Coastal fog is often still peeling away from the sidewalk when the first round of Saturday morning customers arrive at Baran’s 2239 in Hermosa Beach. They linger inside the strip mall parking lot that faces out to Pacific Coast Highway, wearing flip-flops and hoodies. It’s an incongruously early sight for the Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded South Bay dinner spot, lauded by the international dining guide for its bistro ambiance, approachable wine list, and “filet of beef with a sumptuous black garlic-Sichuan sauce.” For years the steady, low-key restaurant had operated strictly in that lane, serving the South Bay cities with charm and evening elegance.
Then, one day, they decided to make a breakfast burrito.
“We started during COVID,” says co-owner Jason Baran, who cooked up the first iteration of the restaurant’s breakfast burrito alongside chef Tyler Gugliotta. “We were just trying to figure out how to make some income.”
Baran had founded his namesake restaurant in March 2016 with brother Jonathan Baran, and for years it felt like Baran’s 2239 was precisely what it should be: a strip mall surprise that, thanks the chef Gugliotta, always went out of its way to beat expectations. The pandemic threatened to take all of that away. So, like nearly every other restaurant in Southern California, the guys switched things up overnight, iterating on a new breakfast burrito (along with some early sandwiches and daytime fare) that they could sell fast and easy to fans who were still willing to come out for pickups. The burrito was an almost instant hit. “It just blew up,” says Baran.
To put it more bluntly: The burrito has gone nuclear. Three years after that first trial run, Baran’s 2239 is serving more than 1,100 breakfast burritos every weekend, Friday through Sunday, plus specials and one-off burritos as they pop up (usually on Fridays). The restaurant sells nearly two burritos a minute, every minute, for the 11 daytime hours that they’re open on weekends. “We’re kind of at our max right now,” says Gugliotta, “purely from a storage standpoint. It’s basically all we can do.”
It takes days of prep and a dedicated burrito team to execute the weekend pickups, including folks who only answer phones and plug preorders into Excel sheets. While walk-up ordering is possible, most people direct message the restaurant on Instagram to secure a pickup time and order. The admittedly archaic system keeps the restaurant from getting inundated with waiting customers, and it also keeps diners with a lot of other daytime options locked into the Baran’s 2239 brand. “Our engagement on burrito stuff is pretty incredible,” says Gugliotta, “and a lot of that has to do with our ordering system. You have to be invested to get one.”
In the kitchen, the prep cooks are even more invested, tirelessly parsing out every ingredient. Each burrito (served on Mejorado tortillas) gets four ounces of Vital Farms egg, two ounces of cheese, two ounces of cooked bacon, and precisely 13 tater tots. The eggs are cooked in a five-by-two row of nonstick pans set over ten individual burners, with a total pickup time of eight minutes from ticket to takeout. The weekend team batches the food as much as possible, but with over 100 burritos flying out of the kitchen every hour, nothing ever sits for long.
“Are any of the ingredients unique? Not really,” says Gugliotta. “But all of those details add up to something special.” Even in the South Bay, where great breakfast burritos — like those found down the street at Phanny’s — are easy to come by, a cult following for the Baran’s version has developed.
“I mean, I like breakfast burritos,” adds Jason Baran with a laugh, “but I guess I didn’t realize how popular they are.”
Baran estimates that 70 percent of his weekend clientele is repeat business, and he and Gugliotta both readily admit that the burritos helped to keep Baran’s 2239 afloat during the leanest days of the pandemic. Neither is thinking of turning the restaurant into a full-time burrito shack, though. “The income has helped us out with so many things,” says Baran. “It’s helped us to keep staff, and to pay everyone well, but the number one most important thing to us is still dinner.”
There are talks of eventually spinning the burritos off into a standalone space but Gugliotta is happy to keep the hit menu item in-house for now, in part because it’s helped to drive a new clientele towards dinner. “If it’s a gateway to get people in,” he says, “then it’s all good. I’m stoked that everyone likes the burritos. I also know we’re cooking Michelin-level food at dinner.”
These days the restaurant — across daytime and nighttime — is “busier than it’s ever been” says Baran, a rarity for a neighborhood spot that’s just hit the seven-year mark. And they have a breakfast burrito to thank for that.
“Do I want to be the burrito guy? Definitely not,” laughs Gugliotta. “But you don’t always get to pick your dish.”
Baran’s 2239 is open for weekend breakfast burritos and evening dinner service at 502 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. Friday burrito specials and preorders are available via Instagram.