Fried eggs and buttered toast is the Tim Duncan of breakfasts in that it's generally very reliable, if not a little boring. Give us fried eggs on top of fried tortillas topped with rancheros sauce and salsa on almost any morning though, and it's a whole new ballgame. Thankfully, huevos rancheros are standard fare on most breakfast menus across town; for this Food Fight, Team Alcove Cafe squares off against Team El Huarachito to see which restaurant makes the better version of this classic Mexican breakfast.
The Alcove is a sunny spot in Los Feliz with a rightfully popular patio where everyone from Kenneth the Page to hipster locals reading scripts in their pajama pants at 2 p.m. can be found enjoying the all-day breakfast menu. The café prides itself on its "commitment to the environment" and sources local, organic ingredients where possible. The Alcove's huevos rancheros has three (farm fresh) fried eggs topped with generous avocado slices. The sour cream and rancheros sauces come in their own oddly wasteful plastic containers, and sides of rosemary potatoes and black beans complete the order.
About the best thing that can be said about this plate is that the rosemary potatoes are excellent: crispy outside, fluffy inside, with just the right amount of seasoning. The eggs themselves were fine, but the tortillas were essentially flavorless tortilla chips. Both the sauce and the salsa were both watery and bland. The black beans didn't add as much as we hoped, though the sour cream did. That said, it could only do so much. This was more boring than the The Big Fundamental. For $10.95 plus tax, we expected quite a bit better.
El Huarachito is just six miles away from The Alcove in Lincoln Heights. The huevos rancheros here are served sans guacamole or sour cream (though you can request both); rather, you simply get two fried eggs atop slightly crispy tortillas with rancheros sauce, refried beans and potatoes.
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El Huarchito's huevos rancheros weren't as bright and colorful as The Alcove's version. But this plate is an excellent example of why food, like books and dogs, should never be judged based on looks alone. The eggs were cooked just enough, the rancheros sauce had a little kick, the freshly made tortillas were soft and crispy. In other words, this was absolutely delicious, and very filling. And it earned extra points for its price: All this cost barely more than $5.
This Food Fight's a slam dunk. The Alcove does indeed have a pretty patio courtyard, but its huevos rancheros are not even in the same league as El Huarachito's. El Huarachito easily wins this match-up, and The Alcove leaves the court with (farm-fresh) egg on its face. Better luck next season.