It was a long drive from my home in Highland Park in St. Paul to Fat Nat’s Eggs in Brooklyn Center, but once I visited with Jeff Nat, and tasted the foods he makes, I was hooked. This place serves some of the best breakfasts and sandwiches I have had in the Twin Cities.
The original location opened in New Hope six years ago in a 1,500-square-foot space. Three years ago, Nat added another thousand square feet to accommodate the growing number of customers. The Brooklyn Center location is very nondescript and unassuming, but it’s all about the food, not the decor—as it should be.
Minneapolis Star Tribune called Fat Nat’s Eggs “the anti-Perkins.” St. Paul Pioneer Press awarded “5th Best Dish” to Nat’s specialty Huevos Rancheroes ($8.25). It’s loaded with scrambled eggs, pepper jack cheese, chorizo or carnitas, black beans, and homemade salsa over two crisp tortillas. I tried it, and it’s really good.
Put the accolades aside, and you have the makings of a perfect storm…of comfort food. Antichef and owner Nat cooks what made him happy when he was a boy.
“I’m not a chef. I’m just a guy who cooks. I want to feed you like your grandma would feed you. The portions are designed to feed me,” Nat shared—showing off his ample build and frame.
Two years ago, while opening the Brooklyn Park location, Nat had a heart attack. His wife, Lisa, took a leave of absence from her Target Corporation position, and along with son Michael, helped run the Brooklyn Park location, while Chris Wick ran the New Hope location. Now, Lisa presides over the front at Brooklyn Park, while Jeff works the back kitchen, and is the creative force. He will come up with a new dish, and give it to the regular customers, continuing to tweak it until it’s just right.
When the food started to come out, the plate of Two Pancakes ($4.50) didn’t look special, but the taste was out of this world! Nat’s secret is adding a combination of almond and vanilla extracts to the batter. The result is a fantastic, sweet taste.
Along with the pancakes, a plate of Eggs Benedict ($7.95) was delivered—thick slices of grilled ham on top of toasted English muffins, adorned by a creamy and luscious hollandaise sauce—with a side of hash browns. This is one of my favorites, and I was not disappointed.
The next plate that arrived at our table blew me away. I am into comfort food, and this is my favorite: a Hot Turkey Sandwich ($8.95), loaded with shredded turkey on bread, served with mashed potatoes, and covered in turkey gravy. It was like going to comfort-food heaven.
Nat prepares his potatoes the old-fashioned way—leaving the skins on, mashing them with only butter, salt, and pepper. They actually taste like potatoes.
Another one of my favorite sandwiches that came out of the kitchen was mile-high. Club Nat ($8.75) is a triple-stacked ham, turkey, bacon, cheese, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, served with chips. You can add French fries, hash browns, or American fries for only an extra $1.50. As I bit into this mouth-stretching sandwich, I noticed a tasty tang that jogged a recollection from childhood. Nat doesn’t use mayonnaise, but a sandwich spread like Miracle Whip. It was like being a youngster again. How many sandwiches bring a smile to your face?
The last dish out was Emily’s Omelet ($8.50). Many of the menu items are named for family members. This was one mammoth omelet, with three eggs, turkey, spicy avocado verde, tomato, onion, bacon, and cheese.
I noticed the fried potatoes had a wonderful flavor, and Jeff Nat told me, “We fry the potatoes in olive oil. It costs a little more, but it’s worth it to satisfy our customers.”
Nat also remarked, “Our hamburgers are $7.95. If you add cheese, it’s still $7.95. If you add bacon or mushrooms—$7.95. I don’t add garnishes unless you request it. That helps us keep our overhead down, and give our customers a good price.”
Fat Nat’s Eggs has a great kid’s menu. Before leaving, I saw several families, elderly folks, average-Joe types, and basically people from every walk of life eating at Fat Nat’s. Talk about happy faces and lively conversations!
It’s worth the drive, if you live miles away, as I do. I know the next time my partner, Chad, and I want the best breakfast in the Twin Cities, we’re loading up the car, and heading to Fat Nat’s Eggs.
Fat Nat’s Eggs / 8587 Edinburgh Center Dr., Brooklyn Park / (763) 425-0117 / 3540 Winnetka Avenue, New Hope / (763) 540-0234
John Michael Lerma is a local chef, author, and Food Network personality. His company Garden County Cooking offers cookbooks, cooking classes, consulting, private events, and culinary vacations to Italy and the Caribbean. Visit www.GardenCountyCooking.com. Check out his “Word of Mouth Blog” under Extras.