ORANGE COUNTY BRUNCH GUIDE

Written By: Minerva Thai
Photography By: Duc Duong

The clink of champagne flutes and the clatter of silver utensils upon porcelain plates set the tone as we look out at the picturesque horizon on the Pacific. Is this what a Sunday morning in Southern California feels like? Last week, we sat at a reclaimed wood table and stared at platters of sumptuous food, more hearty than elegant but luxurious in ingredients. Our friend slid over a towering Bloody Mary, filled to the brim with peppery tomato and impaled with an ambitious skewer of salt, brine and seafood. We had planned next weekend to have a morning of waiting, plate in hand, through a buffet line for all-you-care-to-eat specialties and customized pancakes. How were these all categorized as the same “meal” type? Different stacks for different packs, we suppose.

In the ranks of culinary portmanteau, words such as the whimsical “spork” and compromising “tofurkey, ” while brunch—the combination of breakfast and lunch—seems most beloved. We talk about it for the experience and titter about the perfect dishes or alcoholic deals at restaurants (bottomless mimosas anyone?). Instead of “Ladies Who Lunch, ” it is a meal time about “Families/Couples/Friends Who Brunch.” That might just be where the commonalities end though. As we crawled through Orange County region by region, we found ourselves delving into a wide range of brunch styles from simple to lavish, rustic to modern, sober to alcohol-friendly. Though not all-encompassing, this guide should serve as a detailed outline of some of the top brunches to be found around town and their stories. It can help you plan out your weekends, because the last thing you’d want to do after sleeping in is scramble for reservations.

La Vida Cantina

Let Sunday Funday begin! Join a lively crowd at La Vida Cantina and indulge in their brunch menu. Their Breakfast Tostaditas are a great wake up call. Crispy tortillas topped with refried black beans, poached eggs, succulent shredded pork, avocado, tomatillo sauce, Mexican cream and cotija cheese. Other options such as Pan crepes or Izzy’s French Toast are a sweet start to your morning, with fresh berries and crispy jalapeno bacon on the side. Bottomless Bloody Marys and Champagne are a welcome treat on their menu, but their Sexymosa and La Vida Cruda are real show stoppers as well.

SOCIAL Costa Mesa

SOCIAL Costa Mesa is an ingredient-focused restaurant with delectable dishes and cocktails—all with the freshest ingredients. And on Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., SOCIAL offers a fantastic brunch menu. From savory dishes like the Breakfast Burger and the Social Benedict to the sweet plates like the Cinnamon French Toast and Handmade Cinnamon Donuts with Horchata Glaze (served with vanilla ice cream!), this is a brunch must. Don’t forget the craft brunch libations! You’ll want a couple of either The house Bloody Mary’s or General’s Coffee with rum, vanilla, expresso and chocolate bitters.

@SocialCostaMesa
512 W 19th St.
Costa Mesa, Ca 92627
760.695.2487

 
 
El Torito

Looking for a Mexican buffet with a variety of classics and traditional dishes? El Torito restaurants are in multiple cities, serving up their Sunday Brunch Buffet to crowds every week. With both Mexican and American choices on the menu, guests take pleasure in the ability to pick and choose what will fill their plates. Omelets are made to order and a do-it-yourself taco bar with handmade tortillas gives free reign to adults and children alike. Endless champagne is used with their aguas frescas for fresh bottomless mimosas. If you want a bit more traditional, one of their most popular items is actually the menudo, a warm dish that many do appreciate. With such a brunch spread, it is easy to see why many choose to visit El Torito.

 
The Crow Bar and Kitchen
 

During the brunch hours, The Crow Bar and Kitchen’s window lighting creates a more open air, and we spotted a menu that is close to 50 percent breakfast and 50 percent lunch with set items ranging from building one’s own scramble and omelet to ordering one of many award-winning burgers. We sat down and explored several dishes from the menu that encompassed some of the most popular dishes. The Crow Bar’s Eggs Benedict took advantage of the recent food trend by using pork belly in place of the traditional Canadian bacon, a solid substitution that satisfies a morning’s salty desire in another fashion. Their Breakfast Burrito gave a nod to Orange County’s large Mexican influence and the Californian popular produce by using thick slices of fresh avocado. Of course, the classic and simple yet beloved All American Breakfast consisting of fried eggs, crispy bacon, sausage links and home fries came out too and was a solid plate. For those wanting more than a disappointing fast food breakfast sandwich, opt for The Crow Bar’s Breakfast Sandwich, a towering creation involving a grilled English muffin, sausage, bacon, ham and runny egg. Glorious.

