Baked Goods

Best of Phoenix: Best Breakfast, Brunch, And Coffee To Start Your Day

Chin Up Donuts takes a spooky twist this weekend.
Chin Up Donuts takes a spooky twist this weekend. Allison Young
If you're a morning person, great. For the rest of us, a tall cup of coffee and a hearty plate of pancakes can really help get the morning moving. Across metro Phoenix, we are lucky to have a wide selection of wonderful ways to fill the early hours with food and drinks. Make a quick stop at a local favorite coffee drive-thru or enjoy a leisurely brunch at a number of excellent restaurants. We've got doughnuts, old-school diners, coffeehouses, and cafes galore. Here are the best places in metro Pheonix to start your day.

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Fàme Caffe is a go-to for brunch.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
Best Breakfast: Fàme Caffe
4700 North Central Avenue

On a weekend morning, the line starts forming at Fàme early. By brunch time, it winds around the building at the little shopping center on Central Avenue. But customers don't mind the wait, because the breakfast is that good. Once it's finally your turn, slide up to the counter and order through a large window that gives a peek into the trendy seating area inside. We recommend starting with a Caramelito, made with caramel, cinnamon, espresso, and almond milk, or the equally delicious Muddy Waters, a coffee and matcha tea mashup. Next, it's onto the food. If you're looking to indulge, you can't go wrong with the decadent Monte Cristo. Thick slices of country bread are filled with a fried egg, nutty Gruyere cheese, and ham before the whole thing is showered with powdered sugar. This is a knife-and-fork type of sandwich, and we recommend spreading a little of the berry jam on each bite. Southwest-inspired dishes make for a slightly lighter meal, including the trio of breakfast tacos, the chilaquiles, or the huevos rancheros. Place your order, secure a table number, and head inside. There, you'll sit in an airy restaurant with an open kitchen, and a modern-meets-farmhouse vibe, the perfect way to start your day.

Best Brunch: Rita's Cantina & Bar
5402 East Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley

If you're brunching in metro Phoenix, you might as well brunch in paradise. A visit to Rita's Cantina & Bar on the premises of the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa can feel like a staycation in and of itself. Sea salt and caramel pancakes followed by a sea salt scrub at the spa? There are worse ways to cure a hangover. Brunch at Rita's entails endless Mexican- and American-inspired breakfast and lunch creations; an all-you-can-eat option that features made-to-order omelets, French toast, and plenty more; plus a full bar. Try the brunchery's signature cocktails, the Camelback Sunrise and Rita's Margarita with espolon blanco, triple sec, agave, and lime.

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Ron Horton (center) owns the Original Pancake House in Scottsdale.
Natasha Yee
Best Classic Diner: Original Pancake House
6840 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale

This no-frills diner connected to a Motel 6 has held its unassuming location at Camelback and Scottsdale roads since 1988. Slide into a booth or take a seat at the counter to watch the magic in the kitchen. The Original Pancake House is one of many locations throughout the country, though the locally owned Scottsdale eatery is the only one in Arizona. Specialties here include the Dutch baby, an oven-baked concoction that puffs up like a souffle, then falls before it's topped with powdered sugar and inevitably devoured. The apple pancake is another favorite, made with fresh Granny Smiths and a cinnamon glaze. If you want to keep it extra classic with some savoriness, go for the ham and eggs with hickory-smoked ham and two eggs, plus three buttermilk pancakes.

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The Welcome Diner patio is where it's at.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
Best Trendy Diner: Welcome Diner
929 East Pierce Street

Imagine that a classic diner met a hipster foodie and had a baby. That's Welcome Diner at Ninth and Pierce streets in the Garfield neighborhood. A pink and blue neon sign greets you on your way in, giving way to a disco ball above the host stand and blue booths with wooden tables in between them. (The patio is also nice when the weather isn't hot enough to cook an egg on the pavement.) Breakfast is served all day here, even on Fridays and Saturdays when the diner is open until midnight. Try various combinations of chicken and fresh biscuits, including the Koko with beefsteak tomatoes, arugula, and chipotle ranch. Sandwiches and burgers are also available; go for the peanut butter bacon burger if you're especially hungry. It's packed high with a Niman Ranch patty, cheddar cheese, garlic aioli, peanut butter, pickles, and applewood smoked bacon on a Noble Bread bun. Coffee is on the menu, but so are cocktails such as the Industry Sour with Frenet Branca, green chartreuse, and lime, and the Welcome Mule with vodka, lemon, and ginger beer.

