Encore Saloon is one of my go-to spots on any given Taco Tuesday. I love their Baja fish tacos — my taco standards are pretty high after living in San Diego — and with $2 tacos on Tuesdays, the Chinatown spot is usually jam-packed.
But soon, Encore may be packed for another reason. Hearing that they quietly started serving Sunday brunch, I scoured Instagram for any pics. Quite honestly, I couldn’t find much. But the few photos I found were enough to convince me to stop by.
Encore started its Sunday brunch in late August. It’s still quiet on a Sunday around noon, save for two other tables and flatscreen TVs blaring the football game. Our server says mostly industry people have been stopping by, and not too many others know about it. The brunch menu isn’t even on the website, so here’s a look:
To start off, you’ll probably want a drink. Bar manager Quinn Mears recommends the Bloody Mayahuel ($13), the restaurant’s twist on a Bloody Mary, which features Q’s house sangria. Weekend Beets ($11) is an earthy-tasting alternative.
My pick? The $15 mimosa pitcher, which I had my heart set on as soon as I saw it on the sidewalk chalkboard sign. The pitcher may not be huge, but it’s a good deal for two people. If you don’t see it listed, just ask your server.
Of the brunch grinds, the steak and eggs ($16), chilaquiles ($10) and Mexican avocado toast ($7.50) have been the most popular. If you’re going with a group, order the latter two to share. You’ll be fighting for the last bites.
The telera bread in the Mexican avocado toast is love at first bite. I could have eaten it plain and been perfectly happy. It’s fresh, spongy, chewy and perfect for creating the ultimate torta. This “toast” isn’t huge, but it’s filling (though you’ll be wanting more). The rest of the toppings are great, but the bread is the star of this show.
Fun fact: Telera, the same bread used in Encore's Tortuguesa beef burger, is made next door in the ovens of Brick Fire Tavern. I'm a huge fan of Brick Fire's pizzas, so no wonder this bread stays on my mind days later.
Encore imports its tortillas from a market in Los Angeles and cuts and fries them to a golden brown crisp. The chilaquiles are served piping hot, and the chips are topped with salsa, crema, cotija cheese and two sunny side up eggs. It’s worth it to add some carne — I love chicken so the chile verde option is a no-brainer, but I hear the beef is muy delicioso as well.
Though there’s a lot of sauce, the chips don’t get soggy, and every component works together like magic. The creamy cotija cheese is strong, the salsa is flavorful but not overly spicy, there’s hearty chunks of chicken throughout and the oozing egg makes for the perfect yolk porn video. Less than 10 minutes later, I’ve pretty much all but licked the skillet clean, and I have half a mind to order another.
The two petite tortillas in the huevos rancheros come with ranchero beans, two sunny side eggs and salsa roja. That salsa roja steals the show. I dig into this one after demolishing the chilaquiles, so while it’s tasty, it doesn’t wow me as much.
We don’t get the steak and eggs because I want something sweet. So after three savory dishes we try the banana waffle.
The waffle's huge, and the chocolate-caramel drizzle is delightful. Don't get me wrong, the waffle isn't bad, but is also isn't anything out of the ordinary. Unless you're an absolute waffle lover, I would pass on this one. *Sigh.* I'll have to try that steak and eggs next time.
Right now, Encore's brunch is Sundays only from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There's talk about expanding the menu and doing Saturday brunch, too, complete with live music.
And if that goes well, they aim to open for breakfast every day. Count. Me. In.
10 N. Hotel St.
Sunday brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.