POPPING YOLK CAFE
ADDRESS: 88 W Colorado Boulevard, Suite 102, Pasadena, CA 91105
The last time that I was walking around Old Pasadena, I had passed by Popping Yolk Cafe and made a mental note to check out the menu online since it looked like an interesting spot to stop by for breakfast. Well, Instagram then showed me a post by the Old Pasadena page, which featured some of the food from Popping Yolk, and I definitely knew it was a place I needed to try at some point.
This past Saturday, I asked my friend Nate if he would be interested to hit up Popping Yolk for some brunch before heading over to the Huntington Library on a photography excursion. We met up at the cafe around 10AM, when it was starting to get a little busy, but the wait was still manageable with the morning crowds.
When you first walk into the restaurant, the counter to order your food and drinks is immediately there on your left. They’ll give you a number after you order, which you’ll take to your table. From a seating option perspective, you’ve got either inside the dining room or outside in the front. Seating is first-come, first-serve basis, so if you’ve got a larger group, things could get a little tricky, since most of the tables and booths accommodate two people or four people at most. Nate and I managed to snag a prime table out front, as opposed to one of the two-tops inside, which did look pretty packed in to the tables immediately next to them.
From what I could tell, their full menu is available throughout the day. Your options spanned from eggs benedict to omelettes to sandwiches to French toast, crepes, and waffles. There are also some burger options as well if you’re in the mood for more traditional lunch-time fare.
For me, it was the Nashville Hot Chicken Eggs Benedict that immediately caught my eye when looking through the menu. Hot chicken, pickles, and coleslaw, sitting on English muffins, topped with poached eggs, honey spicy mayo sauce, and Hollandaise sauce — sign me up! I’m typically an omelette person when it comes to eating out for breakfast (I was definitely eyeing that Kimchi Spam Omelette on that menu for sure), but I can’t pass up some good eggs benedict either.
I do have to admit that for how busy the place looked like it was getting as it was getting closer to lunchtime, the kitchen seemed to be able to deal with the rush pretty well. The line of people waiting to order was pretty consistently out the door, but it never stacked up out into the main sidewalk. I saw food pretty consistently coming out to the other tables around us as well, so definitely props to the kitchen for keeping up. We probably waited less than 10 minutes or so before both of our plates of food arrived.
It’s a pretty impressive plate of food when it’s first set down in front of you. I did like how the food itself had a nice color contrast on plate, primarily aided by the spring mix greens. The portion itself also seemed pretty substantial, with the towering eggs benedict along with a good mound of country fried potatoes. You definitely eat with your eyes first, and this certainly passed that test. I had to make sure to hold myself back and get the photos I needed before digging in.
Both eggs that were sitting atop the hot chicken pieces were perfectly poached, the runny yolk flowing down the side of the stack and melding together with all of the other ingredients. After my first bite with all of the eggs benedict components together, I will say that I found the predominant flavors to be the coleslaw and the poached eggs, which did surprise me slightly. I had ordered a “medium” spice level for the chicken (the heat level could go up two additional levels from that), but I wasn’t getting that heat that I was expecting to come from the spices.
The fried chicken itself, however, was done really well, providing a nice crunchy texture to complement the other ingredients in that stack-up. Sweet and savory were definitely your main flavor profiles for the benedict, with a slight hint of spiciness at times. I was also a big fan of those country fried potatoes as well, which had a nice texture of crispy on the outside, but still soft on the inside. The spring mix had some cherry tomatoes and corn tossed with it, along with a drizzle of chipotle dressing. I did really enjoy the hot chicken benedict as a whole, although I think it could be benefited by having the hot chicken stand out more as the main star of the dish.
Popping Yolk Cafe certainly did not disappoint, and it was a good way to start off the day. For our brunch, the portion of food that I got was more than enough to keep me satisfied and cover both meals. There is a really good variety of options to choose from on the menu, especially for return visits. The quality of the food was good and the kitchen kept the pace up to make sure the dining room didn’t get too bogged down. If you’re down in the Pasadena area and looking for a breakfast or brunch spot to make a stop at, this is one for serious consideration.
Let’s now take a look at the Popping Yolk Cafe Restaurant Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Nashville Hot Chicken Eggs Benedict **
Two pieces of hot chicken sitting atop coleslaw, pickles, honey spicy mayo sauce, and English muffins. Topped with poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce, and a dusting of paprika. Served with garden spring mix and country fried potatoes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Popping Yolk Cafe:
Food: 4.5 / 5
There are a lot of different food options to choose from here, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find just one thing you’re interested in trying. The portion sizes are generous and the quality of the food is high. You’ll definitely be full for quite a while after finishing a meal here.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
From the looks of it, if you were dining inside, the way to go would be to snag one of the booths. Otherwise, you could possibly feel a little cramped at the tables, which looked to be set pretty close to the adjacent tables. But the outdoor seating area is really nice as well, and you get the bonus of people watching the crowd on the street.
Service: 4.5 / 5
Because you order right at the counter before you sit down, there really isn’t any table-side service aside from the staff delivering your food out to you. But the speed of the kitchen, however, was definitely noticeable, especially to keep the diners waiting in line at a manageable level. The staff was certainly cranking out the food at a pretty rapid pace, as we got both of our plates of food in less than 10 minutes from ordering.
Price: 4.75 / 5
For $18, my hot chicken benedict plate I thought was a pretty solid portion of food. Couple that with the fact that the restaurant is located in pretty prime real estate on the main street of Old Pasadena, and I thought the pricing of the food was more than fair.