For the Love of Breakfast Burritos

Nick’s on 2nd’s El Jefe breakfast burrito. Photo by Morgan Edwards

Whereas last year, our Brunch Guide paid tribute to our favorite old-school greasy spoon eateries, we wanted to get even more narrow-minded for 2019. As you probably already know from looking at the cover of this issue, this year’s guide is all about breakfast burritos.

Why? Because when the Weekly’s crack team of food reporters—okay, it was really just our entire editorial staff—was sitting around a conference table trying to come up with something to write about, Gabriel San Román immediately suggested breakfast burritos, and a collective sigh of imagined gustatory pleasure filled the room. Suddenly, looking at one another, we realized we were simultaneously filling our heads with memories of our favorite morning gut-filler.

Building a masterpiece at Athenian Burger #3. Photo by Morgan Edwards

Just like the dish itself, the concept was a no-brainer. Let’s be honest: There isn’t much required to make a perfect breakfast burrito—flour tortilla, eggs, potatoes of some form (home fries, hash browns, etc.) and cheese. Whether meat—typically bacon, sausage or chorizo—is necessary is only slightly up for debate, but if you’re skipping protein, you must add avocado. From there, you might add pico de gallo or some other form of salsa, but you are absolutely not allowed to include rice in a breakfast burrito (are you listening, Lila Shakti and Matt Coker?).

So with these ground rules in place, we set off on the hunt for the perfect breakfast burrito in Orange County and Long Beach. Read, follow our footsteps, and let us know what you think. And if we messed up, we’ll just have to do another guide next year! (Nick Schou)

Bob’s Burgers. Photo by Lauren Galvan

Blessed with a name matching the TV show, Bob’s Burgers in Westminster lives up to the hype, even if it’s nothing like the animated comedy. Although burger is in the name, Bob’s is a breakfast and brunch hotspot, with a brekkie menu that doesn’t end until 11:30 p.m. during the week and 1 p.m. on weekends, prime brunch time. Among the must-gets here is the breakfast burrito, which includes fluffy eggs; more potatoes than you can imagine; the option of ham, sausage or bacon to beef it up just a tad; and a quesadilla style-wrap that delivers a perfect mouthful of gooey cheese with every bite. You’ll find a packed house early Saturdays, as families and regulars gather at their favorite local joint; there is a familiar, welcoming vibe that seemingly makes a regular out of everyone who walks in. 13891 Beach Blvd., Westminster, (714) 895-4211. (Lauren Galvan)

Tito’s Bakery. Photo from Shutterstock

With all due respect to the high-end kitchens around Long Beach, when it comes to breakfast burritos, the cooks working the grill at Tito’s can do more with a flat-top and a spatula than all of your Michelin stars combined. A fresh tortilla slathered with velvety-smooth refried beans lays the foundation for hand-cut potatoes; scrambled eggs; onions; cilantro; and your choice of chorizo, chicharrones, fresh-cooked bacon, or shredded beef or chicken. Simple, flavorful and cheap, each luscious bite of this $6 meal tastes like Mexico wrapped in tinfoil. Served with a grilled jalapeño with red and green salsa on the side, this thing is all killer, no filler. 1107 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 432-7272. (Nate Jackson)

Mill Bakery. Photo by Cynthia Rebolledo

Though it might be better known for its pan dulce—the Mill Bakery knocks out some pretty terrific pastries and bread—when the kitchen wraps some uncased sausage, eggs, Monterey jack cheese and silky refried beans in one of its flaky flour tortillas, you get an incredible, no-frills, classic breakfast burrito that’s even served on a paper plate. Drench each bite in the deceptively spicy house salsa and savor the flavors. 116 W. MacArthur Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 540-7278. (Cynthia Rebolledo)

Surfin’ Donuts. Photo by Liam Blume

Of all the breakfast burritos, Surfin’ Donuts’ stands atop my list for the most filling heap of eggs, cheese and seasoned potatoes anywhere. Add thick-cut bacon, sausage or spicy carne asada to kick it up a notch. This should only be ordered by the seriously hungry. As per its name, Surfin’ Donuts also boasts some of the best doughnuts in OC, plus a variety of Diedrich’s signature coffee blends and hearty breakfast options, tantalizing locals for more than 20 years. 26861 Trabuco Rd., Ste. G, Mission Viejo, (949) 455-1450; also at 1822 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 492-1249; and 24451 Alicia Pkwy., Ste. 5, Mission Viejo, (949) 699-4926. (Liam Blume)

Memphis Café. Photo by Nick Schou

One of the few menu items without a clear link to soul cooking, this burrito is a sight to behold. Inside, it has the crucial basics of eggs, fried potatoes, pico de gallo and your choice of protein (bacon, sausage, pulled pork or chorizo, with avocado as a substitute). But it’s what you get on the outside that makes it stand apart: The entire thing is slathered in chile verde sauce and melted jack and Cheddar cheese, then topped with blue-corn tortilla strips and cilantro. Pro tip: Ask for a side of the super-spicy homemade chile de arbol sauce and carefully—carefully—drizzle away. 2920 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 432-7685; (Nick Schou)

