Best Breakfast in Downtown LA


I know that “best breakfast” in downtown LA is a tough call with the eternal competition of the Original Pantry, which has been serving breakfast around the clock since 1924. However… if you want a non-diner breakfast at a sensible hour between 8am and 4PM, go to the Eggslut in the Grand Central Market.

I recommend that you first walk down the counter and take a look at everyone’s food and also eye the people that might be finishing so you can grab their seat as soon as your food comes up. Then stand in line to order. There’s always a line but it moves fast and it gives you just enough time to peruse the 7 item menu. You’ll stand there just long enough to change your mind because while you want a breakfast sandwich, you’re definitely tempted by the Slut. And let’s be honest, who isn’t? I went with the Fairfax above and I have no regrets. Those eggs were softly scrambled with chives and topped with caramelized onions. The brioche had a smear of siracha mayo and I got everything everywhere but it was seriously one of the best breakfast sandwiches of my life. Of course you should also order the Cold Brew because a good breakfast always involves a coffee beverage.

Grab a seat at the bar if you’re lucky and then take your documenting pictures quickly so you can watch everyone else style their food for their Instagram feed. If you’re a real rebel, just dig into that deliciousness and forgo the pictures. I’ll salute your priorities.

The whole experience will take you about 30 minutes at noon on a Monday and you have $2 parking next door for 90 minutes. Walk around the rest of the market and check out the rest of the food stalls. Maybe you need a taco? Go for it.

Eating in Southern California

Start with breakfast in Huntington Beach at The Sugar Shack

The Sugar Shack

Sun, scrambled eggs and perfect crispy hash browns. Is there a more perfect breakfast? Take your time. Hang out. Have another cup of coffee and then wander down to the pier and watch the surfers catching waves. This is Southern California breakfast at its finest.

There are a couple choices for lunch starting with Sankai in Costa Mesa

San Kai

Yes it’s in a strip mall. I know. Go anyway because the fish is fresh and you can sit outside. Plus sushi is the prettiest food you’ll ever put in your mouth.

But maybe tacos are more your thing? Then head south to Carlsbad and go to Cessy’s Taco Shop

Cessy's Taco Shop

The thing I love most about the Southwest and Southern Cali is that you can get better Mexican food off a red plastic tray in a glorified taco truck than you get in most sit down restaurants up north. Cessy’s has great tacos. Get lots of salsa and go to town on the fresh hot chips. Lunch. Bam!

How about dinner by the water on Harbor Island?

Island Prime - C Level

That’s macadamia nut encrusted baked brie from Island Prime – C Level. Yum. We had a table overlooking the water where we could see the boats sailing in the bay and at night you can see the San Diego city skyline. Island Prime serves classy food in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s classic California.

Stop at the Hotel del Coronado for drinks before you head home.

Hotel del Coronado

A historic landmark with 125 years of rich California beach history, Hotel del Coronado has beautifully landscaped grounds and a gorgeous bar so it’s worth a visit.

End your evening by watching the sun set over to the ocean. Because that’s why you came to California, right?

Pacific ocean

It is good to have an end to journey toward.

I spent the night in Arcata, CA, a city I last visited on my one nighter tour of The Producers. As anyone who has ever toured with me (and many who didn’t) will tell you, I have no memory for theatres or cities. I rarely remember what a place looked like, where that restaurant was that I liked or who worked with me in any given city. It’s probably why I write things down; otherwise, I’d have no history at all.

However, Arcata stands out in my memory as being the place where our spot light operator counted no fewer than 9 audience members lighting up joints in the balcony during the show and where my local wardrobe head offered me pot, bought us shots at the bar after the show, tried to pick up our actors and came into the work the next day with bruises on her leg, stories of back flips and the explanation “it’s crazy the things I can do when I’m drunk.” Basically, exactly the kind of place you hope you’ll hit on a one nighter tour. Of course, most venues on one nighter tours are story worthy, but that’s a different blog post all together.

Today I went to a local Arcata hot spot for breakfast:

And had something worthy of my car license plates (Hey, New York!):

Lox, onions, capers and plenty of cream cheese. Pretty delicious. What looks like a small Mexican village in the background is actually a mural on the wall.

Then I got on the road and drove through the Redwood National Park on my way up the rest of the CA coastline.

Like the Grand Canyon, pictures don’t capture redwoods well.

Appropriate that this highway is called Avenue of Giants.