If the food is not enough, the full bar is also put to use during the brunch hours in the forms of a house-driven Bloody Mary and assorted cocktails. The Bloody Mary had quite the kick and is perfect for those seeking the heat of an infused Serrano pepper vodka drink. Another popular cocktail, the Salty Dog, takes advantage of grapefruit juice to awaken the senses and make the meal feel more like breakfast (it counts as a healthy option if there is juice, right?).

Brunch seekers, look out for rotating specials on the wall when you come in and make plans for Easter brunch at The Crow Bar if you are in need of good food with good beer.

2325 E Coast Hwy
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
949.675.0070
 

 

ECCO Pizzeria & Bar

Braving the parking lot at The CAMP during a Friday night would not be the best idea, but coming by on a weekend morning may bring better luck for a spot. You would not want to overlook the tucked-away location of ECCO Pizzeria & Bar, a restaurant providing locally sourced, organically grown ingredients for their Italian food and passionate about serving “fresh, soulful food.” Executive Chef Carlos Abarca’s brunch menu reads at about 50 percent typical breakfast items and 50 percent lunch items (with, of course, plenty of pizza options). If you don’t want to select an entree, there are some pre-selected Specials via the Americano and Sobeca Brunch. However, if you know what you already want and need alcohol to wash it down, shoot for their Kegs & Eggs, an option that pairs any brunch item with an endless pint of Peroni. Can’t decide between breakfast and lunch? Have both by choosing from the Pizza + Eggs section!

2937 Bristol St, Ste A103
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714.444.ECCO
 
 
TAPS Fish House and Brewery

Do you love seafood? TAPS Fish House and Brewery sure does, and they make no effort to hide their enthusiasm for brunch. Though many may think of this restaurant as a Happy Hour and dinner type of establishment, they do not understand the full picture. The whole restaurant transforms on Sundays for their aptly named Brunch Extravaganza, and what a party it is. Though there is much to swoon over, the most popular section of the brunch is predictably so but no less amazing. Where else might one find an all-you-care-to-eat oyster bar? Oysters are freshly shucked and laid out beautifully on a bed of ice for guests to pick and enjoy.

Make sure to save room for traditional items such as pancakes and waffles, and definitely include artisan cheeses and fresh fruit to your platter. Made-to-order Bananas Foster will be waiting for you when you are done.

101 E Imperial Hwy
Brea, CA 92821
714.257.0101
 
Haute Cakes Caffe

Their logo cutely displays “Breakfast. Lunch. Pastries. With Love” underneath the H (spatula) C graphic. They solely focus on pre-dinner dishes and are not open for the late afternoons or evenings. The name is the restaurant’s riff on pancakes; every one is a haute cake, and there are several variations. If you are hankering for a classic, go for their Buttermilk Haute Cakes. Those a bit more adventurous may want to explore the Blueberry Cornmeal Haute Cakes or the Orange Ricotta Haute Cakes. Whichever route you choose, make sure to dig in with gusto and enjoy the accompanying maple syrup, fresh fruit and butter. Not feeling pancakes? Opt for their large menu of scrambles, sandwiches and salads.

1807 Westcliff Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660
949.642.4114
 
 
Plum’s Cafe & Catering

A local favorite, Plum’s Cafe frequently finds itself with more than enough hungry brunch guests. For more than twenty years, the restaurant has featured a Northwestern-styled menu and the side service of catering and event planning. As a diner, you get to choose from a list of entrees with the option of adding in-house coffee or tea along with an alcoholic brunch cocktail of choice for an additional price. There are also specialty cocktails you could order as well. What are some iconic dishes of the Northwest style? Try for the Williamette Hazelnut Pancakes with Marion berry compote or their Alderwood Smoked Salmon Hash. For the wow! factor, though, you might have to consider sitting tight and waiting about 20 minutes for an order of their Famous Dutch Baby, a monstrous deep dish pancake skillet with powdered sugar and lemon that is surely bigger than your head.

