As their slogan “Breakfast, Lunch, Bacon” might suggest, The Oink Café goes through a lot of bacon – about 340 pounds per week and 17,500 pounds per year. This east side restaurant helps bacon-loving diners get their fix by incorporating salty, crispy bacon into everything from an eight-slice bacon “flight” served on a wooden board to a margarita that features pig-shaped ice, a bacon-salted rim, and a bacon garnish. I asked owner Heather Clauser to describe the philosophy behind The Oink Café’s menu. In a word? “Bacon.” She says, “We tried to think of something that was on-trend when we opened, and we kind of built from that.” Don’t worry if you prefer your breakfast and lunch pork-free, there are some delicious non-bacon and veggie-friendly options to choose from as well. As Clauser says, “You have to appeal to everyone.”
Hailing from the bacon-loving side of the menu, the Oink Bacon Bloody Mary ($8) features a house-blended tomato juice and a bacon-salted rim and a garnish of lemons, limes, and olives—and of course, a slice of bacon alongside the standard celery stalk. This Bloody Mary isn’t very spicy; let your server know if you like your Bloody Mary with more heat. The bacon-salted rim offered explosions of bacon flavor with every sip, backed up by the drink itself, which Clauser says is infused with a bacon syrup they make by boiling leftover bacon for four hours in water and brown sugar.
Staying on the bacon train: the Oink Breakfast Chimi ($11.49) comes slathered with a freshly made creamy chorizo cheese sauce and is stuffed with pork confit, home fries, scrambled eggs, and cheddar cheese, wrapped up in a fried and locally made tortilla. The confit is delicious: made from pork rendered for seven hours in a combination of its own juices and fat from Oink Café’s jalepeño bacon, the meat was fall-apart tender, with the kick of jalepeño and added richness from caramelized onions.
The tasty doesn’t stop with bacon. The Oink Café’s French Toast ($3.99 for a side order and $10.49 for a full-size plate) comes drizzled with a scratch-made berry sauce and topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. The berry sauce was striking in its simplicity: thicker than syrup, with a sweetness that came primarily from the berries, a refreshing alternative to standard syrup options. But the pièce de résistance is the crumbled Captain Crunch cereal that coats the toast. Each bite included a hint of crunch, adding a new, fun texture to French toast and making this dish truly memorable.
The most popular item at The Oink Café is the Oink BLT ($10.49) – a sandwich with six slices of bacon and offered on bread or as a wrap. I opted for the wrap, choosing jalepeño bacon and adding avocado at Clauser’s suggestion. The result was a wrap bursting with smoky bacon flavor, and I still had room left for a side of loaded macaroni and cheese (+$1.75), topped at my request with fresh, crunchy jalepeños and bacon. If you want something heartier, Clauser suggests the Oink Burger ($12.49), or, for maximum smoky bacon flavor, the 50/50 Burger ($11.49) is a solid bet with its patty made of ground beef and bacon.
If you make it through your meal and still have room for dessert, try their ‘Best of Phoenix’ award-winning Maple Bacon Donut ($2.49). Served warm, this donut is thick and crumbly and covered with a thick layer of bacon atop a maple glaze, and large enough to share with a friend. Still haven’t reached your bacon quota through entrees, desserts, and drinks alone? You can always order the Flight of Bacon ($9.49), which features eight slices of bacon, seven in standard flavors – Applewood, Jalepeño, Sugar Cured, Apple Cider, Pepper, Honey, and Hickory – and one in a chef’s choice flavor that changes monthly.
If you love bacon, or if you love someone who loves bacon, and you’re looking to eat at a family-owned and operated restaurant for breakfast or lunch, The Oink Café has your back. Or perhaps, your pork belly.
The Oink Café
7131 E. Broadway Blvd.
Tucson, Arizona 85710