With seemingly fresh ingredients, crisp bacon, and a fantastic salsa bar, the Tacos Por Favor breakfast burrito was on point. (photo by Michael Ryan)

The breakfast burrito: quick, convenient, and quintessential. While the burrito is inherently Mexican, the bacon, egg, cheese variety is as American as the hard shell taco, or the sizzling fajita platter. Not necessarily authentic as huevos rancheros, the gringo variation, as it is often referred to as, is probably the most popular.

The breakfast burrito is by no means the most sensible morning offering, but more a first meal treat. So I treated myself across the Westside trying to find the best of the best. I covered many miles on the bike, went to a variety of restaurants, and of course ate my fair share of breakfast burritos. Rome was not built in a day and neither was my mass consumption of breakfast burritos.

Here are my findings:

Thoma’s on Lincoln Boulevard and Rose Avenue had a decent offering, but with a high flow of vagrant traffic the dining experience is somewhat sketchy. Right next door the Whole Foods has a breakfast burrito with premium ingredients but the price tag can set you back.

Staying on Lincoln, Pancho’s take on the burrito was hitting on all cylinders, but not being able to discern their salsa from tomato juice marred the experience. I enjoyed the Original Tommy’s variety on Lincoln and Pico boulevards, but it is tough to bounce back on the day after a chili injected breakfast burrito. Tom’s Family Restaurant’s breakfast burrito was all show and no go. It was humongous and rather cheap, but the potato was too plentiful and bacon was scarce.

Traversing Santa Monica trying to find the best breakfast burrito is admittedly daunting. I did my best, sampling a variety of different restaurants that had some real merits as well as some pitfalls. There were a few surprises and few places that excelled in atmosphere and of course the food.

The best tasting breakfast burrito may have been from Tacos Por Favor, situated on Olympic Boulevard across from Memorial Park. Tacos Por Favor is the Mexican version of Bay Cities Deli in the sense that everything on the menu is very good. Dare I say exceptional? With seemingly fresh ingredients, crisp bacon, and a fantastic salsa bar, the Tacos Por Favor breakfast burrito was on point. The only stipulation is that everything at Tacos Por Favor is a bit pricey, including the breakfast burrito.

Bagel Nosh, on 17th and Wilshire, offers a pretty pedestrian breakfast burrito at best. Served up with a small bowl of El Paso, Tostitos, or some other store bought “jug-o-salsa” solidified the meal’s mediocrity. But Bagel Nosh gets five stars, two thumbs up and the blue ribbon for ambiance. The dining room is clean, comfortable, and inviting. Bagel Nosh is certainly a pleasant dining experience, even if the burrito was just so so.

The biggest surprise came from D.K.’s Donuts on Santa Monica Boulevard and 16th. The eggs are not scrambled but over-hard, which was a first. The burrito also contains a pre-formed deep-fried hash brown patty. The kicker is they throw the hash brown patty in the donut fryer. Each bite has a sweet donut accent making this version one of the more unique breakfast burritos I have had. Not making the breakfast burritos fresh to order is a setback, but understandable coming from a donut shop.

So many breakfast burritos, so little time. All of them found their way to my stomach. And some of that bacon grease found a little place in my heart. All the more reason to keep biking, and keep exploring what Santa Monica has to offer.

Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike. To reach him visit his Twitter at twitter.com/greaseweek or his website at tourdefeast.net

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