Seattle: Tom Douglas's Dahlia Bakery
"I don't know if I have a favorite. Things change so often!"
"I don't care if people think my breakfast sandwich is the best in the world," Seattle restaurant god Tom Douglas said to us over a late-night dinner at Palace Kitchen. "I just want them to know how much we care about it. We make the English muffins. We cure the ham on top of the eggs. Could other people have better food than I do? Maybe. But there's no way they care more."
With an endorsement like that, there was no way we could pass up a breakfast at Dahlia Bakery. So we set out early the next morning to try the most cared-about breakfast sandwich in all the land. As it turned out, we had a few to choose from—before hitting the sweet treats, too.
"What's your favorite thing on the menu?" we asked the cheery counter girl. She regarded the pastry case with some consideration. "It's hard to say—things change so often around here! But you have to get a breakfast sandwich."
We tried the sausage ($5), porky, juicy, and sweet with brown sugar, with fully melted cheddar and a butter-fried egg, all hugged by a mellow, crannied English muffin. It's hard to imagine a more satisfying morning sandwich.
Dahlia's doughnuts ($5) come six to a bag, fried to a crisp, and served alongside several dipping sauces—here, pictured at top, a tongue-coatingly thick vanilla mascarpone and an autumnally spiced cranberry compote with clove, orange zest, vanilla bean, and star anise. But they might be even better dipped in...
... the insanely rich caramel sauce alongside the monkey bread ($2.50). Clumps of brioche dough in a cupcake shape, swirled with cinnamon and sugar, a streusely crunch on top. It looks somewhat dry, but the brioche is anything but—and at the base of that pastry is a sticky, caramelized bottom. Note to bakeries everywhere: individually portioned monkey breads are a very, very good thing.