10 Great Breakfast Spots In Orange County

4. Trieu Chau
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Edwin Goei
Breakfast in Vietnam and Cambodia usually involves noodle soups like those Trieu Chau serves starting at 7 a.m. To come, you have to have a soft spot for noodle soup first thing in the morning (and why wouldn't you?), and an even softer spot when it comes with the meat of at least four different animals. Trieu Chau's Chao Chow noodle soup, also known as hu tieu or mi nam vang, is just that dish, topped with shrimp, liver, fish balls, chewy flaps of fish cake, ground pork meat, slices of roast pork and, last but not least, roast duck. And of course, the broth! It's a deep-flavored, marvelous, golden, soul-nourishing nectar, wrung from the bones of bird and hog, and probably MSG. Get there early enough and you'll be able to snag some deep fried crullers you can tear into pieces or dunk into your soup.  4401 W. First St., Santa Ana, (714) 775-1536.

3. Pop's Cafe
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Edwin Goei

You'll wish you had a fedora to hang up as you enter. Pop's is the kind of diner that's pretty much extinct everywhere except in an octogenarian's fading memories and old film noirs in which Bogart plays a gumshoe. The cherry-red swivel stools at the counter wiggle unstably, worn from decades of use. Above you, precariously hung long-stemmed ceiling fans sweep the air like the propellers of a plane taking off to fight the Nazis. Coffee is poured generously into thick mugs, the beverage of choice for the breakfast plates that feature hash browns as hash browns should be: massively portioned, crisped brown where starch met griddle and soft as mashed potatoes in the middle. The same can be said of the corned-beef hash, which is the closest you get to meat pudding. The deep fried French toast sticks is recommended. And of course, their country biscuit is blanketed in a pepper-flecked gravy as rich as a milkshake. Under the deluge, you'll find a sausage patty huge enough to be mistaken for a gourmet burger. Enjoy it as your grandparents might have in their youth: without a care in the world about their heart health. 112 East 9th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701-3505, (714) 543-2772

2. Da Lu'au
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Edwin Goei
Da Lu'au's breakfast should be appreciated not just because it's cheap (there's a permanent $4.95 special on two pancakes, two eggs, hash browns and a meat of your choice); but because it's good and cheap. There's also the fact that the ukelele music that they've got on a loop never fails to transport you to some island town where Spam is served with scoops of rice without a trace of irony. You can ask for Da Lu'au's bevel-sliced Portuguese sausage for your meal--a breakfast meat rarely seen stateside except at places like Da Lu'au. Spicy enough not to require Sriracha or Tabasco, it is imbued with chili flakes and sweats red grease. And the pancakes are so thick, so airy, you could conceivably lay your head down on it to take a snooze. The eggs are, yes, just eggs, cooked properly to your specification; but Da Lu'au supplies not one but three hot sauces to douse them: the aforementioned Sriracha and Tabasco, but also their house gochujang, which never fails to make an egg breakfast more than just an egg breakfast...even if it's already "Hawaiian". 14151 Jeffrey Road, Irvine, CA 92620, (949) 748-8855

1. Break of Dawn
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Edwin Goei

Dee Nguyen is no stranger to lists like these. As far as this rag is concerned, the former Ritz-Carlton chef who struck out on his own to create OC's preeminent breakfast and brunch stop in the shadow of the Laguna Hills Mall is the Godfather of Brunch. Who knew that what we've been missing all these years is the thing he calls tempura-poached egg? Or that Portuguese sausage, scallion purée and pickled green papaya salad are the multicultural friends your sunny-side-up has always needed? We could write about the beef short rib or the crème brûlée French toast with Mexican chocolate, but really, by now, you should've already paid your respects and had your lives and bellies enriched by il capo di tutti brunch capi. 24351 Avenida de la Carlota, Laguna Hills, (949) 587-9418; www.breakofdawnrestaurant.com.

