An Epic Guide To LA's 25 Most Epic Breakfast Burrito Spots
I didn't understand the appeal of the breakfast burrito until I was sitting drunk in a booth at a Tam's Burger at 3 a.m. There, in my hands, I held the culmination of everything I understood to be breakfast — an excess of potatoes, eggs, bacon and cheese. Maybe I was feeling sentimental or maybe it was the booze talking but that first bite changed me. It made me feel like I was a part of something bigger, like I finally understood the joke, like I had stumbled onto the secret of the universe swaddled in a tortilla. It was also a great way to soak up the eight shots of Patron spinning around in my gut.
Breakfast burritos are pure comfort. They're cheap. They're filling. They offer the maximum bang for your caloric buck. They're a blank slate for creative line cooks. And they're delicious.
In Southern California, the home of the fast food industry, the breakfast burrito is a pillar at local, often immigrant-owned burger joints. Scan their menus and you're likely to find one coexisting alongside gyros, tacos, burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and milkshakes.
We could all use a bit of comfort, especially in the pandemic era, but we still need variety. So this list goes beyond traditional versions of the breakfast burrito. Consider this an invitation to explore a foodstuff from a simpler, more comforting time.
Oh, and just because we love you, there's a map.
Macheen - pork belly, fried chicken, birria breakfast burritos
Every breakfast burrito at Macheen starts with the same base — fluffy scrambled eggs, hash browns, Swiss poblano queso — but each one has its own swagger thanks to chef Jonathan Perez, an expert at pairing proteins with salsas and aiolis. His birria burrito features bold salsa macha, chipotle aioli and crumbles of cotija. The fried chicken variation is dusted with a seven-chile spice blend, guajillo ranch and salsa macha. My favorite is the decadent adobada, made with thick slices of pork belly and crisp potatoes that straddle the hashbrown/tater tot divide. Before COVID forced this Alta California pop-up to return to its nomadic roots, Macheen was known for slinging colorful tacos at Smorgasburg L.A. Now, it has taken up residency at Milpa Grille, a Boyle Heights restaurant that hosts rotating pop-ups.
- Residency at Milpa Grill, 2633 E. Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, Boyle Heights. Check IG for pop-up info.
Cofax - chorizo, hot link and pastrami breakfast burritos
With its smoked potato hash and crumbled chorizo, this breakfast burrito sets a high standard. Cofax has also expanded beyond breakfast with a burrito that features a smoky, spicy Bludso's hot link, a fried egg, tater tots and cheddar cheese. Their "seasonal" pastrami burrito — its availability is usually dictated by their 'strami supplier, Ugly Drum, which makes some of L.A.'s best — is filled with large chunks of pastrami coated in a beautiful bark from long, slow smoking. Like a killer guitar solo, it doesn't need much backup but you'll find it in the form of fried eggs, jalapeños and yellow mustard, which cuts through the richness of the meat.
Balam - Korean asada breakfast burrito
Since opening in 2015, Balam has earned a rep as one of Lynwood's best taco shops thanks, in part, to its Korean asada. The taqueria now makes a breakfast burrito — although it's only available on weekends — filled with the stuff and accompanied by onions, bell peppers, cheese, eggs and hash browns. The sweet, soy flavor of the asada, the crispness of the hash brown, the crunchy bell peppers and soft scrambled eggs offer a wealth of contrasting flavors and textures. Choose between three salsas — verde, roja and salsa macha — all of which work well with the burrito. I recommend combining the red and green. It's the best way to bring the heat and cut through the richness.
Kumquat - bacon and garlic confit breakfast burrito
This little Highland Park cafe serves superb coffee and an even better breakfast burrito. The secret? It's actually a hot pocket. Although this entry into the breakfast hall of fame is on the small side, it packs a punch. Credit goes to the confit garlic, which melds with the potato, eggs and bacon to bathe the entire burrito in its essence. The whole thing is baked so the flour tortilla turns flaky, like a puff pastry. Kumquat could benefit from fresh salsa because theirs tastes like it came from a jar but you don't actually need it. The burrito is just that good.
