The Best Boozy Brunches in Orange County Impress With Great Micheladas, Mimosas and More!

Break of Dawn
Break of Dawn
Rockography

Brunch and booze: Do you need more of an intro? Yes? Then let's shamelessly self-promote our annual Fresh Toast brunch festival, happening March 25 at Newport Dunes—buy your tickets TODAY!

You'll find many of the restaurants on this list there, serving dishes to entice you to visit them and get your drink on. So why are we doing our Brunch issue nearly a month before Fresh Toast? Because brunch and booze, sillies! Happy eating and drinking!

BREAK OF DAWN
Dee Nguyen's Asian/Latino/French/whatever-the-fuck-he-wants brunches have ruled Orange County for more than a decade, but his booze game deserves love: a tangy passion-fruit mimosa and a spicy bacon Asian Mary, soju that makes regular Bloody Marys taste like the water that pools on the roof of old buildings. Drink two or eight, and remember: Those are church pews that Dee uses for people waiting outside because it's time for service in the Lord's house. 24291 Avenida de la Carlota, Laguna Hills, (949) 587-9418; breakofdawnrestaurant.com.

SEALEGS WINE BAR
Come to SeaLegs any Saturday morning, and you're liable to be met at the door with a crowd of people carrying bridal-shower gifts and balloons. For everyone else, SeaLegs is a brunch Mecca not for the omelets, which taste more like frittatas, but rather for the prospect of endless mimosas. The best drink, though, has to be the Instant Breakfast Mason Jar, an iced mixture of vodka, Kahlua and house-made Irish cream. It's as potent at 10 a.m. as a Long Island Iced Tea is at 10 p.m. Before you know it, you're more wasted than the maid of honor. 21022 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 536-5700; www.sealegswinebar.com.

What a Dish
What a Dish
Dustin Ames

WHAT A DISH CAFE
While its wedding side business is called "It's All About the Cake," for What a Dish Cafe, it's all about the Benedicts. Nearly everyone who brunches here gets bennies, especially the one with crab cakes. So should you. To wash it down, most will opt for the Bloody Mason, which is poured into a gigantic 32-ounce Mason jar. So should you. And since the drink also includes bacon and enough garnish for a salad, you might as well pay a little more to upgrade it so that an actual slider is thrown in there to make it a meal. 24921 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Ste. B100, Dana Point, (949) 427-9904; www.whatadishoc.com.

JT Schmid's
JT Schmid's
Rockography

JT SCHMID'S
When you're looking for a no-nonsense Bloody Mary that won't cost as much as your meal, go to JT Schmid's. The drink comes with the requisite garnishes—olives, a celery stalk, lime and a salt-rimmed glass—and it's all you need to complement its spicy tang and vodka burn. Because there's really only a fine line between a Bloody Mary and a big glass of boozed-up salsa, it'll go really well with the rich, runny yolks of the huevos rancheros. 2415 Park Ave., Tustin, (714) 258-0333; www.jtschmidsrestaurants.com.

STARLING DINER
A giant green chalkboard is scribbled with cartoons, and there are teacups and painted chairs nailed to the wall. The coffee is free from a pour-it-yourself station, and the Bloody Marys are especially stiff and spicy, garnished with microgreens and a snow-crab claw gripping a lemon wedge. But these aren't the only reasons why Starling Diner is a darling of the Belmont Heights brunch scene. The French toast, broiled baguettes soaked in crème Anglaise and injected with mascarpone, is arguably the best of its kind in Southern California. 4114 E. Third St., Long Beach, (562) 433-2041; www.starlingdiner.info.

Starling Diner
Starling Diner
Rockography

SOL COCINA
Say it with us: "Frosé all day!" Your margarita-meets-rosé treat awaits at this dockside destination. Dive into chef Deborah Schneider's Baja-inspired cuisine, featuring chilaquiles verde and a tasty chorizo-and-potato scramble. Go ahead and add extra avocado already. For something on the sweeter side, their Patrón-spiked soufflé Carlotta is adorned with vanilla whipped cream, berries and powdered sugar. You can't go wrong with a mango mimosa, either. 251 E. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 675-9800; www.solcocina.com.

