Breakfast Beat

Breakfast Beat: A Mexican Hole-in-the-Wall in Phoenix With a Hearty Menu

A Mexican breakfast spread
A Mexican breakfast spread Chris Malloy
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 might be just what you need for the most important meal of the day.

The Spot: Irma's Kitchen
906 North 15th Avenue

The Scene: Over the grungy vibe of a small dining room with spartan tables, chairs that look like they're from a school cafeteria, and walls scratched with years of graffiti, you feel a great friendliness. Most of the customers are regular breakfasters. They greet the staff with smiles; the staff warmly greets them.

People keep to themselves in this modest restaurant. During the week, you get a lot of solo diners. Prices match the setting. This isn't the place you would take a third date unless he or she is really into Mexican breakfast, has no interest in third-wave coffee or brunch, or is an absolute keeper.

Many order breakfast to go, and whisk hot styrofoam to their cars. If you mean to eat inside Irma's, order at the counter and take a seat. Watch the cars and the clouds moving out a window. Your food will be brought to you.

click to enlarge Huevos rancheros with green salsa. - CHRIS MALLOY
Huevos rancheros with green salsa.
Chris Malloy
The Goods: You can get a sizable Mexican breakfast at Irma's for a reasonable price. Things start with chips and salsa, whether you've ordered them or not. They progress to the main event: chilaquiles, breakfast burros, huevos rancheros, taquitos with eggs, and so on. The menu isn't as comprehensive as at other spots that offer Mexican breakfast. But at Irma's, you can order order afternoon food in the morning if you want.

This nook on 15th Avenue is rare in that menudo is offered daily (rather than Saturdays only). Menudo is often eaten for breakfast, so don't feel weird about eating it while still half asleep.

The red version at Irma's isn't all that hot, making it an even better morning meal. Spiked with raw onions, cilantro, and lemon juice, the soup's thinly spread tripe honeycombs and hominy come to life a little more. The soup has mellow flavors and a thin, restorative broth that, together with steaming tortillas, will launch you feeling good into your day.

Huevos rancheros provide an even heartier start. Two eggs smothered in red or green salsa and draped with avocado slices steam on corn tortillas. A mudslide of refried beans slops in one corner of the plate, warm and silky, the best component of the dish. There, too, is ample yellow rice. The eggs come how you like them. Go over-easy or fried so yolk can leak into your rice and beans.

click to enlarge A steaming bowl of menudo before getting topped. - CHRIS MALLOY
A steaming bowl of menudo before getting topped.
Chris Malloy
The Bottom Line: When you're hankering for a no-bullshit breakfast, want to pop in and get out, and have zero trendy ambiance requirements, Irma's awaits you.
Special Something: Check out the breakfast specials. They cost a paltry $4, will make you full, and include a cup of coffee.
Price: $
Coffee Options: Drip coffee straight out of the 1950s.
Juice: Green, lemon-ginger, orange, and a few others.
Wi-Fi? Not a chance.
Drinking Before Noon: Not here.
Hours: Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

click to enlarge Irma's has a nice. modest interior. - CHRIS MALLOY
Irma's has a nice. modest interior.
Chris Malloy

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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