There’s a lot of bad tourism centered around the redwoods, starting with drive through trees and continuing to kitschy theme parks like Trees of Mystery. Their $14 entry charge is about $10 too much so I passed it up despite the compelling gate statues:

I’ll explore America’s obsession with Paul Bunyon at a later date, but here’s a patriotic eyeless version in Tucson:

Apparently his axe was stolen and he got a flag instead…

I drove all the way up Highway 1 and took my last pictures of the California coast.

Then I drove into Oregon:

Had pak kee mao at Thailand Restaurant:

With bubble tea:

And a most intriguing table decoration, in case I wanted to purchase a runner and coaster set:

I spent most of the day in the car, covering ground and thinking about next month. I’ve driven straight through for the past couple of days, feeling this trip come to an end. Tomorrow is the last day and I expect to be in Bellingham in time for my sister’s party to celebrate the opening of gin & tonic season on May 1. Didn’t you know that g&t’s get their own season? Well, now you know so break out the ice and start cutting up limes!

It will take awhile to process that this trip is over. But this blog will continue, so come back.

See you tomorrow.

The So Cal Kid and Highway 1

Definitely started getting sick yesterday and woke up to a cold today. I got started late and decided to hit the the Holy Roast coffee shop (I’d question the name but I don’t have the energy) in Santa Rosa before I left town. The kid behind the register looked like a Southern California version of a guy I worked with on Wizard of Oz. He had long braids, wide open brown eyes, a sweet manner, no ability to do his job and no awareness of a problem.

So Cal Kid: Good morning! Can I help you?

Me: Can I get an Americano and a yogurt parfait? And change for the meter?

SCK: Of course! Oh, wait. We don’t have much change. I may not be able to give you change.

Silent face off while I look at him working in a coffee shop surrounded only by metered parking with no change at 9AM and no options. He looks at me quietly. Sweetly. Silently. Probably just waiting for me to speak. So I did:

Me: can we make change out of your tip jar?

SCK: oooh, I don’t know. (He looks at his compatriot coffee maker. She must do all the heavy lifting in the thinking department. She nods.) Oh, OK!

He digs out change.

SCK: thanks so much! Have a great day!

Me: yogurt?

SCK: Oh right!

He gets yogurt out of the case. Sets it down. Walks away. I pick it up and it’s sticky all down the side. I go to the coffee station and they are out of napkins.  I go back to the front.

SCK: (sweetly) Good morning! Can I help you?

Me: Do you have napkins? I’m sorry. There aren’t any in the coffee station and it’s all sticky…

SCK: Oh goodness! Let me clean that off.

He does and returns it to me with napkins.

I pick it up and go back to the coffee station for a spoon. They are out of spoons. I go back to the front counter.

SCK: (sweetly) Can I help you?

(He seems to have a reset button wherein he neither remembers me nor gets annoyed nor has any ability to forsee my questions)

Me: I’m so sorry. Can I get a spoon?

SCK: Of course!

He brings me a spoon. By this point I have to feed the meter again because this process has taken 15 minutes and I only planned to be there for 30. I run out, leaving all my stuff in the shop, shove change into the meter and come back in with a flood of people. I sit down at my table and realize I never got my coffee.


The very LAST thing I want is to see this kid again. Ever. But he’s plugged into a brain wipe and doesn’t remember that I exist or that I ordered coffee so I have to go back up and remind him.

He sees me come back up to the counter and get in line behind the flood of people but only attends to the kids in front of me. In every case, he rings people up, hands them change and cheerily tells them to have a good day while they stand there awkwardly and wait for him to remember that they ordered things. Then they remind him. Then he acts surprised, like “Oh, is that what we do here!?” and scrambles to get their food. But he’s so sweet natured about it that people laugh instead of getting annoyed. Is this a super power? I have to think so.

When I get up to the counter (now my 4th time in 20 minutes) he has that look that says he recognizes me but can’t figure out from where. Then he smiles:

SCK: can I help you??

Me: I ordered coffee.

SCK: Oh! Riiiiight.

Me: I didn’t get it.

SCK: Oh! Ok. Um. What was it?

I suppress a strong temptation to say “a pound of your most expensive coffee and a large Americano with 5 shots” knowing that he won’t remember and will just give it to me and wish me a great day (again). But his coffee compatriot sweeps him aside at this point and says, “Americano, right?”

Then she makes it.

Then she gives it to me.

And it takes about a minute.

Well, 26 minutes, actually. But about a minute of actual work on someone else’s part.

