Breakfast Beat

Breakfast Beat: When the Medicine You Need Is a Great Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast burrito nirvana
Breakfast burrito nirvana 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: Phoenix Burrito House
4140 North 7th Avenue; 602-265-1274

The Scene: The residential-looking structure, modest and set in back of a parking lot, leaks a savory smell as you make for the door. The smell is of eggs, frying potatoes, and toasting flour tortillas, thick and familiar and a trace narcotic. A tiny patio with tiny tables crouches before the entrance. Open the door, look up, and you're at the counter ready to order.

A chalkboard menu presents a confusing blueprint of what's for breakfast. It's hard to follow what's what. Luckily, one of the smiling employees will hand you a printed menu. It's clear as day.

click to enlarge The interior of Phoenix Burrito House - CHRIS MALLOY
The interior of Phoenix Burrito House
Chris Malloy
After you order, grab free water and a table. The dining area has white walls, framed pictures, and a fan on the ceiling. It feels kind of like a home. Tables mirror the room: modest, small, and perhaps glinting depending on how the morning sun is shining through the road-facing windows.

At Phoenix Burrito House, breakfast doesn't end when morning does. If you want, you can chow down on egg-and-potato burritos all day.

The Goods: Take your dainty breakfast and small appetite to the nearest emporium of avocado toast and acai bowls. Portions at Phoenix Burrito House are large. You will get full. You will feel a weighty fullness deep in your stomach for hours, unless you have the discipline to reach for a box early.

Plates and burritos headline the breakfast menu.

The burrito road forks and re-forks into enough paths that there should be the right combo for everyone. If you choose to customize a burrito, you get, for $5.50, eggs, potatoes, and beans, plus your choice of a meat: ham, chorizo, bacon, or sausage. From there, you can add more meat, cheese, peppers, or grilled onion. The cheese is a mixture of cheddar and jack.

There is also another way: the machaca burrito. It comes with eggs, grilled onions, potatoes, and jalapenos. It comes bursting from its flour wrappings. Feel the nicely toasted tortilla, and you can easily sense the pressure being laid on by the fillings. They tumble out when you cut in with a knife. The potatoes are warm, the machaca stringy and deep, the salsa cool and fresh.

Huevos Rancheros deliver on a similarly satisfying level. Green salsa smothers two eggs over-easy. It drowns them so completely that you may forget what they are. Fork in. Yolk gushes. Yep, eggs. Beans and a tiny hill of potatoes round out the dish. This plate is one of Phoenix Burrito House's lighter breakfast options. Lighter, yes, but still pretty far from light.

click to enlarge Huevos Rancheros with green salsa - CHRIS MALLOY
Huevos Rancheros with green salsa
Chris Malloy
The Bottom Line: Had a bad night? Have a big day ahead? Have a hunger that has been climbing for a few hours? A breakfast burrito is the medicine you need.
Special Something: A few jars of hot sauce stand out on each table, different colors, different sizes. The one in the large plastic squeeze tube is actually a Buffalo wing sauce. It adds another layer to a hearty breakfast.
Hours: Monday to Thursday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: $$
Coffee Options: Drip that may or may not have to be brewed.
Juice: Nope, but agua frescas pinch hit pretty well.
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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