While it seems chicken and waffles are the hot brunch dish of the moment, I want to give a shout-out to my personal favorite way to fortify a stomach for day drinking or soothe a hangover: the croque madame. It’s a croque monsieur–the traditional French ham and cheese sandwich topped with béchamel sauce–but made more decadent with a sunny-side-up egg crowning it. Crack that yolk and, magic!
Fortunately, Los Angeles is having a croque renaissance at some of its most prominent restaurants. There are no shortage of these fantastic sandwiches around the city, and here are some of the best.
Petrossian’s croque is the most decadent on this list: You’re given a choice of adding Petrossian pressed caviar ($36) or Black Forest ham ($16) to this sandwich, which also trades béchamel for Comte. This croque is so hearty that it’s probably a good idea to split it with a friend and supplement it with a glass of sparkling wine. Plus, you need to make room for dessert. Mmm, Valrhona chocolate mousse.
Republique offers so many new insta-favorite brunch dishes like the shakshouka and the kimchi fried rice, but the croque madame ($12) should not be overlooked. It’s an Instagram-worthy sandwich of house-made brioche and house-cured ham with crispy Gruyère cheesy edges, and that orange-yolk fried egg.
Chef Kris Morningstar made the croque madame ($14) at Terrine his own by adding just a hint of Dijon mustard to the bread. “We put the faintest amount of Dijon, smearing it on the bread and then scrape it off,” he says. “My two French friends were incredibly skeptical when I described the croque that I was going to give them and now they love it.”
Chef Ludo Lefebvre says the croque monsieur is the perfect drunk food and he makes a truly delicious one for his French bistro, Petit Trois. It’s a sandwich of French country bread, layers of Parisian ham, and generous amounts of Gruyère and parmesan cheese drenched in a “secret béchamel sauce.” Add a fried egg to complete the croque madame picture ($23).
The Church Key’s “Toad in the Hole” croque madame ($18) is deconstructed with the egg cooked in the middle of the bread. It’s then topped with melted cheese, a Gruyere fondue sauce, and smoked bacon.
Huckleberry Cafe is not one to leave vegetarians out of expressing their croque love. In addition to the classic croque (ham, cave-aged Gruyère, and béchamel on country toast), there’s a vegetarian version (both sandwiches are $14.50) where spinach and caramelized onions take the savory place of the Niman Ranch ham.