Guerrilla Cafecito - bacon breakfast burrito
Guerrilla Tacos no longer serves breakfast burritos but their nearby spin-off, Guerrilla Cafecito, does. The recently opened cafe pays homage to the brand's origins as a lonchera that once parked outside local coffee shops. On paper, this burrito is like most of its contemporaries — bacon, egg, cheese, potatoes, hash browns — but the smoky pinto beans and avocado salsa set it apart. Grab one, along with a cup of coffee, and reminisce about your pre-pandemic life.
Evil Cooks - black pastor (aka "goth pastor") breakfast burrito
Famed for its flan taco and black al pastor, Evil Cooks launched in 2019 as a roving pop-up but now operates out of Alex Garcia and Elvia Huerta's El Sereno home. The bedrock of the black al pastor breakfast burrito is the pork, which is marinated in a paste of burnt chiles and spices. The technique, called recado negro, originates from Yucatan and is most often used in relleno negro, a stew typically made with turkey. Here, the blackened pork is spit-roasted and married with eggs, avocado salsa, onions and cilantro. You won't feel the true life force of this burrito until you approach its end, when the egg yolk oozes into the spiced, fatty drippings of pastor negro to create an inky gravy.
23rd Street Cafe - chicken tikka masala burrito
23rd Street Cafe is best known for pairing Indian cuisine with Mexican and American flavors. That includes their breakfast burritos. My favorite is the chicken tikka masala. Eggs and cheese pair well with creamy chicken tikka masala while the hashbrowns soak up the sauce and keep the burrito from drying out. You certainly don't need salsa but you'll find a solid verde and a roja, in case you need more heat.
All Day Baby - longanisa breakfast burrito
The brunch wunderkind may be most famous for Thessa Diadem's pastries but the breakfast burrito is also outstanding. It's filled with a vibrant, spicy, smoked Filipino longanisa, the powerhouse that drives this burrito. The red-stained fat infuses the refried beans with a flavor that finds its way into every bite. If you grew up eating chorizo con frijoles, this will remind you of home. Splash on some salsa roja for extra heat.
Tirsa's - The Noa Noa
Known for its tasty and colorful creations, Tirsa's is a Mexican restaurant that puts a unique spin on classic recipes. The Noa Noa breakfast burrito is a perfect example. It contains turkey bacon, soyrizo, beans, hashbrowns and eggs. Why turkey bacon and soyrizo? Isn't that overkill? You might think so but the combo results in a spicy, fragrant filling. Bonus points for searing the burrito on a plancha, which as legend has it, seals in the flavors.
Piroshki Bakery Bros Cafe - breakfast burrito with beef and avocado
This French/Russian bakery got Insta famous for a breakfast burrito stuffed with the same ground beef mixture it uses in its piroshkis. It's also loaded with eggs, avocado, fistfuls of cheese, a moderately spicy aioli and, if you want it, bacon. Trust me, you want it. Does ground beef for breakfast sound weird to you? It did to me. But after a few bites, I realized it has the same crumbly texture as chorizo. The result is a tornado of spiced beef and cheese with creamy avocado. Also, this thing is massive. When you go to the Piroshki Bakery Bros, definitely bring a friend.
Nick's Deli - breakfast burrito with chorizo and bacon
Nick's is a Seal Beach stronghold known for its house breakfast burrito packed with a scrambled mess of eggs, potatoes, bacon and chorizo. The red sauce reminds me of El Pato, and you can get it mild or hot. I prefer the mellow spice because of the way it brings the flavors together. The Seal Beach location is a short walk to the ocean, where you can enjoy a great view as you gorge.
Jerry's Place in Long Beach - bacon and sausage breakfast burrito
In the beforetime, part of the appeal of Jerry's Place, for me, was watching the cooks perform their breakfast hibachi show. The flat metal spatula is their universal tool and they wield it with expert precision to split sausages, sear patties and flip bacon, sometimes up to four slices at once. Although Jerry's offers close to a dozen breakfast burritos, I stick to the classic bacon and sausage combo. Along with the protein, it has hashbrowns and eggs wrapped in a large flour tortilla. The hashbrowns are perfect. They crunch with every bite but they're soft enough to absorb salsa. Splash on verde and roja salsa because there are no rules.
