By Jay Bennett
There's no shortage of cooler, hipper, trendier, more unique breakfast joints in the Valley, but there may be no better morning spot around than the unassuming, totally uncool — and proud of it — Ranch House Grille, on East Thomas Road near 56th Street.
It's been only about eight months since I was introduced to this place by a co-worker, but in that short time, it's become the go-to breakfast joint for me and the missus. Whether we're waging war against a hangover or just fortifying before a long day of errands and chores, RHG beckons almost every time.
Ranch House Grille is no frills with a capital N.F., and there's nary a Beautiful Person or hipster in sight (okay, we've seen a couple of hipsters there) — just a whole lotta Rosies and other assorted big eaters who know kickass food and a good bargain when they see them.
Before I moved out here a couple of years ago from the genteel Midwest, I'd never even heard of this wild concoction known as chile verde. Now, it's something I order whenever I see it on a menu — and I have Ranch House Grille to thank for turning me on to its splendor. The thing is, nothing tops the CV at RHG.
First, let's start with the huevos rancheros, a meal (even at lesser establishments) that is becoming a must-order. Here, it's second-to-none. For $8, you get a plate containing a grilled tortilla topped with two eggs (I like them over-hard), melted cheddar cheese, and a whole mess of the aforementioned pork chile verde, which is thick, chunky, and bursting with spicy Southwestern flavor. Also on the plate are crispy hash browns (a truly nice touch), Spanish rice (something I usually ignore but, here, I devour as if it were my last meal), and pinto beans cooked in what must be 100 percent pork fat and so tasty that it hurts. (Hey, I never said it was a health trip.)
The huevos rancheros with pork chile verde: It's good to live in Arizona.
Then there's the chicken-fried steak. Again, it's not exactly good for you, but, boy, is it good. You can order this delicacy slathered with RHG's housemade white gravy or slathered with the chile verde. It also comes with two eggs (the "light" version comes with one egg) and those awesome crispy hash browns. The chicken-fried steak may be what Ranch House Grille is best-known for, and with good reason. This treat is so decadent, you may have to limit your chicken-fried steak order to only once or twice a year.
Chicken-fried steak: An extra trip to the gym may be in order. (Photos by Laura Hahnefeld)
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There are some other gems on the menu (biscuits and gravy, chile verde burrito, and, yes, even the veggie burger is better than most) but the huevos rancheros and chicken-fried steak are what keep us coming back. I also must mention the giant red plastic cup of Diet Coke. For some reason, it just tastes better in those big red cups. The busy and super-friendly servers must like them, too, because the generous size of the cup must mean fewer free refills.
So, you can either wait an hour for a table at Matt's or the Breakfast Club or Butterfield's, or you can mosey over to the Ranch House Grille, grab a seat, and start off your Saturday morning right, with the heartiest breakfast chow around.
Budget Beat is always looking for your suggestions on where to find the best and cheapest food in the Valley. Hit me up with your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ranch House Grille 5618 East Thomas Road 480-946-1290