When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Squash Blossom Location: 705 North First Street Open: About a week Eats: Traditional breakfast and lunch items Price Point: $11 to $30
With chef Johnny Chu moving his restaurant and Matt's Big Breakfast announcing a relocation just up the street, the area around First Street and McKinley in Phoenix seems to be a hub of activity lately. The latest news is the addition of Squash Blossom, a breakfast and lunch spot courtesy of caterers Brian and Carrie Lester.
In the former Pasta Bar space, Squash Blossom features a traditional menu of breakfast and lunch favorites using lots of locally sourced products.
And it's those tasty ingredients paired with some nice price points that make Squash Blossom's dishes a satisfying value and, along with a casual atmosphere and friendly service, a pleasant place to pop in for eats.
For a sweet breakfast selection, don't miss the pumpkin pie pancakes ($6). Thick and fluffy, they taste as delightful as their aroma and come topped with just enough whipped cream and a side of light syrup.
On the savory side, although I missed the traditional briny taste of the meat in my corned beef hash with eggs ($7), it gets points for being tender, well-prepared, and served up with tasty skin-on seasoned red potato wedges and sautéed onions and peppers. There's also a solid biscuits and country sausage gravy ($6).
For lunch, salad lovers shouldn't pass up the AZ Chipotle Chicken Salad. This good-size plate of greens, topped with tender strips of chipotle-seasoned grilled chicken, features an array of tasty ingredients -- like black beans, corn, cheese, red onion, black olives, diced tomatoes, and avocado. Served with a side of subtle Southwest chipotle dressing, there are enough fresh tastes and variety of ingredients to make this salad a lively standout. And its $8 price point seems like a steal.
There's also a light yet earthy wrap filled with grilled zucchini, yellow squash, roasted red pepper, Portobello, red onion, and mozzarella with a balsamic glaze. Aptly named The Squash Blossom ($6), it's simple, satisfying, and best ordered with a side of delicious and slightly sweet homemade potato salad.
Plus, all meals at Squash Blossom are served with a cute little muffin (breakfast) or cookie (lunch), which serves as a just-enough sweet ending to a meal.
Like the service, the interior of the restaurant is friendly and welcoming with local art and family photos on the walls. You'll want to sit on the enclosed patio, and as you leave, make a stop at the counter near the entrance to peruse a selection of homemade bakery items.
Squash Blossom isn't a destination, but for those in the area, especially ASU students living close by, it's a pleasant option for breakfast or lunch -- one that, given the fresh and tasty fare, is a value for your dining dollar.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.