Breakfast Beat

Breakfast Beat: Outdoor Farm Eating at Morning Glory Café in South Phoenix

Chris Malloy
Breakfast enchiladas with sunny-side-up eggs.
Each week, we review a different breakfast spot in town, highlighting culinary offerings, brunchability, and the overall vibe as you sip your morning joe. Whether the restaurant in question is grab-and-go or stay-and-play, each offers a unique breakfast buzz that just may be just what you need for the most important meal of the day.

Morning Glory Café
6106 South 32nd Street

The Scene: The sunny patio where folks dig into eggs and waffles under umbrellas sits in front of the kitchen, beside an herb and vegetable plot. You feel like you're eating in the country at a friendly farmer’s house. You kind of are.

Morning Glory Café is part of the Farm at South Mountain, a complex of gardens, eateries, and event spaces in South Phoenix. The farm’s lawns and leafy trees lend it an almost non-Arizonan spirit. But much of the café’s produce comes from the property's Phoenician soil, including — when summer's heat relaxes like a patio bruncher sipping a second mimosa — kale, carrots, radishes, basil, cilantro, and others.

The setting is ideal for the food: rustic breakfast slightly refined.

click to enlarge Morning Glory's sun-bathed patio is ideal for a languid breakfast or brunch. - CHRIS MALLOY
Morning Glory's sun-bathed patio is ideal for a languid breakfast or brunch.
Chris Malloy
The Goods: Dustin Christofolo, executive chef of Morning Glory and Quiessence (the farm-to-table restaurant behind Morning Glory), takes breakfast dishes seriously. The two my wife and I ordered were some of the best a.m. eats I've had in the area.

Enchiladas are not a breakfast food. But with the addition of two eggs, Christofolo makes them one.

“There’s a gal, Julia Centero, who has been with us for seven years,” Christofolo says. “She does our biscuits and baked goods. The enchiladas are her recipe.”

For the enchiladas, chicken thighs spend a night in brine with cumin, garlic, salt, and other spices. Christofolo then braises the thighs in chicken stock. Pulled by hand, shredded chicken fills corn tortillas that have been flash-fried before getting rolled up. Christofolo bakes the tortilla tubes. Post-oven, he smothers them with tomatillo salsa, then adds two eggs cooked however you want them.

click to enlarge An omelet made with house-smoked steelhead trout. - CHRIS MALLOY
An omelet made with house-smoked steelhead trout.
Chris Malloy
The other absolute keeper was his steelhead trout omelet. On this subject, Christofolo issues a warning: “If you’re sensitive to smoke, I would not suggest ordering our trout.” (He's not kidding. I am in the middle of writing a barbecue series, and I've eaten ribs and brisket less smoky than Christofolo’s trout.)

He starts by curing the steelhead — pink like salmon — in salt and sugar. He then loads the trout into a smoker for two hours over smoldering pecan and cherry wood. The eventual omelet is fat with dusky hunks of orange-pink fish fattening the center, bursting also with roasted peppers and goat cheese whipped with cream.

Potatoes came with each plate. I find breakfast potatoes generally sleep-inducing and in need of a hot sauce electrocution. Christfolo's were another breed. Considering they were simply boiled, dropped into a deep fryer, then tossed in a bowl with salt, pepper, and bell peppers, they had surprising flavor.

“It’s a traditional breakfast going in a Southwest direction,” Christofolo says of what he and his team are cooking on the farm. “We’ve got a good thing going on.” Yep, they sure do.

The Bottom Line: If you’re willing to drop a few more bills than usual on breakfast, Morning Glory Café serves a great a.m. meal that can scratch the brunch itch, the craving for nature and sunshine, and the biological need to inhale enchiladas.

Special Something: I may have messed up by not ordering the chilaquiles. For them, Chirstofolo smokes pork shoulder from fabulous Phoenix butcher The Meat Shop. Would love to hear from a reader smarter (or hungrier) than me about how these taste.

Hours: Tuesday to Friday 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Price: $$$
Coffee Options: Locally roasted drip, unlimited refills
Fresh-Squeezed Juice: Orange and apple (fruit sourced from Local Sun Orchard); grapefruit when in season (from the property)
W-iFi: It’s too nice on the patio to be looking at a screen
Drinking Before Noon: Mimosas and Bloody Marys