Iconic Big Egg Cart Closing Sunday To Open Brick-And-Mortar

After this weekend, Portland’s temple to fried egg sandwiches will get a new lease on life: the just-closed Sugar Cube space on Alberta, opening late June.

By Karen Brooks May 5, 2015

The two saddest words of the week usually arrive before noon: Sold Out!!

Aka: snooze, and you really do lose at the Big Egg—an egg-yolk-colored cart on N Mississippi Avenue and Skidmore Street—where the lines are vaunted and so are the sandwiches: layered masterpieces of smoky comfort, homemade curds, over-easy perfection and, yikes, 20-40 minute waits to taste one. Now, after six years of roasting peppers over stovetop flames and test-driving hundreds of sandwich specials while crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in a space barely bigger than a closet, Gail and Elizabeth Buchanan are going legit. Eat Beat has learned that the couple has inked a lease at 3039 NE Alberta Street, home to the just-closed Sugar Cube, with plans to open in late June.

Hours this week: Friday and Saturday only, as the Buchanans bolt down details. While the move is welcome and necessary, I will miss devouring a first-class sandwich or the city’s best breakfast wrap while sitting in a makeshift community of feasters at outdoor picnic tables. It’s a terrific morning ritual.

The big gain is kitchen space. While the airy, architect-designed room is small, the kitchen is roughly three times the size of the entire cart.  More space should equal more creative opportunities from a couple that values scratch cooking, details, and not least, we can hope, pray, for shorter wait times in a work space set up to handle crowds.

The plan is to start small with a handful of signature fried egg sandwiches, among them the hot-selling Sausage and Peppers, the landmark grilled Portobello, and the staggering Monte Cristo (the latter reimagined with crispy, crumb-coated, vanilla-cardamom French toast, Tails & Trotters smoked apple ham and gorgonzola). Ultimately, the menu will make more room for the playful specials that set the cart apart. Among the cool fried-egg combos to surface over the cart’s run: homemade grapefruit curd, smoked ham, white cheddar, and organic dandelion greens; and kiwi lime jam paired with Serrano chiles, nasturtium leaves, and fontina cheese. 

How excited are the Buchanans to have more space? Gushes Gail Buchanan: “We are like Julie Andrews spinning on top of the mountain top. Every time walk in, we go wheeeeeeee. We can actually extend our hands over our heads and not touch the ceiling. We don’t have to bump into each other. We can be on separate sides of the room!”

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