Dish of the Week: Mercy Me’s M.I.A. bagel

Media Credit: Lindsay Paulen | Senior Staff Photographer

Despite opening up in the middle of a pandemic, Mercy Me already attracts long lines for its delicious bagel sandwiches and breakfast tacos.

For “sorta” South American eats just minutes from campus, Mercy Me DC has got you covered.

Located at 1143 New Hampshire Ave., Mercy Me DC can be spotted by its vibrant blue awning just past the remodeled hotel Yours Truly. The all-day cafe is the latest venture from the team behind Call Your Mother and Timber Pizza Co. – and despite opening up last month amid a global pandemic, people are standing in lines to try out Mercy Me DC.

The restaurant’s front patio is equipped with eight tables that each seat two people. Its back patio holds a dozen tables, all of which have currently been spaced six feet apart to practice social distancing.

Inside, you’ll find an explosion of color – wallpaper featuring bright orange and yellow dots, multicolored paneling beneath the counter and blue menu boards that feature daily food and beverage offerings. Even the to-go packaging is eye-catching, with vibrant coral paper bags and a bright pink branding on every plastic cup.

For now, while the restaurant is in a state of being “open-ish,” the menu is simple: Call Your Mother bagel sandwiches, breakfast tacos and pastries for the morning and grilled pizza and salad after noon. Of course, Mercy Me is also equipped with coffee and espresso drinks, teas and a custom kombucha blend.

Breakfast tacos are $3 each and come in varieties like bacon, egg and cheese with avocado salsa and egg and sweet corn with both tomato and avocado salsas. All breakfast tacos are served on freshly made 50 percent corn, 50 percent flour tortillas and come with a side of habanero hot sauce, according to its menu.

If you’re partial to a sweet breakfast, Mercy Me has no shortage of pastries. Try a guava vigilante ($5.5) – a thin croissant stuffed with guava jam and rolled in sugar – a caramelized pineapple empanada ($3.5) or bolinhos ($3.5), Brazilian-style donut holes rolled in cinnamon sugar.

As a huge Call Your Mother fan, I opted for the M.I.A. bagel sandwich ($6.5). The bagel itself was the same as the traditional Jewish-style ones at Call Your Mother, but the South American flavors of the fillings popped in this restaurant’s version.

The za’atar bagel – a bagel tossed in a Middle Eastern spice blend – was stuffed with chimichurri cream cheese, red cabbage, quinoa crunch and pickled carrots and onions. On the menu, the M.I.A. comes with jalapeno-cilantro cream cheese, but I swapped it out for the chimichurri variety because I’m a huge fan of the parsley-based Argentinian sauce.

I was slightly skeptical about the laundry list of ingredients packed into the M.I.A. – as a New Jersey native and self-proclaimed bagel purist – but I was pleasantly surprised.

The chimichurri cream cheese was packed with a punch, had tons of flavor and paired well with the herby za’atar bagel. Both the red cabbage and quinoa crunch provided a crunch, distinguishing itself from the chewy bagel and creamy chimichurri cream cheese. The pickled carrots and onions were also crunchy, but the acidity from the mixture paired nicely with the cream cheese and gave the bagel some brightness.

While far from your typical bagel sandwich, the M.I.A. was delicious and played into the “sorta” South American flavors that Mercy Me prides itself on.

As you start to think about heading back to the District, consider adding Mercy Me to your breakfast rotation.

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