A little over two weeks ago, downtown Phoenix got another breakfast option added to its a.m. menu: La Condesa. The cozy, casual spot serving tacos, quesadillas, and burros (plus one kick-ass salsa bar) is now serving Mexican breakfast dishes from 7 to 11 a.m. daily.
Restaurant: La Condesa Location: 1919 North 16th Street Serving Breakfast For: Over two weeks. Eats: Mexican Price: Between $11 and $30 per person.
With 18 items to choose from (think: breakfast burritos, egg dishes, chilaquiles, and pancakes) ranging from $5 to $18, there appears to be something for nearly every appetite and price range. Unfortunately, my first bites of two of its dishes were less successful than I had hoped.
Over crispy fried tortillas and beneath melted cotija cheese, red onion, and a fried egg topped with white streams of quesillo Oaxaca is La Condesa's black-as-night mole. As part of the aptly named dish, black mole chilaquiles with chicken, the mole's good flavor -- rich with a strong taste of chocolate -- was, as it should be, the most flavorful item on the plate. Sadly, barely-there onions and dry, rubbery chicken slices brought the dish down a notch or two, making its $15 price sting all the more.
La Condesa's tomato chipotle broth -- rich, smoky, and mildly spicy with a touch of sweetness -- is wonderfully flavorful as part of a bowlful of huevos ahogados titis, or drowned eggs ($9.99), but attempting to eat it can be frustrating. Curiously delivered with a fork and knife, poached eggs were difficult to pare down in size, and too much cheese results in a stringy and gooey mess with each attempted bite. After a few bites, I simply gave up and opted for another round of amazing selections at the salsa bar.
And for those who may think La Condesa's cinnamon-topped strawberry licuado, the blended, smoothie-type drink from Mexico, will be as stellar as its meal-in-a-cup horchata, think again. More flavorful versions can be found throughout the Valley and for a lot less than this one's $6 price.
In theory, breakfast at La Condesa is an excellent and unique add to the downtown breakfast scene, but if the restaurant wants its guests to keep coming back for more it needs to improve its dishes, lower its prices, or both, to be successful.
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I'm crossing my fingers that it will.