From burritos to benedict, the best community brunch spots
After searching high and low for the best brunch spots in East L.A., it was clear to me that many of the places that graced the top rated lists of Yelp and EaterLA contribute to the displacement and inequality of L.A. neighborhoods. The following restaurants have been open for more than ten years and are reasonably priced. It’s difficult to identify what is “gentrifying” or “non-gentrifying,” judging simply by clientele demographic and ownership: instead, I decided to base my choice of restaurants on proximity to Occidental, affordability and their historic presence in the neighborhood.
Photographer: Poppy Thekdi
Monte 52: 5200 Monte Vista St., Los Angeles, CA 90042
Walk into La Tropicana market towards the back –– you’ll notice the sign that says Monte 52. Below it, you can order a variety of sandwiches, both for breakfast and lunch, along with burritos, french toast, eggs, burgers, soups and tacos. There are vegan options available, in addition to soyrizo. Despite the deli-like feel, the food at Monte 52 embellishes the basic deli flavors: the breakfast burrito, for example, had notes of cilantro and cumin. A meal typically costs between $9–$15, and you can grab coffee at the barista bar adjacent to the deli, which serves Intelligentsia brews.
Delicia’s Bakery: 5567 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park, CA 90042
A somewhat hidden spot on Figueroa, Delicia’s is a bakery with a wide variety of traditional Mexican treats. Delicia’s offers vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian items, in addition to their dairy and meat dishes. Choose between conchas, cochitos, coyotas, empanadas, orejas and many more items. Orejas, and many other baked goods, sell for a dollar each. As a customer, you are encouraged to take a pair of tongs and walk around the shop collecting the items you want on a platter. Delicia’s also offers tamales, chile relleno, pozole, taquitos and many more savory food items. Grab a cold brew coffee or an agua fresca to wash down the pastries!
Millie’s Cafe: 3524 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
Millie’s Cafe is located on Sunset in Silverlake, in the heart of a bustling Saturday morning scene. While waiting for a seat, customers can walk through the Silverlake Farmers Market across the street. Settle down at Millie’s with a $3 iced coffee (free refills) — you will need time working through the menu. With countless items, including vegan and vegetarian options, you will need time to make an informed brunch decision. The “Slutty Bun” is a classic, with fluffy scrambled eggs, gooey cheddar cheese and caramelized onions on a brioche bun, or try “the usual,” a combination of pancakes, bacon, eggs and hashbrowns. With Mexican, Italian and American influences, Millie’s is a crowd pleaser. Meals range from $7–$15, and there might be a fifteen-minute wait at peak times.
El Cochinito: 3508 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
If the wait at Millie’s is too long, head to neighboring El Cochinito. Serving classic Cuban dishes, El Cochinito is a family restaurant that has mastered the Silverlake aesthetic: white subway tiles line the walls, a neon pig sign sits in the back and retro Cuban posters hang along the white walls. Most dishes are meat-based, but there are some vegan and vegetarian options. El Cochinito lists their classic dishes as breaded steak, avocado salad and Lechon Asado, according to Yelp. Each of the dishes are crafted with care and a sense of historical importance, as the restaurant carries on its founding-family’s legacy for the third generation, according to their website. Meals range from $9–$25, but the quality of the preparation and ingredients make each cent worth it.
Antigua Bread: 5703 N Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90042
Serving a combination of Mexican and American brunch foods, along with baked goods and coffee, Antigua Bread is a one-stop-shop for a successful brunch. Sit inside or outside and enjoy a filling breakfast with classic dishes like huevos rancheros, veggie omelettes, breakfast burritos and eggs with bacon. If you sit outside, you’ll be under an awning and watching passersby on Figueroa’s main drag; sit inside and you’ll listen to classic tunes and enjoy the lively atmosphere. You’ll find most dishes under $10, with coffee ranging from $2–$6, depending on the drink. Antigua Bread is an ideal location if you’re looking for a sit down restaurant with reliable food — vegetarian options are available — and a family atmosphere.