Best of Orange County 2022: Best breakfast

1. Rose Bakery Café

3536 East Coast Hwy., Ste. C, Corona Del Mar, 949-675-3151, rosebakerycafe.com

From basic fare to killer breakfast burritos to fancier dishes like eggs Benedict or lox, this eatery in Corona del Mar is grabbing attention and a loyal following in the busy breakfast scene.

The bakery cafe opens at 5 a.m. for early risers and rarely slows down until the last of the sandwiches made with premium Boar’s Head meat is made.

“You need to see what we’re about,” said owner/proprietor Shawn Lim, who opened the modest-from-the-outside eatery 23 years ago. “In summer it’s just crazy.”

Long before the bakery and cafe doors open, the eatery hums with activity — bakers are at work cooking up doughnuts, croissants, scones, breads and cakes. Meanwhile fresh coffee beans are ground for the morning caffeine seekers.

Breakfasts include five classic egg combos, eight breakfast burritos and five omelet platters. There are also pancake stacks, two kinds of eggs benedict and lox and bagels.

For those who miss the breakfast rush, the quality doesn’t diminish with a lunch menu stuffed with burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads.

The cafe has a generous outdoor seating area from which to observe the morning goings-on in CdM.

Despite its often crazy-busy pace, Lim says he has worked hard to train and keep the best wait staff in the area so that you’ll be in, out and ready to take on the rest of your day.

— Greg Mellen

2.  Snooze an A.M. Eatery

Tustin, Orange, Laguna Niguel, snoozeeatery.com

With the motto of “breakfast but different,” Snooze Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Jaffe says, there is “an emphasis on thoughtful, craveable and innovative breakfasts.

“We’re thrilled that our creative take on breakfast has continued to resonate with Orange County residents.”

An example of “different”? How about six, count ‘em, kinds of bloody Marys?

If you like eggs Benedict, try any of nine “Bennies.” All are made with cage-free eggs, you can get them in combinations with ham, pork bellies, chiles, avocados and hollandaise sauces with a twist to fit the dish. If you can’t decide, you can always mix them up with a “Benny duo.”

Snooze has 11 kinds of pancakes, including the Funky Monkey French Toast. For those who want a little breakfast with their dessert, it features banana pancakes, white chocolate chips, caramel sauce, candied pecans, whipped mascarpone and banana broulee. And there’s always pure maple syrup.

Don’t forget the plant-based menu.

3.   Proud Mary’s Restaurant

34689 Green Lantern, Dana Point, 949-493-5853, proudmarysdp.com

The proprietors at Proud Mary compare breakfast or lunch with them, while enjoying the killer harbor views, to “vacation without the expense or travel hassles.”

It is also self-described as having a “Jimmy Buffett atmosphere,” without the corporate Margaritaville trappings.

Breakfast is served between 8 a.m. and noon, and features a wide array of breakfast fare, including your basic egg and pancake combos. Proud Mary’s also has five kinds of breakfast burritos and eight different omelets and scrambles.

If you choose to kick it up a notch, there are seven combo plates, including eggs Benedict and Florentine. A featured Country Benedict comes with buttermilk biscuits topped with sausage patties and poached eggs and smothered in sausage gravy with home fries.

Lunch with burgers, sandwiches, burritos and tacos are served after 11 a.m.

Mary’s also has a full bar and cozy lounge because, to quote Buffett, “it’s five o’clock somewhere.”