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Magpies, part of the corvid family of birds, are known to be some of the most intelligent animals on the planet. They’re one of the few species to recognize their own reflection in the mirror. We’re guessing that Magpie Cafe would like what it saw if it looked itself in the mirror, and so do we. What would it see, you ask? For starters, it’d see ample natural light flooding the space, lending a warmth to the high ceilings, black and white surfaces, and exposed pipes. And then it’d feast its eyes on the thoughtful, seasonal menu and be sold.160206_magpie_0001

 

160206_magpie_0009One of Magpie’s many friendly servers, Taylor, described the ethos of the cafe this way: “Our menu is simple and approachable without simple and approachable ingredients. People tend to think of brunch as bottomless mimosas and greasy food, but we don’t need that to draw people in. Our customers know how much we care, and the thought we put into our product.” Case in point: on a recent Saturday, we ordered one savory dish (the Winter Skillet), one sweet dish (the French Toast), and one with a bit of both (the Fried Chicken and Waffles), and everything was nice with our sugar and spice (mimosa & Bloody Mary).

The Winter Skillet, served in a cast-iron skillet on a wood plank, is chock full of roasted seasonal vegetables — in our case, Brussels sprouts, purple potatoes, carrots, beans and kale — topped with a broiled, melty layer of chipotle cheddar and finished off with two eggs, any style. It’s sure to be your home skillet in no time.160206_magpie_0019160206_magpie_0030 Ooo la la. The French Toast is as good as it looks, if not better — and that’s coming from a savory-biased breakfast person. The complexity of the honey-cardamom syrup and seasonal fruit really elevates this dish out of its typical too-sweet dousing. The toast itself manages to be tender and moist without venturing into soggy territory. Just say oui!160206_magpie_0015160206_magpie_0028The Fried Chicken and Waffles occupies that unique spot on the menu that is both savory and (just barely) sweet. Too often, waffles can either be too airy and dry, or too moist and limp. Magpie has solved this conundrum. Brunch chef, Matt Kramer, and his team just undercook the waffle batter in the iron before briefly deep frying it and finishing it off in the oven. Boom. Crispy on the outside and still light on the inside. The waffle is then topped with corn-starch-slurry dipped fried chicken thighs, a very light drizzle of maple syrup, and seasonal fruit (pomegranate seeds, mandarin wedges, and apple slices for us). As you’re assembling your perfectly balanced bite of waffle, chicken, and fruit, don’t forget to reach for the house-made hot sauce!160206_magpie_0027While we’re impressed with magpies’ ability to recognize themselves in the mirror, don’t go saying “Bloody Mary” three times in the bathroom mirror; instead just order yourself one and it will appear. Bartenders use a house mix that is just spicy enough. For those of you who like it hot, add in more Kelly’s Hot Sauce (made with hinkelhatz peppers). The pickle variety rotates, but on our trip we enjoyed the Chinese long bean and crinkle-cut pickles.

If you haven’t been to Magpie’s brunch since they opened their new doors in July of 2015 at the 16 Powerhouse project after years in their old space a mere four blocks away, you’re bound to find some favorites dishes — some oldies, and some soon-to-be’s. Head on over and you, too, will be singing “I’m starting with the [magpie] in the mirror; I’m asking him [not] to change his ways.”160206_magpie_0022160206_magpie_0036Brunch Basics:

  • On Sundays, brunch until 3pm (bonus hour for you sleepy heads!)
  • Pups are OK out on the patio
  • The patio offers heat lamps and umbrellas, depending on the weather
  • Full menu available at the bar as well

Magpie Cafe | 1601 16th Street, Sacramento

Hours: Saturday 8am-10pm and Sunday 8am-3pm
Nearby: Insight Coffee | Sun and Soil | Bottle and Barlow

Scout Tips:

On Saturdays, the prime time to come in is between 8 and 10am before the rush starts; Sundays the rush starts around 9. With that said, if you have never been to brunch at Magpie, or haven’t been at the new space, there’s plenty of seating and the wait is usually no problem.

We caught a couple of servers on their breaks snagging their own quick breakfast and here’s the inside scoop: order a side housemade buttermilk biscuit and a side of sausage to make your own tasty sandwich!

Bringing your kids? If the existing menu items seem too big for your little one, you can take a build-your-own-breakfast approach from the plentiful sides menu.

Free parking on Sundays.

Photos | Susan Yee

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