Loaded fruit parfait, eggs, and red chile in the background.EXPAND
Loaded fruit parfait, eggs, and red chile in the background.
Chris Malloy

Breakfast Beat: Creative Morning Dishes and Cocktails at ZuZu in Scottsdale

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: ZuZu Restaurant
Hotel Valley Ho, 6850 East Main Street, Scottsdale; 480-421-7997

A long, curving bar.EXPAND
A long, curving bar.
Chris Malloy

The Scene: The jaunty music playing in the hotel lobby drops you into the 1950s and tells you that this isn't like other hotels in Scottsdale. Cross into ZuZu. Your early feeling is confirmed. A wide, carpeted section of spread out tables steadily bottlenecks, narrowing and curving with a long bar to tables more closely clustered. There is also outside seating.

There is a thin scuzzy feeling to ZuZu. There is a little bit of a roughness. Maybe that comes from the old carpet, from the red light above the bar, from the patrons at barstools who seem to be from somewhere else, from the hard drinking that starts before noon on weekends, or from glimpses into a vaguely throwback pool area.

Some people like this feeling. Some people may not. You can feel a kinetic energy here when you're sitting still waiting. ZuZu feels like a place where, at any moment, a movie scene could begin.

Fried eggs with potatoes and red chile.EXPAND
Fried eggs with potatoes and red chile.
Chris Malloy

The Goods: This restaurant offers more than a perfunctory hotel breakfast. In the parade of options you will find seven breakfast starters and, every day of the week, breakfast cocktails.

These cocktails include and go way beyond mimosa. An Aperol spritz gets fancy with Campari-flavored blood orange foam. If you need more velocity, you may want to spring for the Sundance Margarita, a drink that links itself to breakfast, perhaps, through its inclusion of orange juice.

Savory food options include a breakfast BLT, breakfast burrito, smoked salmon plate, and an intriguing number called "planks + eggs." The planks are potatoes. Cooked to warmth and outer crispness, they come with eggs, cotija, tortilla strips, and "red chile." The dish has potential. But the dish ultimately fails to deliver on the promise of red chile. When you order red chile, you want heat. This dish was about as spicy as a plum, with a depth that tasted more like beef drippings than the Southwestern stew.

Pancakes are a safe, solid bet. Sea salt butter on them is a nice touch. Other sweet options include red velvet waffles and brioche French toast with Polynesian flavors. A breakfast parfait comes generously studded with various fruit. Be sure to stir the fruit puree hidden at the bottom of the glass into the rest.

The Bottom Line: If you want to eat something a little different, watch interesting people and guess at their stories, or start a big or weird day with some breakfast drinking, this is the spot for you.

Special Something: The breakfast marg and elevated spritz
Hours: Breakfast is served Monday to Friday 6 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Brunch replaces breakfast on weekends. The two morning meals largely overlap.

Price: $$
Fresh-Squeezed Juice: Yes. Check out the OJ with vanilla ice cream.
Booze: Lots.
Coffee Options: Pretty standard.

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