You may know Sweet 27 Bakery and Cafe as one of the only dedicated gluten-free joints in town. If you're vegetarian or vegan, you may know them because, since they make all of their food without gluten, they're also pretty good at understanding and accommodating other dietary restrictions. What you may not realize, because we certainly didn't, is the little cafe serves brunch every day of the week. You know what else? It's pretty darn good.
On a Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., the place was pretty dead. We guess most people were being productive at their jobs or something, but we were off and so were four of our bum friends, so we decided to make a date. Thankfully, the small cafe tables can be easily rearranged to accommodate larger parties. There was only one employee in the place to take orders, run food, and ring up diners and bakery customers alike at the cash register. But again, it was pretty slow; he was quick to get us coffee and hot water for tea ($1.75) as we pondered the menu.
Criticism time: The lunch and dinner menu at Sweet 27 is a little disjointed—tacos, pizza, Indian food, burgers, and wings all on the same menu usually gets a serious side-eye from us. How does one place specialize in so many disparate dishes? So we were pleased to see its brunch menu is much more focused: one page, a bit of variety, but not in a way that made us want to immediately write off half of it. In fact, everything sounded so good that it was really hard to decide.
We asked our server if he preferred the French toast or the pancakes, and he was quick to recommend the latter. On his suggestion, we got a couple of chocolate-chip pancakes ($6.50) without expecting much—passable if you have a gluten allergy, but nothing a breadhead like us would get again. We were wrong. So wrong. In fact, they were so light and fluffy that we wondered if maybe they were not actually gluten-free. They serve regular, gluten-full beer at their bar next door—maybe they had a weird pancake exception too? Nope. We even asked to make sure.
Our Western omelette ($7.50) was really more of a scramble, with chorizo, onion, and cheese mixed into the eggs rather than being folded inside. It was cooked hard with an even browning around the outside, giving it some more flavor and texture that is sometimes lacking from most brunch joint's scrambled eggs. Under the brown crust, the eggs inside were light and fluffy. The omelette also came with a few slices of gluten-free toast, which was OK—a little dense, but we've had worse. It made us happy we didn't get the French toast.
The real star of the show was the Indian taco ($5.75). The menu says "2 per order," but you really get four corn tortillas stacked two apiece, which we can only assume is a futile attempt at containing the towering mound of delicious toppings. It was basically your average taco—black beans, avocado, salsa—with the addition of lightly curried scrambled eggs, giving it a surprisingly fresh twist. It didn't scream "Indian food"; if you took a bite without knowing, you might just think it was a really good breakfast taco. The vegetarian taco ($5.75) was pretty much the same but with rice instead of the curried eggs. While still good, it didn't compare to the former. With any of the tacos, be prepared with a fork and a napkin—they are impossible to eat daintily.
We rounded out our meal with a side of hash browns ($3.50) consisting of shredded potatoes, onion, and cilantro. The Indian-inspired seasoning was a nice touch to your average shredded potatoes, but unfortunately they still fell a little flat. Shredded hash browns like that rarely get crisped enough, and these were no exception. That said, the spicy sauce served on the side totally saved them. If you need an additional layer of carbs to soak up your hangover, they will suffice.
If you want, on your way out you can grab a little something from Sweet 27's gluten-free bakery. Get a chocolate-chip cookie ($1.20) to cap off the end of your meal, or grab a box of them (six for $7) to shame-eat when you get home. They're not cookies of the moist and chewy variety—they're crispy and crumbly, almost what we imagine Chips Ahoy might taste like if they were made in a real kitchen with real sugar, butter, and eggs. Even as a celebrator of gluten, we have bought these more than once, and it would be an especially nice treat for someone with Celiac's disease.
For folks with any food issues, gluten or otherwise, you can be certain you will be taken care of by a staff that understands the importance of special diets. More important, Sweet 27 just has a really delicious brunch that accommodates restrictions without feeling restrictive, and that is very difficult to do.