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Baja Eats: The Oink Cafe

This family-owned and operated restaurant brings home the bacon seven days a week.

August 23, 2017

Baja Eats

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.”

The Bacon Bloody Mary dishes up bacon flavor on three levels: as an infusion, as a garnish, and on the salted rim.

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.

The Oink Breakfast Chimi is a breakfast entree that means business.

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.

Cereal for the win: The Oink Cafe’s French toast is coated with extra-crispy Captain Crunch cereal.

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.

No bacon-themed restaurant would be complete without a BLT option, and Oink’s comes as a double-decker sandwich or as a wrap, featuring the flavored bacon of your choice.

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.

The Maple Bacon donut from Oink is heavy, crumbly, and extra-rich.

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.

The “Flight of Bacon” at Oink features 8 differently-flavored strips of bacon.

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
(520) 296-6465

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