Imagine this scenario: You wake up in bed and without opening your eyes you recognize that something is seriously wrong. You yawn from your pillow and the acrid smell of your breath induces a gag reflex. As you begin to move, each muscle in your body shrieks with pain. Your calves and hamstrings, feeling like chewed-up pieces of gum being stabbed repeatedly by a searing-hot knife, cramp so tightly that your toes involuntarily curl forward. It feels like you've been hit by a train.
Pulling the covers off your face, you quickly realize you're not in your own room-let alone your own bed. Think, you ponder to yourself, Where am I? You feel the warmth of another body in bed next to you. Who is that? You wrack your brain, grasping desperately for memories of last night. As you sit up, the sonic equivalent of a 700-person drum line begins pounding in your head, causing you to exhale in agony. You slowly creep out of bed and locate your clothing, taking notice of the horrifying pastel-color theme of the room. The urgent impulse to escape overtakes you and, without wasting time putting on your shoes, you grab your belongings and bolt for the front door. Finding your car, you collapse into the driver's seat and attempt to discern from your surroundings what neighborhood you're in.
Yes, my friend, you have a hangover. And it's a doozy. What you need, aside from a liver transplant, is a gallon of water and a greasy, delicious breakfast. So where do you go? Unquestionably, the best place for some hangover grub is the restaurant closest to wherever you happen to wake up. In a dire hangover situation, the quality of the food matters less than actually consuming the food, so your local taco shop will suffice. But if a truly savory and nurturing meal is what you desire, then wrap a handkerchief around your nappy hair, put on your enormous, black 'Jackie O' sunglasses, pop a stick of gum in your fetid mouth and take a trip with us to hangover heaven.
A longtime favorite for many of us boozers is Pokéz Mexican Restaurant at the corner of 10th Avenue and E Street downtown. A lot of people complain about the service, but when you're so hung over that even your tears reek of vodka, the last thing you want is a server with a fake cheery smile and the giggle of a 12-year-old schoolgirl. As firm believers in the 'hair of the dog' hangover remedy, we must recommend that you christen your layover at Pokéz with a glass of the amazing sangria. Hell, get a pitcher. Loaded with refreshing and nutritious chunks of fruit, this cinnamon-infused red-wine concoction gives you the feeling that you're drinking something good for you, all the while dampening your body's torturous alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Vegetarian and vegan hangover sufferers will find it especially effortless to locate a menu item catering to their dietary needs. For less than $4, you can have the Veggie Taco Special-a huge fried flour tortilla filled with beans, veggies, cheese and guacamole and surrounded by a sea of rice and beans. Equally as delicious is the Tofu, Potato & Mushroom burrito. At the size of a small infant, you should plan on taking a portion of this burrito home with you as part of your hangover lunch. Get any burrito on the menu smothered with cheese and ranchero sauce for an extra kick. Carnivores will revel in the extra-fattening Huevos con Chorizo. Using Alka-Seltzer as after-breakfast mints works well for this dish. If you end up opting for the full pitcher of Pokéz sangria, you should call a cab to take you home. Undoubtedly, you will need one.
South Park's landmark restaurant, Big Kitchen Café (3003 Grape St.), also tops the list of San Diego's holiest of hangover sanctuaries. Compared to the service at Pokéz, breakfast at Big Kitchen will remind you of being 7 years old again and falling into the warm, loving embrace of your mom. Sincerely, though, Big Kitchen's owner, Judy Foreman, greets each customer as though she were their mother, welcoming them into the comfort of her own home.
As is imperative with any hangover breakfast, the coffee at Big Kitchen is served quickly and often. The homemade pastries are almost a meal themselves-one of their tasty muffins alongside a plate of Judy's famous Biscuits & Gravy is more than enough food for even the most voracious of hangover appetites. For those lushes with delicate tummies, you might want to stick to a plain homemade waffle and a plate of fruit, both of which will ease you back into the world of the living without forcing you into frequent future visits to the lavatory.
A staple in the 'San Diego Hangover diet' (almost as popular as the 'South Beach diet') is Brian's American Eatery (1451 Washington St.), in between Hillcrest, North Park and University Heights. Its enormous breakfast menu is served all day, which is an excellent attribute considering it will take you a good portion of the morning to read through it all.
Overflowing with ridiculous 'egg' puns (i.e. 'Egg-cellent Omelets' and 'Meggsican Fiesta'), Brian's breakfasts include the California Benedict, a delectable variation of the standard Eggs Benedict recipe with fresh slices of avocado; Missy's Veggie Scramble, a huge helping of vegetables mixed in with eggs and cheese; and the finger-licking-good Madison's Favorite, a stuffed croissant filled with scrambled eggs, ham, veggies and cheese. The ample space in the dining area allows for relatively quick seating, but if you're willing to wait a bit longer, the outdoor patio is the perfect place to let the sun warm your toxified skin while you sip on a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Since Brian's is open 24 hours a day on Fridays and Saturdays, it's also a great place to get a meal in that barely memorable time period between the bar and your bed. But if you happen to have not yet made it to bed and are stumbling that blurry line between inebriation and hangover, your best choice at Brian's is to make use of the 'Beer, Wine and Cocktails' menu, which becomes available at the convenient hour of 6:30 a.m. Take delight in being gawked at for ordering a $7 pitcher of Budweiser by the families having just returned from Sunday service at the nearby Southern Baptist church. Some of them might even join you for a drink.
Other notable hangover breakfasts can be found at the Mission Café in North Park and downtown, Antique Row Café in Normal Heights and the Broken Yolk Café in Pacific Beach. Sanitary bags, unfortunately, are not provided, so if you're feeling the 'urge to purge,' you should come prepared, or maybe just stay in bed with your new friend, Whatshername.