Before the pandemic, we all took eating in restaurants for granted — from celebratory dinners to casual cups of coffee, midnight meals and so much more. One of my favorite things, brunch, has been on my mind ever since I turned 21 and wanted nothing more than to get bottomless mimosas during an overpriced brunch.
But with COVID-19 guidelines in place, our options for supporting local eateries are limited to gift certificates and takeout. Takeout is not the same as dining in, for sure, but it's now the safest way to have the restaurant brunch experience. I searched for the best three brunch places to see how well they brought the experience to a measly takeout container.
Here’s how they were:
3. Jazzy Ladies Cafe & Coffee House
45 E 8th Ave
9 a.m. - 3 p.m. daily
Order: Butternut Latkes Benedict
A benedict is a classic weekend brunch staple, and the options at Jazzy Ladies are only available on weekends. The restaurant tries to mimic their in-restaurant plating within their takeout container, which is aesthetically pleasing but led to my egg rolling to the other side of the container when opened. The benedicts were sitting pretty otherwise, with the roasted veggies to the side of them.
The key to a quality benedict eating experience is consuming it when it’s still warm. With takeout, making sure you get the food and eat it fast enough is always a challenge, made more difficult by knowing an egg is rolling inside, ready to burst at any second. After picking up your food at Jazzy Ladies, you can start eating immediately — just sit at the park across the street. There’s plenty of tables and some benches that are farther away from each other. This space is where the farmer’s market is held, but outside of that, there are very few if any passersby in the area, making it a relatively safer space to unmask and eat.
Overall, the Jazzy Ladies Cafe is a more upscale option for your brunchy cravings, but they’ve got a wide variety with a tried-and-true menu that will satisfy both someone looking for a unique take on brunch and someone wanting the classics.
2. Morning Glory Cafe
450 Willamette St
7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., daily
Order: Three Sisters
Morning Glory Cafe’s Three Sisters dish consists of herby, roasted potatoes tossed with a variety of vegetables and topped with a sauce of your choice alongside toast. As Eugene’s oldest vegetarian restaurant in town, according to their website, it continues to stand the test of time as some of the best brunch options even as takeout.
Getting the Three Sisters and carrying it back to my car, I could feel the heat radiating from the plastic bag. Driving home, it filled my car (and subsequently my apartment) with its pleasant smells. Taking that first bite, it was much hotter than I expected from takeout, without the sogginess that usually accompanies opening takeout containers. The meal was delicious and a great price for the giant portion.
Morning Glory Cafe has quality food at a great value, and though it’s a bit farther out from campus, it’s worth the trip out for their breakfast or lunch, which is served all day.
1681 Willamette St.
8 a.m. - 2 p.m., daily
Order: Joy’s Special
Brail’s is a Eugene staple. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’ve been missing out.
The Joy’s Special is a large order of hashbrowns with ham, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and swiss and cheddar cheese covered with gravy. When they say large, they mean huge; it fills up the takeout container edge to edge and is so dense you can dig into it. Even after opening it up about fifteen minutes later, it hadn’t collected much condensation and those hashbrowns were still crunchy.
The difficulty behind ordering crunchy foods is that some businesses immediately close the container when packing to keep the heat in, which results in food collecting more condensation and getting soggy faster. However, some restaurants — like Brail’s — have figured out the perfect timing of covering food so that when you get home, your dish is still warm but hasn’t been seriously affected during transit.
Restaurants, like everyone, have suffered in this economy, and it’s been heart wrenching seeing how many local joints have closed or shuttered down since the beginning of the pandemic. If you can afford to get brunch, these are the three spots that have nailed the takeout game. As you enjoy your late-morning meal, know that you're helping local restaurants get through a difficult time — and hopefully, we will have in-person brunch soon enough.