where you’ll find pastries for days, LA’s best yellowtail crudo, a shellfish station, cured meats, egg station, pasta station, carving station (including whole roasted branzino), waffle & pancake station, farmers’ market veggies,  fruit and about a million other things. There’s also a full bar and dessert station with the best peach macaroons you’ve ever tasted.  The $68 price tag ($35 for kids under 12) is worth every penny.

The Glendon's Cherry Bourbon French Toast - Photo by Mar YvetteThe Glendon – Westwood
Cherry bourbon French toast, are you kidding me?! This somewhat hidden gastropub in Westwood Village is a big hit with the local lunch crowd, and now you can add brunch to the mix. There’s everything from omelettes and salads to quiche pizza, a breakfast burrito with sweet potato tater tots (!),  burgers and oh yes, the aforementioned French toast, made with challah bread, cherry compote and cherry bourbon creme anglaise. FYI, you can really taste the bourbon, so you might not even need that $16 order of bottomless mimosas.

Beatles tribute bandKobe Steakhouse – Seal Beach
Never mind that bowl of oatmeal. It’s all about bowl hair cuts! If you’re tired of the same ol’ same ol’, this South Bay steakhouse might be your ticket to ride (har har). Every Sunday from 10:30am to 2pm, Kobe teams up with classic rock station, 95.5 FM KLOS, to feature some of LA’s top Beatles tribute bands as part of its Champagne Brunch experience. Standard brunch is $35.95 ($14.95 for kids under 10), Brunch with Beatles is $45.95 and Brunch with Chris Carter & Beatles is $55.95. All include unlimited buffet and Champagne.

Fig & Olive's flatbread - Photo by Mar YvetteFig & Olive – Melrose Place
Looking for a French Riviera escape but don’t have the cash for a cross-continental rendezvous? Don’t fret, mon cheri. This enormous newcomer to Melrose Place is where to get your fix. There’s live jazz on Sundays, a lovely enclosed patio, an airy main dining room and some of the  most tantalizing delicacies this side of the Cote d’Azur. (Bonus: Chef Pascal Lorange uses no cream or butter!) Think fig and walnut pancakes, rosemary lamb chops, and Moet Ice Imperial Champagne with strawberries. Do yourself a favor and order the Cucumber & Pink Peppercorn soup with mint. Your mouth will be hot and cold at the same time.

First & Hope - Photo by Mar YvetteFirst & Hope – Downtown LA
Jazz hands! Downtown LA’s retro-glam supper club is jazzing up brunch every weekend from 11am-2pm with live music served alongside its menu of modern American comfort food. (Yes, chicken & waffles–with apple cider syrup and sour cream–are on the menu!) Other a la carte options include hand-rolled cinnamon buns with raisins and cream cheese icing, a meatloaf burger with onion-bacon jam and fries, short rib hash with poached eggs, grits with blue cheese, steak & eggs and Eggs Benedict. You won’t leave hungry.

Sake to me! The Mondrian’s famed restaurant on the Sunset Strip has revived its popular Sunday Brunch with a more affordable twist. From 10am to 3pm, the $39.50 brunch includes a pastry basket, entree of choice, and a decadent dessert buffet that includes favorites like the Cuban Opera cake and carrot cake. Did I mention the bottomless sake sangria (pictured) or endless Bloody Marys and mimosas? Rock ‘n’ roll, baby.

Red O Lemonade - Photo by Mar YvetteRed O – West Hollywood
Sundays are for being whisked away to a tropical Mexican paradise, don’t you think? Grab a seat on the outdoor patio, in the huge dining atrium, or along the palm tree-lined tequila lounge and get ready for Huevos Rancheros Verdes, Chilaquiles al Guajillo, or anything from the regular menu (love that!). Resident mixologist Steve Calabro is mad about his cocktails–he makes everything from scratch, often getting ingredients from his home garden–so don’t even think about leaving without trying the deceptively smooth Red O Lemonade (pictured) or alcohol-free agua frescas and juices.

Dan the Beachcomber's Hidden VillageDon the Beachcomber – Sunset Beach
Aloha! If you prefer a little hula to go with your pupu platter, look no further than this kitschy tiki hut that’s been around longer than most of us have been alive. Every Sunday from 11:30am to 3pm is when you can experience the Polynesian Hula Champagne Brunch with Hawaiian recording artist Auntie Geri and her musical troupe of singers and dancers.

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