One of the most exciting aspects of traveling to a new country is learning the country’s foods. CISL teachers often hear that “America doesn’t have traditional food” and “American food is just burgers and hot dogs ” but these statements are far from the truth! An exciting American tradition is brunch. Today on the CISL Blog, we will take a look at the typical brunch meal and suggest some San Diego restaurants which offer some delicious brunch meals.

The word “brunch” is “breakfast” and “lunch” put together. The meal is usually eaten in the late morning or early afternoon. Many countries have similar meals; in fact, the term originated in England, but Americans adopted the phrase and many restaurants make it a point to serve a special brunch menu on Sunday mornings. Enjoying brunch is an experience all international students must try because at most restaurants, the menu is only offered on Sundays.

What is on a typical brunch menu? Here are some items you can expect to see (some might be familiar, and others might be a famous international dish with an American touch):


The Mission Cafe’s berry pancakes are a breakfast that you must enjoy at least once during your visit to San Diego! Photo courtesy of Mission Cafe.

Pancakes are the favorite food for many American children, perhaps because they are not eaten very often (mostly on Sundays!). The traditional pancake, also called a “flapjack”, is covered with butter and syrup and served warm. Many restaurants offer pancakes on their menu, and most are delicious, but perhaps the most famous pancake breakfast in San Diego is from the Mission Cafe. The Mission offers Banana-Blackberry Pancakes that are absolutely delicious, and since there is a location Downtown and in Mission Beach, you can enjoy them during an urban Sunday or a weekend at the beach. A warning: you probably won’t be able to finish the restaurant’s giant stack of three pancakes, so it might be a good idea to share this dish with a friend!

French Toast 

Delicious Berry French Toast with Raspberry Mascarpone, Mixed Berry Compote, and Chambord Reduction. Photo courtesy of Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge in Coronado.

The name “French” toast is misleading: this dish did not originate in France. In fact, nearly every culture has a version of egg-soaked bread, so this meal is hardly “American” either! Regardless of its origin, French Toast is a staple on most brunch menus. Bread dipped in egg, cooked, and then covered in butter and maple syrup? What is not to love? You might find that restaurants have their own version of this dish: some like to top the French toast with a berry sauce; others like to use a citrus sauce. (The one pictured above is a Berry Brioche French Toast with Raspberry Mascarpone, Mixed Berry Compote, and a Chambord Reduction. Yum!)

Eggs Benedict

This Eggs Benedict photo was taken by a CISL teacher during a recent brunch at Davanti in Little Italy.

Nearly every brunch menu will have its version of this classic dish. The traditional Eggs Benedict is an English muffin topped with ham, then a poached egg, and then Hollandaise (an egg yolk and butter sauce). Some restaurants will offer variations of this dish: focaccia bread instead of an English muffin, or prosciutto instead of ham. The origins of this dish are not clear, but most stories claim that Americans around New York invented the dish.

Hash Browns

Most egg dishes will come with a side of potatoes, but this breakfast potato is a classic. With hash browns, the potato is sliced into small pieces and then fried. The outside becomes crispy while the inside is soft. Make sure to add some Tabasco sauce or some ketchup!

“American Breakfast”

Eggs cooked the way you like, toast, hash browns, a side of bacon or sausage, and a pancake. Each of these things comes together to make the “American breakfast.”  This is a classic dish, and most upscale restaurants will serve a version of it, but to find the real American breakfast, you will probably have to visit a local diner, which is a classic restaurant from the middle of the 20th century.


Some think that sparkling wine is only for special occasions, but Americans might argue that EVERY Sunday is a special occasion! The mimosa, which is a mixture of sparkling wine and orange juice, is a staple of brunch menus. Some restaurants offer an “All-You-Can-Drink” mimosa brunch . . . but enter these with caution! Drinking so early on a Sunday can lead to a looooong afternoon nap and very little productivity.

Bloody Mary

Davanti in Little Italy offers a Build-Your-Own-Bloody Mary bar.

What goes in a Bloody Mary? Everyone has his or her preferences, so the answer varies from person to person. Typically, a Bloody Mary has vodka, tomato juice, hot sauce, celery salt, garlic, salt and pepper, and horseradish. It is garnished with celery, an olive, and a slice or lemon or lime.

A newer tradition is for restaurants to serve a “Build-Your-Own” Bloody Mary Bar, and Davanti Enoteca in San Diego’s Little Italy has a great one. Located just down the street from the Vantaggio residence hall, Davanti is a great brunch option for CISL SD students. The build-your-own bloody mary bar is a fun chance to make the traditional brunch cocktail.

If you are unsure of what to put in your Bloody Mary, trust the experts at Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge in Coronado. The mixologist has infused bacon into vodka for a delicious “Bacon Mary” that you will not find anywhere else in San Diego!


A common misconception is that Americans eat a lot, and many students assume that the things on the brunch menu are eaten by Americans every day. In fact, most Americans eat very little for breakfast. An ABC News report once stated that the 4 out of 10 Americans skip breakfast, and the number one consumed breakfast food is actually cold cereal. (Thirty-one percent of the people surveyed said that this was their typical breakfast meal.) According to the report, “About two in 10 usually eat eggs (with or without bacon or ham) and just over one in 10 usually have a bagel, toast, muffins or pastry.” This makes brunch and its tasty menu items a treat that is looked forward to all week!