Veg-heads don’t just mow down bowls of granola and slam wheatgrass shots at the break of dawn. Most want to enjoy brunching on Sunday-Funday with everyone else. And because it can be hard to find tofu scrambles and dairy-free waffles, we’ve rounded up five local eateries that provide tasty vegan options to start the morning right.
1. Seabirds Kitchen
Since flying the food truck coop and landing in their own kitchen at The Lab, Seabirds’ chefs have created a seasonal weekend brunch menu that puts them atop the vegan pecking order. Indulge in the most saccharine of morning treats, the organic waffle with seasonal fruit, above. For something less sweet and more filling, try the Breakfast Bowl: scrambled tofu with black beans, kale, roasted potatoes, and a side of ancho salsa. Wash it down with bottomless organic coffee ($2.50), or a Birdy Mary ($8)—wine-based vodka, tomato juice, and rosemary, topped with a fried pickle. $6 to $12. 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-549-2584, seabirdskitchen.com
2. Green Tomato Grill
Enjoy a guilt-free breakfast burrito—one that’s made to order. As many as four veggies from a list of 18—from jicama to jalapenos—are piled onto a spicy chipotle tortilla, acting as healthy accompaniments to the soyrizo “meat.” Sauteed with onions, yams, and garlic, the soyrizo’s savory flavor gives the burrito extra kick. Try the seasonal lemonade—this summer’s Jalapeno Mandarin mixes heat and sweet. Salud! $3 to $8. 1419 N. Tustin St., Orange, 714-532-1220, green
3. Mead’s Green Door Cafe
The atmosphere of this Old Towne establishment is where cool meets quaint. Adorned with the salvaged wooden door-frame artwork of owner Gary Mead Jr.’s father, the breakfast nook practically drips with creativity, as do the morning pastries. The kale muffin alone is worth an early rise: made with blanched kale and crushed walnuts, cunningly seasoned with secret spices and brushed with an apricot glaze. For a protein power boost, order the Nutty Monkey. With sweet squaw bread lathered in crunchy peanut butter, bananas, and honey, it goes well with coffee made with beans from Shawn Anderson of Old Town Roasting in Orange. $2.50 to $7. 642 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, 714-771-8556, meadsgreendoor.com
4. Green Bliss
Start with a sip of fair-trade coffee with a dollop of soy milk, then dig into the Blissful Morning, a delicious serving of organic oatmeal baked with sweet raisins and hemp seeds, and blanketed with organic almond milk. Topped off with fresh seasonal fruit from Tanaka Farms of Irvine, this dish feels like a warm hug. Peruse the cafe’s website (run on a server that’s powered by wind energy) with an hour of free Wi-Fi while you eat. $3 to $8.50. 305 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, 714-773-0018, green-bliss.com
5. Healthy Junk
Want to do brunch vegan-style? Well, join the club. No, really. Join the Breakfast Club. Included in the monthly buffet are innovative dishes such as the Skyscraper—pockets of crunchy hash browns, fried “chicken,” and glazed “ham,” layered between four maple syrup-drenched pancakes, topped with fresh organic strawberries. The feast may be cruelty-free to the animals, but not so to your waistline. Members can get on each month’s guest list by signing up via Healthy Junk’s website, Facebook, or Twitter. While the menu constantly changes, the bottomless mimosas are guaranteed. $25. 201 W. Center St., Anaheim, 714-772-5865, thehealthyjunk.com
Photograph by Priscilla Iezzi
This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue.