10 Great Breakfast Spots In Orange County
3. Pop's Cafe
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
1. Break of Dawn
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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