369 E 17th St, Ste 7
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949.722.plum
 
LUCCA Cafe

The brunch menu at LUCCA Cafe is primarily driven by the comforts of homemade food and memories. One of the most popular dishes—the Eggs in Purgatory—was one that Chef Cathy Pavlos loved growing up. Made by her Italian grandmother with zucchini and san cheese of avocado, this dish would contain lovingly coddled eggs surrounded by a spicy tomato sauce and was often eaten after church on Sundays. Another popular dish—the Pain Perdu aka French toast—is made with challah bread instead of stale bread from the night before. Drizzled with orange crème fraîche and Vermont maple syrup, the pain perdu is easily a practice in self-restraint for any person ordering it. Thick and sweet, the challah bread gives a different spin to the familiar French toast and surely turns heads. If you want more traditional, check out their impressively large Cinnamon Roll. As Pavlos says, “We’ve got big buns here and we like it.” These immense rolls are made of lacquered Danish dough smeared with a secret cinnamon sugar power combination. These bundles proof overnight to provide the best quality buns around town. 

Brunch here is more relaxed and more slowly paced than other brunches possibly due to its a la carte menu style. With an open kitchen, the restaurant showcases their chefs and the preparation behind each dish. For those seeking libations of any sort during brunch, there are several options from their extensive wine list to choose from as well as sparkling cocktails and fresh juice concoctions. Try for their hibiscus when possible and you might find something to love.

6507 Quail Hill Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92603
949.725.1773
 
The Porch

Primarily listed as a breakfast menu, the dishes available in the morning time slots for the weekend certainly lean more towards the eggs and bacon crowd, but there are more savory lunch-like dishes at The Porch. Consider that they have Chicken & Waffles (fried chicken breast served with a Belgian waffle and hot maple syrup) and even sandwiches during breakfast. If you want what the locals rave for, though, you have to go with their Signature Eggs Benedict and the option of having bottomless mimosas, because hey, who doesn’t want runny eggs and endless alcoholic juice on a Sunday morning?  The restaurant is focused on being THE place for locals with craft drinks and great food that isn’t too casual or formal.

508 29th St
Newport Beach, CA 92663
949.673.1600
 
Zinc Cafe & Market
 

With three locations (two of which are in Orange County), Zinc Cafe is no stranger to breakfast. Known for their market and full cafe style menu, the restaurant does not have brunch in a traditional sense where you sit down to eat; there are plenty of grab-and-go options. If you are searching, however, for that experience, there is patio seating space available sometimes. To those browsing the extensive menu, they may not realize that Zinc Cafe is a vegetarian (though not vegan) eatery, because it is not explicitly publicized anywhere. They just aim to make good food that also happens to be vegetarian. You will see egg dishes, cereals, sandwiches, salads and pizzettes on the menu. We’re eyeing those quiches and frittatas ourselves.

350 Ocean Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
3222 E Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

 

Early Bird Cafe
 

Early Bird Cafe follows its name well, opening seven days a week from about 6:30 a.m. and open until the early afternoon to hungry early risers. Owners Marcelo Caraveo and Charles Menzies created the restaurant to be the “first movers in the brunch space that made an effort to elevate the cuisine.” The menu is driven by focus on the best available produce and proteins from organic, sustainable and local sources when possible/available. Transparency in quality is key to Early Bird, which receives its ingredients daily and does not own a freezer. The dishes are American in cuisine with hints of international influences such as poutine (French Canadian) and French toast. Ultimately, though, the goal for the chef is that “it has to be delicious.”

