Get Brunch at Cafe Lift.
Some weeks at Penn seem to last forever. By last Tuesday, I was already dragging. The quickest remedy is to plan something to look forward to: in this case, brunch. Café Liftunassumingly occupies a not so prosperous section of Spring Garden at 13th and Callowhill. Walk inside and you’ll see why the walk was worth it. Insdustrial metals, a long coffee bar, and a Williamsburg-esque crowd let you know something good is coming. The wait was short and comfortable in their little seating area. We arrived at our table and took advantage of Café Lift’s byo status with some Saturday mimosas. The orange juice was pulpy and tangy and well, we all know how great champagne is. Café lift serves breakfast all day and every foursquare tip told us to get the huevos rancheros. I now echo every foursquare tip to tell you: get the huevos rancheros. Not only are there perfectly poached eggs on a crispy tortilla with fresh salsa and homemade hot sauce, there are refried beans and house made chorizo sausage baked onto the tortillas with cheese. These were epic, not the kind of huevos rancheros that uses guacamole to cover up bland flavors and soggy tortillas. The chorizo and the beans were like hidden morsels, not in every bite but when you found them, it was good. The homemade hot sauce really ought to be sold by the bottle, as I would put it on everything. My friend ordered a special, the baked eggs, which was baked with pork shoulder and a layer of cheese. They were excellent, but my savory recommendation goes to the huevos rancheros.
Finally my friend and I pulled an aggressive brunch move I like to call the brunch dessert. I can’t eat giant sweet brunches but after a nice dose of eggs and sausage, we were ready for a sweet finish. Splitting the special pumpkin cannoli French toast seemed like the right thing to do. When we tasted it, our hunch was confirmed. Picture the best challah French toast you’ve ever had. The outside is crispy but the inside is soft without being too sweet. Then imagine cannoli filling, that sweet ricotta, infused with pumpkin. This is not the saccharine “pumpkin spice” flavor that we all know, this tastes like a pumpkin you picked from a patch, made insanely delicious and topped with bittersweet chocolate and walnuts. This French toast is one of the best things I’ve eaten all year. This French toast, huevos rancheros, and a mimosa or two are waiting for you at Café Lift. Get ready, because brunch just got urgent.
A version of this post appeared on Penn Appetit, the student run food magazine and blog of the University of Pennsylvania.