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.
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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.