Enjoying breakfast in Santa Monica during the week is a beautiful thing.
The hustle of the weekend isn't deafening, the pace is manageable, and the food somehow tastes twice as good. Mix in perfect weather and locations with outdoor seating (and often a beach view) and it's like a dream come true.
I stepped out each morning for two weeks, ordering the same dish - huevos rancheros - at each restaurant.
As you'll see by the accompanying photos, even a traditional breakfast in Santa Monica is a sunny display of culinary creativity.
This isn't your elaborate weekend brunch. This is breakfast. And these are 9 of the best Santa Monica spots to hit during the week to enjoy it.
While the entire menu at this Santa Monica favorite eatery is mouthwatering, we came for the huevos rancheros.
The crispy tortillas, topped with eggs, black bean puree, red and green onions, cilantro, salsa roja and avocado is as lovely as it is tasty.
Huckleberry also serves up homemade artisan breads and morning pastries galore. 1014 Wilshire Blvd.; Santa Monica; (310) 451-2311
Capo restaurant chef Bruce Marder has incorporated high-quality food and creativity into the extensive breakfast menu at Cora's Coffee Shoppe.
The rustic, outdoor iron arbor is surrounded by flowering bougainvillea; the perfect setting in which to savor a rich plate of huevos rancheros with cannellini beans and refritos epazote. 1802 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 451-9562
M Street Kitchen is a testament to comfort food done right.
The breakfast menu brings together classics like huevos rancheros - served up with oaxaca cheese, tomato salsa, cumin rice and beans on a foundation of fresh corn tortillas - with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and simple, accessible modern American cooking. 2000 Main Street, Santa Monica; (310) 396-9145
Marmalade on Montana is the epitome of local delicatessen with delicious baked goods and pastries.
The huevos rancheros is a hearty delight comprised of three eggs, cheddar and jack cheese, a chicken enchilada, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and black beans, cooked to perfection. 710 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 395-9196
Jinky's specializes in breakfast with an extensive menu including freshly made pancakes, crepes, waffles, and its specialty - flaky French toast.
I had the hearty huevos rancheros (again) - warm, corn tortillas topped with three eggs, a delightful spicy ranchero sauce, cheddar and mozzarella cheese and classic pinto beans. 1447 2nd Street, Santa Monica; (310) 917-3311
Fancy huevos rancheros - and your toes in the sand? Done at Back on the Beach Cafe. This is my overall favorite place to breakfast in Santa Monica, if I absolutely had to choose one.
Both the food and the ocean view are stellar, service wonderful, all enjoyed to sounds of the surf. Heaven. 445 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica; (310) 393-8282
Swinger's Diner is an oxymoron of sorts - yes, it has all the traditional diner grub served up in a 1950s-style setting - but in true Santa Monica style, it's just about the healthiest greasy spoon around.
Expect all the comfort foods you crave, with less of the bad stuff that's usually in them that you don't. 802 Broadway, Santa Monica; (310) 393-9793
This is my favorite Santa Monica hotel restaurant (it's inside the Loews Santa Monica) and this is especially for breakfast. While the beautifully elaborate breakfast buffet nearly sidetracked me from huevos rancheros mission (it smelled wonderful)
I stayed the course and enjoyed Ocean and Vine's delicious huevos rancheros with black beans, rice, pico de gallo and jalapeños served atop crispy corn tortillas. 1700 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 576-3180
The ultimate Santa Monica dive bar (declared a Santa Monica landmark in 2012), is also one of the best places to enjoy breakfast in Santa Monica. The back patio, where breakfast is served, is adjacent to lovely Tongva Park. And its huevos rancheros are dive bar fabulous: warm corn tortillas topped with eggs, cheese, salsa, avocado and sour cream. Probably the ultimate remedy for a dive bar-induced hangover. 1657 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 395-1741
Breakfast in Santa Monica is a distinct treat, especially at these wonderful spots. Reservations aren't needed, but you may have a short wait at several of these popular restaurants. And it'll be worth every minute.