French burrito at Pandor Artisan Boulangerie & Café. Photo by Cynthia Rebolledo

Combining the elegance of a French bistro with the casual comfort of a neighborhood eatery, Pandor Artisan Boulangerie & Café dishes out everything from fresh breads to Viennoiseries, from sandwiches to crepes, and from salads to savory breakfast bites. Unlike most brunch stops in Old Towne Orange, finding a seat at Pandor is easy. Everything on the menu is good here, but the dish that stands out the most is the behemoth French burrito: Fluffy scrambled eggs, diced potatoes, crumbled Spanish chorizo, tomato, onions and Swiss cheese are wrapped in a blanket-sized crepe, then drizzled with spicy harissa. The egg, cheese, potato and meat meld together for a meal that’s delicious and savory. 106 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 912-4007; (CR)

El Famoso at Cafe Cultura. Photo by Cynthia Rebolledo

Though Cafe Cultura (formerly Cafe Calacas) has endured many a name change and interior redesign over the lengthy course of its time in downtown SanTana, the stellar menu items have remained mostly the same. And its El Famoso burrito’s inner workings have mostly stayed the same as well. You’ll still find the familiar arrangement of huevos; potatoes fried into a soft, light hash brown mix; Cheddar cheese; and your pick of ham or bacon. But now it’s dressed with a smooth chipotle aioli sauce, the side salsa has been upgraded to a fresher pico de gallo blend, and it comes with an option to add avocado. Another subtle change? Most people might not remember it used to be named “The Gustavo” after former OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano; he kindly asked the owner to not be hyped up in food form. Though El Famoso is a sizeable feast, thanks to its delicious nature, you’ll find yourself devouring it to the last crumb. 324 W. Fourth St., Ste. B, Santa Ana, (714) 662-2002; (Aimee Murillo)

El Jefe at Nick’s on 2nd. Photo by Morgan Edwards

If you’re in Belmont Shore, nothing goes better with a strong cup of coffee (or, if you prefer, a strong bloody Mary) than the Nick’s on 2nd El Jefe breakfast burrito, which is so good it’s already appeared on OC Weekly’s Best of list. It’s a simple creation—eggs, hash browns, pico de gallo and cheese wrapped in a tortilla—that’s set apart by the crumbled Nueske’s bacon inside, which gives the entire meal an almost-bracing smoky flavor. Exactly what you need to cure that Sunday-morning hangover. 4901 E. Second St., Long Beach, (562) 856-9000. (NS)

TK Burgers’ TK Burrito. Photo by Liam Blume

Walking into TK Burgers’ Mission Viejo location, you feel transported to a beachside surf shack. Surfboards hang from rafters, and pictures of legendary summer swells line the walls. The laid-back vibe is surpassed only by the grub. But only the local chain’s Santa Ana and Mission Viejo spots can satisfy your breakfast needs. The best burrito here is the signature TK Burrito, complete with bacon, avocado, sausage, three eggs and perfectly crisp hash browns. Add an order of fries and coffee for a complete “balanced” breakfast—just like the doctor ordered. 24902 Chrisanta Dr., Mission Viejo, (949) 588-7200; 2212 S. Lyon St., Santa Ana, (714) 545-5100; (LB)

Claire’s at the Museum. Photo by Morgan Edwards

It’s no secret that most vegetarians often feel slighted by the breakfast burrito. The typical formula offers nothing in it for them. But the weekend hotspot Claire’s on the back patio at the Long Beach Museum of Art has a veggie option that goes great with any Sunday brunch. Mushrooms, goat cheese, spinach, arugula, potatoes, eggs and green salsa are cradled in a warm tortilla that’s been lightly grilled on the outside. It’s a hearty meal that won’t hurt your heart (or your stomach). And it pairs well with a mimosa and an ocean view from the bluffs. 2300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 439-2119; (NJ)

La Sirena Grill. Photo by Lila Shakti

Laguna Beach has multiple swanky eateries to choose from, but when you’re in the mood for Mexican food that doesn’t require dressing up and a reservation, La Sirena is the place to go. At two locations in Laguna, plus one in Irvine (where breakfast is only available on weekends), you can get the best beans, rice, chips, margaritas and breakfast burritos around. The green chile burrito is filled with fluffy scrambled eggs, green chile-cheese potatoes, salsa and rice. If you’re vegan, no problem, just ask for no eggs or cheese and add beans to bulk it up. The green chile adds just a hint of smoky heat, and the potatoes are crunchy and cheesy. You’ll have a huge meal for less than $10. 347 Mermaid St., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-8226; also at 30862 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 499-2301; and 3931 Portola Pkwy., Irvine, (714) 508-8226; (Lila Shakti)

