Birria Egg Rolls in OC
Credit: Katie Oswald

Craft House’s Legendary Birria Egg Rolls Unwrapped

Filling You in on the Egg Rolls in South OC You Didn’t Know You Needed

What do you get when you combine crispy fried wonton wrappers with juicy, tender spiced birria beef? A Craft House favorite that keeps locals coming back for more. Approachable yet upscale, Craft House in Dana Point serves homestyle Southern cuisine with an innately California flair that’s reflective of owner and Chef Blake Mellgren’s Orange County roots. The savory Birria Egg Rolls have been making quite the name for themselves in the restaurant scene. We unwrapped the recipe to find out how Chef Mellgren turned Craft House’s “best mistake” into their top selling appetizer.

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This unique twist on traditional Mexican taco meat is one of Craft House’s specialties that drives people to the Dana Point hub. Birria is traditionally served in soft-shell tacos or quesadillas, but Craft House’s crisp egg roll wrappers add a satisfying crunch to the smoky beef blend. Chef Mellgren describes this sublime juxtaposition as “modern-day Kogi truck style,” referring to the infamous Kogi Korean BBQ food truck fleet. The fried egg roll wrapper adds that necessary texture, which makes the birria appetizers the “the egg roll you never knew you needed,” vows Mellgren. Inside the flaky shell is a melting pot of braised short rib, peppers, spices and 

Oaxaca cheese makes these six-inch cylinders so flavorful.

Credit: Katie Oswald

Craft House’s Birria Egg Rolls have been at the top of the establishment’s menu for the past two years, but this craveable appetizer wasn’t always at the forefront of Chef Mellgren’s mind. It all started one morning at Craft House’s Sunday brunch. In attempts to rescue leftovers from the morning’s Birria Short-Rib Hash menu item, Mellgren and fellow Chef Keene Vasquez experimented with all kinds of birria dishes, including pasta.

Getting creative in the kitchen is not something Mellgren is afraid ofin fact, he relishes any opportunity to do so. “What we do differently than most is that we let people create. We push them out of the starting blocks and force them to create. Then, I will see how something was done and tweak from there,” explains Mellgren. The Birria Egg Roll was born out of experimentation. Now Craft House braises over 100 pounds of birria a week.

Birria Egg Rolls in OC
Credit: Katie Oswald

Prior to hitting guests’ plates, the Birria Egg Rolls are a labor of love that start with the filling. Short rib is slowly braised with dried guajillo peppers, cinnamon, garlic and spices. Three hours later, a tender and juicy birria base is left. A consomme dipping sauce for egg rolls is made using the broth from the braise, and the meat is shredded before being fried with peppers, onions and potatoes. Grated queso Oaxaca and a special housemade chili spice are combined with the birria to complete the flavor-packed filling before it is rolled tightly in an egg roll wrapper. The last step is to deep fry until golden and crispy.

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Hot out of the fryer, the egg rolls are served with a trio of savory dipping sauces: a thick avocado crema for that innately California spin, roasted tomato salsa for a refreshing bite and the consomme broth, which would be a crime to waste. Finally, the egg rolls are sliced at an angle, providing all the more surface area to dip and enjoy.

Birria Egg Rolls in OC
Credit: Katie Oswald

The craftsmanship behind Mellgren’s innovative egg rolls can be seen throughout the restaurant’s entire menu. “A lot of people think of craft beer when they hear our name. That’s the simple connotation. There’s more entendre in the name than there is anything. Craft refers to the craftsmanship that’s required to be a restaurant. The craft of the kitchen, the bar, even the craft of hospitality and serving. Craft House is that warm, comfortable environment—like you’re going over to your friends’ for dinner,” explains Mellgren.

This idea of going over to a friends’ place is reflected in the industrial design of the parlor-like dining room. Vintage mirrors and paintings adorn the walls and surround dark wooden tables and upholstered leather booths. The scene could be straight out of Shakespeare’s living room—if it were modern day. On the interior bookshelves are bottles of wine from around the globe intertwined with vintage artifacts, but the wine collection isn’t the only alcohol inventory to marvel at. Craft House’s bar is stocked with over 100 premium whiskeys. This curated collection includes rare and local finds, some of which Craft House only receives one bottle of per year.

Birria Egg Rolls in OC
Credit: Katie Oswald

As far as the cocktail menu goes, a seasonal margarita or mezcal-based elixir pairs best with the Birria Egg Rolls, but the Craft House Old Fashioned wins an honorary mention for its bittersweet harmony. The smooth, hard-hitting flavor is a stirred combination of Four Roses bourbon and house bitters in a smoked glass and garnished with a brûléed orange. Mellgren can be found at Craft House almost every night of the week greeting guests, in the kitchen and running the behind-the-scenes show. Find him and Craft House’s Birria Egg Rolls, featured on their brunch and dinner menu, any time of day!

Credit: Katie Oswald

Birria Egg Rolls Ingredients: 

Birria (short rib, guajillos, spices, stock)
Queso Oaxaca
Bell Peppers
Poblano Peppers
Red Onion
Potato
Consomme (braising liquid from birria)
Avocado Crema (avocado, cilantro, serrano, lime, sour cream)
Roasted Tomato Salsa (tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro)

Craft House
34094 E Pacific Coast Hwy
Dana Point, CA 92629
949.481.7734
@eatatcrafthouse

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Lover of the beach, food and fitness, Emily enjoys exploring all sunny Southern California has to offer! She has a passion for sharing about her favorite local gems and began writing for Locale in 2022. On the weekends, find her creating recipes for her food blog or out in Laguna!
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