They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That's all well and good, but who among us has the time to prepare a decent breakfast in the morning? It's mighty difficult for me since I desperately try to milk every last possible minute of precious sleep before dragging myself to work. Still, I'm not one to skip an opportunity to eat well, so I've discovered some easy-to-eat foods that I can swing by and pick up on the way to the office. Eating while driving can be a bit tricky, but these portable foods offer the least amount of muss and fuss combined with great flavor-just try to limit bites to red lights.
There's nothing like starting the morning with a Vietnamese iced coffee from K Sandwiches. The caffeine jolt and sugar high get me going like no other breakfast beverage can. There are tons of grab-and-go options here, too, from softball-size steamed buns to freshly made sweet waffles. I like the French-inspired snacks best-tender croissants with rich chocolate in the middle and sublime paté chauds, warm squares of flaky puff pastry filled with a savory, spicy black pepper and pork mixture. All these goodies are a mere $1 each. Breakfast at K also means I can pick up a Banh Mi, a Vietnamese baguette sandwich, to enjoy later for lunch. 7604 Linda Vista Road in Linda Vista, 858-278-8961.
Point Loma's PL Bagel is as far from a major bagel chain as it gets. The family-run shop is in a quiet, older strip mall and worth seeking out if you're fan of these breakfast breads. The owner of a first-class local bakery recommended it to me as the most authentic he's had outside of his native New York, which is compliment to the Cambodian-Chinese owners and bakers, who turn out bagels with the proper dense, chewy interiors and browned exteriors. I like the cheese melts with sliced tomato and melted cheddar or the excellent 'everything' bagel, extra toasted and spread with garlic, bacon and basil cream cheese. PL also offers fresh bialys (kind of like a savory Danish) on the weekends. 3704 Voltaire St., 619-223-4788.
A breakfast burrito is the quintessential SoCal morning grub. Few places served it in a more picturesque setting than Kono's Surf Café on the Pacific Beach boardwalk. I head over at a lazy 8 a.m. while the beach is still quiet, the fog is just rolling away from the shore and the day is just beginning to warm. Runners and surfers come for a post-workout fueling-up, and the party-hardy stumble in to recover from the previous night's indulgence. Kono's serves breakfast all day-hearty stuff like french toast and bacon and enormous breakfast burritos. Some burritos come loaded with crunchy potatoes and green chilies, but I'm satisfied by the No. 1, a basic but tasty combination of egg, cheese, sausage and sliced avocado. I usually attempt to eat this monster burrito one-handed as I drive to work, but if I have a few minutes to spare, I'll sit on Kono's semi-hidden, pier-side patio before I reluctantly get back in the car. 704 Garnet Ave., 858-483-1669.
Early risers are rewarded at Rebecca's Coffeehouse in South Park because you must get there early to catch a still-warm-from-the-oven scone before they're gone. The reputation is legit-these buttery triangles are moist and not too sweet within with sugar-crusted, almost crisp tops. The varieties, from raisin to pear-pecan to orange-chocolate, bear no similarity to the heavy, hockey-puck scones you might be used to. The café, which resembles a large, slightly ramshackle living room, is mellow in the morning, when even the skittish resident cat is relaxed enough to wander around. 3015 Juniper St., 619-284-3663.
The initials in V.G. Donut & Bakery in North County stand for 'very good,' but I propose a name change to C.G. for 'crazy good' because the donuts are incredible. I usually prefer a savory, rather than sweet, start to the day, but I scarfed down three of these donuts on a recent weekend morning. Their irresistibility comes from being made mere hours before they're served-they're baked twice daily, at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m., so you're always guaranteed a fresh blueberry-buttermilk bar, maple glazed or old-fashioned. Located across the train tracks from the Cardiff Beach, this family-owned and -run bakery has been in operation since the '60s, so it's no wonder the apple fritters taste of years of perfection. 106 Aberdeen Drive, Cardiff. 760-753-2400.