Rooster Cafe. Photo by Morgan Edwards

As the Rooster Cafe is a no-nonsense greasy spoon, its breakfast burrito doesn’t mess around with the familiar formula, which is perfect for those in the mood for a hearty protein boost wrapped up in a flour tortilla. Breakfast items are served all day here, so you can pick up your burro during a late lunch and enjoy its assemblage of ingredients: soft scrambled eggs that dominate in every bite; not-too-salted-but-salty-enough hash browns; shredded Cheddar cheese that adds a mild tanginess; and your choice of bacon, Portugese sausage, or both! The pulpy tomato salsa that comes on the side is an added bonus, bringing a delightful freshness to the gang of starches colliding in your mouth. While you couldn’t go wrong with any of the items on Rooster Cafe’s menu, its breakfast burrito is the MVP. 750 St. Clair St., Costa Mesa, (714) 754-1944; (AM)

Nate’s Korner. Photo by Cynthia Rebolledo

Adding hash browns to your breakfast burrito is kind of like playing a game of Russian roulette: are they going to be mushy, a carb-coma-inducing filler? Or are they going to bless you with their crunchy goodness? Even if you end up with the latter, you still run the risk of them soaking your tortilla in grease. This can make or break your breakfast. Luckily, the folks at Nate’s Korner have perfected the art of the hash brown. They’re light, crispy and probably pretty unhealthy, but at least they won’t leave you feeling as if you just ate a greasy mess. The other vital components of this burrito are two runny eggs; after a few bites, the yolk starts to marinate the fried potatoes and your choice of meat alongside some homemade salsa, which is a pleasant balance of sweet and spicy. All of this deliciousness is wrapped inside a gigantic, fresh tortilla, making for a burrito about the size of a newborn baby. Nate’s Korner is only open until 3 p.m., parking is sparse, and there’s often a line during peak hours, but it’s worth the wait. 3960 S. Main St., Ste. D, Santa Ana, (714) 545-5772; (Steve Donofrio)

Moot Special at Los Primos Cantina. Photo by Morgan Edwards

I first became acquainted with Los Primos years ago, when I was not eating beef or pork. I settled on the “Dr. Carlos Famous Vegetarian Burrito.” With two huge flour tortillas stuffed with rice, black beans, jack and Cheddar cheeses, lettuce, tomato, onions, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa, it was the size of a puppy. Half became lunch the next day. I hadn’t been back to the casual Mexican spot at Brookhurst and Adams for some time until a neighbor took a breakfast burrito order when I was over at his house. After delivering the goods, he informed me that my tab was only $3. Expecting a tiny morsel, it was a regular-sized burro filled with three eggs along with jack, Cheddar, salsa and refried beans. (You can get black beans instead.) “Where’d you get this?” I asked. “Los Primos,” said my friend, and the joint immediately returned to my local Mexican rotation. Since this is a brunch issue, allow me to steer you to a more appropriate recent discovery: the “Moot Special.” A flour tortilla encases the usual three freshly scrambled eggs one associates with breakfast. If you’re adventurous with morning meals, the black beans, guacamole and salsa (hot, mild or medium) also fit. But the Moot also features the lunchtime staples of lettuce, Spanish rice and shredded chicken. Heck, it’s brunch in a tortilla—for only $7.50! Breakfast tacos and burritos are served all day, but I really hated breaking up the Spanish-language party that was going on when I dropped in the other day. The sounds of fútbol highlights on the dining-area television mixed with native-tongue conversations between employees and half a dozen or so construction workers on lunch break. I flunked high school Spanish, but shouldn’t I have been ordering an “Especial de Moot”? 10176 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 962-7735; also at 488 E. 17th St., Ste. A-106, Costa Mesa, (949) 650-1486. (Matt Coker)

A’s Burgers. Photo by Liam Blume

While some breakfast burritos boast hearty portions of eggs and others rely on savory meats or unique sauces, the ones at A’s Burgers specialize in fresh, seasoned potatoes and a flow of molten cheese. Each burrito is made fresh to order with enough cheese to bury a small village. Of A’s Burgers’ two locations, the San Juan Capistrano spot is a favorite of Saddleback College students looking for an affordable, hearty breakfast. Try the western burrito, made with egg, ham and fresh peppers—all for less than $5! The Dana Point store, located right across from Doheny Beach along Pacific Coast Highway, is the more scenic of the two. And a burrito from this location is perfect for surfers fresh out the water. If a burrito ain’t your style, grab a stack of pancakes or an egg sandwich instead. 34344 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, (949) 496-4460; also at 28698 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 364-2099. (LB)