ALTA BAJA MARKET
Alta Baja owner Delilah Snell (wife of our Mexican-in-Chief) has the elixir to our borracho problems. On the last Sunday of every month, she serves up hearty bowls of pozole rojo (until the kitchen runs out). With generous helpings of tender, slow-braised pork and hominy, the stew's savory broth can bring anyone back from the brink; paired with an ice-cold Mera Mera michelada, it's the cure to your crudo. 201 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 783-BAJA; www.altabajamarket.com.

Alta Baja Market
Alta Baja Market
Cynthia Rebolledo

RESTAURANT MARIN
Noah Blom, a chef who has a Luddite-like aversion to gas or electrical appliances, cooks rustic all-day breakfasts using a wood fire, including a greaseless, golden-fried chicken breast drenched with gravy that's served over a gigantic biscuit and topped with a perfectly fried egg. And since you can eat pancakes and bacon here any time of day, the Bloody Mary or mimosa (here called Trinidad Sunrise) can also be had after sundown to start off your night right. 3321 Hyland Ave., Ste. G, Costa Mesa, (949) 402-3974; www.restaurantmarin.com.

 

O'NEILL'S BAR & GRILL
When the server at the main restaurant for the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club asks, "Would you like a mimosa or Champagne?" as soon as you're seated, respond in the affirmative. The bottomless flute adds only a nominal fee to the nearly $40 charge you're about to incur, so why not? Here, it's not the dinners or the discounted happy hours that's the raison d'être; it's the Champagne-soaked Sunday brunch, the club's finest hour, the time it pulls out all the stops, the chocolate fountain and the guy who carves the prime rib. 26772 Avery Pkwy., Mission Viejo, (949) 305-5100; www.arroyotrabuco.com.

MAMA'S ON 39
The Sunday brunch here is known for two things: long-ass waits and big-ass Bloody Marys. The Mama Mary is a 32-ounce behemoth served cold in a giant Mason jar and punctuated with a celery stalk and pickled veggies. It's available in a half-size for the weak, or if the $16 price tag is too steep for your tastes. Bottomless Champagne is available for $12.99 (or Mamosas for $13.99) every day until 3 p.m. But there is a two-hour time limit, and you have to buy food, too, you lushes. The Mama's Mule and strawberry basil margarita serve as refreshing alternatives to your more standard brunch booze. Mama's thirsty! 21022 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 374-1166; mamason39.com.

ANEPALCO
Anepalco's cocktail game is strong seven days a week, but the weekends bring its Brunch Punch: a refreshing cocktail that changes weekly yet is always perfect for enjoying in the morning hours. A recent incarnation was a delightful St.-Germain-based cocktail with a Champagne float and sprig of fresh rosemary. The punch was easily the most-ordered cocktail of the day, flying off the bar with assembly-line frequency. Of course, the michelada is worth ordering, too: Pick from the six beers on tap for your mix and enjoy the fizzy but filling beverage served with house-made Tajin rim and lemon wheel. Don't dilly-dally, though—Anepalco closes at 2:30 p.m. to prep for dinner. 3737 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 456-9642; www.anepalco.com.

Pueblo
Pueblo
Cynthia Rebolledo

PUEBLO
Exclusive to its weekend brunch is this spot's Bloody Maria, a secret blend of don't-worry-about-it, crispy jamón and bourbon pepper. The spices are smoky with a subtle oak flavor that pairs elegantly with the paella Mercado: Spanish saffron rice, plump shrimp and succulent pork belly. For a lighter breakfast cocktail, order the refreshing Moscu Mula, a take on the Moscow classic that substitutes shochu (a Japanese distilled spirit similar to vodka) to keep you craving more tapas. 3321 Hyland Ave., Ste. D, Costa Mesa, (714) 340-5775; www.pueblotapas.com.

PADRE
You know it's going to be a Sunday funday when you walk through the door of Padre and corks are popping like the Guns of Navarone. Aside from the free-flowing mimosas, LBC's Latin-inspired gastropub offers craft cocktails that are spirits-forward and unapologetically delicious. Start your liquid brunch with Padre's Holy Water, a sacrilicious mix of smoky El Silencio mezcal, Sotol (a distilled desert plant and cousin to mezcal), spicy St. George Green Chile Vodka and bittersweet Salers liqueur. Combined with aromatic sage and grapefruit zest, the mixture begins vaporous and ends with a sweet agave finish. Order the braised barbacoa breakfast taco or squash blossom quesadilla, and you're set. 525 E. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 612-4951; www.padrelongbeach.com.

