Everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but nobody takes it as serious as the folks behind the counter at Poached Kitchen in Irvine.

With locations in Downey, and now Irvine, the main theme of Poached Kitchen is a combination between breakfast and brunch, with a little farmers market-style vibe mixed into the atmosphere.

Having found success in Downey, Calif., after opening in 2018, Poached Kitchen has opened a second location in Irvine at 17595 Harvard Avenue, Unit A.

Sotiri Mantas, General Manager of Poached Kitchen, explained that the company’s philosophy is based off using locally sourced ingredients with no frills.

“All of our supplies and ingredients are handpicked and made from scratch, to ensure that everything we serve is of the highest quality,” Mantas explained. “We use local and organic produce when available, and our humanely raised meats are free of GMOs and nitrates. It’s a farm to table concept.”

While breakfast is the menu’s common theme, the approach to the food is what has helped this two-location chain set itself apart from other restaurants.

With options ranging from the traditional avocado toast ($9), to vibrant dishes like chile verde Benedict, served with chile verde pork, poached egg, serrano aioli, cilantro, hollandaise, paprika and hash browns, or the baked apple pancakes, topped with cinnamon baked apples, bananas, walnuts, cinnamon butter and powdered sugar — Poached is really built on the concept of serving made-to-order brunch items, in a fast-casual setting.

Poached Kitchen

Poached Kitchen’s verde chilaquiles. Served with crispy tortilla chips, salsa verde, two sunny up eggs, queso fresco, creamy cilantro sauce, pickled onions, cilantro, and black beans on the side. (Courtesy Sotiri Mantas)

For Mantas, he said currently, Poached Kitchen’s number one selling item is the verde chilaquiles. Served with crispy tortilla chips, salsa verde, two sunny up eggs, queso fresco, creamy cilantro sauce, pickled onions, cilantro and black beans. Pro tip: Both the red and green chilaquiles can be modified to fit vegan dietary restrictions.

While the Irvine location opened in August, Mantas explained that there were setbacks, considering the difficulty of opening a restaurant during a pandemic. For Mantas’ staff, having to navigate new COVID-19 regulations, also added to the difficulties.

“Challenges have been operating with such limited seating,” Mantas explained in an interview with Irvine Weekly. “Overall, I think adapting to the new norm of operating our establishment to the new required guidelines has taken some getting used to. Opening up a new establishment is challenging enough and then we had double the load with opening up a new restaurant with such limited seating and the new guidelines we’re required to follow to keep Poached a safe and sanitized place.”

While Orange County remains in the Red Tier for COVID-19 monitoring, restaurants are able to host up to 25 percent of indoor capacity. Restaurants will be able to resume full indoor capacity when county metrics meet criteria for the less restrictive Orange Tier.