Bar Ama - breakfast burrito
The DTLA Tex Mex restaurant makes a breakfast burrito that contains crisp bacon, crunchy hashbrowns, fluffy eggs and creamy avocado. Make sure to ask for a side of their housemade Bus Driver sauce, a sweet, tangy and slightly spicy concoction that's halfway between bottled hot sauce and barbecue sauce. Add a few drops and bus drive(r) your burrito to Flavortown (not sorry for the pun), where you might be elected the new mayor.
Chicharroland - carnitas breakfast burrito
The name says it all. Chicharroland is a South L.A. gem where, instead of chips, you get a serving of their chicharron with every order. They've also got the A.M. covered thanks to their carnitas breakfast burrito. It's just eggs and pork with the latter doing most of the work. The carnitas are juicy and the pork fat achieves a supernatural oneness with the eggs. Drizzle on salsa verde, the best topping for this burrito. Be sure to take home some chicharron or you ain't living right.
Happy Taco - bacon and sausage breakfast burrito
Located at the busy intersection of Hoover and Pico, Happy Taco is a small taqueria with a large selection of Mexican dishes. Don't get swayed by the asada fries, you're here for the breakfast burrito. Although you can choose from a variety of proteins, my go-to is the bacon and sausage combo (a pro tip I got from one of L.A.'s best pitmasters, Fernando of Ragtop Fern's). It's filled with the usual suspects — bacon, potatoes, cheese — but instead of hashbrowns or cubed potatoes, you'll find crisp tater tots. Texture is crucial and the element of crunch can transform a good breakfast burrito into a great one.
Low Key Burritos - bacon breakfast burrito with cheese crust
When Low Key Burritos launched, in 2018, it served bacon, ham and veggie breakfast burritos. Although the pop-up has since expanded its menu to include red beef chile and a wealth of rotating specials, I stick to bacon. Each burrito starts with eggs, potatoes, cheese and salsa. You can opt for add-ons such as veggies, avocado or the hands-down favorite, a cheese crust with jalapeños. They throw a pile of shredded cheese onto the grill and let it melt into a gooey, toasty pool. Then, they lay your burrito down and enrobe it in a thin but supremely satisfying mantle of crisp cheese. Make sure to request peppers and onions and remember to bring your own cup for salsa — or tell them to put extra inside the burrito.
Metztli Taqueria - barbacoa breakfast burrito and sausage breakfast burrito
Metztli emerged in 2019 with creative, chef-driven riffs on Mexican food and quickly became one of L.A.'s most exciting pop-ups. You can now score a few of Metztli's best breakfast burritos at Rocketship Coffee on Melrose. I recommend the barbacoa. This supersized version of their taco is piled with short rib meat, beans, jack cheese, hibiscus-pickled onions, scrambled eggs, hash browns and chipotle aioli. I also recommend the version filled with Italian sausage and topped with burnt tomato salsa, which reminds me of a tomato gravy, infused with herbed pork fat.
Pablito's Tacos 2.0 - Mexican Scrambler
Pablito's Tacos, which started in the parking lot of Pablito's Kitchen in Burbank, is best known for its Tijuana-goes-to-Peru tacos. It was renamed Pablito's 2.0 to combine the two menus. In its new iteration, the restaurant still serves Peruvian dishes but now you can also get tacos and gargantuan breakfast burritos. The Mexican scrambler takes every savory breakfast ingredient you've ever eaten at any point in your life and wraps it in a tortilla the size of a small pizza. This behemoth is filled with eggs, beans, bacon, chorizo, sausage patties, hash browns, cheese, guacamole, onions, cilantro, your hopes and dreams, and "crack sauce" (a creamy aji made with Peruvian peppers). Yes, they put some of the sauce in the burrito but you will definitely need more so ask for extra.
