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Best Breakfasts: Rise & Dine

Whoever coined the phrase “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” was someone after many of our hearts (princesses and queens included, of course!). Although I rarely find a breakfast fit for a king, I’m always on the prowl for something a little “cheffy,” original, or prepared with a twist. Here are some dishes you might want to try when feeling a little majestic.

The Monte Cristo sandwich: Is it too old school for this list? It possibly dates to the French croque monsieur of the early 1900s. Has it been transformed and reinvented by the folks at Awful Annie’s? Absolutely. Their version of the dish, Monte Cristo French Toast, features thick sourdough bread dipped in the restaurant’s egg mixture and then grilled. Topped with honey ham, melted jack and cheddar cheese, an over-medium egg, and another piece of French toast on top, it’s drizzled with raspberry honey syrup, fresh blueberries, and a dusting of powdered sugar. In other words, this isn’t your great grandparents’ breakfast sandwich; this is contemporary culinary brunch fare with flair, and it belongs on this list. 13460 Lincoln Way, Auburn, 530-888 9857;

Awful Annies’ Monte Cristo French Toast

Are you trying to eat “healthy” yet still craving the crème brulee you skipped last night? Maybe the Oatmeal Brûlée from 

Four Sisters Cafe in Roseville will fill both needs. I can only think of a few things more satisfying than tapping that sugar shell and diving into a warm bowl of lightly sweetened, old-fashioned oats, sliced bananas, and fresh berries, then scooping it all in with a sweet shard of caramelized deliciousness. OK, so it’s “in the spirit” of being healthy—that’s what counts! I also like Four Sisters’ Mango-Stuffed French Toast: a flaky croissant stuffed with sweet mango cream cheese dipped then grilled in spiced custard batter and topped with fresh bananas, mango, a sprinkle of toasted coconut, and hot maple syrup. 9050 Fairway Drive, Suite 165, Roseville, 916-797-0770,

Four Sisters Café’s Oatmeal Brûlée

I’ve had many versions of breakfast casserole over the years, usually containing some form of sausage, eggs, cheese, and bread. I find the Chile Relleno Casserole from Sweetie Pie’s to be the cream of the casserole crop. It’s a mouthwatering mash-up of a frittata and a soufflé with piquant green chiles, eggs, and creamy melted cheese. Packed with protein (and lots of flavor), it pairs perfectly alongside avocado, sour cream, and salsa. Oh, and don’t sleep on their baked goods; the pecan cinnamon rolls and olallieberry muffins are both pastry perfection—and certainly worth waking up for. 577 Main Street, Placerville, 530-642-0128,

Chile Relleno Casserole from Sweetie Pie’s

I was at brunch today with some friends, and one of them asked to sample the hollandaise sauce before ordering a benedict. Such are the expectations in a foodie group. A restaurant’s benedict has many moving parts, including a classic English muffin, Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise. That’s why I’m hesitant to order them, especially something creative. But when I spied the Ribeye “Oscar” Benedict from Franny’s Farm Table, it required closer inspection. I discovered one of the most decadently delicious variations I’ve seen: tender sliced ribeye, fresh asparagus, poached eggs, hollandaise, and, if that’s not drool-inducing enough, succulent crab! This is one you’ll have to sample for yourself if you’re a hollandaise snob (like my friend) or a creative benedict lover (like me). 311 Main Street, Placerville, 530-748-3671,

Ribeye “Oscar” Benedict from Franny’s Farm Table

Pizza for breakfast? I once made it in Italy by adding poached eggs to a leftover pie from the night before, but I like the brunch version from High-Hand Café better: Pear & Bacon Pizza with a fig reduction. No eggs, but let’s look at the construction here: Bacon, check; bread, check; fruit (pear), check; syrup (fig), check! That’s all the boxes I need to fulfill the brunch criteria! Plus, the pizza comes from High-Hand’s wood-fired brick oven, so the crust is perfection; and you get to dine in a bright, beautiful glass conservatory (another check for ambiance). Maybe add a mimosa or michelada with your pizza? 3750 Taylor Road, Loomis, 916-660-0117,

High-Hand Café’s Pear & Bacon Pizza

If Mexico had a version of Hawaii’s breakfast favorite loco moco, South Fork Grille might have it with their Gallo Pinto, a healthy(ish) and flavorful brunch dish with a unique twist. The epi-curious combination of black beans, sticky rice, radishes, spicy Fresno chiles, corn, marinated cherry tomatoes, avocado, and pico salsa topped with over-easy eggs is an unexpected epicurean treat. Add in the optional bacon (or grilled chicken) for a hit of protein and, well, bacon-ness, and you’ll be wondering why you waited so long to order it. To drink, I recommend the bottomless mimosas or the Recovery Room Cold Brew Martini (Mr. Black cold brew liqueur, Ketel One vodka, Irish cream, and a chocolate swirl). What a perfect way to start the weekend! 4364 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 124, El Dorado Hills, 916-458-0206,

South Fork Grille’s Gallo Pinto

I’m an avowed waffle addict. My girlfriend rolls her eyes whenever one of my three waffle irons appears on the kitchen island because she never knows what I’ll waffle-ize. So, while everyone knows about chicken and waffles made famous at Roscoe’s in SoCal, I was intrigued by the Chicken in Waffle from The Mimosa House. Imagine chicken “fritters” being lovingly caressed in a blanket of Belgian waffle batter and heated to that perfect crispy exterior and contrasting interior. All of that without the extra real estate necessary to accommodate chicken and waffles. Genius! Top that with some hot honey, and it’s a winner-winner Belgian waffle…breakfast. The Mimosa House has several other items that could be on this list, too: Maui Pancakes/French Toast, Dad’s (or Mom’s) Morning Tacos, and much more. Stop in and try one (or all the above) with a specialty mimosa. 2023 Vine Street, El Dorado Hills, 916-934-0965; 761 Pleasant Grove Boulevard, Roseville, 916-784-1313; 25075 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom, 916-293-9442; 1002 Riley Street, Folsom, 916-817-4225; 2180 Golden Centre Lane, Gold River, 916-822-4145,

Chicken in Waffle from The Mimosa House

What can I say about Katrina’s Café—you may have driven past on your way down Highway 49 and never known it was there; it’s always busy, and their breakfasts have inspired legions of loyal fans. The latter is due to the consistent quality and friendly service. I like their Lemon Yogurt Pancakes when I’m in a pancake mood. Three rolled “cakes” that are pleasingly lemony and fluffy from the yogurt. Topped with powdered sugar, the usual modus operandi would be to slather on some butter and drizzle with syrup. This is fine, but my waitress advised me to add raspberry jelly instead of the syrup, and I was sold on the spot. There are so many good things here; much of it is made in-house. Stop in for breakfast or lunch, and you’ll likely become one of the loyal legions! 456 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn, 530-888-1166,  

Lemon Yogurt Pancakes from Katrina’s Café


by Lorn Randall
Awful Annie’s photo by Jyo Bhamidipati ©stylemediagroup. Four Sisters Cafe photo by Mallory Acosta. Sweetie Pie’s photo courtesy of Sweetie Pie’s. Franny’s Farm Table and High-Hand Café photos by Jyo Bhamidipati ©stylemediagroup. South Fork Grille photo by Elly Navarro. Katrina’s Café photo by Jyo Bhamidipati @stylemediagroup. The Mimosa House photo courtesy of The Mimosa House.