Question: What kind of bear is the best? Black bear, obviously, or so says Jim Halpert in an episode of “The Office” where he dresses as Dwight Schrute. A visit to Black Bear Diner proved him right. The 15-minute wait to get a table at the El Cajon, California, location was worth it because it gave us the chance to take in the Northwoods cabin vibes and bear paraphernalia, including the retro bear wallpaper border straight out of the ‘90s. I fell in love with the newspaper-style menu, dubbed “The Black Bear Gazette,” which opened up to a huge food selection, from classic omelets and Bear’s Benedicts to blackened salmon. I got the Bear’s Choice with a sweet cream waffle topped with strawberries, powdered sugar and whipped cream, with two scrambled eggs and a side of fruit ($15.98). We also tried the Shasta Scramble—two eggs scrambled with avocado, bell peppers and jack cheese, with a side of country red potatoes sauteed with onions ($13.59). The large-portion meals, designed to send you home with leftovers, kept us full after our hike until dinnertime.
The upshot: The incredible service from our server—who was wearing bearpaw suspenders—rounded out the experience, which left us fully satisfied. —C.E.
As a teenager, I spent a lot of time at Perkins—a lot. Going back as an adult, I wasn’t expecting much. How could I, a proud member of the bougie, boozy brunch crowd, eat eggs without knowing the lineage of the chickens or the name of the happy pig upon whose leg I’m noshing? Perkins is the same as it ever was, though it no longer smells like stale cigarettes, which is nice. This particular suburban Minneapolis location was bright and clean. The food was pretty good, too. I got my lifelong hangover favorite: Granny’s Country Omelet. It was packed with veggies and ham, topped with some inelegant but delicious cheese sauce. The hash browns were the classic mix of crispy, fatty and starchy. Not exactly Insta- or TikTok-worthy, it’s diner food at scale and a good choice for everyday value. The service was fast and friendly as well.
The upshot: $16—roughly the cost of a slice of bacon in the millennial brunchiverse—isn’t bad for a hearty portion of breakfast foods and a coffee. And I grabbed a box of muffins for the office. (Buy three get three. Why not?) It was an easy and yummy $10 add-on. —N.U.
A self-described eggs Benedict connoisseur, I know a bad poach job when I see one. Thankfully that wasn’t a concern at Broken Yolk, where as a solo diner in San Diego and ensconced at a corner patio table I dug into my chicken and waffle Benedict without regard for appearances. Fluffy, slightly sweet Belgian waffles played host to two crispy chicken tenders, atop which perched two perfectly poached eggs. Hollandaise with just the right amount of tang finished the dish, which for $16.45 was among the more expensive items on Broken Yolk’s extensive menu. The pomegranate mimosa, meanwhile, was the ideal bubbly complement and it took some self-control not to order the full mimosa flight that also included orange juice, lemonade and grapefruit iterations. The restaurant was buzzing with brunchers on a Saturday and, while it appeared this location was short a server or two (show me a restaurant that isn’t), the atmosphere was pleasant and staff were attentive.
The upshot: Broken Yolk gets major points for execution on a busy Saturday and the food was as indulgent as advertised. The 34-unit franchise is working to expand, and if it makes it to Minneapolis has at least one fan. —L.M.