Category Archives: breakfast

Giant Coffee

Tucked just slightly back from the bustling 7th Street and McDowell intersection in downtown Phoenix is a new coffee shop – Giant Coffee – that is already drawing the eye and the taste buds of locals in the know.

It’s no surprise that it’s a success, considering it’s from restaurateurs Matt and Erenia Pool. You know them from Matt’s Big Breakfast and Roosevelt Tavern, and it’s obvious that Giant Coffee is going to be as big in their repertoire.

Right away, it’s got that hip, urban but very cozy feel. The long, communal table in the middle makes it feel open and friendly, instead of crowded and invasive like other places that try the same concept. But there’s also plenty of room for private conversations with tables lining the sides. Half the reason  you go to a place like Giant is for the atmosphere, and this definitely pays off.

Inside Giant Coffee

Now to the grub: The coffee is delicious, more mild and less acidic than other places. Expect the usual offerings from the drink menu, but all are very well executed. Their specialty is their daily drip, from a single location, so you can taste beans from all over the world day-by-day. Their treats are also amazing. The blackberry-bran-honey muffin is incredibly delicious – and filling – and chock full of local ingredients.

Giant Coffee

A couple notes: they neighbor Bunky Boutique in their new location, so stop by when you can visit both places. Also, Giant doesn’t take cards, only cash, so come prepared.

It’s great to see a new place open with a totally different vibe, it’s worth checking out for your morning – or afternoon – or evening cup of Joe.

Giant Coffee
1437 N 1st St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
twitter: @giantcoffeeaz

La Grande Orange

La Grande Orange, or LGO for short, is a perfect little neighborhood retreat in central Phoenix. It’s really two places in one with La Grande Orange Pizzeria on one side and La Grande Orange Grocery on the other. The Pizzeria side offers a well-balanced menu of salads and pizzas with a few “off the grill” items tossed in for good measure. They are kind enough to label items that are vegetarian, vegan or gluten free which is uber helpful if you care about these things like I do (for me, it’s please hold the meat). The pizzas are nothing short of yummy, and I prefer mine topped with a fried egg. Hey, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it! 

My recent LGO dinner included the Classic Margherita (with egg, of course) followed by a stop on the Grocery side for a Tammie Coe cupcake. Tammie Coe desserts deserve their very own blog post – I’ll save that for another day. If you’re a bit of a shopaholic like me, then the Grocery can also help you out in that area. They have a fantastic array of items including soaps, candles, kitchen knick knacks, pet treats and more. All of their LGO-logoed stuff is adorable – very retro. And, oh yeah, they have groceries too, including a nice wine selection.

LGO Grocery is also known for it’s homemade English muffins that are griddled there every day. These things are so darn good that I’m smiling right now just thinking about them. If, like me, you try one and decide that you can’t live without them, then you’re in luck. LGO sells them by the dozen and half dozen so that you can enjoy them morning, noon and night.

Well, I think I’ve rambled on long enough about this fabulous place. Hopefully, you’ll get out and give it a try.

La Grande Orange Grocery and Pizzeria
4410 N. 40th Street, Phoenix

Vincent’s Market: Two More Weeks

Vincent's Market on Camelback

Avocado, sun-dried tomato and gruyere pizza

For locals or out-of-towners alike, when people ask me where to go for a seriously unique experience, my list always includes Vincent’s, in one form or another. There’s the “real” restaurant (Vincent on Camelback), the Market Bistro (which is adjacent to the restaurant), or the most casual but equally delicious affair, the Camelback Market.

Why so many “Vincents?” Because it all stems from James Beard Award-Winning Chef Vincent Guerithault, who takes his French background and descent and melds it with his Southwestern home. That’s what makes his food so unique.

Anyway, we’ve written about the Market before, and all the locals know that every Saturday morning from October – May, it’s the place to be. Well in case you’ve slept in a few Saturdays, this is your reminder that the Market is going on for two more weeks, ending on May 22nd.

Remember to come hungry: about 1/4 of the Market is actual produce, but the rest is filled with pastries, and everything from paella to oven-fired pizzas made-to-order, to the most delicious roasted chicken and potatoes ever. Be sure to get in line for the crepes – savory or sweet (Grand Marnier, I’m coming for you) – and also for the mimosas – you’ll get a bottle of Champagne, and as many cups of OJ as you want.

Now that your mouth is watering, I’ll let you rally your friends to go. It goes from 9am – 1pm. Happy Brunching!

Mother’s Day Top Picks

You’ve gotta do something special for your mom, sister, wife or friend this Mother’s Day, so how about some good conversation over a very good meal. But you don’t want to do something too typical, right? Right. So here are our top three-ish options for where to take her for something special.

1. Quiessence at the Farm at South Mountain

Quiessence is known for it’s literal farm-to-table meals, for it’s amazing Chef LaPrad and the very scenic beauty. Just driving up, you feel like you’re somewhere magical. Well, it gets better for Mom’s Day, because in addition to a very affordable $59 per person three-course dinner, you can also get your mama a massage and take family photos on the beautiful grounds. The food is amazing too; choices of Creamy French Onion Soup, Alaskan Halibut, Pan Seared Chicken – all local, all amazing.

Seating times for dinner are 4-5pm or 6-7pm, with the massages and photos from 4:30-6:30, depending on your dinner time.

Check out the menu and call 602-276-0601 for details and reservations.