We recommend their most popular dish, the Eggs Benedict. They are proud overall of all versions of eggs cooked at Early Bird but they claim their eggs benedict to be the best in town if not California. Composed of a butter-toasted English muffin, quality speck, perfectly poached eggs and a from-scratch hollandaise spiked with a smidgeon of Sriracha, the eggs benedict are something else and certainly a plate with zip. Their monster of French toast is also well-liked and heavily ordered. Imagine receiving a plate of two thick blocks of brioche soaked in egg, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg. Spread with orange butter, housemade applesauce, toasted almonds and orange segments, this is a French toast not too sweet or heavy and easily finished by one person.

1000 B E Bastanchury Rd
Fullerton, CA 92835
714.529.4100

 

Nick’s Laguna Beach
 

The breakfast menu is small at Nick’s Laguna Beach, one of four restaurants in the Nickco Hospitality Group, but it has strong, savory dishes. Just fewer than 15 dishes are featured during these early hours, but each one should hit a flavor profile that someone does enjoy. Take for example their Fried Chicken & Waffle Stack (with sausage gravy, maple syrup and Nueske’s bacon), rumored to have the same mix as Bruxie waffles, and their Short Rib Benedict—do those not sound hearty to you? If that is not enough to get you going, grab a cup of quality joe to wake up your morning. Nick’s carries Stumptown Coffee, a local craft coffee brewer that has stolen many hearts.

440 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949.376.8595
 
 
Madison Square & Garden Cafe

Need to do some eclectic shopping while you dine? A quaint restaurant that has a storefront of unique home and garden gifts, Madison Square & Garden Cafe is set in a beautiful backyard garden and is dog-friendly for those canine lovers around. When visiting, order at the counter before taking a look-see around the shelves and displays of quirky products. The locals enjoy the Madison Rancheros (crisp corn tortillas with black beans, sunny side up eggs, avocado salsa, Jack cheese and sour cream) and the uncommon German Apple Pancake (thinly sliced and sautéed Granny Smith apples mixed in a German batter and topped with cinnamon and brown sugar). If those are not quite your style, there are several salads and sandwiches on the menu, complete with punny section titles such as “Lettuce Present Our Salads.”

320 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949.494.0137
 
Old Vine Cafe
 

Nestled in the natural greens and rusty browns of The CAMP in Costa Mesa, Old Vine Cafe is poised and ready for guests seeking a quaint and secluded dining experience. Searching for popular dishes? Those in highest demand are the omelets. Their approach is to “try to get creative with the flavors and maybe bring in some non-traditional flavors…a little bit different. A little bit exciting but at the same time, not over the top and approachable.” There is a Goat Omelet made with Pepperjack and slow-cooked goat. There is a nostalgia-inspired Pizza Omelet with housemade meatballs, Mozzarella and hearty tomato sauce. Salty omelet lovers would greatly enjoy the Smoked Salmon Omelet with dill and Havarti cheese. At 2-3 eggs per omelet, Old Vine Cafe easily serves up more than 1, 000 eggs per day.

They also feature a “comfort” section during brunch, which includes the likes of Biscuits and Gravy in multiple ways for different palates (there is a chipotle gravy for you heat-heads!). Seasonal French toasts and crepes keep the menu rotating and relevant – our taste of his Cheese Mousse Crepes is heavenly. If you’re game, there are also more exotic meats to look through including a Rabbit Mole, a glorious plate with cashew and chile mole over braised rabbit and paired with housemade cornbread.

In regards to alcohol during brunch, have no fear. Their extensive and carefully selected wine list can keep you busy the whole time but if you are looking for more traditional brunch cocktails, these are available as well. Their Bloody Mary is made with soju for less bite, and their mimosas come in an amazing assortment of sparkling wines. With his love for pairings, Chef Mark McDonald ensures the best.

2937 Bristol St, Ste A102
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714.545.1411

 

Mollie’s Country Kitchen

Mom-and-pop shops are what make communities go ’round, and Mollie’s Country Kitchen is one of those places. We say they do brunch on the weekends, but they specialize in breakfast it seems, so brunch runs just about every day of the week. Though the interior may seem severely outdated to the eyes, the menu would have to be the enticing element, and in this case, to the tongue. Locals claim that Mollie’s Country Kitchen does Mexican breakfast very well and can also produce a good Country Skillet. We say not to judge a restaurant by its interior (except in cleanliness of course) but let the food do the talking. If you are in the area, drop by and fill up!