I fed the meter again, had breakfast and left.

Santa Rosa, I don’t know what you’re putting in your water but you might want to stop.

The rest of the day was long but beautiful. Here’s Highway 1 through northern California:

This little nondenominational meditation chapel sits outside Sea Ranch, CA. I don’t know what it’s supposed to resemble, but someone called it the “conquistador helmet church” and I like that.

Beautifully built by a local artist, both inside and out.

And then back to the ocean…

And the mountains:

Don’t you wish you’d been there?

Tomorrow: Redwoods

See you then.

Wherein California and I have a Come to Jesus meeting

California, I want a word with you about your driving conditions.

Your Highway 1 is gorgeous. So pretty that it took me all morning to go 50 miles because I kept stopping to look at misty morning views like this:

And this:

And then this, up in the cliffs high above the sea.

Breathtaking. I got so enamored with the view that I drove past that sign that said “highway 1 closed 37 miles up ahead” without taking a moment to consider those implications. I had a passing thought that I would have to reroute when I got to the closure but I didn’t think any further about it.

California, I know. That’s my fault. Stay with me and I’ll get to the part that’s your fault.

I got those 37 miles up ahead, passing the only inn/gas station/restaurant for 50 miles, elated with the views and the weather and the ocean only to encounter a construction guy with a stop sign. He stopped each car and talked to them individually after which cars turned around and headed back down the mountain. Then he got to me:

Construction guy: Hi there miss. Where you going?

Me: Monterey

CG: Nope.

Me: Nope?

CG: Nope. A rock slide took out the road. Highway’s closed. You’ll have to go back down. Where’d you come from?

Me: Morro Bay

CG: Right. You’ll have to go back there, well, almost back there and take 46 and go over the hill to 101 and then take 101 to Monterey.

Me: Back. To where I started. This morning. 2 hours ago.

CG: Sorry about it. But this highway’s all in the sea now. It’ll be closed for awhile.

And so I turned around and drove back down the mountain, less elated with the gorgeous views and wondering how much more time it would take to get to Monterey. As I passed the inn and looked at my gas gauge, I figured I’d get some gas since it would be awhile before the next town.

$5.49 a gallon.

CALIFORNIA! Your prices are high but that’s a dollar higher than your highest price down below. Isn’t that gouging? I’m not entirely sure what gouging means but I think this is it and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal!

I bought 3.5 gallons to get me to the next station and it cost me $20 with taxes!!!

After this assault, I drove back down the mountain, finally found 46, drove merrily along and then stopped dead because the road turned into an alternating one way street due to unadvertised road work. After getting stuck for an undetermined number of minutes and then driving through the construction, I drove the rest of 46 only to get to 101 and find one lane blocked off with traffic cones for 5 miles for NO REASON. No construction, no guys working, no ripped up pavement, just cones, some of which were now scattered in the only working lane by motorists deciding to disregard them and use the blocked off lane anyway!

California, you still listening? Because I’ve finally gotten to the part that’s about you. Pray attend:

1. If a rock slide closes a highway, that’s useful information to know before I get there. “Road closed” won’t stop motorists the way “Road missing” “Road vanished” or “Road fell into the sea” will.

2. If there’s no alternate route close to said rock slide, and you had the time to post a sign that the road is closed, it would be helpful to also note that I’m passing the only alternate route before I go 74 miles out of my way!

3. If the only alternate route for 100 miles is undergoing road work, isn’t that important information for me to know before I whip around a blind corner and nearly slam into a stopped line of cars?

4. If you need to close a lane in the road, at least put construction vehicles on it so you look busy and productive. Otherwise we think you’re kidding and we’ll drive on it anyway.

That’s all. Yes, you can go. Please do better next time.

Geez… some people’s kids. Sorry you all had to be around for all that.

More tomorrow. With less griping.

See you then.

When you see the road, don’t sit looking at it. Walk.

California got all complicated today when I tried to treat it like the rest of the nation. Like Texas, California likes to make up it’s own rules and ordinary solutions don’t apply here. Sorry CA, I know you hate any comparison to a place with hats measured in gallons and the words “yee-haw!,” but it’s true and you know it.

