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.
6960 East First Street, Scottsdale
The scene: Alo Cafe, located in downtown Scottsdale, has the European cafe vibe you’d find on the streets of Madrid or Amsterdam. On a recent Wednesday, only one other patron was sitting in the cafe, enjoying brunch in a cozy corner. The restaurant is very compact, giving patrons an intimate European cafe experience. If you dig a group brunch, this place isn’t ideal. But there is plenty of shaded patio seating, great for enjoying your bites as the temperature drops. On the inside, country flags sit on a counter, while American rock hits like “American Pie” and “Stuck in the Middle With You” play softly overhead.
The goods: The standout dish on the menu is a Kringel—-a decadent Estonian bread with cinnamon, raisins, almonds, and hints of saffron. It looks like a slice of raisin bread you’d find at your local grocery store, but this Kringel packs much more flavor. A waitress suggested to pair it with hot fruit compote, but I went with a simple butter topping instead. Kringel will satisfy your morning sweet tooth; the raisins and almonds combine with the hearty crust and warm butter in a great way.
For those who are fans of eggs, omelets, and carbs (not in any particular order), Tortilla Esapana is the dish to try. A signature dish of Spain, Tortilla Espana is pretty much a potato-stuffed omelet. Two sauces take this odd-looking dish to the next level: romesco and garlic aioli. You get to choose one. Romesco, native to Catalonia, packs a load of nutty-roasted red pepper flavor. Garlic aioli brings a familiar pungent kick.
But perhaps the most popular breakfast food to come out of European is the Belgian waffle. Alo Cafe’s Belgian waffles would make Belgians themselves proud, because this spot makes a dang good waffle. Fluffy, warm, and doused in powdered sugar, the waffle alone is spectacular. It comes with hot fruit compote that isn't your typical waffle topping. It's made to-order from four ingredients: butter, brown sugar, strawberries, and blueberries. It's served piping hot on the side. Once you pour the syrup all over the hot waffle, your eyes fall in love. After taking a bite, your taste buds will have, too.
The bottom line: If you’re longing for a budget-friendly, low-key brunch without boozy patrons and loud music but with cool Euro ambiance, Alo Cafe is the spot.
Special something: Rusks, which are South African "dunkers" very similar to biscotti. Rusks are best eaten with house drip coffee or Alo's Havana Latte.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
Coffee Options: Drip coffee (unlimited refills) and espresso drinks
Drinking Before Noon: No alcohol here, but there is a full coffee menu with special teas
Parking: Save yourself the stress and park on the street. Parking spots in front and behind the restaurant are scarce.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.