The sandwich you’re looking for right now tastes like Thanksgiving on a toasted bun.
It happens around the same time every year — the temperature plummets, the papery leaves whoosh around, the gourds come out and you’re drifting off while imagining carved turkey, mayo, cranberry, maybe some bacon and that gravy-soaked bread slice from that one episode of Friends. In other words, you’re craving a warming, mom-meets-grandma, home-cooked sandwich with a hefty bag of potato chips. It should taste like grandma’s sandwich, and at Zephyr Bakery Cafe on Cedar Springs, the stupendously good meatloaf sandwich happens to be a recipe from Fannie Loeb, the great-aunt and grandma, respectively, of Lisa Loeb and co-owner Daniel Sikora.
Sikora is cousins with Lisa Loeb — yes, the same Lisa Loeb who sang “Stay (I Missed You)," a song that I now think may be about their family meatloaf — and adapted Granny Loeb’s signature meatloaf into a recipe that’ll grow your heart three sizes and break the scale. It tastes warming, tender and glazed. If you grabbed a dozen of these sandwiches to go and served them at Thanksgiving, no one on Earth would know you didn’t make them. It tastes that homemade.
Grandma’s meatloaf is Angus chuck bound by egg, cracker crumbs, salt, pepper, a little minced onion and garlic. It gets a ceramic-like glaze with a house Roma tomato sauce that glistens with garlic. It will heat you from the core. A couple of bites in, and you may never feel the bitterness of winter cold again.
Thin onion strings are floured, dusted with salt and pepper, and flash fried solely for the meatloaf sandwich. The only additional topping is pickle discs, an ingeniously restrained move that crinkle-cuts right through the heaviness and the sauce. Cloud-soft, Milano-style rolls are flat-grilled to bookend everything. Grandma Loeb and the partners of Zephyr should join forces with Meat Loaf (also Dallas-based) because this loaf eats as epically as a tune from Bat Out of Hell. I would do anything for loaf.
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When Zephyr Bakery opened early in 2016, it had a chef in-house who was bolstering homemade dishes with a little too much pomp and circumstance. The goal was simple food, bold and genuine — the kind that you’d make at home on a Sunday morning when you’re starving. The prices of dinner dishes were ticking up dollar by dollar, so the owners scaled the menu back.
“We didn’t want to be pretentious, and we didn’t want to be too cheffy,” Sikora says. The sandwich is 10 bucks with a pile of good, crispy, salted and peppered fries.
Zephyr mixed family recipes from owners and staff into the menu. The meatloaf and the meatloaf sandwich are autumn additions. It’s easily one of the best cold-weather sandwiches in the city right now. The only thing missing from the home-cooked recipe is the ketchup squirted into the tomato sauce, Sikora conveys with a laugh. You won't miss it —the sandwich has enough nostalgia to go around the table.
Zephyr Bakery Cafe, 4001 Cedar Springs Road