One of my vegetarian friends always says that if any food could lure her over to the meaty side of life it would be fried chicken. Fried chicken! Really? Does she know about its veins and sinews? Its yellow globules of chicken fat? Its tiny armpits? Does she know about bacon?
Please do not misunderstand my meaning. I will eat fried chicken. A lot of it. Every day. Hello, tiny armpits! Pleased to meet you! Sincerely, my mouth. But fried chicken is not irresistible to me in the way that bacon is. Bacon wins. I will eat overcooked bacon. I will eat undercooked bacon. I will, and have, eaten bacon bits cooked into a pancake. I will not eat that crayzay precooked room-temperature bacon in a box, but I also don't gnaw on a bum's doodoo shoelace. A lady has to have some standards. I am not a barbarian.
Seriously you guys, sorry I said "doodoo shoelace." That was out of line, and I regret it. But I don't regret what happens next, which is me sampling, rating, and then telling you about the city's four best bacons. Right now.
The first bacon on my journey of bacons was at the 14 Carrot Cafe (2305 Eastlake Ave E, 324-1442). Before this, my brain contained only two impressions of the 14 Carrot Cafe. (1) The time they told my friend she could bring her tiny dog into the restaurant and then immediately told her to "get that thing out of here." Trickery! (2) Their breakfast quesadilla is the fucking jam. On this particular morning, as was my duty, I ordered bacon, and discovered it to be BONKERS. Usually, bacon is composed of a pleasant ratio of meat to fat. Part of the point of eating the meaty part is to get to the little strip of fatty, crispy rind. It's like bacon's built-in dessert. But at 14 Carrot Cafe, the fatty rind was large and in charge. A strip of meat, maybe one centimeter wide, clung to a full inch of golden rendered fat. It was good, in the way that eating an entire wedding cake in half an hour is good. Interpret that however you like.
Next up was Portage Bay Cafe (4130 Roosevelt Way NE, 547-8230). Their bacon, by contrast, was almost all meat. Expertly cooked and coated in black pepper, it was indulgent without making me feel like I was breakfasting on my own demise. Nicely played, black pepper.
My third stop was St. Clouds (1131 34th Ave, 726-1522) in Madrona. With each bacon I seemed to be getting closer to bacon's ideal. This was a bacon's bacon: meaty, fatty, smoky, a little too floppy for my taste, but generally the bacon that everyone's proverbial mom used to proverbially make. A satisfying bacon!
Finally, at 6:30 on a Monday morning, it was time for Voula's Offshore Cafe (658 NE Northlake Way, 643-0183). Voula's is an old-Seattle greasy spoon—with pork chops on the breakfast menu and regulars fused to their regular booths. And at Voula's I found my favorite bacon. The thing about Voula's bacon is that it's just bacon. Crisp and salty, bossy and familiar, it's everything it should be and nothing more.
So congratulations, Voula's! And to 14 Carrot and Portage Bay and St. Clouds, don't be sad. There are no losers in the bacon game. Only winners. And heart disease.