People who lined up for Hatch when it first opened are finally being seated.
That might be a bit of an exaggeration but the Automobile Alley eatery is still wildly popular, as anyone attempting to eat a mid-morning weekend brunch can attest.
Why it’s popular is a little harder to pin down. Because it’s not like breakfast is particularly hard to come by in Oklahoma City.
Part of it, certainly, is the location. Automobile Alley might’ve lagged behind some of the other districts in developing its restaurant scene, but it’s become one of the easiest places to find something everyone will love.
Coffee at Coffee Slingers? Check.
Pizza at Hideaway Pizza? Check.
An alcove full of Mexican food, burgers and Nashville-style hot chicken? You know it.
But Hatch was a breakout hit from day one. And I think it’s because people like to drink alcohol.
I know, I’m blowing your minds right now, but alcohol is a popular mood-altering substance and Hatch is happy to serve you an eye-opening dose of goof juice daily.
But people aren’t showing up at bars at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday...I think. Honestly, I’m not totally positive about this one. There aren’t lines, I guess. And you get that at Hatch. It’s a popular spot for teetotalers and Lyft lushes alike.
Booze alone wouldn’t bring them in like Hatch does. That’s down to the menu and the ambiance.
Hatch gets loud. And, surprisingly, people really like that. Being in a commotion. A hub-bub. A happening. There is something within us, a herd mentality, that makes us crave being in a place with lots of other people.
And it’s also nice when lots of other people are ordering the same kind of food as you and enjoying themselves and loving life.
My Myer-Briggs type is SB. I’m a savory boy. Sweets are good. I like them. But given the choice between savory and sweet, I almost always choose the heartier option.
Breakfast is a time for ham, sausage, egg yolks and toast. It’s a salty time. A time to get so full of heavy meats and breads that you need to maybe take a nap and get to that to-do list this afternoon.
So it is a credit to my friend Kasey, then, that I do so enjoy the fancy pancake selection at Hatch. It was she who pushed and prodded me to get a pancake sampler and sample some pancakes.
Despite my aversion to bananas, I found my favorite to be the Bananas Foster pancake (minus the banana). They use a sweet cream batter on most of their cakes, but it was the decadent salted caramel Myers dark rum sauce and candied walnuts that truly swayed my affections.
Remember that scene in “When Harry Met Sally”? I think this is what she was having.
A more decorative pancake is Hatch’s Famous PanOKCake ($10), which is shaped like Oklahoma and covered in things Oklahomans love: bacon, pecans, bourbon maple glaze and marscapone butter.
As an SB, I thought I’d like this one more than the Bananas Foster pancake, but alas. The chewy bacon bits and the pecans give each bite more substance, but the flavor is a bit muted by the maple glaze. I still quite enjoy the PanOKCake, but my heart belongs to another.
Science. They get my heart when I’m dead. It’s going to be HUGE.
And part of that may be attributed to Hatch’s chicken-fried eggs ($9).
Three soft-boiled eggs are dredged in batter and fried to a golden crisp. The white sets while the yolk remains runny and perfect. (I recommend ordering a side of toast or an English muffin to go with this appetizer, to make sure you don’t waste any yolk.)
Or you could order it with the sausage biscuit ($8), which is exactly what it sounds like...but better.
I’m not going to lie: I have spent an inordinate amount of breakfasts wolfing down sausage, egg and cheese biscuits from Braum’s. There’s nothing wrong with them, unless you count the staggering number of calories.
But Hatch’s version—buttery biscuit, tangy sausage, lovingly scrambled egg, smoked cheddar and pepper jelly—is an entirely new evolution. Smoked cheddar adds a wealth of flavor and the sweet-but-spicy pepper jelly makes it hard to slow down and savor each bite the way you should. It’s just so good that you’ll take a bite and then POOF it’s gone.
You: Greg, should I order a chicken-fried steak ($13)? That seems like a lot for brea—OW! Did you just slap me?!
Me: Yes. To both questions.
Chicken-fried steak is a glorious addition to your balanced breakfast. Why Post hasn’t come up with a chicken-fried steak bites cereal is beyond me.
Hatch is owned by the same crew that have Broadway 10 next door. They get good meat. That means the steak in your CFS is going to be quality. It’s a difference you can taste, even through the black pepper cream gravy.
Shout-out here to the hash brown tumblers, which are like spiky little tater tots. I love you, hash brown tumblers. You’ve tumbled your way into my heart. It also comes with two eggs, prepared to your liking. Never have eggs been so overshadowed.
If you like breakfast burritos and don’t mind eating with a knife and fork, the Burro St. Nick ($11) is a joy. They wrap eggs, braised pork, hash brown tumblers, pepper and onions in a flour tortilla and then smother it in Christmas (red and green chile) sauce.
It’s not as fancy as some other dishes, but it’ll get you where you need to go.
Is it not brunch without a Benedict?
Then let me show you to Hatch’s six-deep Benedict menu.
I’ve had and loved the Benedict Johnny ($12), but as you’ll soon see, it bears more than a passing resemblance to another dish.
So the last time I went in, I got the Tuscan Anne ($11). Swap out the English muffin for toasted sourdough and the ham for prosciutto. Make a cream cheese hollandaise and add in garlic roasted tomatoes for a boost of flavor. Then lightly drizzle balsamic glaze on top. Yowza.
The key here is a light hand on the balsamic. It’s such a powerful flavor it could easily wash out everything else. The prosciutto is a bit tougher to cut, so you’ll need your knife for this one.
But knives are not necessary for my favorite Hatch dish. Forks and spoons are polite, but not required. When you start eating the Chieftain’s Revenge ($11), you’ll be lucky to remember they’re there at all.
Look, this stupid breakfast is so full of everything I love it makes me paranoid. How long has Hatch been watching me? Am I supposed to eat this all the time? What’s their endgame?
What you get is a bowl. In this bowl are spicy grits. Good grits. On those grits is a handful of beer-braised pork and some avocado salsa. Then there are a pair of fried eggs and a sprinkling of cotija cheese and tortilla strips. Around the edge, tomatillo salsa.
Yeah. They did it. Two kinds of salsa. And it’s amazing.
It’s a fight with myself every time I go in. “I should try something different.” “But Chieftain’s Revenge is so good.” “Is this his revenge?” “Oh shut up and order already!”
I eat alone a lot.
The wait is going to be there. Just deal with it. There is alcohol and really delicious food and a crowd of happy people waiting for you.
Oh, or just grab the seating in front. That’s open. You should probably do that.