SoCal Early Morning Breakfast Spots

Zebra House Coffee

Good Morning, Moms! And Happy Groundhog Day! Being a mom sometimes feels like Groundhog Day, stuck in the same cycle of activities, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but every day my kids like to rise and shine before the sun has had a chance to do the same. And when my husband is deployed or leaving for PT bright and early, that means I’m 100% responsible for getting the kids up and ready for whatever adventures the day brings. I’m one of those people who NEEDS a good breakfast (and a giant cup of coffee) to get up and running. So when we PCS’ed to SoCal from the East Coast, and my then toddler was up even earlier than usual as he adjusted to the time change, I quickly started acquiring a list of breakfast places in our new neighborhood that were open early, reasonably priced, and kid-friendly. Bonus: SoCal’s unofficial dress-code is leggings and trucker hats, so you can pretty much roll out of bed and head straight to these places. Hope you enjoy! And please share your favorite Camp Pendleton-area breakfast spots in the comments!

Bagel Shack, San Clemente, CA – opens at 5:30am. We’ve lived in SoCal on and off for the past 8 years now, and this was one of the first breakfast spots I frequented. Born and raised in the North East, bagels run through my blood. And homemade, fresh bagels can be hard to find in the South West. Enter Bagel Shack. Try one of their bagel sandwiches, named after local surf spots, like Uppers (steak and eggs with caramelized onions and pepperjack cheese), on any of their hot-from-the-oven bagel varieties (my favorite is the Cinnamon Crunch). (

Bear Coast Coffee, San Clemente, CA – opens at 6am. The first time we lived at Camp Pendleton, Bear Coast Coffee was in its infancy, serving coffee out of another San Clemente market. When I found out we were headed back to Camp Pendleton, and discovered that they had just opened up their own storefront, I was ecstatic. Coffee > Water in our family. Not to mention that their shop is directly across from the San Clemente Pier = magic. Grab the kids, grab your coffee from their Instagram-worthy shop, and head across the street to let the kids play in the sand while you wake-up with a latte or cold brew. Avocado toast is also a delicious treat to start the day. (Instagram: bearcoastcoffee)

Stacks Pancake House, Dana Point – opens at 6:30am. Anyone who has been stationed in Hawaii, Korea or Japan will appreciate their OCONUS-inspired menu. Try the Kalua Pork Eggs Benedict, the Coconut Pineapple Pancakes, or the Belgium Waffle topped with Chicken Katsu, Bacon, and spicy cheese sauce. Arrive early, because there will be a line out the door if you arrive around 9am or later. The menu is diverse and the portions are huge, so this is a great spot if you’re lucky enough to also have your Marine around for breakfast. (Instagram: stackspancake)

Zebra House Coffee, San Clemente – opens at 6am. Two words for you moms: DRIVE THRU. I could probably stop there, as any place that allows me to feed myself and my two kids without facing a carseat battle is automatically a fave. But I have to add that this independent coffee shop serves amazing breakfast sandwiches (“sammies”) along with top-notch coffee and espresso drinks. Get the egg and cheese sammy with avocado (which may become a favorite food after you PCS to CA). They also serve delicious gluten-free muffins! (Instagram: zebrahousecoffee)

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