Santa Clarita’s Breakfast Burrito Brigade: An official Proclaimer rankingSean Malin August 4, 2019 4 Comments
It is easy to write off the breakfast burrito, perhaps the laziest of all breakfast foods.
The worst of them is a sloppy mish-mash of powdered scrambled eggs, cheap pre-sliced cheddar and canned hash browns piled into a single ratty tortilla. And while I don’t have the statistics in front of me, I’d be willing to bet that no dish has caused more car accidents, uncountable thousands accidentally dropped near the gas pedal just before an unexpected slowdown, or perhaps bitten into only to release molten cheese-whiz into one’s unprotected lap or even thrown out the window into the face of a murderous motorcyclist, Ron Burgundy-style.
Yet those who would write off breakfast burritos are only hurting themselves. Throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, a conscientious effort to boost the reputation of this notorious foodstuff has taken hold, with delightful new variations emerging over the last half-decade here. Many restaurants offer breakfast burritos – after all, what dish is more easily served at an up-charge? – but only a few are putting their powers of invention towards the greater good. Here, in order, are the most daring of these purveyors.
Hand-made flour tortillas and a refried beans recipe par excellence go a long way in distinguishing this beloved hole-in-the-wall from Santa Clarita’s typical burrito joints. Though Nany’s is best known as one of two Salvadoran-influenced Canyon Country pupuserias (Rosarito Grill is the other), the idiosyncrasies in flavor here are even more evident throughout their long list of burritos. Some of the offerings might seem unusual for breakfast – birria, for example, or the tasty lengua – but the house carnitas are so undeniably savory that time of day doesn’t much matter. Try them around 11a.m., after the pork is freshly marinated in its citrusy grease for a couple of hours. Even if the burrito gets soggy, at least its collapse will be in the name of great taste.
19006 Soledad Canyon Rd, Canyon Country. (661) 251-1019.
Although it opened in 2016, Ay Caramba! never managed to find its audience. It’s a shame, because this Mexican diner once relied extensively on recipes from the minds of gifted chef Margarita Gutierrez and her husband, Alberto. Besides exceptional weekend menudo and pozole for colder seasons, that also includes sauces and signature dishes, like the quite lovely (and substantial) chorizo breakfast burrito with fresh pico de gallo and crema. The Gutierrez family left Ay Caramba! to new owners earlier this year, taking their family specialties with them. All we can hope is that the breakfast burrito retains the qualities that made it special under the restaurant’s original founders.
18540 Via Princessa, Canyon Country. (661) 250-7821.
Damn the cowards who kept Nealie’s Skillet and its customers in suspended animation this past year after a series of robberies. Even those who love Nealie’s have been hard-pressed to find a time to return for a meal in between attacks. Rest assured: the culprit is now apprehended, and Nealie’s is back to slinging its lovely, unusual (a compliment!) breakfast burritos for all interested parties. The best version is unfortunately a touch pricy: add to the regular combo of egg, bacon, hash browns, arugula, tomato, cheddar, pico de gallo, and crema and cotija cheese some chunky alligator sausage, and you wind up with a sensationally good $15.50 burrito. If price is not a problem, then drop an additional $2.50 for some turkey sausage, which adds a peppery and deeply savory aftertaste to the meal.
25858 Tournament Rd., Valencia. (661) 678-0031.
Miss me with the geography lesson about the nearest It’s a Grind technically being in Castaic rather than Santa Clarita proper. We will never forget the calm, cheerful mornings at its dearly departed Canyon Country location (R.I.P.), even if that brick-and-mortar wasn’t quite as well-run as its peppy peer at Hasley Canyon Village. As my colleague Brianna Bricker observes, The Old Road’s It’s A Grind has become the preferred local alternative for those turning away from the monolithic Green Mermaid of coffee. That’s in part because this outpost serves an unexpectedly superb breakfast burrito in addition to its java, with a pancake-sized spinach tortilla (rare treat), crispy tator tots and a medley of greens that takes breakfast-on-the-go to a higher echelon.
29641 The Old Rd., Castaic. (661) 702-9636.
At the root of Santa Clarita’s breakfast burrito revolution are the bulbous, eccentric wonders currently offered at our city’s premiere breakfast destination. At its core, the dish Simon and Shannon Mee began serving years ago was just a large version of the well-known standard: eggs, cheese, hash browns, tortilla and c’est bon. In the ensuing time, however, Egg Plantation’s kitchen has become downright exploratory, adeptly assembling mutant variations to suit its customers’ specifications, no matter how bloated they threaten to make the wrap. By coincidence, the most delectable I’ve tasted in this last decade is the personal recipe of The Proclaimer’s Assistant Editor, Daniel Kulick, which adds grilled mushrooms and cheddar cheese to complement the four scrambled eggs, avocado, jack cheese, potatoes, bacon and house salsa already in there. The result is a beastly thing to look at, but no less delectable to taste.
24415 Walnut St., Newhall. (661) 255-8222.
Wet, dry, roja, verde: there is no such thing as a bad burrito at this unheralded corner spot across from false burrito king Jimmy Dean’s. Still, there is no denying that its signature burrito de desayuno hits peak taste when soaked through and through with the kitchen’s hand-made tangy verde sauce. The burrito is sizeable to the point of intimidation, but don’t be afraid. The beans are recently re-fried and its eggs (typically two, though tastier with three) scrambled a la Mexicana, with summery pico and a hint of jalapeño to add bite. All in all, there is no more pleasing tortilla-wrapped bite to be had in the SCV – except one.
22950 Lyons Ave., Newhall. (661) 254-2585.
Yes, the declaration scrawled in neon on the front of Mighty Mouth – “Best Burrito in Town” – is obnoxiously bold, but that doesn’t make it false. After decades in the same Soledad and Sierra storefront, Mighty Mouth has earned its bragging rights by creating the fattest and most interesting burrito in Santa Clarita, although it’s not the measly, basic ¾-pounder advertised on the façade. Actually, the trophy for the city’s best breakfast burrito goes to the dish known as “Tracy’s Favorite”, loaded as it is with roasted pastrami, double cheeses and spicy, onion-heavy homemade salsa that drips out the bottom if you’re not careful. It sounds like some kind of cosmic joke that a faded vintage burger joint whose burgers themselves are not particularly good is currently producing both the best-made breakfast burrito and the tastiest pastrami in our valley. At least we get to eat in these confusing times.
18545 Soledad Canyon Rd., Canyon Country. (661) 298-5644.