Sawed Off Burrito at Sancho’s Tacos. Photo by Morgan Edwards

As I bit into the Sawed Off Burrito at Sancho’s Tacos, I expected to be most pleased by the mix of fresh eggs, skillet potatoes, Cheddar-jack cheese and applewood smoked bacon wrapped in a grilled flour tortilla. But what really blew me away was the 5150 Salsa, which, though it’s the hottest served there, starts with a familiar texture and sweetness that I thought was applesauce. (A second taster suggested the sugary ingredient was green and yellow tomatillos.) The mix of the salsa and applewood smoke was so tasty I found myself taking bigger-than-normal bites, which caused a four-alarm fire in my mouth when the sauce’s super-spicy finish kicked in. (The liquids that poured out of my upper orifices now dot the Sancho’s parking lot.) When it comes to Sawed Off meat, chorizo and boneless chicken breast are other options. And for those horrified by the caloric count of what’s been described above, the menu includes the Sawed Off Flaco, for which the tortilla is filled with egg whites, potatoes, sautéed spinach, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, avocado and your choice of salsa. Either version of Sawed Off is $8.35. Too rich for your blood type? Any breakfast burrito can be prepared as a taco, in either a corn or flour tortilla, for $5.75, and any breakfast item can be turned into an omelet for an extra buck. Whatever you order, you can’t beat the location, which is filled with odd items, righteous tunes and Mexico-meets-Vans-skate-park murals. Take your breakfast basket outside and enjoy the live slices of life courtesy of the pier, the beach, the shops, the traffic and souls of every stripe. 602 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 536-8226; also at 3014 W. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 723-8226; (MC)

Suicide Burrito at Athenian Burger #3. Photo by Morgan Edwards

While Athenian Burger boasts about its offerings in a banner that reads, “home of the breakfast burritos,” one stands above the rest. The Suicide Burrito comes wrapped in a flour tortilla tinted with a bolder shade of orange than your morning juice. A slice through the middle summons a puff of steam, then reveals a thin omelet fastened to the tortilla by gooey, melted Cheddar cheese. Neither too crispy nor too soggy, a hefty helping of hash browns forms its carb core. But its true claim to fame comes from its hegemony of hog: Crispy strips of bacon give it crunch, plump ham chunks are woven into the omelet, and mashed-up sausage links round out the pork trifecta. Every bite is a feast of meat guaranteed to hold folks over for hours past lunch time. The burrito comes with a side of salsa verde, perfect to turn up the heat after every bite. We don’t know why it’s called a suicide burrito, but there’s no more life-affirming way to start the day! 8511 La Palma Ave., Buena Park, (714) 523-9999. (Gabriel San Román)

21 Replies to “For the Love of Breakfast Burritos”

  1. The Athenian Burgers are the one best breakfast burritos in anywhere they are so damn good this place always I mean always pack in a house you must try their breakfast burritos I love suicide burrito it has everything inside so please you must try it I promise you will go back again again again.

  2. i want all of what was listed. I would also recommend Pepe’s Gourmet Mexican Food. They make a damn good breakfast burrito if you’re near CSUF and due to the turn-over on the ingredients, nothing tastes old. Also check out Cozy Corner (cash only), Yellow Basket, and Angelo’s.

  3. Troys Drive in has an excellent breakfast burrito. Orange tree deli makes a darn good brisket breakfast burrito on Saturdays right down the street from Troys on Lincoln/Glassell.

  4. Damn…ALL of those look yummy!
    [Insert clip of Homer Simpson drooling here]

  5. There is a newer Mexican restaurant in Mission Viejo called Cecilia’s Tortilla Grill. the owner is Cecilia. they make their own tortillas which is hard to find. They come in 3 flavors plus regular. Everything is fresh and delicious here. I order the breakfast burrito with out potatoes but its good with them. Medium hot salsa on the inside and a side of the Habanero. The medium is spicey for some people and the Habanero is very spicey but the flavors of the salsa are one of the things that keep me coming back week after week. Sometimes I get extra and use it through the week on everything I eat. Cecilia’s has been open for about 2 years I think and I am hooked! Their tamales and carne asada nachos are also awesome. Maybe they will make the list next time? Have any of you been here?

  6. Real hole in the wall but Cafe 201 in South Coast Metro (Main/MacArthur) is open only on weekdays… but their Chipotle Breakfast Burritos are just magnifico. Also, Sandwich Society off 1st st in Santa Ana has 2 burritos (society burrito and chorizo burrito…) both of which are great.

  7. Pritesh is correct, Nicks Deli in Seal Beach, and Nicks Deli 2 In Los Alamitos are the best Breakfast Burritos in the OC and I dare say the USA!!

  8. Yall needa go try Senior Taco’s Big Breakfast Burrito. LIKE LEGIT FAM, I can eat it for the rest of my life. Located near Cypress Community College.

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