Ethnic eats

Most countries have traditional breakfast plates (an English breakfast, for example, comes with standards like eggs and bacon plus black pudding-aka blood sausage-and baked beans), but flavorwise, it's hard to beat Latin America's early-bird offerings.

Hilliard's Starliner Diner specializes in spicy breakfast fare, served up in a colorful, funky and just-plain fun space. Plop onto the lobby's well-worn mid-century aqua couch and admire the oversized family-meal-themed artwork hanging on the walls while you wait (and be prepared to wait-it's worth it).

In the dining room, an astrologial sun-and-moon mural covers one whole wall, but I'm especially fond of the retro starburst clock collection covering the opposite end. Kitschy Elvis portraits complete the look.

From the menu, you can fulfill tortilla-and-black-bean cravings several different ways. The Huevos Rancheros ($8.50) are impressive. A crispy corn tortilla raft floats on a pool of soupy black beans, carrying eggs, jack cheese and cilantro. The whole shebang is doused in a spicy ranchero sauce.

Even tastier are the Chilaquiles ($8.50). Fluffy eggs are scrambled up with peppers, onions, corn, zucchini and crunchy tortilla chips. Throw on some shredded jack cheese, cilantro and a hit of smoked chile cream sauce and you've got the stuff cravings are made of.