This Georgetown Pop-Up Is Serving Epic Breakfast Burritos

Lucky Buns owner Alex McCoy slings fry-stuffed San Diego-style burritos at Sara's Market.

Monstera serves San Diego-style breakfast burritos stuffed with fries. Photograph by Mack Ordaya.

Monstera at Sara’s Market. 3008 Q St., NW.

Chef Alex McCoy is known for some of DC’s best burgers at Lucky Buns and sandwiches at Bar Boheme in Union Market. But in recent months, he’s quietly gotten into the breakfast burrito game, too. Monstera Burrito has been popping up every other weekend in Georgetown gourmet bodega Sara’s Market.

The menu offers three massive “San Diego-style” breakfast burritos, meaning they’re stuffed with French fries. (McCoy’s got a lot of family on the West Coast, where breakfast burritos are more of a life staple.) You can opt for classic fillings such as sausage or bacon, but the move here is the barbacoa or cumin-roasted eggplant. The Oaxacan-style barbacoa uses halal beef that’s wrapped in avocado leaves and braised for eight hours. But the meaty, flavor-packed eggplant is a sleeper hit: McCoy roasts it with what he calls a “Mexican-style harissa” plus cumin and other fresh, dry spices. All the burritos are served with an addictive avocado salsa verde. Occasionally, McCoy will offer quesadillas, too.

Cumin-roasted eggplant burrito at Monstera. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

McCoy, who lives in Georgetown, had become a regular at Sara’s Market, a century-old bodega and dry cleaner that was revitalized with local foods, beers, and wines last year. The market’s owners Vivien Tsang and John Michael Kushner had previously worked in catering (Kushner also has a restaurant background spanning from Inn at Little Washington to Bobby Flay’s Las Vegas restaurants), while their partner Tosca Metz used to own a cashmere shop in Georgetown. “There’s something really special about keeping neighborhood corner stores and these communal gathering places,” Tsang says. “If we hadn’t taken over the lease for Sara’s, it would have just turned residential.”

Chef Alex McCoy with Sara’s Market co-owner John Michael Kushner next to the Monstera plant that inspired the pop-up’s name. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

But Sara’s had a sandwich counter they didn’t have the staff and time to fully utilize. So, McCoy offered to personally make breakfast burritos, which he’s long served on the brunch menu at Lucky Buns. He named the pop-up Monstera because there’s no sign, just a big Monstera plant in the corner of the store where he sets up.

“It’s great because I can wake up on a Saturday morning and roll over and sling some breakfast burritos, and then head home,” he says. “It’s just cooking in its purest form, just local. It’s what I set out to do in the beginning—it’s all about just the food and nothing else.”

Sara’s Market, a corner store and dry cleaner dating back to 1919, was converted into a gourmet bodega last year. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Monstera regularly sells out within two hours. It will be open this weekend (Saturday, April 20 at 10:30 AM and Sunday, April 21 at 10 AM), though check for future hours and dates on Instagram because they fluctuate.

McCoy says he’s working on finding a permanent home for Monstera, ideally in a residential neighborhood with the same kind of vibe as Sara’s Market.

“We want something small and funky and a place that we can do an all day thing and expand the menu a little bit,” McCoy says. “I’m not trying to be on some trendy street. I’d rather keep the essence of what it is, which is just this local, where you can get a good coffee and grab a burrito and sit down and chat with your friends for a bit and hang out in the sun.”

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.