D.C.’s fast-growing Cracked Eggery busts open its anticipated Shaw doors this weekend, bringing the neighborhood way more than just its namesake breakfast staple.
Starting Saturday, April 2, customers can stroll into the energetic, neon-lit shop from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily to fuel up on its inventive, delightfully messy egg sandwiches, bowls built on tots or veggies, and other remixed diner classics (1921 8th Street NW). The Southern Charm is a next-level BLT with fried green tomato, pimento cheese, arugula, and lemon aioli on a challah bun. The Animal slips a hash brown patty into a bacon, sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich — a now-familiar “menu hack” that Cracked Eggery came up with first.
“I think someone from McDonald’s caught wind of what we were doing,” jokes co-owner Mike Tabb.
Its newest dish drop admittedly riffs on Burger King’s beloved French toast sticks (but with better carbs, of course). Cracked Eggery has sourced its sturdy challah buns from Maryland’s Lyon Bakery since day one, when the brand first hatched at a farmer’s market. A food truck joined the fold in early 2020, followed by its first brick-and-mortar location in Cleveland Park last fall.
Co-owner AJ Zarinsky came up with the six-stick creation a few months ago while experimenting with a new use for its sandwich building block. Turns out, a cut-up, fried whole challah bun sprinkled with powdered sugar is delicious.
“He was joking about it but brought them out and said ‘we have to have this.’ They are unreal and have taken off like crazy,” says Tabb.
During a chunk of the pandemic, Cracked Eggery parked its food truck outside of its future Shaw store to introduce the neighborhood to the menu. The original plan to make it a 24-hour operation to feed a late 9:30 Club crowd is on hold for various reasons.
“With COVID, nightlife, and staffing, we are going to do what we do best — breakfast and lunch — and grow from there,” says Tabb.
Its 7 a.m.-to-3 p.m. schedule will be adjusted accordingly based on demand. Cleveland Park opened with the same hours, which have since stretched out to 8 p.m.
Shaw’s 15-sandwich lineup caters to a gamut of day-to-night cravings, including a double bacon cheeseburger built with Pat LaFrieda beef patties and fried egg-topped pulled pork sandwich sent out on silver platters.
Six bowls also have multiple personalities, like a sushi rice- and sous vide pork belly-based Seoul Mate or a salad of Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, and quinoa. Poultry is the latest protein in the mix, and chicken tenders appear in a popular The St. Elmo’s Fire bowl alongside tots, Buffalo sauce, blue cheese, shredded cheddar, fried egg, and scallions.
Sandwiches hot off the griddle are assembled with homemade sauces; eggs from Lancaster, Pennsylvania; cheese from Firefly Farms; and bacon, pulled pork and chorizo patties from Alexandria-based Logan’s Sausage. Its longtime local mantra paid off during the pandemic, as supply chain shortages continue to clog up shipments.
The 14-seat space welcomes diners to sit and stay — or go. An entire area devoted to takeout shelving lets customers quickly pick up their portable sandwiches and bowls.
“Delivery has been almost half of our business, which is crazy,” he adds.
While Cleveland Park’s space is long and thin, Shaw’s wide layout puts its open kitchen on full display as customers walk their way along the curved ordering counter.
“We do everything as much as we can in-house and all the food is cooked fresh — you not only see that but we want to make it well known,” he says.
A squeaky clean canvas of cement floors, steel accents, mod wooden booths, and slick white subway tiles lets an assortment of nostalgic ‘80s accents pop. A hot pink neon sign spelling “Simply Irresistible” in cursive is joined by a collection of VHS tapes, vinyls, and custom posters of retro magazine ads about sandwiches.
The expansion-minded brand is already on the prowl for additional locations in Bethesda and Arlington, and each plans to maintain its own identity. Shaw’s logo works in a saxophone to pay homage to the neighborhood’s jazzy roots. Cracked Eggery’s opening also brings more of the same slow drip and cold brew to the strip (its Compass Coffee purveyor has an existing store next door).