Latin cuisine probably doesn’t come to mind when you think “first meal of the day.” But after having brunch at Poco a Poco (2724 Erie Ave., Hyde Park Square, 513-321-7626), it might. I’ve been really into Sunday brunch lately, so I was excited to try someplace other than my usual haunts.
On our first visit, the girlfriend and I were the only people in the place save the kitchen staff and one bartender/server. We thought it a bit odd, since it was prime brunchin’ time, but figured the word about Poco’s brunch just hadn’t gotten out yet. Also, it was Valentine’s Day weekend, maybe a slow time for brunch since dinner dates are the norm. (Poco a Poco’s brunch is offered 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Sundays.)
I ordered coffee and the Latin Benedict ($8). The great-tasting coffee was a sign that this place was going to be good. Even fancy restaurants have crappy coffee sometimes, so I knew Poco wasn’t messing around. The Latin Benedict was excellent. It was a regular Eggs Benedict plus pico de gallo, and instead of hollandaise sauce, it was covered with a smoked Cotija cheese sauce.
On our second visit, Poco had just unveiled a new brunch menu. The Huevos con Chorizo that my girlfriend Casey ordered on our first visit was no longer on the menu.
But her accompanying Red Sangria ($8) was still available and was very tasty, fruity and refreshing.
On the new menu, Brunch Plates are all $8 and don’t come with a side unless specified. The Extras section of the menu includes selections like biscuits and gravy, hash browns, chorizo and fruit ($1.50-$5). The Sides section includes queso blanco, black beans and rice, charred corn with lime aioli and guacamole ($2-$6).
From the new menu, we started with the Queso ($5). The chips weren’t great, but the queso itself was rich and flavorful, though not spicy. From the Brunch Plates section of the menu, we chose Chilaquiles con Huevo and Cornmeal Waffles. Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish made from lightly fried corn tortilla pieces sautéed with salsa or mole and eggs or chicken, then covered with cheese. In this case, it consisted of fried corn tortillas, eggs, cheese, poblano peppers, tomatoes and cilantro, a formula probably better suited for breakfast than spicy salsa. I had never had chilaquiles before, but I really liked the combination of flavors and textures and the tortilla was fresh and flavorful. Still, I wouldn’t have minded if it were a little spicier.
The Cornmeal Waffles were also wonderful. The two thick waffles were crispy yet tender and served with elderberry syrup, a scoop of spiced butter and a fruit cup. They were everything you could want in a waffle. The very satisfying fruit cup was a hefty serving of small, diced strawberries, pineapples, guava, blueberries and grapes.
Diners at a neighboring table seemed to like everything they ordered, particularly the Corn Cake & Egg made with fresh corn, onions, chilies and an over-easy egg dressed with sour cream vinaigrette and cilantro. Other tempting offerings were the Pork and Doughnuts and the Grilled Bloody Mary Salad made with tomato, pickled vegetables, horseradish and Tabasco sauce.
Speaking of Bloody Marys, Poco a Poco makes a delicious mix in-house and seems to sell a lot of them ($6). It was one of the better Bloody Marys I’ve had lately. They also sell a slew of other creative cocktails, like the Guava Cooler ($8). If boozin’ at breakfast is your thing, of course.
Poco a Poco offers a fun alternative to the typical brunch choices and has definitely secured a spot in my brunch rotation. The warm atmosphere and good service give it an edge that will keep people coming back.
CONTACT BRIAN CROSS: firstname.lastname@example.org