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Brunch a Bunch Across OC!

OC's best brunches: The ethnic, the gorgeous views and the bottomless booze!

Rick's Atomic Cafe
To be clear, Rick LeBlanc stops serving his breakfast at around 11, give or take an hour, so technically, his Atomic Cafe doesn't do brunch. And he's only open weekdays, which puts a damper on the weekend ritual we're talking about here. But we're including him just the same because more than once, he has cooked us an egg breakfast at the same time he made us a sandwich. He'll do it because he's a nice guy, a food nerd with horned-rimmed glasses and a buzz cut that makes him look more like a NASA engineer than a cook. He'll salt things with care and put in some elbow grease to hand-squeeze a dozen oranges just so he can give you one glass brimming with pulp. And oh, Rick's potatoes! The cubed spuds burst with flavor, steam and other intangible toe-curling properties. It's worth taking the morning off from your workday and calling your lunch a brunch. 3100 Airway Ave., Ste. 113, Costa Mesa, (714) 825-0570; www.ricksatomiccafe.com.

Irvine Farmers' Market
While University Plaza is full of places to get great brunches—Britta's Cafe, Le Diplomate, Cha for Tea, Peet's Coffee, Lee's Sandwiches, etc.—on Saturdays, the best way to eat is to graze while walking up and down the aisles of the huge Irvine Farmers Market held on its parking lot from 8 a.m. to noon. While fruit samples are the obvious choice, pair them with a packet of granola from Sconeage Bakery and Greek yogurt from Soledad Goats. Buy brioche from Picket Lane Bakery, and add apple butter from Ha's Apple Farm. If you want food prepared for you, there are tamales and Vietnamese rice-paper wraps. And just try walking past Blackmarket Bakery without stopping. For that morning pick-me-up, there's usually fair-trade coffee available in the aisle with Dry Dock Fish and 5 Bar Beef. Campus Drive and Bridge Road, Irvine; orange.cfbf.com/cfm.htm.

Sugar Shack
The real surfers of OC hit the waves before the tourist mobs and the groms invade, but Main Street is pretty dead—except for the Sugar Shack. Grab a table outside if you can, and abuse the free refills of coffee while you watch Surf City wake up. The food is standard American-diner brunch fare, from pancake plates and egg plates to tuna melts and burgers; the omelets are the best bet. While nobody in his right mind would describe it as quiet—it's usually uproarious—it's pretty bro-free and laidback, a slice of old Huntington Beach before the huge development of the late 1990s. 213 1/2 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 536-0555; www.hbsugarshack.com.

Taqueria Zamora
Meranda Carter
Taqueria Zamora

Location Info

Map

The Ritz-Carlton

1 Ritz-Carlton Way
Dana Point, CA 92629

Category: Hotels and Resorts

Region: Dana Point

River's End Cafe

15 First St.
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Category: Restaurant > Caribbean

Region: Seal Beach

Bruxie

292 N. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866

Category: Restaurant > Belgian

Region: Orange

The Restaurant At the Tustin Ranch Golf Club

12442 Tustin Ranch Road
Tustin, CA 92782

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Tustin

Storytellers Cafe

1600 S. Disneyland Drive Anaheim, CA
Anaheim, CA 92802

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Anaheim

Rick's Atomic Cafe

3100 Airway Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Costa Mesa

Irvine Certified Farmers' Market

Campus Drive and Bridge Road
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Retail

Region: Irvine

Sugar Shack Cafe

213 1/2 Main St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Huntington Beach

Taqueria Zamora

3121 S. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92707

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Santa Ana

Amorelia Mexican Cafe

2200 Harbor Blvd., C110
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Costa Mesa

El Cabrito

1604 W. First St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Santa Ana

Crystal Jade

6511 Quail Hill Parkway
Irvine, CA 92614

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Irvine

King Lobster Palace

2045 N. Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92865

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Orange

Champion Food Co.