Padre
Padre
Cynthia Rebolledo

CHAPTER ONE: THE MODERN LOCAL
The Sunday brunches were so popular here owner Jeff Jensen had to add a Saturday service—not that anyone is complaining. Chef Jason Montelibano's return to Chapter One's kitchen translated to turkey-chorizo-wrapped Scotch eggs, perfectly medium-rare steak with chimichurri sauce, and divine shrimp with feta chilaquiles. Its dedicated boozy brunch list includes rosemary-infused syrup in a popular Madame Bovary blend, plus a quirky Uncommon Grounds (Cold Fashioned) featuring chocolate bitters, Rittenhouse rye and house-made cold-brewed coffee. SanTana weekends never tasted better. 227 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 352-2225; chapteronetml.com.

THE PUBLIC HOUSE BY EVANS BREWING CO.
Downtown Fullerton's all-weekend brunch should be mandatory for hangover cures (and those seeking a hangover). Relish the ample parking and get nostalgic over big hair while the TVs rock videos from the '80s. We dig the McEgg, a hot mess with white Cheddar and honey ham inside a buttery brioche. And the breakfast potatoes are fork-tender, colorful coins. A refreshing Dandy Shandy beer cocktail includes muddled berries in a Pollen Nation Honey Blonde. But our preferred sip is Public House's Japanese whiskey sour, Rising Sun, containing L'orgeat almond syrup, Angostura bitters and Suntory whiskey. 138 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 870-0039; www.evansbrewco.com.

Bosscat Kitchen and Libations
Bosscat Kitchen and Libations
Rockography

BOSSCAT KITCHEN AND LIBATIONS
Lines around Bosscat every Sunday morning are all the proof we need regarding its brunch devotion—plus there's the Fruity Pebbles French toast with extra syrup for staging a Boomerang. (Post a picture-perfect Instagram and tag @bckitchen, and you might just win a prize!) Housing one of the largest selections of whiskey around, ease into your meal with a bubbly Aperol Spritz as your first round. 4647 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 333-0917; www.bosscatkitchen.com.

 

OLD VINE CAFÉ
Old Vine doesn't need a full liquor license to get you sauced up at brunch thanks to its extensive selection of wine, Champagne, beer and soju. And there's the fresh produce, too; the blackberries in the muddled berry and mint mojito make the cocktail slightly sweet with a crisp tart finish, while the oil from the fresh mint leaves you feeling refreshed, even after eating three of chef Mark McDonald's brunches in one sitting—and you'll try. 2937 Bristol St., Ste. A102, Costa Mesa, (714) 545-1411; www.oldvinecafe.com.

Old Vine Café
Old Vine Café
Cynthia Rebolledo

THE BREAKFAST BAR
The signature omelet casserole is neither an omelet nor a casserole. Since it dissipates like an eggy cloud in your mouth, it most closely resembles a cheese soufflé. It's just one of the Breakfast Bar's many food epiphanies, including an Everest of hot fries smothered with cut-up sausage, gravy, pico de gallo and cheese-laced scrambled eggs called "Hung Over." In spite of (or is it because of?) its name, the dish goes especially well with an invigorating glass of cucumber lemonade spiked with soju. 70 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, (562) 726-1700; www.the-breakfast-bar.com.

Upcoming Events

THE ATTIC
Sure, you can order a mimosa or margarita here, but the main attraction is the build-your-own Bloody Mary. Pick your poison from a variety of gin and vodka; if you're feeling extra-sinful, there's the "Meaty Man Bloody Mary" (a baconized Bloody Mary with a short rib slider attached) to bring out your inner glutton. After you've boozed up, indulge your drunchies with Southern comfort food such as fried chicken and waffles with eggs and gravy, hearty omelets, and a mac and cheese with Flamin' Hot Cheeto crumbles and soy chorizo. 3441 E. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 433-0153; www.theatticonbroadway.com.

GRITS
Here is the ultimate beer-lover's breakfast, with brunch served EVERY DAY, because, as Grits says, "dining in Fullerton needs a kick in the ass." The rotating tap list has everything from crisp pilsners to creamy nitro stouts and beer bellinis (half cider, half Champagne, with a splash of orange juice) to pair with the hangar steak and eggs cooked medium-rare. 133 W. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, (714) 449-0939; gritsfullerton.com.

