Breakfast Sandwich Stand-Off

The Dish

It's quite simple. Take the best components of breakfast and structure them in an easy-to-hold format. What could be better than meat, egg and cheese grilled on an English muffin? All that's required is a pair of hands to cinch this winning combo. Easy peasy. But when you don't want your breakfast sandwich delivered to you from a drive-through window, where do you go for this quick pick-me-up ? We chose two specialty grocery stores where this fast food item gets a gourmet touch. Which has the better 'wich?

Muffin, Egg, Hempler's = meh.
The Rivals

Metropolitan Market

2320 42nd Ave. S.W., 937-0551

It sounds delicious enough: Hempler's bacon, Tillamook cheddar and egg on an English muffin, grilled until golden and bubbly. Peering through the deli case at Metropolitan Market, seeing rows of freshly made breakfast sandwiches lined up like newborns in a maternity ward, who could resist the thought of oozy cheese, bacon and egg swaddled in toast? Not us. But after just one bite of this freshly grilled sandwich, we knew something was missing -- seasoning. At $4.99, this deceptive stunner isn't cheap, so there's no excuse for blandness. There was also a meager amount of bacon and an egg that stayed peculiarly square-shaped, even after being pressed on the grill. The best part about this breakfast sandwich is that it's available all day.

You think there's enough cheese?
Whole Foods

2210 Westlake Ave., 621-9700

The Market Muffin is served until 11 a.m. M-F and noon Sat-Sun. If you want one during the latter, you might have to wait about 15 minutes, as a brisk brunch crowd keeps the Market Cafe crew extra busy with custom orders. Is it worth the wait? Absolutely. For the same price as the Met Market muffin, you get two omelette-style eggs with bacon and a copious amount of cheddar-jack cheese on a toasted English muffin. The morning we went they were out of cheddar-jack (yeah, we slept in), so we subbed in provolone. What we got was a mountain of bacon-y, eggy, perfectly seasoned goodness that kept us full all afternoon. This was a sandwich and a half.

The Champ

If you're in a pinch, the Met Market breakfast sandwich will suffice. It will cost you five bucks, but it's a healthier (arguably better tasting) alternative to its fast-food doppelganger. It lacks flavor and any real special quality, but these sandwiches score points because they're served hot off the grill and offered past dinner time. Whole Foods breakfast sandwiches are a little more elusive, served only during morning hours, but what they don't offer in availability they make up for in value. We crown Whole Foods the winner in this challenge, not only because their breakfast sandwiches are superior, but because they are made-to-order and look way better than you do first thing in the morning.

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