17090 Magnolia St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Fountain Valley

Tacos El Chavito

301 E. Florida Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Huntington Beach

Tacos El Chavito

Morgan St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Huntington Beach

Kareem's Restaurant

1208 S. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Anaheim

Pinoy Fiesta

160 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92805

Category: Restaurant > Filipino

Region: Anaheim

Irvine China Garden

14825 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, CA 92618

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Irvine

Pho 86 Restaurant

14576 Brookhurst St.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Westminster

Jang Mo Gip

9816 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Garden Grove

Loreley Restaurant

1340 S. Sanderson Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92806

Category: Restaurant > German

Region: Anaheim

Plum's Café and Catering

369 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: Costa Mesa

Break of Dawn Restaurant

24351 Avenida De La Carlota, Ste. N-6
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: Laguna Hills

Ramos House Cafe

31752 Los Rios St.
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: San Juan Capistrano

Taco Rosa

2632 San Miguel Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Newport Beach

Taco Rosa

13792 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92602

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Irvine

TAPS Fish House & Brewery

101 E. Imperial Highway
Brea, CA 92821

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Brea

Lucca Cafe

6507 Quail Hill Parkway
Irvine, CA 92603

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Irvine

Nick's Laguna Beach

440 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Laguna Beach

Old Vine Cafe

2937 Bristol St., Ste. A-102
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Costa Mesa

Avanti Cafe

259 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Fusion

Region: Costa Mesa

Details

* * *

BRUNCH WITH YOUR IMMIGRANT PALS

Taqueria Zamora
This dive at the southern edge of Santa Ana is busy from morning until night with locals and workers, but the weekend brunch hour brings out families from across Orange County who have a mami who doesn't want to cook that day. The menu is straightforward home cooking—huevos rancheros and huevos with chorizo, steaming bowls of menudo or birria, and tacos as big as your palm. But the most popular dish during this hour is the chilaquiles, a big mess of ripped-up tortilla strips that are lightly fried, then topped with an egg prepared your way and buried underneath a sea of red or green salsa. The beans and rice on the side are almost pointless, as the chilaquiles on their own are almost the best in Orange County. That's because . . . (read the next blurb!) 3121 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 557-0907; www.taqueriazamora.net.

Amorelia Mexican Café
. . . the best chilaquiles in Orange County are at Amorelia Mexican Café, an otherwise too-expensive Costa Mesa restaurant. The chilaquiles are not only cheaper than Zamora's take, but also delivered as a bigger serving and more refined. The eggs are artfully prepared instead of served as a glorious slop, and the tortilla chips achieve the impossible—a meeting between the just-hardened-and-fried pieces of a Mexican mother's chilaquiles and the softness of Zamora's. And the sauce—a tomato-based condiment that nevertheless sneaks up on unsuspecting sinuses—is as intricate as a harp. 2200 Harbor Blvd., Ste. C-110, Costa Mesa, (949) 646-1422.

El Cabrito
Menudo gets all the attention from gabachos when it comes to hangover-curing Mexican soups served on weekends, but it's birria that's the true beaut: roasted goat served in its drippings, furious and gamy and smelly and magnificent. Better yet, you don't have to be borracho to enjoy it, as evidenced by the families patronizing El Cabrito in Santa Ana every late morning (not just weekends). You can order the birria seca (shredded and dry), on the bone or in a soup, but always ask for the consommé on the side, so you can spike it with oil-based salsa, throw in some oregano and enjoy the greatest morning pick-me-up to your day since Cuban coffee. 1604 W. First St., Santa Ana, (714) 543-8461.

Crystal Jade
Dim sum restaurants come in two varieties: the traditional type where matronly ladies push steaming carts loaded with batches of food, or the type where you select off a menu and the chefs cook your food to order. Crystal Jade serves in the newer, order-off-a-menu style, so your siu mai, har gow and cha siu bao arrive piping-hot from the kitchen. As with a good cover band who know how to win over a new audience, the dim sum selection mostly focuses on the genre's greatest hits rather than the innovative-but-unfamiliar. The attractive room has the quiet, modern elegance of upscale Cantonese restaurants that have opened in the past decade in the Los Angeles region. 6511 Quail Hill Pkwy., Irvine, (949) 725-3368; cjasiandining.com.

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My Voice Nation Help
7 comments
Ben Baysic
Ben Baysic

Eric Rosenthal, Heather Filsinger-Cunliffe!!! What's for brunch???

OCLocal
OCLocal

A taco truck is not a brunch spot.

JP
JP

Jang Mo Gip is Korean....not Vietnamese.

VickieChang
VickieChang

Read the blurb again, it doesn't say it's Vietnamese.

 
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