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Otro Cafe's muesli is one of its excellent breakfast offerings.
Otro Cafe's muesli is one of its excellent breakfast offerings.
Chris Malloy

Best of the Breakfast Beat: Food Critic Chris Malloy's 7 Favorites

The Phoenix New Times food critic spent almost a year sampling the best breakfast spots in metro Phoenix.  these are his seven favorites. 

An Oaxacan tamale from the breakfast menu.
An Oaxacan tamale from the breakfast menu.
Chris Malloy

Otro Cafe
6035 North Seventh Street

Without a doubt, Otro Cafe has one of the best breakfasts in town. A Mexican influence runs through breakfast dishes like a cool chile heat. There are two kinds of tamales: Oaxacan (in a banana leaf) and standard corn. Chilaquiles can be ordered red, green, or Christmas-style. The tortillas are baked and come in a lasagna-like stack that rises above the sauce (rather than swimming in it). Deeply browned discs of cooked cheese can be found in the stack. Or you can pull the trigger on a full-on Mexican plate breakfast. Doing so will bring two eggs, chorizo, tortillas, and beans to your table. There are hidden gems on this menu. One of them is, surprisingly, muesli that uses quinoa, faro, and oats for the base. The bowl's flavors are rich and wheaty, with a robust cereal-milk-like flavor coming through just sweetly enough. The quality of the muesli shows the menu's range. The best way to attack this menu may be to order a few things and split them with your co-eaters. This is an uncommon approach to breakfast, one nicely suited to an uncommonly good breakfast restaurant.

Chilaquiles rojo with eggs over easy from Comedor Guadalajara.
Chilaquiles rojo with eggs over easy from Comedor Guadalajara.
Chris Malloy

Comedor Guadalajara
1830 South Central Avenue

Some days, you need a huge Mexican breakfast to change things up, keep them steady, help your hangover, or lift your mood. And on those mornings, consider Comedor Guadalajara. At this Mexican restaurant in South Phoenix, service is warm, sincere, efficient.The food at Comedor has a warm, homestyle essence. You can feel the aura of home in the hot sluice of beans, the velvety red sauce that drowns the chilaquiles, in the smooth tangy salsa and the hunks of tripe that bob to the surface of menudo. You can get eggs with shrimp, red or green chile, two kinds of steak, ham, bacon, chorizo, and lots more. You can get eggs with red chile and nopalitos. You can get huevos rancheros and breakfast enchiladas, breakfast chicharrones, and breakfast chimichangas. Come to Comedor Guadalajara if you're craving a huge Mexican breakfast.

Breakfast burrito nirvana
Breakfast burrito nirvana
Chris Malloy

Phoenix Burrito House
4140 North Seventh Avenue
At Phoenix Burrito House, breakfast doesn't end when morning does. If you want, you can chow down on egg-and-potato burritos all day. Portions at Phoenix Burrito House are large. The burrito road forks and re-forks into enough paths that there should be the right combo for everyone. If you choose to customize a burrito, you get, for $5.50, eggs, potatoes, and beans, plus your choice of a meat: ham, chorizo, bacon, or sausage. From there, you can add more meat, cheese, peppers, or grilled onion. The cheese is a mixture of cheddar and jack. There is also another way: the machaca burrito. It comes with eggs, grilled onions, potatoes, and jalapenos. It comes bursting from its flour wrappings. Feel the nicely toasted tortilla, and you can easily sense the pressure being laid on by the fillings. They tumble out when you cut in with a knife. The potatoes are warm, the machaca stringy and deep, the salsa cool and fresh.

A Mexican breakfast spread.
A Mexican breakfast spread.
Chris Malloy

Irma's Kitchen
906 North 15th Avenue

You can get a sizable Mexican breakfast at Irma's for a reasonable price. Things start with chips and salsa. They progress to the main event: chilaquiles, breakfast burros, huevos rancheros, taquitos with eggs, and so on. The menu isn't as comprehensive as at other spots that offer Mexican breakfast. Menudo is offered daily. The red version at Irma's isn't all that hot. Spiked with raw onions, cilantro, and lemon juice, the soup's thinly spread tripe honeycombs, and hominy bring you to life. The soup has mellow flavors and a thin, restorative broth that, together with steaming tortillas, will launch you into your day feeling good. Many of the hearty breakfast platters come with a hearty, silky mudslide of beans, a sidekick just as good as the feature.

An omelet made with house-smoked steelhead trout.EXPAND
An omelet made with house-smoked steelhead trout.
Chris Malloy

Morning Glory Café
6106 South 32nd Street

Dustin Christofolo, executive chef of Morning Glory and Quiessence (the farm-to-table restaurant behind Morning Glory), takes breakfast dishes seriously. Morning Glory Café is part of the Farm at South Mountain, 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. The setting is ideal for the food: rustic breakfast slightly refined. Highlights include a breakfast enchiladas, an omelet made with house-smoked trout, and the general experience of eating out on the farm. 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.

French toast made with Proof Bread.
French toast made with Proof Bread.
Chris Malloy

The Uprooted Kitchen
3000 East Ray Road, Gilbert
The Uprooted kitchen in Gilbert offers a genuinely surprising plant-based breakfast. You can order breakfast sandwiches with tempeh instead of meat, black bean burgers, or a quinoa breakfast bowl. A buckwheat crepe comes with a litany of fillings including hummus, cauliflower, various vegetables and nuts, and dates from Agritopia. If you're into French toast, Uprooted Kitchen's take is a must. Uprooted transforms Proof Bread sourdough into French toast using a bake rather than a sizzle. This creates lightness, and all the other ingredients, including blueberry preserves, granola, and coconut yogurt, keep to this baseline. The Uprooted Kitchen is a great spot for people into plant-based foods, and people who keep open minds.

A vegetable omelet from Sugar Jam.
A vegetable omelet from Sugar Jam.
Chris Malloy

Sugar Jam Bake Shop & Bistro
7950 East Redfield Road #100, Scottsdale

Sugar Jam is buried in the maze of indistinct streets around Scottsdale Airport. You may turn the wrong way once or twice on the way there, but, don't worry, the place often has a sign twirler plying his curious trade on the right corner. Sugar Jam, as the name implies, delivers on the sweet a.m. eats. Highlights include a brioche French toast and buttermilk Belgian waffle. The selection of baked goods ranges from cupcakes (like red velvet and triple vanilla bean) to brownies and bars (like peanut putter and caramel toffee), from cakes to all kinds of sugar cookies. Muffins and massive scones come in standard and seasonal versions. More surprising is Sugar Jam's savory selection. A croissant split in half and loaded with scrambled eggs and bacon makes a hearty morning meal. Leaf-thin omelets have way more finesse than you'd expect.

Freelance writer Elizabeth Maria Naranjo contributed to this article. 

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