Breakfast

To Brunch or Not to Brunch? If You Do, Try Zaguán.

The Zaguán brunch is a full meal you'll appreciate.
The Zaguán brunch is a full meal you'll appreciate. Taylor Adams
There has been some talk about how the restaurant industry might look when we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic: Maybe QR menus should stay. What will happen to fine dining? Perhaps being able to purchase alcohol to-go from a restaurant could stick around.

It’s entirely possible that months ago, I said, “Let’s do away with brunch.” OK, I did say something along those lines, but so did Brian Luscher.

And if someone who was serving one of Dallas’ best brunches can say it’s stupid, maybe I can, too. But not all brunches are. Breakfast can be insanely good, and the opportunity to sit down with someone for longer than usual on a weekend to have a morning meal is worthwhile.

(But yeah, dollar mimosas and mediocre plates using gotta-use ingredients can, by all means, go away.)


click to enlarge You can also get the super-sweet, apple-flavored soda here. - TAYLOR ADAMS
You can also get the super-sweet, apple-flavored soda here.
Taylor Adams
But we’re back with brunch reviews for now, walking into restaurants wearing our masks, keeping distance from others and sticking around only where we feel safe. And to start things off, we’re taking you to Zaguán Latin Cafe and Bakery in Oak Lawn.

They serve “breakfast/brunch” all day, which is perfect for while we’re still working at home. Take a lunch break and have brunch on a Tuesday? Why not?

Go for the No. 2 brunch item on the menu, the Zaguán brunch. Eggs with cheese and vegetables are scrambled or prepared in an omelet — your choice for how you want the onion, mushroom, tomato and peppers — and are served with an arepa, beef or chicken and your choice of a fruit smoothie.

The vegetables are seasoned well to go with the egg, which would make a fine meal in itself (that’s the No. 1). The beef was fine, but not the highlight. That would be the arepa, which was better than expected with a perfectly crisp exterior and plenty of cheese.

click to enlarge If you want to go for just one thing, get a fruit smoothie, especially the mango. - TAYLOR ADAMS
If you want to go for just one thing, get a fruit smoothie, especially the mango.
Taylor Adams
The fruit smoothie could be your dessert, if you like. This has me clamoring to get back to Oak Lawn as quickly as possible, because here, I can find a mango shake. They list it as a “smoothie,” (it’s what it is). But having lived in the Philippines, I easily fell in love with the delicate sweetness and ultimate treat that a mango shake is.

They’re surely not using the wonderful Filipino mangos in the smoothie here, but it hits the spot to where I can close my eyes and feel like I’m in Pampanga again. Get a mango smoothie — you’ll love it even if you haven’t spent time on Luzon.

click to enlarge Egg, cheese and ham make for a good breakfast. But they make an excellent one when inside a well-made croissant. - TAYLOR ADAMS
Egg, cheese and ham make for a good breakfast. But they make an excellent one when inside a well-made croissant.
Taylor Adams
Zaguán is also known for its baking, so it’s a safe place to land, too, in the category of croissants and breakfast sandwiches.

The egg, ham and cheese croissant is wonderful. Sure, there are drive-thrus in town where you can get a version of this, but here each component is intentional and complementary. There’s a slight sweetness with the salty ham that rests with melted cheese and the buttery croissant that makes this simple assortment decadent.

The menu includes other options, such as a cheese croissant, an arepa with egg and cheese (what I’m ordering the next time I give in to a mango shake craving).

This Oak Lawn spot has plenty of space on its covered patio; sitting there while the rain falls is a lovely scene. Even better is doing that with a cheese arepa and a fruit smoothie. That's simple and why it's worth going: It’s a well-executed breakfast that doesn’t fall into the brunch scene and instead provides a memorable meal.

Zaguán Latin Cafe and Bakery, 2604 Oak Lawn Ave. (Oak Lawn). Open 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; and 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday 214-219-8393.
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.