Take a stroll around Palermo on any weekend afternoon and you’ll probably come across a dozen places offering a “brunch” special. The end of the week ritual has become such a trend that it has spawned its own nomenclature: brunchear. Being raised on my grandfathers late Sunday breakfasts that always featured the same simple and delicious menu: crispy bacon, waffles and lots of maple syrup, my refined gastronomic education has taught me that brunch is more than just the hour that you eat. It’s obvious that the crew at Magdalena’s Party shares that understanding.
In order to properly judge a breakfast joint, you have to taste everything without the help of any additions. No ketchup on the omelette or home fries, no butter or syrup on the waffles and pancakes, just the food on the merit of its own sweet/crispy/fluffy/flavorful goodness. Magdalena’s Party, located in the middle of Palermo Soho in a blue building on the corner of Thames and Costa Rica, offers a wide variety of traditional American breakfast specials, each of which passed the test with flying colors.
“I lay in bed during the week and dream about what I’ll eat for brunch,” explained co-owner Sarah Deutsch, who opened the restaurant with her brother Johnny and friends Teddy Epstein, Agustín García and Magui Tavella (yes, the Magdalena). The restaurant started the way that most projects begin amongst friends – they were hanging around, sharing some drinks, and someone said, “Wouldn´t it be cool to open our own bar?”, which has manifested into the city´s best option to grab an American style meal.
In addition to simpler options like the Bagel Sandwich ($30) that comes topped with egg, bacon and cheese, or the Pancakes ($25) two big pancakes served with butter and syrup, there are more complete plates like the Cali Coast Omelette ($40), a crepe stuffed with eggs, black beans, bacon (seriously) and cheese, topped with guacamole and sour cream and a side of home fries. I would recommend the American Diner Special ($35), two eggs, home fries, bacon and your choice of blueberry pancakes or toast (the decision shouldn’t be too difficult), we accompanied ours with a delicious Bloody Mary (but you can also choose between a Mimosa or Screwdriver for an extra $15).
The sight alone of the Diner Special and Cali Coast was enough to make me pinch myself. After discreetly wiping the drool off the table, I bit in and tasted flavors unparalleled by the knock-offs. The bacon was smoky and crisp, the home fries browned to perfection, all was complimented by a pancake whose batter had been mixed with dulce de leche and sweet blueberries that popped with flavor. And although it sounds like a heavy meal, Magdalena’s fills your plate just enough to satisfy that hangover without making you want to go straight back to bed.
Don’t get it twisted, Magdalena’s scrumptious menu doesn’t stop at breakfast treats. The restaurant also boasts a lunch/dinner menu that cuts straight to the point: burgers and tacos. We had the pleasure of trying both options, and are now forever cursed to debate which one to choose next. The hamburger ($25), a fat ground beef patty, served with lettuce, tomato and onion, was for an extra 8 pesos upgraded with the help of juicy grilled mushrooms and cheddar cheese. Or try the tacos, which come with your choice of carne asada, beer battered fish or refried beans.
The menu hasn’t been designed to appeal to Palermo’s overflowing market of bacon-hungry gringos, it has instead been filled with food that the owners themselves genuinely crave. No kitschy diner decorations, no frills or imitations, just real good food that keeps their faithful clientele coming back for more.
by Kevin Vaughn
Photos by Jaime Ospina