Welcome to another edition of The Poorman's OC '4 Under $6', where you'll always enjoy an experience in fine living without a budget. Yes, even being broke is glamorous in one of the most expensive counties in the nation. I'm an expert at it. The ultimate goal of this column is to become the "Zagat Of Cheap". The idea for this week was suggested by one of my Facebook friends Steve Boehmke. He sent me an IM: "Congrats on the new OC Weekly gig! Here's a tip. I always have a hard time eating breakfast. I'm not hungry when I get up, and I don't want cereal; so on my way to the office or wherever, I drive through..." The remainder of the IM praised a specific fast food breakfast spot where he dines for under $3. So without further ado, we bring you The Fast Food Breakfast Battle '4 Under $3'. And the winner is...
Yes, you are reading correctly. This is not an OC Weekly misprint. Good ol' Del Taco, in business since 1964, absolutely dominates your morning commute meal. It is a winner in the epic culinary battle of fast, inexpensive, and good breakfast.
Concluding what my Facebook friend Steve Boehmke had to say: "On my way to the office or wherever, I drive through Del Taco, order a breakfast burrito (80 cents) and add beans (40 cents) for $1.20. It's an egg, bean, and cheese burrito! Then I add a $1 medium 32 oz. iced tea, and I'm totally good til lunch... and semi-healthy too...Total $2.20 plus tax."
Before you guys go crazy and leap to conclusions, remember what we are looking for. This is 'fast food breakfast', not a sit-down five-course-meal with grog! You are not going to get laid after a morning drive breakfast, no matter where you eat. More than likely, romance is the furthest thing from your mind at 8 a.m. on a week day, anyway. Most of you are in a rush. You won't go wrong with Del Taco. Let's get into it, and I'll tell you why they are the winner.
What was really surprising when I began this Fast Food Breakfast Battle were the lack of restaurant suggestions. This was in sharp contrast to the article I did a few weeks ago on $1 Tacos. I have 5000 Facebook friends, and there were only a smattering of recommendations. It seems that people really don't have much of a clue as to where to eat in the morning. Del Taco received the most response by far. It was an easy #1 pick.
We based our decision on six poor-criteria: quality, price, menu; taste, service and speed.
1. Quality I visited Del Taco within a day of writing this column, ordered one of everything off their Buck And Under Menu, and thought the quality of food was excellent!
Here's the official word on food quality from Del Taco corporate: "Many people are not aware of the great lengths Del Taco goes to in order to deliver quality, made-to-order menu items created with ingredients freshly-prepared in Del Taco restaurants every day. Menu items include fresh ingredients such as cheddar cheese grated from 40-pound blocks, hand-made pico de gallo salsa, lard-free beans slow cooked from scratch, hand-chopped fresh tomatoes and cilantro, and marinated chicken grilled in the restaurant. The all-beef burgers don't hit the grill until they are ordered, and the burgers never sit under heat lamps. All egg dishes are made to order. The eggs are already cracked but they don't hit the grill until someone places an order."
2. Price This is where Del Taco really separates itself from the pack. Whereas other fast food breakfast spots have a few items under $3, Del Taco has most of an extensive breakfast menu under $3. They also have a Buck And Under Menu that is insanely inexpensive! Yesterday, I went 'drive thru' ordering all five Buck And Under items at the 17th Street and Newport Blvd. in Costa Mesa location (See Buck And Under Menu In Pic).
I even substituted the $1 iced coffee for a 32 ounce iced tea not on the menu, also $1. The super friendly lady on the speaker told me to tweak my order and it'd even be cheaper! When all was said and done, each item averaged 89 cents. Ridiculous! I REALLY FELT LIKE A RICHMAN!!!!! Another one of my FB friends ,Rick Willey, commented "I work at Del Taco. Not only is this post totally true but the whole breakfast menu has great deals on it. I don't think [you] can find a fast food place for a cheaper breakfast."
