With egg sandwiches named after notable women in history, from Sausage Patti Smith to Frida Avokahlo, food truck Sunny Up combines two of my great joys in life: feminism and breakfast food. Throw in owner/operator Ande Janousek’s tenure at dearly departed neighborhood vegetarian gem Carmelita, and I knew I had to experience her new venture firsthand.
So on a recent weekend morning, I biked 14 miles round-trip from my neighborhood in North Seattle to Sunny Up’s Saturday-afternoon parking spot in front of Chuck’s Hop Shop in the Central District. I wasn’t alone in my mission for breakfast; I was joined by my cousin, the only person I know who loves food as much as I do, and who, despite being eight months pregnant, was the one who suggested we ride our bikes.
Biking 14 miles at high noon with your very pregnant cousin for a breakfast sandwich may seem an objectively questionable life choice, and it’s probably not approved by Dr. Spock. (Is that a current reference? I don’t have kids.) But it’s one I’d make again. Because Sunny Up is good. Overwhelmed by so many historically significant and delicious-sounding egg-sandwich options — Pastrami Cline, $7.50, with pastrami, Emmental and stout mustard! Mia Ham, $7, with rosemary ham and havarti! — we settled on the Ruth Bacon Ginsburg (the Supreme Court’s been on my mind lately; no reason!) with pepper bacon, white cheddar, thyme aioli and tomato jam ($7.50) and the Nina Smoked Salmone, with nova lox, dill, pickled onion and cream cheese ($8).
Because we love ourselves and deserve to be happy, we also ordered hash browns ($2), a half-dozen doughnut holes ($2.50) and coffee for me ($2.50-$3 for drip, $5 for cold brew; all Anchorhead), then found a half-shaded spot on the patio at Chuck’s, among peaceable leashed dogs and their midday-drinking owners. And lo, our feast began.
The hash browns came in dense handheld bricks seasoned with harissa salt. They’re nice and crispy, and, in the words of “Great British Baking Show” bad cop Paul Hollywood, the spicy harissa “is comin’ through,” bringing some complexity to a snack that would be satisfying based on its crunch ‘n’ salt factor alone.
Crucially, the sandwiches also impressed, with everything you want (need?) in a breakfast sandwich, which, when executed well, is the perfect and best food. The bread (gluten-free is available, if you’re into that) is sliced into a thick, worthy vessel for all the layers in between; the cheese is good and gooey; and the egg is cooked over-easy without becoming a runny disaster. With its combination of peppery bacon, tomato jam (the Rich Man’s ketchup) and cheddar (the Old Reliable of cheeses), the Ginsburg’s flavor profile is deeply comforting. It’s all cozy carbs and protein, like something I might make in my own kitchen on a rainy weekend morning — but wouldn’t, because it couldn’t possibly be as good.
These glorious egg sandwiches may be Sunny Up’s pleasantly focused stock-in-trade, but the truck also knows how to accessorize: The menu’s biggest surprise were the doughnut holes. O, the doughnut holes. Sunny Up’s doughnut holes are a thing of beauty. The soft, dense, bubbly little scoops of fried dough dusted in cinnamon-sugar have more in common with Southern-fried beignets than the OK standards of Top Pot or the vegan dryness of Mighty-O. We split a half-dozen ($2.50), then returned to the truck for a full baker’s dozen ($5). If you enjoy eating, I suggest you do the same. Do you have a friend with a potent sweet tooth? Bring them.
Because when you love eating, it’s a particular joy to share a meal with someone who also loves eating. It doesn’t happen often: After all, we live in a country with an unhealthy relationship to food, where foods are tagged as “dirty” and “clean,” where even “Queer Eye’s” adorable Antoni isn’t immune to peddling dietary junk science as a miracle cure, where products like Soylent partition food from pleasure, and where people — women especially — are taught early to diet, rather than to enjoy their food.
But as I sat across from my cousin, and we took joy in eating our doughnut holes and breakfast sandwiches named after lady icons of history, I felt deeply liberated. I didn’t have to apologize for my food choices here. No one would make fun of me for licking the sugar off my fingers. And reader, I did. This was our island of women enjoying breakfast, and no one could take that away from us.
Hours and locations vary. Chuck’s Hop Shop, 2001 E. Union St., Seattle, Sunday, Aug. 5, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; not in service Saturday, July 29-Saturday, Aug. 4; sunnyupseattle.com