We admittedly spend much of our time reporting on eats in a handful of cities. Why? Because that’s where the food sends us. So when suggestions have us driving beyond the typical neighborhoods, we take notice and welcome opportunities to explore. Case in point, we found ourselves driving up to a duo of eats: a local bakery in Laguna Hills and a notorious pop-up in Long Beach.
Scratch Bakery Cafe
Tucked in the back corner of a strip mall, Scratch is less hole-in-the-wall, more hidden gem. A casual dining room and patio, their quick service operation is as seamless as their easygoing vibe. Fresh baked goods are prepared daily, including scones, baguettes and carrot cake. However, the signature specialty you should pay attention to should be English muffins. Used in both the Benedict and breakfast sandwich, these chewy dough boys are also sold by the half-dozen. Their sponge-like, uneven texture is a ideal surface for spreads when toasted. These are the perfect blank canvas to build on, sustaining layers of eggs, American cheese and a generous serving of bacon. A simple, handheld meal done right. Come for carbs; stay to relish them. 24321 Avenida de la Carlota, Ste. H-8, (949) 859-2253; www.scratchbakerycafe.com.
Low Key Burritos – Long Beach
As we approach the make-shift griddle outside Lord Windsor Coffee, we notice a crowd of people. A few are in line; the rest are patiently waiting upwards of 30 minutes or longer for their name to be called. Every breakfast is rolled to order here. You want avocado and bacon in that? Great. If the beef rib special is still available, just do it. A base burrito is stuffed with eggs, cheese, potatoes and salsa. The kicker is when you request their cheese crust. A level up from crisping the tortilla, Matt Stevanus places your precious on a layer of melting cheese (and jalapeños, if you so choose) long enough for it to adhere. He then flips it over for good measure.
On Saturdays, he’s here cooking up a storm with Justin Yoo from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. We arrived shortly before 11 to learn they had run out of onions and bell peppers. Our bundle of bacon joy was still delicious, despite the missing veggies. On Fridays, they appear in downtown LA. Sundays are in Torrance. For the straight up freshness and customization, Low Key is worth the drive and search for street parking. We didn’t know cheese crust was missing from our lives until we gave them a chance. Follow them on Instagram. Oh, and their method of payment is Venmo.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.