The simply named MBLT at doesn't immediately seem like the most compelling item on the menu at the Eatsie Boys Cafe, where other "intergalactic" dishes get names like Sabotage, Lamburghini, and Da Bomb. But along with the shop's signature matzah ball pho, it's my favorite thing chef Matt Marcus makes.
I'm in good company, it appears. "It's one of the only sandwiches to make it from last season's menu," says Marcus of the BLT between a Slow Dough Bread Co. pretzel bun that's bursting with fresh mozzarella, tomato, arugula, and bacon from Grateful Bread. "It's my fave," says Marcus. Part of the secret to its success is that bacon, made by Marcus's own father.
Grateful Bread started as a project for Marcus the Younger when he was between jobs, baking and selling challah bread after Hurricane Ike temporarily knocked Three Brothers Bakery (long Houston's best source of challah) out of commission. When Marcus got a job at the Michelin-starred Cyrus in California, he left Grateful Bread in the hands of father Al Marcus. From there, Marcus the Elder ditched the challah bread in favor of his own cured meats and sausages.
Today, Grateful Bread is best known for its maple-cured bacon, rum-based vanilla extract, and homemade Sriracha-style sauce among many other products that you can actually call "artisanal" without lying or hating yourself. You can find Al Marcus and his goodies at most Houston farmers markets, or at Eatsie Boys Cafe, where his proud son both stocks Grateful Bread products and incorporates them into his cooking. Witness the Grateful Bread chicken poblano sausage and Chardonnay mustard in his Frank the Pretzel, or the bacon in that MBLT.
The sweet, crispy bacon is so good that I was convinced Al Marcus was making special batches just for his son. "Special bacon?" Matt Marcus laughs. "No."
"Same bacon," he promises. "We just slice it thin on the slicer."