Avoid the "Chilaquiles" at the Otherwise-Extraordinary Break of Dawn

Break of Dawn in Laguna Niguel is one of the few redeeming factors of that city, and one of the best breakfast joints in Orange County. Their sausage and eggs--linguiça, green papaya and a scallion puree--is the greatest version of the dish you'll ever try, and I recently enjoyed a French toast with the crispy top and creamy middle of the best creme brulees. But avoid at all costs their chilaquiles.

I want to know when chilaquiles became a Mexican desayuno for gabachos on the same level as the breakfast burrito--but that's an aside. A great chilaquiles dish is simple--beans, rice, hot (temperature- and spice-wise) tortilla chips, with a bit of queso fresco and just-fried chips. You can add eggs, but that's not essential. But crispy tortilla chips, even if a couple of days old, is a mandatory.

What Break of Dawn advertises as their chilaquiles simply isn't. Read the menu closely: amongst the ingredients listed is "corn tortilla," but what they call a corn tortilla is just a roll of masa. It's not a disgusting dish--I scarfed it down, but that might've been because I was hungover from the night before--but that masa tasted exactly like the soggy tortilla chips in a proper chilaquiles dish. I'll still recommend Break of Dawn to all, but the chef should either get some crispiness into his dish pronto or leave Mexican food in South County to the Surfin' Chicken.

Break of Dawn, 24351 Ave. de la Carlota, Ste. N-6, Laguna Hills, (949) 587-9418; www.breakofdawnrestaurant.com. Seriously: get that sausage-and-eggs; it's one of la naranja's breakfast gems.


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