(photo by Michael Ryan)

Building your own burger is no longer a novel concept amongst some of the better griddles here in town. Marking off a checklist to customize your burger’s, bun, patty, and toppings, is certainly a fun and interactive way to chow down.

Here in Santa Monica no place is better known for this than The Counter on Ocean Park Blvd. So when the OP Cafe, just a couple of blocks down the street, decided to take a page out of The Counter’s playbook with a build-your-own breakfast burrito, it was worth the bike ride over to the eastside of town to give it a shot.

Part of the fun with the DIY burrito is that you are the boss of your breakfast. With a checklist in one hand and a free wielding pen in the other, you can mark off everything from a selection of sauces, meats, cheeses, veggies, and tortillas ultimately controlling your morning dining destiny. However, with great power comes great responsibility, so proceed with purpose while making your own breakfast burrito. Play it safe, and you are stuck with a boring burrito. Go all out, and your burrito becomes an invariable breakfast buffet of chaos stuffed into a tortilla.

Originally I was leaning on the side of caution, but as the server neared to collect my blueprint, I panicked, audibled out, and clubbed up, by checking off a last second mix of options. Ultimately when the breakfast burrito came, I was pleased with my creation. While scrambled eggs are usually the standard, the DIY burrito affords you the option of over easy, medium, or hard style eggs. Breaking into some over easy eggs in a burrito, while very messy, adds great levels of rich flavor. Big points for the OP Cafe for that option. Big points for me selecting regular and Canadian varieties of bacon as well.

Whether it is a build-your-own burger, burrito, or anything else that comes with a checklist, it will usually come with a side of diner’s remorse. Perhaps going with chicken apple sausage on a wheat tortilla, would have been a better choice than chorizo in a veggie tortilla. Or maybe getting the breakfast burrito with pico de gallo, zucchini, and egg whites would have been more sensible than the tri-tip, cheddar cheese, and sour cream variety. The DIY burrito has great replay value, because you will want to try out all sorts of different variations. Essentially, you are only as good as your last breakfast burrito.

Served with home fries and marked at $7.95 (add ons extra) the DIY breakfast burrito is on par with all the other reasonably priced offerings at this small breakfast and lunch neighborhood nook. It is also only offered Monday through Friday which is understandable since the place can become such a madhouse on weekends. The kitchen probably does not want to deal with so many specialty orders. Service is snappy and friendly, and feel free to chat it up with the manager, Ricky. He is always good for the latest on conspiracy theories, government cover-ups, or the apocalypse in general.

The last thing that must be noted is you can name your burrito and share your recipe on the OP Cafe’s Facebook page. But who has time for that? So if you log on, and see a burrito with over easy eggs, jack cheese, bacon, Canadian bacon, spinach, mushrooms, and diablo sauce, in a flour tortilla named The Chuck Norris Tic Tac, it may or may not be mine.

Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike burning calories so he can eat more food, or on CityTV hosting his own show, “Tour de Feast.” To reach him visit his website at tourdefeast.net or follow him on Twitter @TourDeFeastSM.

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