Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Checking out Some Chilaquiles in Costa Mesa

Amorelia Mexican Cafe
2200 Harbor Blvd. C-110
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

My search for the best breakfast burrito has been overtaken by a new passion for me. I have really gotten into chilaquiles, to the point where its what I crave almost every morning. I feel like I'm cheating on breakfast burritos, but the heart and stomach know what they want and at this point in time, both want chilaquiles. So after a one hour walk around nearby Fairhaven Park, we decided to reward ourselves with breakfast at Amorelia Cafe.

I had heard about this place, as I do with a lot of the restaurants on my wishlist, by reading about them in the OC Weekly. They did a feature a year and a half ago about the ten best chilaquiles, and I wrote down about half of them to visit at a future date. We've made it through about half of the list so far, which you can see here.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with this simple, yet complex dish to master, it's basically tortilla chips, which are lightly fried, covered in green or red sauce, and is then served with eggs, and sometimes meat. There are lots of varieties of this dish, and almost every restaurant does their version differently. To date, my favorite versions of this classic Mexican breakfast item are from Anepalco's in Orange and the one at El Camino Cafe in Tustin, both of which are included on the OC Weekly list but are also two very different styles of chilaquiles. The one at Anepaclo's is what I would call a fancy version of this dish, which is Chef Daniel Godines trademark item at all of his restaurants. The rendition of chilaquiles at El Camino was more what most people have come to expect from this dish, but done superbly. I was excited to see how the one here at Amorelia was going to turn out.

Amorelia Cafe is located in the K-Mart shopping center on the corner of Wilson and Harbor. Who knew there were any K-Mart's left? Anyways, there's also a Payless Shoes, Flame Broiler, and a Planet Fitness in the same shopping center, just in case you want to get a post workout following your meal.

We arrived here at just before 11 am on a recent Sunday morning. Amorelia Cafe is named after a city in Michoacan, Mexico, a place where Owner and Executive Chef Gloria Seretti praises the food from this Central Mexican city as, "food that tastes like heaven". The inside of this restaurant was one of the most comfortable we have encountered in some time, and maybe that's because we weren't expecting so much, based on the rather rundown shopping center this is located in. Pleasing dark woods, comfortable tables, sturdy chairs, a faux rock wall which was right by our table, and there were many TV's, all of which were turned to the same soccer game on this particular morning. We had about a ten-minute wait on this visit, but once seated, we made our choices rather quickly and patiently waited for our food to arrive.

Since I was here for the Chilaquiles ($13.50) we might as well start off with them. These were awesome. I went with the red sauce and added steak for the four dollar upcharge. The gently fried tortillas were served with scrambled eggs, crema, salsa, and cheese. The key to these was that the tortillas were crisp along the edges and a little soft towards the middle of the chip. The sauce was awesome, with a tinge of spice to it, which was cooled down a bit by the crema. Next time I will definitely save the four dollars and forgo the unnecessary steak, which was overshadowed by the rest of this dish. The ten little pieces of steak were inconsequential here, and my enjoyment of this plate was not dependent on the meat. The refried beans had a good consistency and were obviously homemade. I thought the serving size of the chilaquiles at first seemed pretty small, but these snuck up on me, and I was full by the end of this meal. Very satisfying, and something I will come back for many times over.

When I'm eating breakfast, I always like to mix sweet and savory, and since the chilaquiles only took care of one part of this equation, an order of Mexican Hot Cakes ($6.00) had to take care of the sweet part of my meal. These came three to an order, and I'm not really sure what made them Mexican, other than the fact that they came with both syrup, and what I suspected to be Lecherita. The hotcakes here are fluffy, had a good heft to them, and were made even better with the Lecherita, which kind of tasted like the icing that comes in the Pillsbury cinnamon roll tube. I used quite a bit of the Lecherita and the provided maple syrup and was a little bummed when Katie wanted some, as I did not want to share. Next time I'll make her order her own, as they were too good to share.

I was a little surprised that Katie did not get her usual breakfast in a Mexican restaurant, Huevos Rancheros. She opted for this Burrito Mexicano ($9.95) instead. This souped up breakfast burrito included eggs, onions, serrano chilies, pinto beans, and cheese. She really sang the praises of this burrito, which she said was one of the better ones she has had. She liked that there were some big time flavors in this, and the burrito did not just rely on a breakfast meat to make it good. The eggs were seasoned, the chilis added a subtle heat, and the pinto beans added some moisture. This was a burrito that Katie would get again and again. The menu said that this burrito comes with hash browns on the side, but it was a little misleading, as it came with sliced potatoes, which were topped with a small sprinkling of cheese. Katie did not seem to mind, as these were fork tender and were a nice side item to the burrito.

Amorelia Cafe was all it was cracked up to be. Their version of chilaquiles is definitely one of the best I have had, and this will not be the last time that I partake in them. The breakfast was so good here, we are going to come back and try their lunch and dinner items as well. Service was very leisurely on this Sunday. They did not seem to be in any hurry to turn over tables, and we did wait long stretches between visits from our server. I'm still glad I came here to facilitate my latest breakfast obsession. Even though this version will be hard to beat, I'm looking forward to tackling the second half of the chilaquiles list.

Out of five rock climbers, (because the city of Morelia, Mexico, which this restaurant is named after, holds a festival every March promoting rock climbing in this region), five being best to zero being worst, Amorelia Mexican Cafe gets 3.5 rock climbers.

For more information about Amorelia Mexican Cafe, check them out here:


  1. My favorite from that list is Taqueria Zamora. Both red and green are legit.

    Missing from that list, and another one of my favorites, are the carnitas chilaquiles from Early Bird. I know you tasted them awhile back, but I think they deserve another look.


  2. Anonymous/OC Steve - Thanks for the tip on Taqueria Zamora. I'll have to go there next, when I get my next Sunday off of work. Early Bird is great. I have missed that place. Thanks for the reminder and for taking the time to read and comment on the blog.

  3. I'm getting hungry just by reading your posts !