Grab and Go Breakfast Sandwiches
Breakfast trends come and go, but the breakfast sandwich never gets played out. You can have your omelets, your frittatas, your granola, your chicken and waffles (OK, chicken and waffles does sound good) but I’ll take the breakfast sandwich every time.
The sandwich format offers a wide range of options for creativity—from the bread to the cooking of the eggs to the protein to the toppings. A biscuit, a bagel, Texas Toast, an English muffin, freshly baked bread or even a doughnut can be used as the tasty vessel. My rule is that you should be able to hold a breakfast sandwich in your hand. If it requires a knife and fork then it’s not a breakfast sandwich.
Fortunately for RVA residents and visitors, we have plenty of hand-held options. Some are easier than others to eat on the go, but they all taste delicious. Here are five outstanding breakfast sandwiches that rely heavily on local and housemade ingredients:
Lamplighter Roasting Company—Maple Sriracha Glazed Sausage and Egg Sandwich (pictured above): Lamplighter is a local roasting company that also operates three cafés. The original café, on Addison Street in the Fan, opened in 2009 in a repurposed service station. The outdoor seating is popular with customers who flock there in the mornings for made-to-order sandwiches, freshly baked pastries and a full espresso bar. Lamplighter sources many Virginia ingredients, including soy chorizo and tofu from Twin Oaks Community Foods in Louisa and arugula and tomatoes from Tomten Farm in Prince Edward County. They use breads from local bakeries, and the Morris Street location makes its croissants in house from scratch. Served on a knot roll (from Lucille’s Bakery in the Fan) with veggie or pork sausage, tomato and cheddar, the maple sriracha–glazed sausage and egg sandwich is a perfect match for a morning latte. Lamplighter adds a custom blend of real maple syrup and sriracha to each sausage patty as soon as it is cooked through in order for the glaze magic to happen on the griddle.
Saison Market—Chicken Biscuit: House biscuit. Brined, battered and fried chicken. Fresno chile sauce. I started craving Saison Market’s Chicken Biscuit after the first bite. The Jackson Ward–area market uses a standard brine solution with salt, dark brown sugar, garlic, white onion, thyme, orange and spices. The flour dredge contains cayenne, a few types of paprika, traditional seasoned flour ingredients, salt, black pepper and other spices, all of which combine to create a crispy breading. The zesty chili sauce is made with Fresno chilies, garlic, salt, sugar and white vinegar. Saison Market utilizes many local farms for its produce, proteins, and dairy, including Victory Farms and Old Church Creamery.
Citizen—Bacon, Egg and Cheese Torta: Citizen serves breakfast all day, and after trying the Bacon, Egg and Cheese Torta, you will be glad they do. The sandwich is served on a pressed bolillo roll from Richmond’s La Sabrosita Bakery and eggs from Duling Farms in Mechanicsville, and it comes with a side of sweet and tangy cabbage relish. This “Tea Room Relish,” which also works well on the pulled pork torta at lunch, gives the breakfast torta a little zing. If you want to branch out from a breakfast sandwich, I highly recommend Citizen’s huevos rancheros with housemade chorizo. Citizen recently moved from their original downtown location in the basement of the SunTrust building at 909 E. Main to a bigger and less secluded location three blocks away at 12th and Main.
Early Bird Biscuit Co. and Bakery—Ham Biscuit: Your first step into Early Bird, the charming Lakeside bakery that opened in 2014, feels like you are walking into your grandmother’s kitchen. Try the homemade pop tarts, macaroons and cookies, but don’t forget that the biscuit is the star here. Each biscuit is made with Virginia-milled flour and is carefully formed by a rolling pin that was handmade by owner Tim Laxton’s great-grandfather in the 1800s. The pairing of Virginia-raised and -cured ham and the flaky buttermilk biscuit makes for a winning combination. Early Bird also offers a flavor of the day, including such varieties as Peanut Butter Bacon, Bananas Foster and Chocolate Pecan Turtle. Laxton uses his own organically grown basil and heirloom tomatoes in some of his recipes, and berries and fruit are sourced locally and incorporated into housemade jams.
Perly’s—Bagel with Fish: Perly’s delivers an authentic Jewish deli experience. Of course, you will find delicious latkes and matzoh ball soup on the menu, but breakfast at a Jewish deli means three things: 1) bagels, 2) schmear (cream cheese) and 3) lox. The Bagel with Fish comes with either smoked salmon, lox, kippered salmon, whitefish or smoked trout with capers, onion, tomato, and schmear of choice (I recommend chive). Perly’s cures the lox and smokes the kippered salmon in house. The hand-rolled, kettle-boiled bagels come from Davidovich Bakery in New York. Perly’s supports local farmers by buying fresh, seasonal produce, which they serve in the restaurant and also sell at Kohlmann’s Market next door. If you prefer something sweet for breakfast, Perly’s cinnamon babka French toast is a must-try.
When there’s no time for a homemade breakfast, these locally flavored sandwiches will get your workday, or your weekend, off to a flavorful start. Grab ’em and go!