Epicurious Eating: The Broken Yolk
Welcome to eggy town
Published Thursday, 18-Jun-2009 in issue 1121
There are two walls of honor at The Broken Yolk in Pacific Beach. The first one greets you in the foyer with framed awards for “best breakfast spot” bestowed by various organizations and local media. Further inside, the other wall reveals unimaginable feats of consumption by customers who shoveled down 12-egg omelets in less than an hour. For them, breakfast was on the house – their names engraved on shiny metal plaques like benefactors of some ritzy gastro-bypass facility.
Wannabe hall of famers must not only polish off the humungous cheese-filled, chili-smothered omelet, but they’re required to also tackle a large piling of hash browns and two biscuits, all served on a 15-inch pizza pan.
“Otherwise you pay $25 for the meal, and maybe end up vomiting for the cost,” quipped a waitress.
In a few recent visits, friends and I were spared the spectacle. And just as well, because in most cases we left food behind due to large portions of everything we ordered. Who needs a food competition occurring in eyeshot when the regular omelets are made with four eggs? In addition, the pancakes sport hefty girths and the huevos rancheros, a big draw here since 1979, practically drip off the plate.
Quantity mixed with waves of quality is the reason for Broken Yolk’s extreme popularity. On weekend mornings, two large dining rooms seemingly suck in the neighborhood’s populace, with herds of sandal-clad patrons in wait spilled onto the front sidewalk. Yet with a large seating capacity, the lines move quickly. It took less than 10 minutes to acquire a crunched table when three of us sought breakfast at 11:30 a.m., on a Sunday – the weekend “sunrise hour” in Pacific Beach.
The most outstanding item I sampled over the course of a month was chilaquiles, an American-Mexican glob of tortilla strips covered with red or green salsa and melted cheese. They’re served with garlic-kissed refried beans and mediocre rice. The green sauce is the way to go. It shows off a pleasing kick from hot peppers and tangy tomatillos. Ask for it on the side when ordering other items, because it can essentially be spooned over any savory dish.
The huevos rancheros are standard – your basic eggs, rice, beans and tortillas. I’m not sure why the restaurant flaunts in its logo, “We’ve Got Huevos!” Perhaps it’s a carryover from the late 70s, when the dish hadn’t yet infiltrated nearly every breakfast spot in town.
Where there is corned beef hash, I must always confess to my breakfast partners that I not only like it, but that I prefer it canned. Dog food jokes aside, the Broken Yolk meets the standard, and the cooks get it right when asking for the eggs “over medium.” The dish, along with most other egg-based items, includes a choice of home fries or hash browns. The latter proved tastier because they’re strewn with those mysterious, flavorful dark bits that get picked up from busy griddles.
Conversely, the Polish omelet was disastrous and confrontational to the stomach. It came topped with brown mushroom gravy that was better suited for veal chops. Inside were coins of rubbery meat and generous handfuls of cool, barely cooked green peppers and onions – a slapdash assembly with nary a glimmer of love put into it.
In addition to 25 different omelet concoctions ranging from pizza to stroganoff to chorizo-filled, customers can fine tune the contents by creating their own omelets from a long list of meats and veggies rivaling those seen in big sandwich shops. Want water chestnuts in your eggs? You got it.
Menu choices extend also to burgers, sandwiches and large salads, none of which we tried in the face of copious egg dishes floating around the place.
Depending on when you visit (weekend peak times versus quieter weekday mornings), service swings between frenzied and lackadaisical. In either case, our food arrived exactly as ordered, tables were kept relatively clean and checks were delivered promptly.
Since opening at this original address, The Broken Yolk has expanded to Eastlake and La Costa, with a fourth location due to open next week in the Gaslamp District.