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Brunch a Bunch Across OC!

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

Pho 86
Pho—the assemble-it-yourself beef noodle soup—is the all-day breakfast of Vietnam. In the morning, when the broth is younger, the soup is lighter and easier to approach; by evening, after the broth has been replenished several times, it's deep and rich. While dozens of pho shops in Little Saigon open early, Pho 86, a sliver of restaurant located in a prototypical Westminster strip mall next to an unremodeled Albertsons, stands head and shoulders above the competition thanks to the meat, especially the sublime, quivering cubes—yes, cubes—of fatty brisket that soften in the hot soup and lend an unctuous sheen to the broth. 14576 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 839-4591.

Jang Mo Gip
Sulungtang is a soup prepared by simmering beef bones for 12 hours until they surrender their nutrients to a broth as murky as milk. The dish will bear comparisons to Vietnamese pho, Mexican birria and Japanese tonkotsu, but unlike those, it's ladled out and served where most soups begin—before it's seasoned. You season the brew from a vessel of sea salt and chopped scallions. Add just a pinch of salt, then taste; keep adding until you notice the soup transforming from dishwater to a rich, fully bloomed, buttery-rich, beefy elixir. A typical single-serving sulungtang contains shavings of brisket and some jiggly vermicelli noodles. Most of those who come to slurp this supposed-morning-after hangover tonic do it after dumping mounds of a potent garlic-powered kimchi into it, a kimchi that has garnered Jang Mo Gip coverage from coast to coast. 9816 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714)534-1340.

Loreley Restaurant at the Phoenix Club
It's easy to forget Anaheim was settled by Germans, given the United Nations-like diversity the city now boasts, but a taste of the old country lurks along the Santa Ana River. Best known for Oktoberfest, the Loreley Restaurant at the Phoenix Club also serves an outstanding Sunday brunch, and the German pancakes—thin, lacy creations wrapped around a lemon-flavored, fresh cheese filling—might be the best sweet breakfast in Orange County. The savories include a wide selection of hot and cold sausages, some cured in-house; eggs in a few preparations; sauerbraten with potatoes; and a hot carving station that usually serves ham and either roast beef or standing rib roast. The service is old-fashioned and gracious, and the room itself looks like a throwback to social clubs of the 1950s. 1340 S. Sanderson Ave., Anaheim, (714) 563-4164; www.thephoenixclub.com.

Ramos House Cafe
Meranda Carter
Ramos House Cafe
River's End Cafe
Meranda Carter
River's End Cafe

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

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BRUNCH WITH BOOZE

Plums Café
Plums Café serves food that's distinctly Pacific Northwestern, a grub devised to fortify lumberjacks and other hardy souls against damp weather and rugged terrain. Dutch babies, its signature brunch item, is described as a deep-dish pancake, but with its girth and puffiness, it can double as Paul Bunyan's shower cap. And, of course, there is smoked salmon, scented of sweet alderwood and tossed into a chunky hash with red potatoes, onions and peppers. To this, a poached egg with Hollandaise makes the plate perfect for an Oregonian day, whether it's jamming with a grunge band or hauling lumber. 369 E. 17th St., Ste. 7, Costa Mesa, (949) 722-7586; www.plumscafe.com.

Break of Dawn
Dee Nguyen is no stranger to lists like these. As far as this rag is concerned, the former Ritz-Carlton chef who struck out on his own to create OC's preeminent brunch stop in the shadow of the Laguna Hills Mall is the Godfather of Brunch. Who knew that what we've been missing all these years is the thing he calls tempura-poached egg? Or that Portuguese sausage, scallion purée and pickled green papaya salad are the multicultural friends your sunny-side-up has always needed? We could write about the beef short rib or the crème brûlée French toast with Mexican chocolate, but really, by now, you should've already paid your respects and had your lives and bellies enriched by il capo di tutti brunch capi. 24351 Avenida de la Carlota, Laguna Hills, (949) 587-9418; www.breakofdawnrestaurant.com.

Ramos House Café
By OC standards, the Ramos House Café is a relic, an antique from the 19th Century nestled across the street from Mission San Juan Capistrano. The food served in the restaurant, though, is thoroughly modern. Rather than a huge buffet, the Ramos House offers a two-course menu. As a starter, try the sweet hush puppies served with sweet-pepper jam or the caramelized citrus salad. For a main course, pain perdu (French toast) is updated with strawberries and basil, and the crab hash might be one of the most sensuous breakfast foods around. The indecisive can also opt for a $25 tasting menu, with small portions of five items ranging from duck hash to an apple-cinnamon beignet. 31752 Los Rios St., San Juan Capistrano, (949) 443-1342; www.ramoshouse.com.

Taco Rosa
The Mexican concept of brunch usually involves things such as barbacoa, menudo or birria eaten with the family; the Taco Rosa version is more like a Mexican spin on American brunch. The Irvine location used to serve a prix fixe table-service brunch; it has since moved to the buffet model like its big sister in Newport Beach. A large selection of pan dulces, an omelet bar with the option to make yours into a breakfast burrito, and made-to-order pancakes are the mainstays of the buffet. It's a champagne brunch, but if you ask nicely, you may be able to get a glass of its good sangria instead. A mariachi strolls around taking requests—earn some Mexican credit by asking for something other than the usual five songs he always sings; try "Cucurrucucú Paloma." 2632 San Miguel Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 720-0980; also at 13792 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, (714) 505-6080; www.tacorosa.com.

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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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