Best Pastry Chef: Mark Chacón
720 West Highland Avenue

Mark Chacón, baker-owner of Chaconne Patisserie, is not only the best pastry chef in Phoenix, this year he was named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Though he has no formal training, he's worked at some of the best bakeries in the world, including Tartine, Chez Panisse, and Hart Bageri in Denmark. When you're eating a Chacón-made pastry, you know it. An expert in lamination with the rare ability to weave seasonal fruits, like pluots and cherries, into gorgeous fruit tarts and dazzling danishes, Chacón creates delicacies that pair technical excellence with a dig-in decadence. Think gloriously gooey pecan sticky buns on rich brioche, caramelized croissants coiled with paper-thin layers for a shatteringly crispy finish, and rustically regal hand pies studded with poached pears on flaky, all-butter pâte brisée. Available at some of the best restaurants and coffee shops in Phoenix, including Tratto, Bacanora, and Futuro, as well as farmers' markets and by special order on his website, there's seriously no better way to indulge your carb cravings.

Best Gluten-Free Restaurant: Jewel's Bakery and Cafe
4041 East Thomas Road

This gluten-free eatery serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch from its location at 40th Street and Thomas Road in Arcadia. The biscuit and gravy, a fresh-baked garlic cheddar biscuit topped with sausage gravy and served with two eggs your way, is a great option for those who may not otherwise be able to eat the dish. Chicken and waffles come in several varieties, from classic to popcorn to hot chicken, and a churro and Belgian waffle are also on the menu. The baked goods at Jewel's Bakery and Cafe are also delicious, whether you go for Fruity Pebble-topped doughnuts or a chocolate chip cookie. The cute cafe is a non-glutinous dream, with breakfast and lunch options for the entire family, including grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids. Cocktails are also on the menu, with margaritas, mimosas, and bloody marys.

Best Farmers' Market: Uptown Farmers Market
5757 North Central Avenue

Nearly 200 vendors are part of this the Uptown Farmers Market, where they sell goodies including breads, honeys, meats, spices, fruits, vegetables, chocolate, salsa, pasta, and more. Besides the bountiful food and beverage options, you'll find a vast array of merchandise for times you need to buy a gift of splurge on a little self-care. Think pottery, aprons, cutting boards, totes, plants, and candles. The Saturday morning markets give you a chance to start your weekend with a little sunshine and fresh air, the bustle of community, and the good feelings that stem from supporting local farmers, creatives, and entrepreneurs. Kids have a blast exploring the sights, including the pets that join their people in taking it all in. Once you've gotten all your fresh produce, you can look forward to making a meal that doesn't come in a wrapper or a Styrofoam box.

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Perfect Pain Aux Raisins, and a little canelé, at JL Patisserie.
Tirion Morris
Best Bakery: JL Patisserie
4700 North Central Avenue

At both locations of the celebrated JL Patisserie, the options are overwhelming in the best way. A small pastry case displays delicate desserts, macarons, eclairs, and cake slices. Next, a large counter is covered with breads and pastries, mostly everything made with flaky, crunchy, butter-filled croissant dough. The pain au raisin is a favorite, a big swirl of flaky dough, crunchy on the outside and soft within, brightened with bursts of flavor from juicy raisins. The ham and cheese croissants blur the line between breakfast and lunch, and the cream-stuffed cruffins make a decadent dessert. We like to keep up with what the bakery is doing on their TikTok account, which is full of light-hearted videos that never fail to make us hungry.

