CANELÉ. Stop by the Sunday farmers market in Atwater, and you're likely to see people lined up in front of Canelé across the street, their shopping bags at their feet. Brunch time. I like to sit in the sunny window at the communal table where, likely as not, you may end up sharing breakfast with three generations of the same family. Open four years, Canelé has become a neighborhood institution and a favorite for chef-owner Corina Weibel's Mediterranean take on brunch. She's got a chickpea pancake topped with a fried egg, some feta and a house-made harissa, for example. But you can get eggs en cocotte too, or a plate of bland soft-scrambled eggs. One Sunday she was featuring a chilled gazpacho with tall slabs of grilled bread crowned with a halved hard-boiled egg and anchovy, refreshing on a hot day. And she's got sandwiches — fried chicken with pickled green tomatoes and mayonnaise on a toasted bun or a fried egg and bacon sandwich with braised leeks and Catalan romesco on toasted baguette. Even just plain toasted baguette and jam, if you like.
There are some misses too, notably a dull duck hash with fried duck egg and a baked pancake with lemon curd that's far too sweet. The house-cured bacon wouldn't win any beauty prize or taste contests. Cinnamon buns hadn't emerged from the oven by 10:30 so we dawdled a bit, but when they did show up, it was worth the wait for these sticky beauties.
Canelé, 3219 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles;(323) 666-7133; http://www.canele-la.com. Brunch, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Brunch items, $2.50 to $13.50.
GJELINA. Showing up for weekend brunch without a reservation at Gjelina, as I did recently, usually means a long wait. But no matter, I just left my name at the door and strolled up Abbot Kinney Boulevard to Tortoise to browse the store's Japanese ceramics and cookware. Half an hour later, I was back and my table on the patio under a striped umbrella was ready, as promised.
Chef Travis Lett skips the predictable in favor of rustic Mediterranean dishes. We can't resist the rich, crumbly date scones laced with bacon bits. Wow. Coffee is good and strong, and just $3. Buckwheat pancakes with curds of ricotta in the dough are lavished with fat, wild blueberries. Ricotta gnocchi are dense and delicious, tossed in brown butter and drizzled with truffle honey. I'm crazy about the poached egg on soft polenta with long-braised Tuscan cabbage and bacon too. And the crispy fried egg with beautiful rosy prosciutto, a slash of vivid romesco sauce and a lemon-bright arugula salad. Lett makes every dish taste alive. Plus, there's a full complement of salads, pizzas and other plates from the regular menu available. And listen up, lazy late-risers, brunch here is served until 3 p.m.
Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 450-1429; http://www.gjelina.com. Brunch, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Brunch items, $7 to $16.
HUNGRY CAT. That first sip of Hungry Cat's "Schnockered Bloody Mary" should prod any sleepyheads awake. Made with Plymouth gin and garnished with house-pickled vegetables, it's full of veggie goodness and spicy as all get out. For something cool and sophisticated, try a glass of sparkling Cava with muddled grapes.
Tempted by everything on the weekend brunch menu, four of us take awhile to negotiate our order. The frittata of the day arrives in a cast-iron skillet loaded with lump crabmeat, baby shiitake mushrooms and slender asparagus. It's still a bit runny, the way it's done in Italy, and it's wonderful. Tweety's herb scramble is soft curds of egg mixed with fines herbes, Jack cheese, shallots and crème fraîche, a combination that makes delicious sense. Crab cake Benedict with black kale, house-smoked bacon and hollandaise is rich and satisfying. Seafood fritters are excellent too, served with nectarines, arugula and aioli for dipping. You can always have a splendid chilled seafood platter or the signature "pug burger." And for dessert, Suzanne Goin's chocolate bread and butter pudding.
Hungry Cat, 1535 Vine St., Hollywood; (323) 462-2155; http://www.thehungrycat.com. Brunch, from 11 a.m. Sunday. Also in Santa Barbara at 1134 Chapala St.; (805) 884-4701. Brunch 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Brunch items, $12 to $23.
LA MILL. On the weekend, LA Mill coffee boutique opens early, at 8 a.m., and even at 9, it is hardly crowded. The neighborhood evidently doesn't get up too early, so you can breeze in, get your coffee fix and something to eat, and then work it off walking around the reservoir.