The Breakfast Burrito Empire: Pleasure Point favorite makes its mark on Westside
The Point Market on East Cliff Drive has expanded its reach to four outlets, including Pacific Point Market & Cafe between downtown and the wharf — and the breakfast burrito is leading the way.
Maybe because it’s roughly the shape — and, depending on where you get it, almost the size — of a surfboard, the breakfast burrito has become the go-to culinary symbol of surf culture.
Sure, the “BB” is no longer an exotic local delicacy, if it ever was. (Nothing that’s featured on the McDonald’s menu, as the breakfast burrito now is, can ever be labeled “exotic.”) It’s now an American classic.
Still, its grab-and-go utility, its nutritional payload, its versatility, and its slam-dunk deliciousness have turned the BB into the ideal food for surfers, as well as for those who rarely venture into water outside their own bathtubs.
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The Point Market on East Cliff Drive in the Pleasure Point area of Santa Cruz figured this out a long time ago. The Point is little more than your friendly neighborhood bodega, with two distinctions: One is its gonzo collection of ball caps, somewhere between 200 and 300 of them, hanging from the ceiling. The second is a strong commitment to the breakfast burrito.
Very quietly, however, The Point is turning into a Santa Cruz breakfast-burrito empire. A few years ago, the market’s owner, Hassan Ayyad, moved into the Twin Lakes area with his Black Point Market at 14th and East Cliff. And he’s just recently opened another deli space on 41st Avenue near The Hook.
But Ayyad’s boldest gambit might have been last October when, in the teeth of the pandemic, he made a jump toward the Westside by opening Pacific Point Market & Café, across from Depot Park between downtown Santa Cruz and the wharf.
Pacific Point doesn’t have the space to be a full-on convenience store like the other sites, but it does have spacious outdoor seating. It’s a setup that all but guarantees that the breakfast burrito is the star.
SEEKING BREAKFAST BURRITO HOT TAKES
Everyone’s got an opinion on food, and many on the unique delights of the breakfast burrito. Let’s hear from you:
➤ Is the breakfast burrito a grade above the “regular” burrito? Or the other way around?
➤ Is it fair for restaurants to stop serving the breakfast burrito at a certain time?
➤ Should breakfast burritos stick to a limited list of ingredients? Or is there something essential to the anything-goes approach?
➤ What’s in your favorite breakfast burrito? And who in Santa Cruz County serves the best?
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The Point markets certainly have other things on the menu: omelets, sandwiches, burgers. But, Ayyad said, for a large part of his clientele, the BB is what drives the bus. “The breakfast ones are the ones that sell the most, for sure,” he said.
Of course, the X-factor in the breakfast burrito is eggs, the one ingredient that renders all other burritos merely “regular.” American food lore gives the credit for the original so-called “breakfast burrito” to a café in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was the first to use the term on its menu in the 1970s — though surely the idea of wrapping freshly made scrambled eggs in a flour tortilla long predates New (and maybe even old) Mexico.
Potatoes are another ingredient that separates the BB — an essential for some aficionados, not at all for others. Bacon is something else that commonly shows up in the BB.
Folded into the ever-hybridizing maw of California cuisine, however, the breakfast burrito has morphed into all kinds of forms in recent decades, with a kind of anything-goes ethic prevailing in some places while a traditional Mexican style holds strong in others. Count The Point among the innovators.
The original Point Market — old-timers will remember it as Elizabeth’s Market — is just steps away from some of Santa Cruz’s most crowded surf breaks, and it’s not uncommon to see surfers dripping wet in their O’Neill suits waiting to order.
The signature BB at The Point is the Barrel, with eggs, potatoes, bacon, avocado and cheese. Ayyad has exported his menu to Pacific Point Market & Café as well, and that menu features no less than 16 styles of breakfast burrito, including the far-afield (the Greek, for example, features feta cheese and olives) and even the meat-free (the Vegan drops the eggs and fills out with spinach, artichokes and beans).
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Some choices have a particularly aggressive dude-bro vibe to them and could potentially frighten the diet-conscious: The Cali adds carne asada and French fries along with eggs, cheese and avocado, while the Mexi-Cali adds chorizo to that mix.
The term “breakfast” not only implies eggs, but also for mornings only. Indeed, many delis, restaurants, and taquerias stop serving breakfast burritos when it’s no longer breakfast time. That’s not the case at The Point.
“Here, it’s all day long,” Ayyad said. “You can have one for dinner, if you want. And why not? It’s eggs, protein. It’s all good.”
Pacific Point, said Ayyad, is a gamble that the Pleasure Point-style breakfast burrito will play well with Westsiders.
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“A lot of people would come from the Westside to The Point to have their burritos there,” he said. “It happens all the time. Now we’re closer to them. It’s all turned out well.”