27932 La Paz Rd, Ste M
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
949.643.9174
 
 
Stacks Pancake House

With a name like Stacks, how could a person not expect breakfast foods? However, this restaurant does not stay with the stagnant breakfast items that have been done over and over again. Their menu reflects a mishmash of varying cultural influences, and locals most particularly note their affinity for Hawaiian-inspired dishes. Their Kalua Pork Omelet (Kalua pork, onion, Cheddar Jack, and chipotle ranchero sauce) is a popular pick there as is their Captain Mac Nut French Toast (made with King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread, Captain Crunch cereal and macadamia nut). If you are craving some more Hawaiian flair after an early morning of surfing, dig into their Loco Moco, a typical Hawaiian dish that encompasses just all the breakfast foods you need in different style—choice of hamburger patty, spam or Portuguese sausage paired with two eggs, gravy and steamed rice. How’s that stack up for size?

27680 Marguerite Pkwy, Ste C
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
949.218.4600
 
SideDoor

Sidling up along the stucco wall, we found our way to SideDoor off of Pacific Coast Highway. For several years, the restaurant has served brunch and began doing so after Five Crowns had ceased theirs. The menu has a balanced mix of 50 percent breakfast-oriented items and 50 percent lunch-oriented items, making for a location to please all walks of life. The most popular dishes during lunch are their Prime Rib Sandwich, Green Eggs and Ham Benedict, Cheese and Charcuterie boards and Fried Chicken and Buttermilk Waffles. Though one might see recognizable names, each traditional breakfast and lunch dish has been given a spin resulting in a fresh perspective on what it means to order a certain plate. Their warm hospitality and service seemed to put diners at ease, and we were grateful for their guidance. Worth noting is also their attention to providing craft cocktails during the brunch hours rather than the default Bloody Mary or mimosa (though they do have a bottomless option of this).

To get a better sense of the breadth of their fare, we sought out a few drinks. The seasonally rotating cocktail list is a compilation of the bartenders’ analysis for upcoming seasons and trends, and only the most liked of all suggestions make it to the menu. What you might see in one month could differ from the next month. The Mexican 75 made with Blanco tequila, grapefruit juice, peach bitters and champagne, was a nod to the French 75 but with Mexican spin. The SideDoor Bottomless Mimosa could appease those of you looking for a value-driven choice. This is served beautifully with Brut cava and a flight of seasonal fruit juices (orange, grapefruit, cranberry and pineapple at our visit), making for a popular and interactive way for guests to play bartender. Most common combination? Cranberry and the cava. A bite of their Green Eggs & Ham Benedict (green hollandaise sauce created with pureed spinach) revealed why it is one of their most popular dishes. We highly recommend this one for its herbaceous flavors and savory saltiness. Don’t forget the cheese and meat either though—grab a board of three choices or five choices, whichever tickles your fancy.

The SideDoor brunch is a la carte but with every dish being delectably savory; we recommend arriving with plenty of food-sharing friends in tow so that you can experience everything.

3801 E Coast Hwy
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
949.717.4322

 

Ramos House Cafe

An historic house from 1881, the Ramos House Cafe attracts guests from all places for its vintage feel and close-knit environment. It makes a person feel as if they are at a bed-and-breakfast; the owner lives in the house, the garden provides many of the ingredients, and the wines are kept in the cellar below. During the weekends, they serve only the brunch menu and for one set price “regardless of age, race, color, or creed.” If you want to partake in such an atmosphere of history and American cuisine, choose to go during brunch where they have a prix fixe choice-of menu granting the option of a drink, appetizer and entree per person (dessert is extra). We hear that the Bloody Mary is strongly recommended by visitors, as is the unique Apple Beignets. Consider this a getaway type of morning.

