First Taste

The Good and the Better About Bragg's Factory Diner in Phoenix (Spoiler Alert: Coconut Curry Waffles)

When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Bragg's Factory Diner Location: 1301 Grand Avenue Open: Under a week Eats: Vegan and vegetarian diner-style food Price: $10 to $15 per person

The good thing about Bragg's Factory Diner is that if you're eating vegan or vegetarian, it's a nice little spot to score some tasty eats. The better thing about Bragg's Factory Diner is that if you aren't eating vegan or vegetarian, it's a nice little spot to score some tasty eats.

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From Liam Murtagh and Dana Stern (formerly of Jobot Coffee), Bragg's Factory Diner, in the retail space of the historic Bragg's Pie Factory building, officially opened for breakfast and lunch last weekend. And true to the duo's concept, it's diner food that non-vegans won't shy away from.

Like the coconut curry waffles. They're pretty perfect.

Crisp, golden, and fragrant, Murtagh's coconut curry waffles ($7) deliver on their stated tastes, and they do it boldly. You might wish the rosemary potatoes, one of five choices of breakfast sides, were a bit crispier, but the result will probably be a clean plate just the same.

For lunch, there is Murtagh's take on the classic BLT sandwich: the E.L.T. ($7). Featuring thin light strips of sweet eggplant (the "E") that has been sliced, baked, marinated, and baked again, the sandwich also includes lettuce, tomatoes, and vegan mayo between pieces of toasted sourdough, and it makes for an acceptable light meal. Make it better with an optional side of a very good crunchy and sweet cole slaw made with apple cider vinegar, mustard, and sugar.

Depending on what's spinnin' 'round in the pie carousel, pie selections (all made by Stern) may include traditional diner styles like cherry, key lime, and banana cream as well as more unique creations like chai-spiced pear. A slice of rosemary apple ($4) made with Granny Smith apples is wonderfully tart and aromatic and features what may be one of the best vegan pie crusts in Phoenix.

With its curved, tapered entrance and long, narrow windows, Bragg's Pie Factory is one of the more interesting buildings in Phoenix, but its location on a fairly desolate stretch of Grand Avenue may be one you need to seek out. Inside the small diner space, the structure's historic past is honored with old photos of Phoenix on the walls, which along with wooden tables and chairs, a high ceiling, and bright color accents make the diner a sunny, welcoming place.

Friendly and knowledgeable servers, along with owners who aren't shy about coming out from the kitchen and saying hello, add to its neighborhood feel. You get the feeling they're as comfortable here as you are.

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