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: Otro Cafe
6035 North Seventh Street; 602-266-0831
The Scene: Without a doubt, Otro Cafe has one of the best breakfasts in town. The interior of the restaurant is vibrant, buzzing and open, touched with warm design elements and color. On a Sunday morning, you might walk in to low-key live music. The morning vibe is a good one.
The food is good, too. Gallo Blanco regulars will notice an overlap with Doug Robson's restaurant in Garfield, the one he runs in addition to Otro. The overlap is apparent as soon as you see the menu design, the bottles of salsa verde, and the strong list of local purveyors.
This place feels refreshingly devoid of the 20th-century breakfast restaurant vibe. You know what I'm talking about – the particular feeling of pancake houses, of places that offer 12 omelets, of spots that use only one supplier who delivers everything in a single truck. Otro is more in tune with eating today, and in a way that doesn't feel smug at all. Service is good. Drinks are fresh. Food is thoughtful.
Otro even offers a brunch menu every day of the week.
The Goods: A Mexican influence runs through breakfast dishes like a cool chile heat. There are two kinds of tamales: Oaxacan (in a banana leaf) and standard corn, the corn coming with two fried eggs. A frittata unites the foolproof combo of mushrooms, spinach, goat cheese, and caramelized onion, the slight south-of-the-border nod coming from pico de gallo. A BLT uses chewy telera bread.
Chilaquiles can be ordered red, green, or Christmas-style. The tortillas are baked and come in a lasagna-like stack that rises above the sauce (rather than swimming in it). Deeply browned discs of cooked cheese can be found in the stack. Light these up with some of that luscious salsa verde, or the roasty, hotter red salsa. Whatever your approach, this is a chilaquiles order that will make you happy.
Or you can pull the trigger on a full-on Mexican plate breakfast. Doing so will bring two eggs, chorizo, tortillas, chorizo, and beans to your table.
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There are hidden gems on this menu. One of them is, surprisingly, muesli that uses quinoa, faro, and oats for the base. Who would order such a seemingly bland dish with so many other options present? A gambler, and one about to cash in. The bowl's flavors are rich and wheaty, with a robust cereal-milk-like flavor coming through just sweetly enough. The quality of the muesli shows the menu's range.
The best way to attack this menu, given how many intriguing breakfast options there are, may be to order a few things and split them with your co-eaters. This is an uncommon approach to breakfast, one nicely suited to an uncommonly good breakfast restaurant.
The Bottom Line: Otro Cafe has one of the most thoughtful and satisfying breakfasts in town.
Special Something: Kids under 10 eat for free.
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday and Monday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Juice: Forget juice. Get a seasonal aquafresca. They come in flavors like watermelon and pistachio. They push back against the heat outside and the heat of spicy food.
Booze: Bloody Mary is just the beginning.
Coffee Options: Hot, iced, French press. Otro uses Presta beans.