A really great breakfast sandwich will turn any sadness left over in your stomach from last night into a fairy erupting from a puddle of silvery spring dew. It seems like a simple formula—double the protein, halve the fiber, triple the grease, and enclose it between two yeast-based flaps. However, if it goes wrong, you are left with a pile of Hanford-style toxic sludge.
Take the sausage croissant sandwich ($2.99) at Jack in the Box (various locations, 4749 University Way NE, 525-5599), for instance. Containing, among other things, a sausage patty, grilled egg, and "butter flavored vegetable" (actual quote!), the sandwich stuck to my ribs, my esophagus, my teeth, and my colon. Also, the croissant was as salty as a sea wench, which was disorienting. I have committed many shameful acts in my life (like farting in the produce aisle) but none matched the shame I felt upon entering a Jack in the Box at 9:00 a.m.
There is no shame in eating at the charming Columbia City diner Geraldine's Counter (4872 Rainier Ave S, 723-2080), which gets fancy on the breakfast sandwich's ass. Geraldine's bacon, egg, and arugula sandwich ($8.75) doesn't come on bread; it comes on a batard. The eggs aren't scrambled, they are aioli scrambled, and the sandwich doesn't come in a paper wrapper, it comes on a plate. Even better, the eggs were cooked just right (jiggly but not runny) and the arugula was fresh and crisp, if a bit of a strong green for breakfast. But the bacon was too thick and chewy for my taste, and the overcrispy batard cut the roof of my mouth. An open-faced sandwich called the East Coast ($9.25) was more suitable. It had less batard, but more flavor—the (again, perfect) eggs were generously combined with fresh dill, and the smoked salmon sprinkled on top was the browner, natural kind, as opposed to the bright-red, preservative-tasting stuff.
Let's talk bagel for a bit. The bagel is the best breakfast-sandwich yeast flap known to humankind—dense, chewy, and never so crunchy that it cuts the roof of your mouth. And that's why I love me some Cafe Pettirosso (1101 E Pike St, 323-4830). Conveniently located in my hangover stumble path, "The Pet" offers greasy, delicious breakfast sammies with all the fixings for a bargain. My favorite is the egg with spinach, artichoke, and Parmesan ($3.85), in which the cheese and veggies are cooked right into the egg for maximum ease of delivery.
But if you want to go deluxe on the bagel, and you also happen to be a godzillionaire, please, get the bagel breakfast sandwich ($10.50) at Earth & Ocean (1112 Fourth Ave, 264-6060). The bagel tastes like it has been boiled in the fresh sweat of authentic Jewish grandmas. The eggs are from heaven. And don't even ask about the ham. Even though all of the parts were delicious, I still found myself yearning for a Pettirosso bagel sammie, because all of the delicious bits of the Earth & Ocean bagel kept dropping off—the dreaded "sandwich slide." Note to the otherwise exemplary Earth & Ocean: A breakfast sandwich can't just be yummy—it also has to be easy to shove down your gullet.