Two New OC Chain Breakfasts: Umami's Burger And Stacked's Chilaquiles Benedict

Proof that smart can be sexy: The Alton Burger
Proof that smart can be sexy: The Alton Burger
Umami Burger

When Alton Brown announced a breakfast burger collaboration with Umami Burger, we nearly dropped our phone. An expert on food science paired with a fine burger brand could only mean good delicious eats. . . . right? We spent time exploring the non-traditional breakfast with a slightly more traditional selection over at Stacked: Food Well Built. Here's what we learned about the two brands.

Simply named The Alton Burger, its contents spoke for themselves: signature beef patty blended with bacon lardons, cheddar, miso-maple bacon, smashed cheesy tots (the off-menu kind, only seen when requested), fried egg, fried sage and a custom, Alton Brown-approved coffee ketchup. Our egg was a bit sad, with the whites looking haggard. But since it would all end up in the same place, we kept our focus on taste. It was appropriately juicy and messy, without being overly Carl's Jr-like. The Alton equated to our other favorite Umami beef 'n bun concoction, the Manly, except this was infinitely tastier. 

The repetition of both cheese and bacon flavors masked some of that coffee condiment. However, we were able to detect sage. The Sriracha fiend in us secretly wished for a bit of heat, but that's our only real criticism. Hey, it's a burger modeled after our favorite meal of the day! We can't help ourselves. Another motivating factor in checking out The Alton: A dollar from each burger sold goes toward The Make-A-Wish Foundation. Mr. Brown's burger is currently available until April 24.

One of the things we wanted to explore at the Huntington Beach outpost of Stacked was their breakfast menu. Offered daily, we were curious to find out if their decision to offer our morning meal for the first time was a good idea. Instead of customizing the heck out of things, we shared a few choice entrees to see how well the kitchen built our brekkie. 

Blueberry ricotta stack from Stacked
Blueberry ricotta stack from Stacked
Anne Marie Panoringan

First up, pancakes! Between apples, berries and bananas, the entree most talked about was the blueberry ricotta one. What we liked specifically was that it wasn't super dense. The ricotta kept things light enough to not weigh our stomachs down. It gave us room to power through more food, and for that we're happy.  If you have a fondness for desserts, try the sweet Hawaiian berry French toast. It wasn't our jam, despite having caramel and strawberry spread. There were too many sweet layers, with nothing to balance it out. Perhaps that's the point? 

A Chilaquiles Benedict sounds tasty in theory. The tough part was digging into the dish. While the other Benedicts had a base of English muffins or potato cakes, our corn tortillas did not possess the heft to support all those savory/spicy/creamy qualities. Don't get us wrong, the flavors were all there. It's like learning to appreciate a burger wrapped in lettuce— it just wasn't easy. To make up for it, we chose a honey smoked salmon scramble. A relatively simple dish, it held a subtle sweetness thanks to the smoke. It was very good, despite slivers of green onion barely cutting through the richness. Maybe it was a craving for bread, but we thought it would make a filling bagel sandwich filling. We'll smuggle one in next time.

If you still want to push your breakfast limits, may we recommend an order of blueberry beignets and the breakfast shot? These items alone would actually make for a complete meal of sorts. Fried dough studded with berries throughout is practically a fruit serving in our book. And instead of another mimosa, share this deceiving beverage: half Jameson, half butterscotch schnapps in one glass; an OJ chaser in the other. Then you finish with a strip of bacon. Sounds gimmicky, but it contained all the salty and sweet flavors we crave. 

Established chains with very different approaches to breakfast was a lot of food for thought. If you're an Alton Brown fan, his burger won't disappoint. At Stacked, there are so many options, you'll find something to jump start your morning. You won't go wrong with that ricotta stack, though. All we need now is a perfect cup of coffee.

Stacked: Food Well Built is located at 7490 Edinger Ave, Huntington Beach, (657) 845-2100;

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Umami Burger

2981 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626


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