In any other state (except Texas), “near” means “easily drivable within the space of a morning.” In California, geographical nearness and length of time necessary to traverse that geographical space require California Math and a Xanax. Yes, it’s 15 miles. Yes, the speed limit is 60 mph. Yes, in another state you would get there in 30 minutes. Yes, your (non-Californian) google maps program says “45 minutes with traffic.” And yes, you will get there an hour and a half later. Don’t try to reason it out, just do like the rest of the state: get a medical marijuana card and go surfing instead. Oooh, sorta kidding! C’mon Californians, don’t be mad! (road rage is so unattractive…)

Weirdly, Texas has the opposite problem where it seems like it can’t really be as far as it looks and you should get there sooner, when it fact it’s further and takes longer. But I digress.

Forgetting all my previous driving experience in CA and the rules so trenchantly impressed upon me, I made plans to have breakfast in Laguna Beach, go see my aunt and spend time with her in Trabuco Canyon, drive back to Laguna Beach for a late afternoon yoga class and then to my aunt’s house in Rancho Santa Margarita for dinner. All in one day. Californians everywhere are laughing themselves silly. This series of trips encompasses about 50 miles and in California time it means 2 solid days of driving.

Fortunately, I realized this before I got in the car and amended everything. I made plans to see my friend tomorrow. I had a frighteningly expensive but very photogenic omelette near my hotel at Rosa’s Sugar Shack:

 I stopped in at the San Juan Capistrano Mission:

Beautiful. Museum-esque. Well trampled. Full of people.

I’ve had a shrine heavy trip and my friend, Eric, asked if I thought I was in spiritual crisis. I said my spiritual crises are perpetual (an answer part facetious and part true, percentages unknown) but I love seeing artistic evidence of other people’s faith and I enjoy any opportunity to light candles, pray, make wishes and think. Shrines create a peaceful void that gives my mind a chance to wind down. I breathe a little deeper (much needed with the current lack of yoga) and take in some of the stillness. San Juan Capistrano isn’t the best example of this stillness; but I got a better chance that afternoon in Trabuco Canyon at the Ramakrishna Monastery walking around the grounds with my aunt and her kids, stopping at all the multi-faith shrines:

 If I lived near this monastery, I like to think I’d take this walk often.

It’s beautiful and thought provoking and full of things to look at.

Hills full of greenery:


 Untrampled, untamed, wild California:

I’m going to have to drive into LA tomorrow but tonight I’m still thinking about the canyon.

Reasons #3-100 to love the golden state.

My aunt made dinner, we took a walk around the lake afterwards and talked nonstop for hours. No yoga. But that’s ok. I’ll be in Washington for a month after this trip and can actually do an uninterrupted 30 day Bikram challenge and drag my sister along for part or all of it. I’ve got a couple friends to see tomorrow and still try to make it up the coast a ways before midnight. Let’s see how that goes. I’ll try to refrain from yelling about the traffic, but no promises.

Doesn’t that make you want to come back? I know. Come back anyway. If I’m yelling, it’s funny. And who doesn’t love that?

See you then.

I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells.

Started here this morning:

Ended here tonight:

I have about 1000 pictures of the Pacific ocean from the California coast. It’s such a difficult thing to photograph and no picture ever captures what it’s like to sit on the beach watching the surf pound on the shore as the sun sets with sailboats silhouetted against the horizon. Magical.

Mostly drove today. Started listening to The Help on audiotape and LOVE it already. I’m very curious how the written version reads. I find the auditory version delectable for the character voices, accents and personalities. Those are hard things to convey in written form.

Notable today: an inventive use of trash at Tio’s Tacos in Riverside:

The beer bottle chapel:

It all feels so familiar, doesn’t it? The creative recycling, the all consuming love of concrete, the folk art and religious shrines. I could ask why (and would have, had the artist, Martin Sanchez, been around) but I’m finding that my questions for these artists go deeper than an hour long conversation about inspiration. I want to delve back and find that first point where they picked up a beer bottle, watched the light shine through it and pictured a wall; or saw a stuffed monkey and decided to make a jungle:

At what point did they need to purchase land to house their collections?

Who was the first person they ignored who said “creating a figure out of bottle caps is ridiculous!”

How many legal permits did they obtain to build their wonderlands? Are there ever enough admirers to make it worthwhile or is the act of creation enough?

After some wondering and picture taking and shaking my head, I kept driving until I ran out of road in San Clemente and then ate delicious ceviche at La Siesta:

And watched the sun set on the beach.

2 reasons to love California.

You have a full week of beach pictures coming at you! Aren’t you excited?

All right, keep it down. The neighbors will talk.

More tomorrow. See you then