PIZZERIA ORTICA
Brunching on Sundays became even better when Ortica's every-once-in-a-while offer morphed into a weekly gig. While we often gravitate toward a cozy shrimp and polenta bowl, parsnip and potato hash with speck has us content and needing a siesta afterward . . . but not before we allow some of Orange County's finest bartenders to quench our thirst. A triple threat of Bloodys? Of course. Coffee and Amaro cocktail with mezcal and brown sugar? Yes, please! Trust the abilities of Joel Caruso's crew; they know what's up. 650 Anton Blvd., Ste. J, Costa Mesa, (714) 445-4900; www.ortica.com.

LOLA GASPAR
The Perez hermanos who run the joint change brunch up with the seasons, although they try to trot out the custom-made, Sonora-style grill (complete with levers and pulleys to raise and lower meats from their mesquite-fueled flames) whenever it's not raining (wow, who'd have thought we'd ever type those words again?!). Whatever the meals, a Más Fuerte cocktail—heavy on mezcal, rye and mole bitters—cures whatever Saturday-night blue balls might ail ya. 211 W. Second St., Santa Ana, (714) 972-1172; lolagaspar.com.

Anchor Hitch
Anchor Hitch
Rockography

ANCHOR HITCH
The recently retooled menu has a thoughtfully plated crab Benedict that's all about a citrus hollandaise. Chef Michael Pham knows folks are seeking the perfect yolk porn. Pair your indulgence with the bar's New York sour; whiskey always plays well with others. 27741 Crown Valley Pkwy., Mission Viejo, (949) 226-8949; eatanchorhitch.com.

TAQUERIA ZAMORA
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: This is where Mexican moms take their family whenever they don't want to cook on weekends, with all the regular items they'd probably do at home: menudo, pozole, chile rellenos, and tacos large enough to suffocate you if you're not careful. And don't believe pochos: Real Mexicans drink a cubeta for brunch—that is, an icy pail's worth of beer. Zamora's legendary chilaquiles go especially well with a Negra Modela, light on the salt and heavy on the lime. 3121 Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 557-0907.

EL MERCADO MODERN CUISINE
We voted bar manager Cesar Cerrudo Best Bartender of 2016 for his consciously curated and inventive cocktails. His full menu is offered during breakfast, but start off with Cerrudo's Chasqui. A combination of pisco Capurro Moscatel and citrusy Calisaya liqueur makes a refreshing honeyed aromatic cocktail. Be sure to order the buttermilk pancakes as you make your way down the cocktail list—these burnt piloncillo flapjacks are ridiculously fluffy and have a caramelized crust. 301 N. Spurgeon St., Santa Ana, (714) 338-2446; www.mercadomodern.com.

 

TACO MARÍA
Chef Carlos Salgado was recently named a semifinalst for the James Beard Award's Best Chef In the West category for the second year in a row—congrats! That means the wait for a brunch spot will only be longer and the anticipation for his spectacular alta cocina cuisine that much better. When you finally sit down, immediately order Taco María's michelada: a deep, savory, slightly spicy elixir that combines perfectly with the can of Modelo you'll be given. 3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 538-8444; www.tacomaria.com.

KELLY'S KORNER TAVERN
Beer for brunch? Kelly's has weekend bottomless mimosas, but take advantage of the ever-rotating selection of taps to wash down one of the best pub brunches in North OC: strong steak and eggs, a Morning Glory (Sriracha ketchup, bacon and a fried egg on an Angus patty) breakfast burger and a carnitas omelet so paisa it should be sold from a front lawn off Standard in SanTana. 907 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., Placentia, (714) 961-9396; www.kellyskornertavern.com.

ORANGE COUNTY MINING CO.
This rustic-yet-ritzy, buffet-style brunch in the Orange hills is as close to a brunch on the Knott's Berry Farm mining ride as you can find. Their Miner's Style Buffet Brunch offers a carving station of prime rib and ham, a build-your-own omelet bar, iced shrimp and snow crab legs, even a soft-serve ice cream station as dessert. The brunch fare includes bottomless mimosas, and the cocktail menu veers toward the traditional with pisco sours, Singapore Slings, Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. It also offers, for an additional fee, pitchers of cocktails such as mojitos and margaritas. 10000 Crawford Canyon Rd., Orange, (714) 997-7411; www.orangecountyminingco.com.

