On a recent visit to Yolk in One Arts Plaza, we waited 25 minutes for a table for a late breakfast. With two decent bloody mary options nearby at The Playwright Irish Pub and Jorge’s, you can easily pass the time.
What was interesting, though, was that as we approached the table with the hostess, we were told this was “slow.” An hour or even two hours is normal for a wait midday on a Saturday.
There’s a good enough reason for this: People love breakfast, and Yolk does it just fine. You won’t walk away having one of those life-changing meals, but you’ll walk out full after getting plenty of fat, protein and carbs — emphasis on that last one.
Yolk has that chain feeling when you walk in, because it is one. Design elements appear to have been approved by corporate. But it has a nice little story on its website about how the owner started it in Chicago before expanding it to Texas, Indiana and Florida.
If you didn’t imbibe before you sat down (or you’re in the Sunday Funday mentality), Yolk has a few boozy options. Beers and wines are listed along with a mimosa ($5 per glass/$20 for a carafe), a bloody mary with vodka ($8) or Deep Ellum Brewing Co.’s Neato Bandito ($7).
If for some reason you’re not happy with an egg dish you get at Yolk, slathering it in this hot sauce will make it better.
The food menu is massive. The 12-by-18 sheets the color of butcher paper can feel overwhelming. You have multiple categories: omelettes, scramblers, “fan favorites” (main entrees), Benedicts, combinations, oatmeal and yogurt, sweets (French toast, etc.), burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads, and sides.
It seems ridiculous to list them all here, but it gives you an idea of the massive number of choices. It can seem like you’re visiting a large-scale breakfast chain. We won’t name names here, because Yolk does it better than the rest of them.
For one, you can get a good, standard plate of breakfast — which can be simple but is vital for a joint focusing on the meal for every hour it’s open.
The Yolk All-Star Combo ($11) is a large plate of two eggs any style, two sausage links, two slices of bacon and your choice of two pancakes, two crepes, two slices of French toast or half of a waffle. It's not bad for $11, and it’s always nice when you don’t have to choose between bacon or sausage, especially when the latter is pretty good, as it is here. The eggs actually come out how you like them, the bacon is cooked properly and the options for sweets provide a good excuse for desserts for breakfast.
Plus, you can upgrade the sweet option to one under the “sweet favorites” categories for $3 or the cinnamon roll French toast ($5). You might as well upgrade; they have to-go boxes in case you don’t feel the need to consume a week’s worth of sugar in one sitting.
This is not a cute plate of food. The El Torero scrambler ($12) does taste a little bit better than it looks.
The sweet favorites include some seriously decadent options. On this recent visit, we upgraded to the red velvet French toast ($13 for the entree portion), which is surprisingly good. What makes it good is that it’s not like toast at all, but more like a cake, one swirled with cream cheese, dipped in a “secret batter” and griddled.
On the savory side, the egg dishes come out fine, too. One of those is the El Torero scrambler ($12), another presentation of massive amounts of food for a decent price. The scramble of eggs comes with chorizo, avocado, tomato, pepper jack and cheddar cheeses and topped with sour cream. It comes out in a firm little disk, not looking like a scramble at all, more like a thin, oddly shaped omelette. The flavor is just fine, but the dish needed salt. There are tiny bits of mild chorizo in there — maybe if there had been more (or if it had been better), it would elevate the dish to a more satisfactory level than just OK.
A nice addition to any egg dish is Yolk’s signature hot sauce. It’s a decent sauce — a nice change from the usual.
With the scramblers, you get breakfast potatoes or cheese grits and toast, pancakes or an English muffin. There’s nothing wrong with the grits. They do come out at the right consistency, so you know someone actually put care into them. And they are cheesy. But there’s nothing special about them — not when there’s so much else on the table.
This is one of those menus where you can basically upgrade every item. An upgrade to the Nutty Monkey Pancakes ($3 upgrade, $12.50 for the entree) is worth a try. A whole plate of large pancakes (yes, as a side dish) is one of those plates that gets people lifting their heads to get a closer look as it passes by on its way to a table.
Chocolate and banana may be one of the best combinations, and Yolk dives in to that idea with an addition of peanut butter in the Nutty Monkey Pancakes ($12.50). It’s one of those names you don’t want to say out loud, but you forget about it once you take a bite.
These pancakes are filled with banana slices and chocolate chips (topped with them, too), with a smear of peanut butter in between.
Yes, it’s terrible for you. And if you add syrup, it won’t make your doctor any happier. Yes, it’s a massive amount of sugar with complementing flavors, but we’re not going to pretend that it doesn’t work. It’s clear that if Yolk has devoted particular attention to any one part of the menu, it’s the French toast, pancake and crepe options. (There’s an order of Nutella crepes for $12.50, by the way.)
So it makes sense that this spot has a long wait. There’s another location in Preston Center, which surely has massive waits, too. But for a spot in the Arts District — which is usually not hopping on a Saturday morning — it says something.
It’s not even clear where these people are coming from. Do they live in downtown or Uptown? Are they venturing through downtown for the day? Are they tourists? Who knows, but it’s a diverse crowd filling a place in One Arts Plaza, and that’s a good thing.
Yolk, 1722 Routh St. (Arts District). Open 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.