There is nothing sleepy about Snooze. Every time I visit Tustin’s new “A.M. Eatery,” the outdoor waiting area is filled with folks perched on persimmon-orange chairs, sipping complimentary coffee from handle-free mugs. Even midweek, at 1 p.m., in a steady rain. Open since July, Snooze handily captivates the all-day, everyday brunch crowd it lures to its Tustin Marketplace location. Surrounded by ever more restaurant neighbors, Denver-based Snooze is flourishing thanks to consistently delicious sweet-and-savory daytime fare, paired with earnest hospitality that reflects the menu’s slogan of “peace, love, pancakes.”
Don’t let the carefree attitude fool you, though. Behind all the smiles and light-hearted trappings is a polished, thoughtful execution of a splendid concept. Add creative riffs on classic egg and pancake dishes, and you have a breakfast we all want but will never cook at home. Add crafty bloody marys and coffee libations and you have, well, brunch. Daytime drinking with last call at 2:30 p.m.
Of course, plenty of self-caffeinating diners are content to stick to the fine coffee, a house blend of Snooze-sourced beans from Guatemala. The organic java is in keeping with other mindful ingredients: cage-free eggs, Vermont maple syrup, house-infused spirits, dairy from Petaluma, baked goods from Santa Ana’s Bread Artisan Bakery.
First timer? Expect to dawdle over so many tempting options. Omelets, scrambles, and Benedicts dripping with velvety hollandaise in three variations are just the start. Ten sweet griddle items also tanta-lize, including a Pancake of the Day. Eggy sandwiches and bowls with quinoa or house-made granola offer more possibilities.
Breakfast Pot Pie now haunts my crave list, as might anything that starts with a square pillow of golden puff pastry. This one comes ladled with silky sausage-rosemary gravy topped with a glossy sunny-side-up egg. A shredded-potato “cake” accompanies, minus any crispiness, though the knockout gravy redeems these bland hash browns. Next time, I’ll request extra sizzle time on those.
Benedicts are certainly inventive. Ham Benedict III stars tender shaved ham and a signature English muffin; Benny Goodman boasts lox, toasted rye, and cream cheese hollandaise; and Chile Verde Benny seduces with pulled pork atop tortillas jazzed with feisty green chile sauce and melty cheese. One thing they all have in common: two impeccably poached hyper-fresh eggs. One of the best sandwiches has no eggs at all. Peter Paul Rubens, a sly nod to Saturday morning icon Pee Wee Herman, is a glossy pretzel bun stuffed with terrific corned beef, bright sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and the vital 1,000 isles dressing. It outclasses both the ho-hum Sandwich I Am and the lackluster breakfast tacos.
I blame myself for the boring egg tacos. I should have added some extras, maybe a meat choice and a cheese as the menu suggests. In fact, Snooze advocates customizing any order and makes this easy to do. Can’t decide on which Benny? They advise halving two offerings to create a duo. Want something sweet after your corned beef hash? Simply substitute the toast for a fancy pancake for a $4 upcharge.
Service here is reliably peppy and sincerely cheerful. Well-trained and knowledgeable, the servers have ready answers and never have to “check with the kitchen.” Working in an often full restaurant is relentless and demanding, but this crew seems uncannily patient.
Pancake addicts, find your fast fix in the Sweet Utopia offerings. Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes with vanilla cream and cinnamon butter? Yes, please. But alas, the extravagant flapjack proves relentlessly treacly so better to abandon it in favor of that day’s special, a baklava-inspired affair. The fluffy buttermilk pancake is topped with feathery phyllo pastry flakes, nuts, and cinnamon and drizzled with honey-lemon syrup. I see lots of blueberry Danish pancakes around and deduce the combo of berries on top and citrusy cream cheese inside is pretty irresistible and superior to many traditional Danishes.
Though it’s hard to imagine a pancake fiend who can down three of these buttermilk batter confections, Snooze serves them by the flight—any three flavors in one order. Sounds like dessert for six to me, but I applaud such over-the-top novelty. Sorry waffle lovers, there’s nothing for you here. But if French toast will do, order the OMG! for griddled brioche filled with mascarpone and crowned with fresh berries, salted caramel, and coconut.
Kudos to Snooze for waking up the daytime diner category with such a dreamy approach. I predict the long waits are here to stay. You know what they say about the early bird.
BEST DISHES Pot pie, corned beef hash, Ham Benedict III, Chilaquiles Benedict, Benny Goodman, Chile Verde Benny, OMG! French Toast, Peter Paul Rubens, bloody mary, Mayan Mocha
PRICE RANGE Dishes, $7.50 to $12.50; a la carte, $1.50 to $5.25; beverages, $2.50 to $8
FYI Use the Nowait app to cut to the front of the line.
3032 El Camino Real
All photos by Priscilla Iezzi