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: The Grotto Cafe
6501 East Cave Creek Road, #8, Cave Creek; 480-499-0140.
The Scene: The Grotto Cafe has a kitschy indoor dining room and a lush outdoor garden. Ocotillo and cactus flank a patio where people eat breakfast under red umbrellas. Inside, you'll find vintage signs, an old-fashioned gas pump, and pictures of musicians from Kurt Cobain to The Beatles.
Owners Curtis Army and Mike Seitts opened Grotto in 2011. It isn't unusual for Army to stop by tables, shake a hand or two, and eagerly talk with a range of customers, from the mom wanting a break to the retiree sitting down to the daily cup of joe.
Patrons will find plenty of space to unwind, relax, and eat. Staff are generally upbeat and accommodating. Inside, there are several rooms, each decked out with large and small tables. Music hums in the background. Wall decor calls to mind the seventies, eighties, and nineties.
The Goods: The menu includes savory and sweet options, as well as various muffins and other breakfast pastries. A bowl of oatmeal with the "works" (fresh berries, bananas, and pecans) will keep you feeling good about your morning meal. Bagel sandwiches, breakfast burritos, and yogurt parfaits are each strong beats as well. Baked goods are made on site and include an array of chocolate-chip, blueberry and banana nut muffins. Scones, also homemade, are warm and moist, with white-chocolate-raspberry, mixed berry and blueberry flavors warm for the taking.
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Grotto's highlight is its French toast, topped with bananas and strawberries, and served with bacon or sausage. The French toast has a caramel sauce made with sweet condensed milk. Bacon comes thick and isn't crispy or limp. Plump sausages have been nicely browned and show grill marks. For those wanting a hearty Southern breakfast, biscuits and gravy will keep you full until dinnertime.
Nitrogen-infused coffee or a Bloody Mary will both give you a jump start, one available practically before sunrise.
The Bottom Line: The Grotto Cafe offers a moment of solitude and a wide range of breakfast options. If you like a setting that's something of an escape, this could become a go-to spot.
Hours: Open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Coffee Options: Drip, local organic coffee from Roastery of Cave Creek, espresso, and lattes – plenty of choices to satisfy your caffeine urge.
Wi-Fi: Outside and in.
Drinking Before Noon: Yes.