Breakfast Beat

Breakfast Beat: An Uplifting Mexican Morning Meal in Phoenix

Naco Torta from Gallo Blanco in Garfield.
Naco Torta from Gallo Blanco in Garfield. Jackie Mercandetti
Naco Torta from Gallo Blanco in Garfield. - JACKIE MERCANDETTI
Naco Torta from Gallo Blanco in Garfield.
Jackie Mercandetti
Each week (or so), 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: Gallo Blanco
928 East Pierce Street; 602-327-0880.

The Scene:
 The high-ceilinged room that once belonged to an American Way Market hums not only with tacos, elotes, and an electric ceviche, but a strong breakfast. Gallo Blanco serves breakfast every day of the week. A number of dishes overlap with Doug Robson's other restaurant, Otro Cafe, and a number don't. The location of this polished eatery, buried in the Garfield neighborhood, amplifies its neighborhood vibe.

Gallo Blanco opens at 11 a.m. during the week. This is a breakfast destination for people who get up late or dig a morning meal in the post-morning hours. On weekends, the restaurant opens at 8 a.m.

The bar area is great for a breakfast. There's light, space, lines of fascinating bottles to crawl your eyes over, and small TVs that actually play interesting stations (like Viceland). When the Phoenician summer furnace lets up, the outdoor seating will be a nice option, dropping you right into the changing neighborhood.

The vibe in here is good. Clean and modern. Genuine. Nice for kicking off your day in the right state of mind.

click to enlarge Pan dulce freshly made at Gallo Blanco. - CHRIS MALLOY
Pan dulce freshly made at Gallo Blanco.
Chris Malloy
The Goods: You can travel many paths with this breakfast menu. Those looking for sweet can opt for pancakes with cajeta. A better option, though, might be to order a cloudy ball of pan dulce or two, split them with the folks at your table, and focus on savory eats for your primary course.

Dishes like chilaquiles and breakfast burritos are on point. You may want to try pivoting to a torta. The egg torta listed in the breakfast part of the menu is decent, with flavors a little on the hefty side. Look to the non-breakfast reaches of the menu. Here you will find a Naco Torta, a more indulgent and better torta of egg, avocado, and grilled steak. The soft, chewy buns are baked in the kitchen.

click to enlarge Huevos Rancheros blanked with rancheros salsa. - CHRIS MALLOY
Huevos Rancheros blanked with rancheros salsa.
Chris Malloy
Huevos Rancheros are another standout. You get a choice of salsas, and though whichever you choose will cover your eggs in a fresh sea of color, none can touch the tantalizing green salsa that, here, always comes in a plastic squeeze bottle on the side. The tortillas at the bottom of the plate seem to be quesadillas, which, oozing melted cheese, buoy the eggs and salsa, providing the same warm comfort as the cheese-dusted beans on the side.

The only true bummer is that the menu lists a green Bloody Mary. In theory, this is great news. In practice, the bar does't mix this Mary anymore.

The Bottom Line: Gallo Blanco offers a warm scene and a strong Mexican breakfast that won't leave you feeling like you have to eat fruit for the rest of the day.

click to enlarge One of Gallo Blanco's lattes. - CHRIS MALLOY
One of Gallo Blanco's lattes.
Chris Malloy
Special Something: Breakfast and happy hour overlap from 3 to 4 p.m.
Hours: Breakfast is served Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Price: $$
Booze: Yep.
Coffee Options: Standard plus a line of lattes, including one made with cajeta. Beans come from Presta Coffee Roasters in Tucson.
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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