Sometimes good food is all the reason I need to get excited about a restaurant. At Daily Dose in Old Town Scottsdale, that's just the beginning.
How about an atmosphere that's as comfy in the evening as it is in the a.m.? Caring service that sends you home with a smile? Or better yet, a menu on which almost everything is under 10 bucks?
Yeah, I thought that part would get your attention.
4020 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Biscuits and gravy: $6.95
The Hangover: $8.95
Daily Dose burger: $9.95
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, four-month-old Daily Dose is simultaneously stylish and down-to-earth, a cheerful indie eatery from Matt and JenLyn Long, the same folks who own nearby Fusion Restaurant & Lounge. They serve accessible American comfort food with tasty, creative flourishes.
This is a place that doesn't overlook the little details that can set a restaurant apart from the competition. (And in this part of Scottsdale, there are plenty of dining options.) The coffee's really good, and they're generous with refills. They put cucumber slices in the ice water and serve fresh berry compote instead of generic jam. The waitstaff is eager to please — sociable but not overbearing.
And Daily Dose is a relaxing place to hang out, whether you meet up with friends for after-work beers and burgers or dig in to a big breakfast on the umbrella-shaded front patio, which looks out on Scottsdale Road. Depending on the time of day, it feels like either a hip cafe (free Wi-Fi is a bonus) or a low-key lounge.
The modern interior is done up in a warm color scheme, with deep orange accents, moody track lighting, mosaic tilework, and tables inset with smooth white stones. A table-lined banquette faces the TV-flanked bar, and there are a few high-backed booths near the entrance to the patio.
Lately, with the glorious warm weather, I'm digging that outdoor seating, especially for breakfast. While more lunch-y stuff, like salads and sandwiches, is available from 10:30 a.m. on, it's the morning specialties (served until 2 p.m. during the week and all day on weekends) that really have me hooked. If Daily Dose were in my neighborhood, I'd probably take its name literally.
It was love at first bite with the excellent biscuits and gravy, and I've been craving them ever since. Think dense, moist buttermilk biscuits, gently toasted and smothered in a luxurious blanket of country gravy, with meaty bits of sausage and a few flecks of red chile. The dish was so flavorful that I didn't stop eating until I was verging on a food coma, and when the waitress came to take my plate, I realized I hadn't even noticed the side of fruit that came with it — very unusual for me to get so carried away like that.
Another satisfying nosh was The Hangover, a sandwich that I ordered after a night of slight overindulgence. The situation was pure coincidence, but happily so, because the thing really did soak up whatever booze was left in my stomach and restored my sass. Applewood-smoked bacon, turkey sausage, caramelized jalapeño and onion, and melted cheddar were layered between soft, thick slices of sourdough toast slicked with spicy harissa aioli. There was an egg in there, too. I got mine sunny side up, and it coated the other contents with a velvety ooze of yolk.
It was hard to choose among seven different kinds of eggs Benedict. I enjoyed the smoked salmon version, with moist, not-too-potent fish and a nicely tangy Hollandaise sauce on top. Another hit was the Southwest wrap, a chipotle tortilla stuffed with chorizo, scrambled eggs, red onion, ripe chunks of avocado, and Oaxaca cheese. If you like your breakfast with a kick, this is the thing to order.
Other solid options included fat, golden slabs of French toast; several different omelets (the veggie was loaded with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and tender pieces of fresh asparagus); and three kinds of pancakes (buttermilk, honey whole wheat, and a noticeably gingery gingerbread) with comforting fruit toppings like warm sugared apples. Banana split cakes, laden with bananas, ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream, won the prize for most indulgent menu item.
Among the side dishes, I preferred the unusual DD Hash to the ho-hum herb potato. The former was a savory-sweet mix of squash, mushrooms, and onions, while the latter was basically homefries, and nothing special, at that. Thick-cut bacon was perfectly crispy, while a lightly browned turkey sausage patty was bursting with meaty juices.
If breakfast isn't your thing, or if you visit Daily Dose later in the day, there's also a full menu of appetizers, salads, and sandwiches that happen to go well with cold beer. Follow that trajectory, and you'll be back the next day for The Hangover.
Mahi soft tacos worked well as either an entrée or a starter. The fish was moist, the flour tortillas were fresh, and the toppings were tasty — homemade pico de gallo and a dollop of zingy cilantro sour cream, in particular.
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My dining companions and I polished off a plate of cilantro-jalapeño-edamame hummus in a matter of minutes. The flavors were as bright green as the dish itself, and they paired well with warm wedges of herb flatbread. We also fought over the crispy combo fries (regular and sweet potato) that came as a side dish to the huge Daily Dose burger. Why weren't they available à la carte? They should've been, because they were quite delicious.
As for the burger, made with a blend of Australian Kobe beef and ground chuck, it stood out for its not-so-typical mix of toppings — aged cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon, tomato, onion, fresh basil, and harissa aioli. Even better was the shaved turkey melt, heaped with thin slices of house-roasted turkey, caramelized jalapeños and onions, and soft, creamy Brie. A dab of chipotle mayo gave it a pleasant touch of heat.
It was a bit surprising not to see a dessert list, but then I thought back to breakfast.
Does it really get any more decadent than banana split cakes?