31752 Los Rios St
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
949.443.1342
 
 
Royal Khyber

For more than 30 years, Chef and Proprietor Arun Puri has been preparing fine Indian cuisine in Orange County at Royal Khyber. Their buffet brunch is popular among families and features various salads, soups and dumplings, housemade pickles and yogurts, tandoori breads and kebabs as well as chef’s choice entrees with the option of free flowing champagne for an additional cost. If you have not been exposed to tandoors (clay ovens), the Sunday Family Brunch may be where you want to be as you can see the mesquite-charcoal fired breads. Popular items include their Eggplant Salad, Tandoori Chicken, and Lamb Seekh Kebabs. It is the combination in one meal of savory, sweet, sour and spicy that can keep any diner happy.

1621 W. Sunflower Avenue
Santa Ana, CA 92704 
714.436.1010
 
Memphis Cafe

Co-Founder and Executive Chef Diego Velasco opened Memphis Cafe in August 1995 near the corner of Bristol and Baker in Costa Mesa with partners Dan Bradley and Andy Christenson to bring the southern style of food to the Orange County area. Popular dishes are primarily the southern home-style dishes—an option that not many have to select in Orange County. Velasco was introduced to the cuisine not on location but through living with others born and raised in the South; their frequent gatherings with friends led to constant exposure to southern classics, which he learned along the way. After culinary training, he could then add a gourmet twist to these traditional dishes that gives guests the fine dining experience in the food itself and not necessarily the restaurant setting. We fawn over the infamous Southern Eggs Benedict, which causes my eyes to roll back in happiness upon first bite. The combination of poached eggs, sliced corned beef and grilled brioche with a hot pepper hollandaise and atop a crisp potato hash proves to be effective in wooing anyone over. The Fried Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Waffles with maple syrup and country gravy hearkens to the South with crunchy and savory love. Even a dish as basic as Buttermilk Pancakes finds its fans that can choose to top theirs with cinnamon apples, baked bananas or mixed berries. If you are searching for even more southern classics, put in an order for their Crawfish Omelet, which incorporates crawfish tail meat and the fatty innards from the heads into the egg mixture. In terms of drinks, you’ll find a deal for $4 mimosas and $6 Bloody Marys but do not overlook their expert cocktail list.

2920 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

 

Break of Dawn
 

Previously the Executive Sous Chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Owner and Executive Chef Dee Nguyen had honed his culinary skills through various kitchen experiences after having started cooking in college. Trained at the California Culinary Academy, he strengthened his talent and perfected it for a future in fine dining but due to sudden medical complications with his son Berlin, that fine dining concept shifted from dinner to breakfast.

We start in on the dishes next and see the international influences in every single part. It is methodically chosen to work out and expertly executed; let’s break them down. The Smoked Salmon comes with an oatmeal galette (French crusty cake) made with oatmeal soaked in milk overnight, a relish of fennel (with seed) and cucumber, and preserved kumquat caper mayo. An herb poached egg finishes everything off nicely with its savory runny yolk. The Lamb is a ragout featuring leg of lamb braised overnight with sumac (Middle Eastern), spätzle (German), tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, English peas, arugula, cauliflower, olives, Feta cheese (Greek), pepitas (Mexican) and 63-degree egg (a slow poach used frequently in Japanese cuisine). Seasonal vegetables govern the fresh ingredients as well but he jokingly points out that with all of the cuisines on the plate, it is a Vietnamese chef of all people who puts them there. If you want to order his Bloody Mary, be prepared to sip down a drink made with wasabi, soju, pickled green beans and bacon. Yes, it is delicious.

24351 Avenida De La Carlota #N-6
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
949.587.9418

 

Crema Cafe 

A European-inspired restaurant in downtown Seal Beach, Crema Cafe attracts droves of brunch-seekers who just want to have good breakfast food. With its own bakery, the restaurant provides fresh baked goods on a daily basis, which you can take to-go or order during your meal. A pet-friendly patio allows those walking by to see what guests are eating and perhaps tempts them inside whether for a famous crepe or omelet. Each vibrant dish demonstrates the health-forward thinking of the menu and the short walk to the beach reemphasizes this mindset. If you want to go for a walk down the shore after brunch, visit Crema Cafe. Maybe you’ll even consider their Smoked Salmon Benedict or their Croque Madame.