George's Burger Stand - The Brooklyn Avenue
When the Guisados team announced two years ago it was taking over George's Burger Stand, a Boyle Heights favorite, the news was a big deal. Armando de la Torre Jr. vowed to make everything fresh, which meant housemade salsas and no frozen meats. That dedication extends to the Brooklyn Avenue, a breakfast burrito that tastes so casero (aka homemade), it feels like waking up to a weekend feast of frijoles, chorizo, eggs, potatoes and fresh salsa. Part of what makes Guisados so special is the way it recreates the home-cooked feel of a Mexican kitchen. That extends to George's. I like to think of the Brooklyn Avenue as a secret item from the Guisados menu.
Lucky Boy - bacon breakfast burrito
If you want a breakfast burrito large enough to be split into anywhere from two to four meals, Lucky Boy is your jam. (Full disclosure: It's also a favorite around the LAist/KPCC offices, which are only a few blocks away from the Arroyo outpost.) Whether you prefer your breakfast burrito with sausage or bacon, whether you say "yes" to yellow peppers or "no" to ranch, this XXL creation is a gut-busting wallop. L.A.'s food culture is so varied and so specific, everyone can claim allegiance to "their" mom-and-pop burger joint. Lucky Boy manages to replicate the universal pleasure of eating at any of these places in a way that's wholly its own.
Corner Cottage - bacon breakfast burrito (with salsa inside)
Burbank's Corner Cottage is one of the OGs in the breakfast burrito game, and it has a strict definition of breakfast. Around here, the meal ends at 11 a.m. Maybe the secret to the burrito is the way it's prepared. On the plancha, you'll see mountains of hash browns sizzling next to rows of bacon away until someone scrambles and chops them together with spatulas. The aggressive mixing forces the flavors to become friends. The tomato and chile-based salsa is simple but excellent and it improves everything about the burrito, so much so that customers often ask for salsa inside the burrito then put more on each bite. Cash only.
The Rooster - The Rico Suave
Known as the Rico Suave, the breakfast burrito at the Rooster, which started as a breakfast lonchera, has all the building blocks of a traditional breakfast burrito but with one crucial twist — it uses tater tots as its starch. The bacon is crisp, the tots are crunchy, the avocado offers a welcome creaminess and the not-too-spicy salsa unites the flavors. They also toast the burrito, which prevents a mushy tortilla.
Bakers & Baristas - Jimbo's Burrito
This Cerritos cafe serves some of the best breakfast, coffee and baked goods in Southeast L.A. Owners Eric and Joe Quan recently added a breakfast burrito that combines elements of their best breakfast options — housemade chicken sausage, silky scrambled eggs, thick-cut bacon, jack cheese, tater tots, chipotle crema, avocado, caramelized onions and a tart salsa verde. The new item, part of Bakers & Baristas' streamlined COVID menu, offers comfort without sacrificing flavor or quality.
Cluck & Blaze - Nashville hot chicken breakfast burrito
The moment Nashville hot chicken hit L.A., it was only a matter of time before it found its way to breakfast. Cluck and Blaze throws together chopped up pieces of spicy, fried bird along with eggs, tater tots, cheese and sweet, tangy comeback sauce. I ask for a side of hot sauce. The heat and richness of the hot chicken bleeds into the eggs and tots, so the entire thing tastes like cayenne. Cluck and Blaze is located on a small strip just outside my alma mater, Long Beach City College, which makes some very good burritos in the cafeteria (shout out to the lunch ladies who used to hook your boy up with free bell peppers). If you're in the 'hood, it's also directly across from 1950s throwback, Dale's Diner.
Tam's - bacon or sausage breakfast burrito
What I love about L.A. is how the specific becomes universal. There's no better example of that than the local burger joint, any local burger joint. Growing up in Lynwood, mine was Tam's, where I discovered burgers and, later, breakfast burritos. The ones at Tam's are affordable, filling and the size of a small infant — the holy trinity of a great breakfast burrito. I can't remember the last time I was able to finish one in a single sitting. This breakfast burrito isn't going to blow your mind but this list wouldn't have been possible without it. As my good friend Erick Galindo might say, Tam's is the nexus of the universe. Okay, we might be exaggerating. But Tam's is an equalizer for Southeast L.A. and beyond — and a place to get good food at a great price.
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