Breakfast Sandwich of Champions

La Nacional–home of a fantastic Manhattan breakfast sandwich–doesn’t serve breakfast.

EMAN 1 final7Even bad breakfast sandwiches are pretty good, don’t you think? But if that’s true what does that make good breakfast sandwiches? Friggin’ awesome. And I have discovered what I think is the ultimate Manhattan breakfast sandwich. The only problem? The place that serves it, La Nacional, in the more-than-century-old Spanish Benevolent Society on West 14th Street, doesn’t serve breakfast.

But after you read about this sandwich you will join me in imploring La Nacional chef Lolo Manso to open earlier.

The sandwich is called “Tosta Choricera” ($9.50). Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? When I first ordered it I was with Alex Raij, the founding chef at Tia Pol and El Quinto Pino who really knows her Spanish food. She had never heard of the dish. How could it not be great, I told her, when the menu described it as toasted bread, egg and chorizo.

Lolo himself delivered the plate to our table and told us the proper way to eat it was to break the yolk and get a bit of every element in each bite. I immediately knew I was in the presence of breakfast-sandwich greatness, even if it was lunchtime. A piece of toast that tasted like it had been carved out of a baguette is placed in the center of a plate, topped by an over-easy egg fried in olive oil, surrounded by pieces of chorizo and squiggles of slow-cooked onions. Everything about it screamed major deliciousness.

I broke the yolk, stuck my fork in the egg and toast and added a slice of crunchy chorizo and some onions to the bite. It was magnificent: meaty and eggy and creamy and sweet and just crunchy enough from the chorizo and the toast. Alex and her husband Edda assembled bites and were equally blown away. They agreed it should be served at McDonald’s in Barcelona and Madrid.

Now if you want your breakfast sandwiches for breakfast (there’s a radical concept), you might consider the ham and cheese cheddar biscuit ($4) at Amy’s Bread in the Chelsea Market. They slice open one of Amy’s light, moist, tangy cheddar biscuits, and fill it with ham, cheddar cheese and a little butter. Here’s where it gets interesting: the filled biscuit is put in a panini press. Just when you think you can’t wait another second, a counterperson releases your breakfast from the press. The biscuit has been moistened by the ham fat and the cheese, its crannies and nooks filled with porky, cheesy deliciousness. All is right with the world, and La Nacional will open in just a few hours.

Photo credit: Michael Harlan Turkell. 

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Ed Levine is the founder of seriouseats.com, a food blog and community.