Good mornings: Breakfast Republic opens in Carmel Valley

Johan Engman has learned that breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day but it can also be the most fun.

Engman recently opened up his sixth Breakfast Republic restaurant in the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch, serving up” tasty takes” on American classics such as Oreo Cookie pancakes, California Breakfast Burritos and S’mores French toast with a side of Jurassic Pork, thick-cut bacon marinated and baked with paprika and brown sugar.

He hopes it will be the destination locals and visitors think of as the perfect place to begin their days.

Breakfast Republic’s Asiago-Fennel Sausage Omelet
Breakfast Republic’s Asiago-Fennel Sausage Omelet Courtesy

While there are six Breakfast Republics throughout San Diego, Carmel Valley is the first location that they were able to build from scratch as all previous locations were remodeled restaurant spaces.

“Carmel Valley is a tremendous area for breakfast as it is much needed,” Engman said. “The opportunity to build our first ‘from scratch’ Breakfast Republic location at The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch seemed like a perfect fit.”

The result is what Breakfast Republic has come to be known for — a unique, bright and colorful design as creative and original as the menu. There are whisks in the light fixtures, funky yellow chairs, cracked egg seats on the outdoor patio, touches of roosters everywhere and BR-branded caps, t-shirts and coffee mugs, even the napkin wrappers are stamped with funny sayings.

A breakfast booth
A breakfast booth Courtesy

Engman was born and raised in northern Sweden and came to the United States with his mother at 16. By 17, he started off his career in the restaurant industry, working as a dishwasher. He worked his way up from busboy to server, saving money to open his own place. He opened his first Fig Tree Café in Pacific Beach in 2008 on a shoestring budget with plastic tables and chairs.

In 2008, the middle of the economic downturn, was “arguably the worst time to open a restaurant” but it turned out well and he was able to remodel his space and gain quite a following.

Engman opened his second Fig Tree location in Hillcrest in 2011 and his third at Liberty Station in 2014. He also briefly took over the old Pannikin space in Flower Hill Promenade, with Café Cantata.

Engman’s first Breakfast Republic location opened in July 2015 in North Park.

“I conceptualized Breakfast Republic from mistakes I made when creating Fig Tree Cafe. Fig Tree Cafe offers sandwiches, scrambles, salads, etcetera — too much for some to identify with the concept offering both breakfast and lunch items,” Engman said. “I wanted to create a concept where there was no confusion as to what the restaurant is about nor what it offers. Having the word ‘breakfast’ in the name of the restaurant makes room for no confusion and we only do one thing: Breakfast.”

That breakfast menu includes fresh takes on eggs benedicts, scrambles and omelets as well as unique items like Breakfast Bacon Mac n’ Cheese and bacon-wrapped Breakfast Hot Dogs.

For those having a hard time picking between between the Churro Pancakes or Lemon Coconut Pancakes or the Banana Split or Marscapone and Strawberry French Toast, Breakfast Republic offers pancake flights and French toast samplers to mix and match.

Cinnamon roll pancakes
Cinnamon roll pancakes (Courtesy)

The eatery serves up bottomless organic Breakfast Republic blend coffee, coffee flights and specialty lattes like Mexican Mocha and the BR Latte, a mix of vanilla, chai and mocha.

They also have a rotation of 20 beers on tap and offer specialty drinks such as mimosas, bloody Marys and one drink called the Heart Palpitation with rum, cold brew coffee, cane sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and orange oils.

Since 2015, the Breakfast Republic concept has been booming, expanding into Liberty Station and East Village, Encinitas and Ocean Beach. In September, plans were announced for the seventh Breakfast Republic in Pacific Beach, set to open in December.

Engman is keeping very busy — in early 2018 he will launch his newest breakfast concept: North Park Breakfast Company, a restaurant that will boast a unique menu featuring everything from guava-infused pancakes to bone marrow and chorizo topped with quail eggs.

For now, he is happy to bring lots of good mornings to the Village. “So far, the response has been tremendously positive,” Engman said. “The community has welcomed us with open arms and we are super happy to be part of Carmel Valley.”

Breakfast Republic is located at 6025 Village Way, Suite F101, San Diego, 92130. To learn more, visit