324 West 4th Street #B
Santa Ana, CA 92701
I think my love for Mexican breakfast has now eclipsed my love for more traditional breakfast foods. Just looking over my list of breakfast spots that I want to try, it is loaded with plenty of places that tout chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and breakfast burritos as their specialties. I used to be very partial to breakfast skillets and pancakes, but now I find myself checking out restaurants on Yelp for the best breakfast tacos and breakfast tortas.
My love for breakfast foods from south of the border has become so much an obsession, that when my friends Angel and Rebekah casually mentioned their recent visit to Cafe Calacas, Katie and I made quick plans to meet them on a recent Saturday in downtown Santa Ana and give it a try.
Like the inside of the restaurant, Cafe Calacas menu is not extremely large. They feature a handful of breakfast specialties, some waffles, and then some salads, wraps, and sandwiches to round things out. They are also known for their coffee drinks, juices, and smoothies. Since we had about a half hour wait in line to study the menu, we made our selections rather quickly when we hit the register. We were given a number and waited for our food to be brought out to us. Let's see if Cafe Calacas would become one of my favorite spots for Mexican breakfast in OC.
I'm not a coffee drinker, but I really enjoyed seeing the designs that they had on top of these beverages. Some real artsy stuff here, and it was a shame that they were going to be ruined after the first sip. I'm not sure what Rebekah's drink was, but Katie had the Cinnamon Latte ($3.75) and really enjoyed it. She claims that the people that make the coffees at Cafe Calacas really know their stuff, and she would definitely swing by here for another one of their excellent creations.
When you are ordering at the register, do yourself a favor and check out the baked goods featured behind the glass. Angel and Rebekah got what I believe they called a Mexican Chocolate Pop Tart ($2.00). It had a crumbly coating with some good chocolate in the inside pouch. This kind of reminded me of a chocolate croissant that was dipped in granola. Tasty.
My Chilaquiles obsession must be spreading, as Katie got this Chilaquiles 2.0 ($12.00). At Cafe Calacas they have two versions of chilaquiles, one is regular, without an added protein, while the other is with your choice of meat added. Katie had the chicken, but chorizo and carne asada are also options. This breakfast dish is made with layered fried tortilla chips, red or green salsa, queso fresco, cilantro, two eggs cooked to your liking, and finished off with a drizzle of crema. Katie selected the green salsa, which had quite a bit of flavor. I was lucky enough to be able to have her leftovers the next day, and I liked hers better than what I had. The chicken was not too dry, and the green salsa had more of a depth of flavor than the red did.
My version of Chilaquiles 2.0 ($12.00) featured steak instead of the chicken and I got my eggs sunny side up because I'm always partial to having as much runny yolk as possible. I really enjoyed the first ten or so bites of this, but then it kind of became boring to me. I think the reason for this was that the ratio of eggs and meat to the fried chips was overblown by a lot. There were lots more chips here as compared to anything else. The red salsa did not really have as big of a flavor profile as the green that came with Katie's chilaquiles. Not awful, but not one of my favorite versions of chilaquiles in OC.
Mixing sweet and savory at breakfast has become a tradition with me when we eat breakfast out, and for my sweet item on this particular morning, I tried the Bananas Foster Waffles ($7.99). For this, they top a Belgian waffle with caramel, sliced banana, and granola, and then garnish the plate with whipped cream and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. This had some winning bites, but most parts of this were devoid of caramel and did not taste like anything. A very boring sweet breakfast item that could have been made much better with some extra caramel or maybe even some maple syrup.
Rebekah had the lone savory waffle on the Cafe Calacas menu, the Puerquitos In A Blanket ($8.99). They use their Belgian waffle as a base and then top it with chorizo, queso fresco, refried beans, cilantro, and is then finished off with a sweet and spicy sauce. She could only finish three-quarters of this, so I obliged her by finishing the rest. It fell in line with most of the other entrees I had here, it was lackluster. I think this also needed a sauce to bind it all together. The chorizo was fine, but a little on the dry side, and there was not enough beans or sweet and spicy sauce on this to make much of an impression. Even though the menu made no mention of it, the crema was a welcome addition here.
Cafe Calacas was fine but did not really stand out other than their coffee drinks and the pop tart thing we had to start. I kind of felt that each of the entrees needed to be sauced a bit more, and needed a little extra pizazz. The setup here was also a little unnerving, as people were grabbing tables before they had even ordered. I was also curious as to why it took so long to order at the register. It took us 25 minutes to just stand in line to place our order. Maybe go to a full-service restaurant where you place orders with a server and then also check in with a hostess when you arrive. The girls running food and clearing tables were definitely hustling on this particular morning, and they were not part of the issue here. My search for the best chilaquiles continues, just as my love for Mexican breakfast grows. Can't wait to tackle more from my list.
Out of five skeletons, (because the word calacas translates to skeletons, and they lend to the decor of the inside of this restaurant), five being best to zero being worst, Cafe Calacas gets 2.5 skeletons.
For more information about Cafe Calacas, head to their website here: http://www.cafecalacas.com/index.html