Read Elmomonster's review of TK Burger's other Costa Mesa location.
For another great local burger chain, check out my review of Knowlwood.
Edit 08/24/2013: The specific location reviewed in this post which served breakfast has closed. However, other locations remain open, and I urge you to try them.)
Beginning with its flagship Balboa Island operation in 1986, TK Burger (aka The Kind Burger) has expanded to four locations along the central Orange County coast. At each satellite establishment, the small diner chain attempts to evoke the beach grill shack feel of the original. Surfboards, skater paraphernalia, LP covers, and stickers from local bands feature prominently, and sometimes haphazardly, in their decorations. It's a display that ends up coming off as trying just a little too hard. However, behind the nostalgia-inspired trappings TK Burger is the type of short-order greasy spoon near and dear to my heart.
TK Burger's cheeseburgers are legend amongst local high school and college students, and are frequently mentioned in online food forums and discussions as among the best in Orange County. It's a reputation that has been well-earned. Each grilled beef patty is served sizzling hot on warm egg bread buns with the freshest possible classic fixings. The simple honesty of each ingredient is what elevates these burgers. There are no gimmicks, no secret sauces, and no strange add-ons used to disguise substandard materials. The Cheeseburger, and the Big Bargain Special (Cheeseburger & Fries), just can't be beat.
However, my favorite TK Burger is the one on Costa Mesa's 19th Street. Unique amongst its brothers, it harbors a delectable secret. Years before it became a TK Burger in 2005, the 19th Street location was home to Johnny G's, an charmingly schizophrenic neighborhood haunt that offered an eclectic mix of American, Mexican, and Greek dishes, as well as damn good breakfasts. When the diner became a TK Burger, much of the original menu was slashed. However, what few people other that former Johnny G's regulars know is that most of the original breakfast items were kept, making the 19th Street location the only TK Burger to offer breakfast in the mornings.
Their breakfasts are, if you'll pardon my French, fucking awesome. Clocking in at an average of $5 dollars, each plate comes with a slab of hash brown the length of my forearm and a stack of buttered toast. From the classic 3-egg special with a choice of bacon, sausage, or ham to pork chops, steak, chorizo, or a respectable array of omelets, there's nothing on the breakfast menu that isn't delicious and incredibly affordable.
Their highly popular Breakfast Burritos are huge. Each is essentially a 3-egg special stuffed into a jumbo tortilla. However, if you're looking for something you can really sink your teeth into, nothing beats the Fried Egg Sandwich, which is two eggs over easy with all the cheeseburger fixings. Add bacon for another 40¢, and you've got a triple cholesterol cluster bomb that will devastate your taste buds. What it does to your arteries is just collateral damage.
Starch lovers will flip over the Pancakes or French Toast, which come in huge platters for slightly over $3. For a dollar or two more, you can add eggs cooked to order and what should now be a familiar choice of breakfast meats.
For something a little more ethnic, I recommend the Huevos Rancheros, one of the few Mexican items to survive from the Johnny G's days. Three eggs over easy sandwiched between crisp corn tortillas, topped with ground salsa and cheese. Generous helpings of rice and beans make it a party. A sexy party.
TK Burger - While the burgers are undoubtedly among the best in Orange County, the breakfasts at the 19th Street TK Burger reign supreme. These Johnny G's classics helped keep me alive when I was a starving and broke student working my way through college. I'm over the moon that I can still get them even after the TK Burger takeover. You've got to try them.
Cheeseburger - 3.99
Big Bargain Special (Cheeseburger & Fries) - 4.98
Fried Egg Sandwich - 3.29
with choice of Bacon, Sausage, or Ham - 3.69
French Toast - 3.69
Denver Omelet - 5.39
Huevos Rancheros - 4.99
615 19th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Other locations (No breakfast served):
2119 W Balboa Blvd. (Flagship)
Newport Beach, CA 92663
2966 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Read Elmomonster's review!
110 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648