#TACOLYFE
Be sure to pace yourself with the three flavors of bottomless mimosas you can choose from. Not into mimosas? Try the mango shots, flavored margaritas and micheladas with tamarindo served in hefty Mason jars. After el chupe, sober up with homemade tamales, chilaquiles, menudo, machaca, huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos, tortas de huevo, decadent tres leches French toast or banana pancakes—all freshly cooked by a matriarch proudly hailing from Jalisco. 11125 S. First Ave., Whittier, (562) 902-1000. Instagram: @tacolyfela.

Crow Bar & Kitchen
Crow Bar & Kitchen
Cynthia Rebolledo

CROW BAR & KITCHEN
While neighboring coastal eateries have long waits out the door for bottomless mimosas, the Crow Bar & Kitchen is a local's walk-in Sunday brunch. Comfort food and stiff cocktails are the game here. Gorge on the breakfast hangover burger, as you sip its modern take on an Old Fashioned: the Basil Hayden, a light and spicy bourbon, infused with citrusy grapefruit bitters. 2325 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, (949) 675-0070; www.crowbarcdm.com.

WATER GRILL
Easily the best-looking dining space to open last year, we dig the lounge, indoor bar, even the oyster bar at South Coast Plaza's newest star. While an extensive menu is always available at brunch, its weekend offerings comfortably cover your cravings. Quiche Lorraine and lemon ricotta pancakes feed savory and sweet tendencies. Salmon rillettes also impress, complemented by a Ramos gin fizz with hints of citrus. Of course, there's also a fanciful Prosecco flight to imbibe. Afterward, you can cross the bridge for some retail therapy. 3300 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (949) 208-7060; www.watergrill.com.

WHO SONG AND LARRY'S
Who Song and Larry's #HangoverBrunch is an effervescent buffet so large that hostesses are more than happy to offer a tour. There's the ice-chilled seafood bar complete with snow crab legs and oysters on the half-shell. There's the outdoor taco stand, with tacos and decorated elote made to order, as well as an expansive salsa bar to garnish each. Beyond that is the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. The cost of admission ($29.99 for adults, $12.50 for children) includes all-you-can-drink mimosas—and the staff make good on that offer: On a recent trip, our server left us a glass of Champagne with which we could freshen up our mimosas at a writer's pace. Now that's service! 1535 W. Katella Ave., Orange, (714) 639-9550; www.whosongandlarrys.com.

TAPS FISH HOUSE & BREWERY
This place calls its Sunday festivities "TAPS Brunch Extravaganza," and the name ain't hyperbole. The buffet-style glut-fest is a smorgasbord of high-quality meats, seafoods and desserts. There's an omelet bar and the crepes are made to order, even a chocolate fountain with strawberries and other fresh fruits available for your dipping pleasure. There's almost enough decadence here to distract you from the bountiful drink menu—almost. Your ticket to ride includes bottomless mimosas or two of TAPS's house-brewed craft beers. The cocktail selection changes seasonally (and is in addition to the cost of brunch), but there's always the Bloody Mary, garnished with veggies and bacon and served with a cream ale back. 101 E. Imperial Hwy., Brea, (714) 257-0101; also at 13390 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, (714) 619-0404; www.tapsfishhouse.com.

MATADOR CANTINA
Titans and other denizens of downtown Fullerton gather at the Matador Cantina each Sunday for a brunch that's as delicious as it is affordable. While most restaurants do the $10 bottomless mimosa deal, Matador opts for a $12 option that's still affordable considering the generous Champagne pours and the $6 cocktail specials. A Lincoln and a Washington will get you a Screwdriver, Greyhound, Bloody Mary or Bloody Maria. Mimosas ain't your thing? Order a Manmosa, which is a mixture of Blue Moon and Svedka clementine vodka for $7 per pint or $25 per pitcher. The booze game is so strong here we only have two words left to describe the food: chorizo ravioli. 111 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 871-8226; thematador.com.

 

Fresh Toast at Newport Dunes, 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Beach. March 25, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $35-$60; purchase tickets at bit.do/freshtoast. .


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