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Bagelfeld's lemon and herb spread is packed with parsley, chive, dill, and lemon.
Allison Young
Best Bagels: Bagelfeld's
2940 East Thomas Road

Bagelfeld's has officially put Phoenix on the bagel map. Started by Charles Blonkenfeld as a pandemic pivot, the Brooklyn-born chef grew up on bagels, but it wasn't until 2020 that he started making them. The process takes three days and uses old-world traditions like slow-fermenting, hand-rolling, boiling in malt syrup and honey water, and baking to a burnished exterior, for a New York (chew and flavor) meets Montreal (size and sweetness) finish that's all Phoenix. Not only do Bagelfeld's bagels bookend both the bomb breakfast sammies at Stoop Kid and the sell-out Saturday sandwich at Nelson's Meat + Fish, loyal followers line up at farmers' markets and the recently opened brick-and-mortar on Thomas Road. Standout flavors include asiago, jalapeño cheddar, and fennel raisin, and all pair perfectly with their house-made schmears (lemon and herb cream cheese on an everything bagel — yes please). The only downside is they sell out quickly.

Best Doughnuts: Chin Up Donuts
7325 East Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, #103, Scottsdale

When you wake up in the morning craving bacon, don't bother to whip out your frying pan. Just cross your fingers and hope the daily rotation at Chin Up Donuts includes their savory Whiskey Pigness doughnut with bacon and maple goodness. The shop offers tasty options you won't find elsewhere, such as the Sriracha-Cha doughnut and other savory options. We love their scratch-made brioche-style doughnuts, and the fact that they have gluten-free options. Plus, the shop is full of surprises. Sometimes they have free film merch on the weekends or do creative collaborations with local chefs. And just walking into the store can enhance your mood, thanks to the playful decor that includes macrame and disco balls. It's the only doughnut shop where we can't resist taking at least one selfie every time we pop in, and there's even a small wall of merch so you can get a fun souvenir of your time there — without spending a lot of dough.

Best Vegan Doughnuts: Nami
2014 North Seventh Street

Nami is an extension of Green New American Vegetarian — the longtime Valley eatery with two locations that introduced metro Phoenix to vegan dining. An array of puffy, yummy doughnuts is among their breakfast items and sweet eats. They're lightly crispy on the outside while fluffy and airy on the inside; diverse flavor components match those textures. Oh, they're also huge. Downing one is plenty satisfying, but with so many delicious choices, it's hard to stop there. You'll eagerly await their return when you find the ones you like. In the meantime, there's plenty to tempt you. The French toast varietal is an airy version of the popular breakfast dish in doughnut form. Chocolate pistachio is another must-have — the lip-smacking pastry is a velvety chocolate affair topped with a nut crumble that perfectly merges the flavors. Raspberry lemon is a divine combination of sweet and sour. Flavors can change daily, so check back often.

Best Coffeehouse: Songbird Coffee & Tea House
812 North Third Street

Developments have significantly changed the face of Roosevelt Row in recent years, causing some to lament the loss of small creative spaces. But Songbird has been going strong since 2012, serving house-made pastries along with Arizona-sourced coffees and teas. Located in a house built in 1904, it's got a cozy atmosphere where you can unwind or gather to catch up with friends, plus friendly staff who always make you feel welcome. Menu offerings include matcha, kombucha, espresso drinks, lemonade, seltzer, and more. They'll even add CBD/hemp extract by the drop. The walls are lined with a changing selection of works by local artists, making this one of our favorite places to discover pieces we might not see in other settings. When local artists present live music or poetry, we love taking it all in from the casual seating in the front yard or by gathering in the side courtyard. Whether you're into people-watching, checking out local art, or just sitting to sip a latte and do a bit of reading, Songbird never disappoints.

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Stop by for an iced coffee or toasty bagel sandwich at Copper Star.
Lauren Cusimano
Best Drive-Thru Coffee: Copper Star Coffee
4220 North Seventh Avenue

Thanks to Melrose District favorite Copper Star Coffee, the convenience of a drive-thru is not relegated to national chains. Find the little coffee shop on Seventh Avenue by its larger-than-life neon sign that points down to the dark red painted building that resembles an old-school gas pump. But here, they serve a different kind of fuel. Pull up to the front of the line and a friendly server will come to your window and take your order. Fresh bagels come smeared with cream cheese, dripping with Nutella, or stuffed with bacon, cheese, and eggs for a hearty start to the day. Lattes come hot, iced, or frozen with flavors ranging from pumpkin to lavender and fruit-flavored lemonades are sweet and refreshing. Make sure to take a look at the collage of colorful stickers decorating the doors and pumps while you wait in your car for your coffee fix.
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