3. Menu This article will soon rival the novel "War And Peace" in length, but I have to mention the regular Del Taco 'Under $3' Breakfast Menu in addition to the Buck And Under Menu. There is a lot of variety, and the size of the portions is not skimpy. Here it is, with prices: Sausage or Bacon Egg & Cheese muffins: A fluffy English muffin, freshly grilled egg omelet, American cheese, and your choice of crispy bacon or grilled sausage ($1.99) Bacon & Egg Quesadilla: Fluffy scrambled eggs, heaps of freshly hand-grated cheddar cheese and crispy bacon, flat-grilled to crispy gooey perfection in a flour tortilla. ($2.69) Egg & Cheese Burrito: A soft flour tortilla full of freshly scrambled eggs, hand-grated cheddar cheese, and zesty red sauce in a warm flour tortilla. ($1.99) Half-Pound Steak & Egg Burrito: Juicy, carne asada steak, freshly scrambled eggs, hand-grated cheddar cheese, and zesty red sauce, in a warm flour tortilla. ($2.99) Half-Pound Bacon & Egg Burrito: Crispy bacon, freshly scrambled eggs, hand-grated cheddar cheese, and zesty red sauce, in a warm flour tortilla. ($2.79) Half-Pound Sausage & Egg Burrito:Savory sausage with freshly scrambled eggs, hand-grated cheddar cheese, and zesty red sauce, in a warm flour tortilla. ($2.79) Breakfast Burrito: Freshly scrambled eggs, hand-grated cheddar cheese, and zesty red sauce, in a warm flour tortilla. ($0.99) Bacon Breakfast Burrito: Crispy bacon, freshly scrambled eggs, hand-grated cheddar cheese, and zesty red sauce, in a warm flour tortilla. ($1.19) Hashbrown Sticks: Crispy hashbrown potatoes, easy to eat on the go. Choose 5 or 8 pieces. (99 cents and $1.49, respectively)
4. Taste Everything is made simple and tastes fresh and flavorful. I honestly have no problem wolfing down Del Taco 'Under $3" cuisine on a regular basis. At the same time, this is not sit down, gourmet Mex a la Taco Rosa. You won't find it there, but if you're in a hurry and need a breakfast in two minutes, nothing can beat the taste of Del Taco.
5. Service This is where Del Taco really excels. As I mentioned earlier, I visited Del Taco in Costa Mesa at Newport Blvd. and 17th Street yesterday. My experience was rather legendary. The lady at the drive-thru window who took my order at the speaker was amazingly friendly, helpful, and fun. She told me on her own how I could save money, cracked several jokes, and even smiled for the pic (Below), not having any idea where it was going to be posted (Looking at me, she might have imagined a porn site, not the exalted OC Weekly). I mean how many take out people have the worst attitude...like all of them except this babe. That was good enough to give the service an A+, but then something really remarkable happened. I was in the Del Taco parking lot after ordering. My car was parked next to their trash cans. Bob, here, was cleaning them out, a thankless task.
I was chatting with him, when all of a sudden, he goes "Look what I found!" It was a ladies purse with her drivers license inside! He ran inside Del Taco to turn it in to his manager. When he returned, Bob told me that he finds them all the time.
I asked him why everybody was so friendly. He said it's his manager, Simon. That's the way he wants it. Bob let me take his picture. What a good Samaritan! Simon should give Bob a raise and a promotion!
From the time I place my drive-thru order for all five "Buck And Under Menu" items at the speaker until I payed and picked up my order at the window, total time was two freakin' minutes!!!!!!! Wow!!!!!!! And service with a smile!!!!!!
Del Taco wins The Fast Food Breakfast Battle '4 Under $3' in the OC hands down! Their entire breakfast strategy is geared this way. This was not an exhaustive study, and I welcome all suggestions of places that I may have missed. I'm sure there are many, and I welcome your feedback. Of course, we could be on this tour the rest of our lives! Given the criteria of this article, Del Taco receives a perfect 5 Poorstars rating as the Ultimate 'Under $3' Fast Food Breakfast Spot. Congratulations!
Del Taco www.DelTaco.com LOCATIONS: Approximately 60 locations in the OC and Long Beach. Go to the website for the location nearest you. HOURS: 'Under $3' Breakfast hours vary by location. Lots of stores are 24 hours which serve breakfast from 11pm - 11am. The stores that are not 24 hours typically begin serving breakfast when they open, so 6am-11am.
RATING: 5 Poorstars
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