For more than five decades, breakfast has been served at the Craftsman-style bungalow on the corner of Aster Street and North Coast Highway. Formerly home to The Cottage Restaurant, the building was recently renovated by organic coffee house Urth Caffé, and the LA-based chain is continuing the morning meal tradition: In addition to coffee and tea drinks, Lagunans can enjoy a slew of breakfast entrees exclusive to the company’s first Orange County location.
While Urth’s five other cafes poach their eggs and oven-bake their omelets, a griddle in Laguna allows for eggs cooked any style; it’s also the only one offering sides of tender, thick-cut bacon. Other exclusive entrees include house-made pancakes—the gluten-free white corn variety topped with acacia honey butter is as light as it is fluffy—and French toast: An organic corn flake-crusted iteration is served with lemon zest-infused whipped cream that begs to be dolloped on every bite of brioche bread dredged in a batter of fresh cream and egg.
But the cafe is famous for its heirloom beverages, and for good reason: The Barcelona-inspired Spanish Lattè is a rich, smooth start to the morning, while the Moroccan tea latte is steaming with cool, creamy mint. Available exclusively at Urth, the latter’s organic matcha green tea is shade-grown in the Wazuka district of Japan before a six-month aging process. This and other loose leaf varieties—as well as the company’s freshly roasted coffee beans—are available for purchase in-house, or you can enjoy them infused into dishes like the green tea pancakes; a Spanish Lattè version topped with creamy espresso sauce and condensed milk is slated to hit the menu by spring.
With neither waiters nor reservations, set aside ample time to order at the counter and dine-in or take espresso to go, as owner Shallom Berkman says the cafe (which also serves lunch and dinner) is currently the busiest out of all the locations. While you wait, enjoy a seat on the patio, where original wood and seating alcoves have been uncovered and restored, in addition to the 1917 staircase at the front of the building. “This is the most beautiful Urth Caffé,” Shallom says of the location, and we’re inclined to agree. From the Swiss and Japanese architecture to the flavors served up in every plate and mug, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Laguna’s newest addition once again becomes, as Shallom hopes, “a Southern California landmark.”
Tip: Breakfast is served until 1 p.m. on weekdays, but late-risers can enjoy the meal until 2 p.m. on weekends.
—Written by Kristin Lee Jensen | Photos by Jody Tiongco