Where: Original Breakfast House
When: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily
Price: $19.25 (including tax and tip)
The Setting: From the minute you step into Original Breakfast House, a neighborhood spot located at 13623 N. 32nd Street in Phoenix, you'll feel like you're right at home. A message on the wall welcomes diners and lets them know they can expect local produce and locally roasted coffee. There's an array of freshly baked treats is on display. The eclectic decor, which includes Bob Marley lyrics and a framed piece of burlap from a Costa Rican coffee bag, combined with classic diner furniture makes for a homey vibe. The welcoming atmosphere even includes the restaurant's friendly staff. A hostess greeted us immediately when we walked in and our waitress was bubbly and attentive. Throughout our meal, three different employees stopped by to ask if we were enjoying our experience.
The Good: Just like the décor, the menu was a combination of traditional items and plates with more pizazz than you’d expect from a typical diner. The menu goes for wide appeal with dishes such as the John Wayne Western omelet filled with ham, bell peppers, onions and cheddar cheese ($10.75) but there's Spam and eggs served with cilantro-lime rice, mango salsa, mojo sauce, and a banana pecan pancake ($8.95) for folks willing to take a more non-traditional breakfast route.
On our waitress' recommendation, we opted for OBH’s "famous" chicken fried chicken served with Schreiner's sausage gravy, a slice of San Francisco-style deep fried French Toast, and two fried eggs over medium. We also ordered a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, advertised to come with one free refill. Though on the more expensive side at $3.75, the juice glass was medium sized and the refill was delivered even before our first glass was finished.
The meal came quickly and was piping hot. Each item was carefully layered on the next, with the soft white gravy, eggs, and butter in beautiful contrast to the deep golden brown of the chicken and toast. Two sizable breasts of chicken served front and center were moist and tender. They were covered in a crispy breading that, though thick, wasn't heavy. Each bite provided a satisfying crunch. The gravy topping the fried chicken was full of sausage chunks — some small, some large — and while it improved the dish overall by providing a dipping sauce and something to cut the crunch of the chicken, it was a bit chalky in texture.
The French Toast was the star of the plate. We didn't know what to expect from this deep fried version of the classic dish, but OBH's version hit just the right combination of moisture and crunch. The batter was noticeable but very light and spidered into crispy webs around the edges of the bread. The center of the toast could have been mistaken for plain bread as it wasn't eggy or dense, but with the multitude of flavors on the plate and the batter on the outside, it worked. To cut the saltiness of the meal, a healthy drizzle of Mrs. Butterworth's made a welcome addition. Surprisingly enough, the slice of San Francisco-style deep fried battered bread wasn't greasy, and while it tasted like something you’d find at the state fair, it was fresh and light. We'd order it again in a heartbeat.
The two eggs over medium were cooked perfectly, with bright yellow yolks spilling across the plate. On this giant plate of food, they weren't the most exciting part of the meal, but their freshness set them apart from other egg dishes we’ve had.
The Bad: The sausage gravy was too grainy for our taste, but as part of this dish, it was a nice addition. We’d be reluctant to order the biscuits and gravy, however, because of the gravy's texture. In the end, OBH’s main downfall was the price of the meal — $19.25 is a bit steep for breakfast for one, but we did get a meal and a half out of our oversize plate of food. Overall, Original Breakfast House is charming and we will happily be back soon to support this neighborhood gem.