322 Main St
Seal Beach, CA 90740
562.493.2501
 
Anepalco’s Cafe

On paper, Anepalco’s Chilaquiles seems simple—tortilla chips, omelet-style eggs, a signature red sauce, cotija cheese, sour cream, avocado mousse and pico de gallo. On tongue, it is more complex than one could imagine, and we attribute it to the secret ingredients in their sauce, which is made with seven different peppers. On sight, it is beautiful and head-turning. The cult following for this dish is astounding and hard to believe at times but every bite just confirms how brilliantly the chef has turned around a dish once confined to the home and served mainly to bleary-eyed young ones by their mothers and grandmothers.

Understandably the most popular dishes come from the Mexican breakfast section of the menu. In addition to the signature chilaquiles, there is also a dish called Green Chilaquiles that capitalizes on gorgeous tomatillos and salsa verde. They pride themselves in providing ingredients such as huitlacoche that are unique and difficult to find in Orange County. We see Chef Danny Godinez’s own diverse skill set in a Mexican Truffle Burger made with eight ounces of all-natural beef, Oaxaca cheese, white cabbage, iceberg lettuce, tomato and huitlacoche aioli. He shows us his favorite and newest dish, the Huevos Perdidos, which is a riff on coddled eggs that come with roasted potatoes, bacon, pan-seared duck and a kick-you-in-the-mouth spicy tomato sauce.  Also popular are their various enchiladas and eggs benedict variations. For drinks, give a nod to their inclusion of Mexican flavors by ordering their Guava Mimosa. You’ll like it. Promise.

3737 W Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92868
415 S. Main St., Orange, CA 92868

 

Rialto Cafe
 

Featuring black and white photos of downtown Fullerton’s Rialto Theatre on its walls from the early 1900s, Rialto Cafe stands nearby its namesake and embodies a retro charm that brings in curious guests who fall in love with the atmosphere. Black and white is used artfully to create a welcoming, simplistic atmosphere that focuses on their gourmet cafe dining and eye for design. Here, brunch is not a separately designated menu, but rather, an overlap of hours between Breakfast and Lunch options. Seek out their Stuffed French Toast (mascarpone stuffed in a French baguette and topped with seasonal fruit, whipped cream and crème anglaise) for a treat or their Rialto Rancheros (baguette slices topped with a sundried tomato spread, fried eggs and aged Blue cheese) if you want the locals’ favorites.

108 W Wilshire Ave
Fullerton, CA 92832
714.525.5111

 

AVEO Table + Bar

Monarch Beach Resort’s newest dining experience, AVEO Table + Bar boasts traditional dishes we love, with a Mediterranean concept—always seasonal, always fresh. With beautiful décor, stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, and al fresco seating that gives guests a front and center ocean view, AVEO Table + Bar makes a statement from the moment you enter. Executive Chef Collin Thornton’s cuisine makes an impression just as memorable, though, with Mediterranean menu items like their Tuna Nicoise Salad—filled with colorful heirloom cherry tomatoes, poached Yellow-fin Tuna, vibrant Haricot Vert, fingerling potatoes, olive oil and a flavorful Oregano Vinaigrette—you will be transported to aquamarine waters and a warm breeze in no time. AVEO Table + Bar gains recognition by taking advantage of resort-grown herbs and vegetables when crafting their cocktails as well. Brunch has never been better with a selection of crab and oysters, Eggs Benedict Florentine and a decadent sweets table to end the festivities.

One Monarch Beach Resort
Dana Point, CA 92629
949.234.3900

 

About The Author

Minerva Thai

"Her card will tell you to “Eat My Words,” and her articles will demand it. Minerva Thai loves to write and her site, muchadoaboutfooding.com, is a potluck of her own original recipes, perspective on restaurants, and adventures at culinary events. Curiosity about food stirs her creativity which she enjoys sharing. Connect on Facebook at Much Ado About Fooding."

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