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26 comments
Hilarie Kelly
Hilarie Kelly

The geographical spread of this list seems a bit limited. I guess that is one of the drawbacks of short lists.

Mark Vieth
Mark Vieth

I just love to eat at IHOP on Main St in HB...can eat and walk 3 blks to HB Pier to walk it all off :D

Jeff Moore
Jeff Moore

I'd like to see that top 20 list. Would Early Bird and Kimmie's beat out the Golden Arches?

Niko Babic
Niko Babic

Great article! You missed one: Cafe Cup in Huntington Beach. Do it.

Wendy Hughes-Jelen
Wendy Hughes-Jelen

I just moved here from Seattle, I need more lists like this! Thanks.

Luke Armstrong
Luke Armstrong

Pop's Cafe takes the cake! Deep fried french toast will humble you!

dollarbuild
dollarbuild

From the makers of Burger Parlor in Downtown Fullerton is Early Bird in North Fullerton.  You can add it to the list as # "1.B".

Northofthe405
Northofthe405

This may come as a shock to you, but you have readers in north OC! Yes, there is an OC north of the 405! Maybe you can include us now and then...just a thought.

Muunlitr
Muunlitr

Don't know how you missed Flappy Jacks in Orange? 

Pat
Pat

Since you cover Long Beach, I'd throw in Coffee Cup Cafe on 4th St. Get's Juan's Favorite omelette, with a vegan chorizo and avocado and their salsa. it's divine, as is everything else

Deucelawyer
Deucelawyer

Thanks - as someone whose favorite meal is "Breakfast" - this comes in handy.

Rick
Rick

Arthur's didn't make it on the list either............Arthur's is Breakfast!

shannon
shannon

Katella Family Grill in Orange. I crave their ham & eggs, it's one of the few places that I can drink the coffee black, and my mom loves the cinnamon roll French toast!

DanGarion
DanGarion

Great list, although I disagree with #3, I just can't get over that I wasn't at all impressed by Pop's Cafe. But #1 is a fact.

JB
JB

I think it is so funny that just after you alight from the escalator and turn the corner to head for IKEA's dining hall in the Costa Mesa store, you pass right by the display of ($1) coffee cups you will be drinking out of minutes laterLOL

1000steps
1000steps

Definitely missed Bonjour Cafe In Dana Point

Rick
Rick

What....Paul's coffee shop in Fountain Valley wasn't good enough?

Carrion Fairy
Carrion Fairy

Arthur's ain't bad, but its nothing to write home about. 

cpudan
cpudan

@1000steps Dude I was just there last week. MAYBE 8 years ago it was still good. BonJour is HORRIBLE now! They are using Powdered Hollandaise sauce! The last time I ate there it was not even BLENDED powdered hollandaise... I had little lumps of powder on my Eggs Benny. It was LAUGHABLE how bad it was, and the people working there did not care. That was my last time to ever go there unless it is resold to somebody else who cares.

JB
JB

The coffee at Paul's is excellent...exceptional...outstanding.  The atmosphere is warm and lively, as is the service. 

However...the food....can't say top 10.  Too many curiously dry, tasteless omelettes have met my taste buds.  Just my humble two cents. 

Rick
Rick

Is Ikea anything to write home about other than it's undervalues prices?..think about it.......they are paying you to eat there hoping you will take home a DIY book case!

Rick
Rick

Have you tried the platter sized chicken fried steak?

Carrion Fairy
Carrion Fairy

No, I agree, putting Ikea on the list is totally ridiculous, and I have eaten their breakfast before. I've actually also eaten it in Sweden and Iceland and its all no different than the shitty cafeteria food you got back-in-the-day at school. I really have no idea why its on here and the novelty of it being 99 cents does not merit its appearance on an otherwise great food blog. I'm not even sure they're real eggs.

JB
JB

I have not had the chicken fried steak....looking forward to it....I love chicken fried steak.  But chicken fried steak does not make a place a '10 Great Breakfast' spot!!

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