Brunch at Perla Azul in La Habra is a multi-course prix fixe affair with bottomless mimosas and live music, but I only realize this after the hostess seats me at a booth main under a large crystal chandelier with a breathtaking view of the stage where a Cuban jazz band, Los Vecinos, is halfway under the spotlight. The singer, Vanessa Mardueño, has a high, aching voice that cuts through the room and reminds me of Carla Morrison. The bongo player has incredibly fast hands. These guys are good.
My mind races as I look around and realize that I didn’t stumble upon a “restaurant”, but rather a fancy live music club. The tables are cluttered with pastries, mimosas and eggs and everything seems so festive. Everyone had clearly planned this while I hadn’t.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve never been a fan of bottomless mimosas. And I’m really not in the mood for a huge brunch today. I feel like I made a mistake coming here without doing more research first. The waiter senses my apprehension.
“We have pozole,” he says, leaning over, trying not to raise his voice but needing to be heard over the music. “It’s not on this menu, but if you don’t want the full brunch, I can bring you pozole, menudo, birria…”
“Pozole looks perfect,” I say. “And a michelada, please?”
Moments later, a large bowl of pozole is on my table and I don’t even realize it because my eyes are fixed on the group. But I suddenly smell the broth and look down to see it. It’s exactly what I was hoping for: a deeply flavorful pork broth infused with dried red chili peppers (deeply spicy but not dangerously spicy), loaded with hominy and tender chunks of pork butt, served with shredded cabbage, onion radish and fried corn tortillas. I’m already on my second michelada and wondering, “How come bottomless micheladas never became a thing?”
Or: 151 W. Whittier Blvd., La Habra
When: Dinner, Tuesday to Sunday; brunch, weekend
Cost: Pozole $14, brunch only
In line: perlaazullahabra.com