Saturday, July 9, 2011

Breakfast/lunch places in Phoenix

We enjoy our weekends, especially eating a late breakfast or lunch. Our favorite standby is Harlow's in Tempe. I love their chorizo in any number of their dishes, especially the huge Eggs Maximilian. Even the simple chorizo and eggs is a great way to start the day. Their chorizo, for me, has the perfect balance of flavor and heat. We even have a favorite waitress who remembers us, Katrina. Harlow's is one of those places that attracts everyone: college kids from ASU, hipsters, families, bikers, Scottsdale pretty people, and the like.

Sometimes, though, a change is nice.

One of our friends was checking in on Foursquare a lot at a place called Joe's Diner, on 16th Street between Camelback and Indian School. I tried it solo while Tara was out of town and loved it. After several trips, the only thing I didn't love was their sausage patties. They were kinda dry and rubbery and not up to the rest of the food. They are your basic diner, with breakfast, lunch, and a bunch of sandwiches, plus daily specials. Nothing earth-shattering, but everything is done very well. The owners have been there every weekend when we've gone. Joe comes out of the kitchen and chats with customers. On one visit, he asked me about the food, and I told him my dislike of the sausage compared to the rest of the food. In a subsequent visit, the sausage was vastly improved and he confirmed that he'd changed the recipe. The only thing I have problems with now is their chorizo. It's made for him by Carolina's using his own recipe. It's very bland for chorizo, with hardly any flavor and no heat. Luckily they have so much else that is fantastic, it's not really an issue for me. I also like that both Joe and his wife (who always says hi to us when we go) are free to recommend other places to eat. Joe admitted his Italian sandwich is an homage/copy of DeFalco's in Scottsdale. His wife recommended Bertha's in Arcadia, 5th Ave Cafe at 5th Ave and Thomas, and Times Square at I17 and Deer Valley. JK also mentioned that their coffee is great.

Today we were able to try 5th Ave Cafe for a late breakfast. It's a nice space right on the corner with a little bit of parking out front and more in the back. We got there about 1/2 before they closed for lunch. Service was pleasant although there were a few small issues with timing. I also saw another table have an ordering issue/language barrier problem, but they fixed it and several of the staff apologized for the mix-up. They did keep our drinks refilled like troopers, as just about any server who walked by when a glass was empty would immediately ask if we wanted refills. For our meals, Tara got the biscuits and gravy plate, which came with a couple scrambled eggs and red potatoes. They were some excellent biscuits and gravy and Tara loved the herbed potatoes, crunchy outside and creamy inside. I got the Chorizo Cowboy, a skillet scramble of eggs, chorizo, hash browns, and cheese sprinkled on top. I also got a side of sausage. The scramble was really good. It didn't have the nice chorizo flavor of Harlow's, but it was still quite good. The hash browns were very finely grated, so they were very crispy. It all worked. It came with a huge buttered tortilla, so I used 1/2 my skillet to make a breakfast burrito. I stuffed myself and still had some leftover scramble. The only odd thing was when the waitress dropped off some syrup on her first delivery of our meals. Tara and I gave each other an odd look, as we couldn't figure what required syrup. On her second trip, she had my dish and a huge plate with a "short stack" of pancakes, which looked really good. She asked who had them and we said nobody. She later admitted she'd keyed it into our order by mistake. I'd gotten a $10 gift cert from and even with two drinks, our order was still under the $20 min before tax. Not a bad deal. 5th Ave Cafe will definitely be in our rotation now.

On the complete opposite end of the cost spectrum, there's St Francis at Camelback and 1st St. A friend had posted pictures of his brunch there a while back and it looked so good, we had to try it. Along with our friend JK, we went for their Sunday brunch a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately, they have a live band and horrible acoustics, so we could barely hear ourselves talk. The food, however, was spectacular.
The Bakers Board, with scones, baguette, rosemary mini-biscuits, a mini-cinnamon bun, and toppings for the breads, was a meal in itself. The scones with creme fraische were incredible. The bread with the butter and jam was also right up there. Tara and JK thought the mini-biscuits were a bit over-kneaded, but I still loved them. The cinnamon bun with homemade caramel sauce was my least favorite. The sauce had too much of a burnt flavor for me.
While waiting for our table, Tara spied a group eating fingerling potatoes that looked too tempting to pass up. Cooked with rosemary, sage, sprinkled with a pecorino cheese, and served with a lemon aioli, they were crazy good.
Tara ordered the House Made Biscuit, with fennel sausage gravy and two fried eggs on top. Hands-down this was the best biscuit and gravy I've had. The gravy had a strong flavor with huge chunks of sausage. The biscuit was easily four inches across. A great dish.
JK had the Wood-Oven Baked Eggs, with red wine braised beef, summer vegetables, tomatoes, and gruyere. I had a tiny taste, yet it had a ton of flavor.
I had the Pork Chile Verde, with cilantro, lime, jack cheese, two sunny side up eggs, and homemade cornbread. I was in love with it. Not quite as good as the dreamy Carne Adovada at Dick's Hideaway, it was still fantastic. Not too much heat from the spices and a great melding of flavors. The only let down was the homemade cornbread. Compared to the other baked goods, it was out of it's league. It didn't help that it was served cold. Warm with some butter would have made a huge difference.
With our drinks, including a couple mimosas, the bill came to $85 for the three of us. Ouch. If you don't go nuts like we did trying so much, and forgo the mimosas, it would be much more manageable. Still, the food was so good, it would be hard to not order some extra dishes.


Andy said...

Tip: If you like pancakes, give the "Iron Skillet Pancake" @ St. Francis a try.

Yankee1969 said...

Andy, we saw a few of the Iron Skillet Pancakes go by and they did look really good. We also noticed a ton of Eggs Benedict being served as well.

Friend Mouse said...

Tara and I are breakfast soul-mates, I think: along with bacon, biscuits and gravy are my favorite breakfast dish (if I'm feeling confident of avoiding a heart attach for the rest of the day).

Friend Mouse said...

Tara and I are breakfast soul-mates, I think: along with bacon, biscuits and gravy are my favorite breakfast dish (if I'm feeling confident of avoiding a heart attach for the rest of the day).