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The Graphic Details of a Meal at 'Morning Glory'

Enter MG’s wild world of pink velour booths, pierced and personable servers, and orgasmic brunch options complemented by an exceptional playlist and an intoxicating air of eccentricity.

When Mark tells me we have to “go early” to get a table for brunch, I’m prepared. Living in LA, I’ve had my fair share of groggy Sunday mornings and long waits made bearable by the prospect of overpriced, poorly poached eggs over an avocado tartine. Honestly, I’m just grateful to see two old friends and eat out, so I’m oddly moved at the thought of standing in line with a host of hungry folks eager to do the same. 

The music is the first thing I notice—even before we arrive at the base of the staircase leading up to the restaurant, my body starts moving to the playful bounce of Miguel’s “Banana Clip.” By the time we’re on the stairs, Berhana’s “Grey Luh” and Rihanna’s “Pour It Up” have followed. It dawns on me as I look down at the ever-growing line that we’re about to be admitted into brunch’s Garden of Eden. We’re seated to “Lady Marmalade,” and I’m convinced I’ve died and gone to heaven.

But let’s not mistake the holy otherworldliness of a place like Morning Glory with the polished arrogance that pervades the genre of fine dining. There’s an impish allure to Morning Glory—the pastel pink starburst structure with an all-following eye that governs the bar, the Moet & Chandon champagne vending machine that stands as an extravagant irony, the idiosyncratic blend of Tiki trimmings and velour 80s dining décor that somehow oozes 2021. As if the space wasn’t loud enough on its own, the staff’s outfits scream with personality. 

Pinstriped Dickie overalls seem to be the dress code, but there’s nothing uniform about them. Some folks have cut them into shorts, others roll them to capri length. Underneath are flashes of neon-colored sports bras, pastel tank tops, and animal print hoodies. Each server, host, and hostess struts across the space with a refreshing balance of levity and purpose. They know their Technicolor nails, bunny ears and tail (it happened to be Easter), Go-Go boots, and tattoos are all part of the chaotic good that is Morning Glory.

It’s almost hard to remember that we’re here for food, but somewhere behind the bumping bass-line of “Best Friend” by Saweetie and Doja Cat I can hear my stomach grumble.

Here’s the thing: I’m ordering Chilaquiles 11 times out of 10 when they’re offered, but that never stops me from shopping around. The laminated menu is a graphic designer’s wet dream. Food items are described on a bright yellow backdrop, while the drinks are presented in glowing fuchsia. Before reading, your eyes are grabbed by images straight from a Rick & Morty fever dream. It’s like your neighborhood psychic went all Freaky Friday with Dan Harmon. The text itself is small and narrow—your grandma’s worst nightmare—but we’d bet you won’t be bringing her here anyway. (Unless she’s down to clown with a pretty colorful crew of restaurant goers—in which case, I’d like to meet your grandma.)

Knowing what I want to eat gives me more time with the drink menu, which is almost frighteningly extensive for a breakfast-lunch-only restaurant. But hey—it’s not called Morning Glory for nothing. If I’m rolling out of bed at 7 AM on a Sunday, there better be booze, and it better be glorious.

Rest assured, the menu pulls me in all different directions with vivid descriptions of drinks like the “Lizard Brain”—a tropically-tinged rhum-agricole remedy—and “The Happy Medium of Classy & Trashy That We Love About You So Much.” It’s a mouthful in every way, consisting of your choice between single-barrel Weller or Yellow Chartreuse VEP, a Miller High Life pony, and a Pringles chip loaded with crème fraiche, chives, and sturgeon caviar. (Apparently, “Pony” by Ginuwine plays throughout the whole restaurant when you order it.) Tempting, I know, but maybe another day. Boring old me settles on their version of a tried and true classic: the Bloody Mary.

Now we Wisconsinites take our Bloodies very seriously. If they don’t come with a smattering of pickled vegetables, a skewer of squeaky cheese curds, chocolate covered bacon, and a whole ass burger just to garnish, then get it out of our face. But Morning’s Mary is so harmonious in its blend of blanco tequila, celery foam, savory tomato, and garlic bitters that I hardly pay attention to the sidecar of homemade pickled cucumbers, carrots, and pearl onions. You know a Bloody is good when you can serve it in a glass all on its own.

My friend Oojoon orders the Morning Glory Fizz—an herbal whiskey twist on the classic Ramos, sans cream. Egg white foam balloons impeccably above the rim of the Collins glass, and the drink underneath sings of honey, anise, and lemon. It’s a strong morning cocktail disguised as something fluffy and innocuous, emblematic of the way MG’s atmosphere works hard to distract you before the food fucks you up. (For the Boomers reading, that’s a good thing.)

Speaking of which, I’m soon presented with a stack of freshly fried tortilla chips dripping with bright salsa verde and topped with a sunny-side-up egg. Oven-crisped slices of watermelon radish hide underneath the shower of chives and cojita cheese. It’s plated in a personal cast iron pan, which feels like the proper vessel for such a punchy dish. The chips are crunchy but not overdone, and the blanket of salsa makes them soft but not soggy—a tough balance to strike, and the signature of exceptional chilaquiles.

Oojoon and Mark request the MG fried rice and baked blueberry skillet pancake, respectively. The rice is enriched with carrots, scallions, peas, and decadent bits of pork belly. Two sunny-side-up eggs top off the mound of umami carbs, making this an Asian-fusion brunch favorite. Mark’s pancake is easily the best rendition of the breakfast classic that I’ve ever had. Brunchers beware: you’ll never want to go back to a stack of flimsy flapjacks again. Per the graphic novel-esque menu, this cast-iron cake has a crispy exterior and a fluffy interior bursting with blueberries. It avoids all the pitfalls of subpar pancakes: raw gooey centers and overcooked, dry edges that disintegrate at the first drop of syrup.

As they clean their plates, they’re rewarded by a hidden quotation from Ray Kroc, which adds to the tongue-in-cheek attitude that permeates the MG air. “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.” Capital P.

I knew before we sat down that I would have to write about this place. After a year of leftovers and lackluster takeout, I couldn’t stop grinning at the way the MG ecosystem bled brazen creativity. It felt like they had been hiding underground for all of quarantine, quietly refining their art. They flourished it for no one but themselves and the love of the trade, which was evident when they resurfaced­—they weren’t showing off, but rather showing out (as writer and poet Hanif Abdurraqib would say).

It seems only right to quote the McDon mastermind at the end of a meal like this. In a way—or rather, in their own way—Morning Glory is saying, “Thanks for standing in line starting at 7 AM for our food. We respect your determination to eat a bougie brunch today. In return, we offer this craft, atmosphere, and experience that we’ve honed with biting resolve. With Playfulness and Passion and Persistence—don’t forget the capital P. Bitch.”

*Special thanks to Chef/partner Jason McLeod for his vision and menu, and our server Sabrina for guiding us through a truly glorious morning.

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