Chow Bella

Breakfast Beat: Insane Avocado Toast and Legit Tea and Coffee in Old Town

Avocado toast, emphasis on the avocado.
Avocado toast, emphasis on the avocado. Chris Malloy
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 might be just what you need for the most important meal of the day.

The Spot: Berdena's
7051 East Fifth Avenue, #1; 480-256-1403.

The Scene: On a busy street in Old Town, Scottsdale, Berdena's plates photogenic waffles and pours lavender-perfumed lattes for the in-crowd. The interior colors are Kinfolk-white. The aesthetic is lean, modern. You feel like reality has glitched and you've walked into a blogger's Instagram.

click to enlarge Berdena's is a nook in Old Town - CHRIS MALLOY
Berdena's is a nook in Old Town
Chris Malloy

To many, this may sound like hell. If so, hell has some solid eating and drinking. The line at Berdena's usually winds out the door for a reason, and it's not the blond wood or bar tiles.

Once you've ordered, take a seat outside if you can. Tables give you a view back into the cafe, or out into the Old Town crowds. Berdena's biggest drawback is its popularity relative to its modest size. This is also the source of its charm. The place is a nook. It casts the illusion of space with large plate-glass windows fronting the street. If the lack of actual space gets to you, negate it by sitting in the sun.

Just be sure to listen for when your food is ready.

click to enlarge A rectangular waffle - CHRIS MALLOY
A rectangular waffle
Chris Malloy
The Goods: A menu consisting of less than a dozen items awaits. The large majority of these are pastries. This isn't the place to come when you're starving, craving eggs, or hung over and in need of grease. The baked goods include coffee cakes and doughnuts. There's also housemade granola with milk or yogurt.

Avocado toast and a waffle anchor the menu.

The avocado toast scooped a Best of Phoenix award last year, and for good reason. It's an A+ take on the new-age breakfast staple. Mashed avocados rise in a thick mound. The green is so hearty and dense that it dwarfs the bread. The cooks magnify the avocado's spirit by using lemon, olive oil, and chile flakes.

A yeast-risen waffle has an unusual, eye-catching rectangular shape. There's a scoop of butter in the middle and berries on one side. This waffle has a huge shatter. The crust is lacy and crisp, and the warm dough inside is airy and light. You can have chocolate drizzled on if you want.

Other than avocado toast, the real reason to check out Berdena's is coffee and tea. Brooklyn's Bellocq Tea Atelier provides the dry leaves. Look for an Afghani chai with rooty, loamy depths you'd more expect from rooibos. Coffee creations are standard with surprises. That lavender-flavored latte is a keeper.

click to enlarge Afghani chai - CHRIS MALLOY
Afghani chai
Chris Malloy
The Bottom Line: Come to Berdena's for avocado toast or legit tea or coffee, and come when you have plans elsewhere in Old Town.
Hours: Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Sunday
Price: $
Wifi: You'll have a hard time focusing given the crowd.
Coffee Options: Cold brew and a standard range of basic coffee-based drinks, together with more elaborate riffs on the simple stuff.
Juice: Fresh-squeezed OJ
Drinking Before Noon: Nope
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Malloy, former food editor and current food critic at Phoenix New Times, has written for various local and national outlets. He has scrubbed pots in a restaurant kitchen, earned graduate credit for a class about cheese, harvested garlic in Le Marche, and rolled pastas like cappellacci stuffed with chicken liver. He writes reviews but also narrative stories on the food world's margins.
Contact: Chris Malloy