Quiessence at the Farm at the South Mountain

Quiessence at the Farm at the South Mountain

2. Cafe Zuzu at Hotel Valley Ho

Let’s say your mom is kinda hip, a little funky, but classy all the way. Where should you take her? One word – Zuzu. You can sit in their retro dining room, or outside under the palms, to enjoy their food from the much beloved Chef Charles Wiley. The Thick Belgian Waffles with Sun-dried Cherry Butter is a sure winner, or the Stuffed French Toast made with brioche and filled with lemon cream cheese and berries. It’s all a la carte, and more standard breakfast options are available as well.

Brunch runs from 6am – 3pm, but the special menu doesn’t start till 11am.

Call 480.421.7997 for details or visit

3. Greater Phoenix Resorts

You really can’t go wrong with any of the resorts here, but hit Prado at the Montelucia, the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge or the Fairmont Scottsdale for some elegant and special brunches. Frank & Albert’s at the Arizona Biltmore is a more casual but still very nice choice, and while it’s not really a resort, the Wrigley Mansion is super cool and sophisticated and will be very memorable, both from the food and the ambience.


One of Phoenix’s newest breakfast spots (or breakfast joint, as they call it) is Scramble, located in the north, central part of the city. I highly recommend giving this one a try. Despite its name, Scramble offers up much more than just eggs. I’m completely smitten with their Biscuits which make a great side to any breakfast meal. The menu is quite helpful by pointing out which items are a “healthy choice,” “spicy” and even which ones “travel well.” Note: naturally, the biscuits are not labeled as “healthy” but a side of low fat yogurt or fruit should help balance that out.

You have to try the biscuits

You have to try the biscuits

On my first visit, I checked out the Mulitgrain Pancakes which were yummy, and BIG. They took up the entire plate! My husband is a fan of the Gringo Breakfast Burrito. And we’re both huge fans of their Cinnamon Rolls. These alone are well worth the visit. They’re baked every day and according to the menu, “When they’re gone, they’re gone.” Now, that’s fresh.

Multigrain Pancakes

Multigrain Pancakes

Gringo Breakfast Burrito

Gringo Breakfast Burrito

Scramble also offers a light lunch menu, but I doubt I’ll ever try it because the breakfast is just too good to pass up!

Scramble 009

9832 N. 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85020

Matt’s Big Breakfast

Because breakfast seems so simple (it’s just a couple eggs, right?), that’s what makes it so difficult. Everyone, every city has those few places that are MUST-GOs. We put the power to the people, and let them vote on Phoenix area favorites. Between Orange Table, The Breakfast Club, Morning Glory Cafe, and Over Easy, Matt’s Big Breakfast climbed to the top of our “Favorite Breakfast Place” poll.

And for you loyal blog readers, you may be thinking, “They already wrote about Matt’s Big Breakfast!” What’s a blog to do.

Blog again, that’s what.

(Bigger! Better! Bloggier!)

And butter-ier.

Matt’s is owned by Matt and Erenia Pool, also of Roosevelt Tavern success, and has been featured in every local publication and the famous Guy Fieri on “Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives” on Food Network. Among all the accolades, the line of loyalists every morning waiting outside is the best testament to the deliciousness.

For a humble restaurant that only has about 30 seats, Matt’s is a well-oiled machine of friendliness and great service. But let’s talk about why you really go to Matt’s.  Here’s a summary:

Bacon and hashbrowns

A picture is worth a thousand taste buds. But good food is one-part recipe and one-part ingredients. The local prduce, jams and jellies, natural beef and meat, and the cage-free eggs are so rich with flavor, that when combined with Matt’s magic wand, it easily becomes a local favorite breakfast joint.

Matt's Big Waffles

Advice: When you go, get the waffle. Get the waffle as an appetizer, a side dish, dessert, anything. You must have it. Leave no waffle behind. In this economic time, everyone could use a good waffle (that’s my final appeal).

Advice #2: Get extra syrup. And a straw. It’s that good.

Advice #3: Go for lunch on a weekday and avoid waiting, even though it’s worth the wait.

Take it from the locals and make Matt’s your new favorite breakfast place!

801 N. 1st Street (1st and McKinley)

Phoenix, AZ


Note from Matt

drip coffee lounge

drip coffee lounge

With my love of coffee in Phoenix, I have worked drip into my routine of gotta-have-it coffee shops, and I love it so much, I’d like to stand on a street corner and tell everyone about it. Okay, or maybe just write this blog entry. It’s  a fantastic nook on the periphery of downtown Phoenix that is both retro and modern, minimalist and cozy.  The space is fresh, so is the food, and amazingly – the concept. It’s hard to upstage the latest-and-greatest caffeine pump of the moment, but drip really is something new.

drip street menu

First of all, it goes where many other shops don’t – organic. As a recent adopter of the all-organic lifestyle myself, I was through-the-roof excited to have a place to go that shared my gastronomic viewpoints, but let’s be honest – it’s not all spinach and carrots, either. May I tempt you with the cream cheese and nutella panini? The prosciutto, parmesan and mozzarella, tomato on a baguette? They even have an in-house baker with completely vegan cupcakes that I’d swear you wouldn’t know the difference. Local favorite: the OMG brownie. With incredibly reasonable prices, this is a no-brainer particularly for the downtown crowd.

drip menu

And we haven’t even talked about the coffee. For me, it’s gotta be dark and rich, very smooth, and cream – words that are thrown around in the coffee biz but I take them very seriously. Drip checked off all those items and more. It was decadent.  The presentation doesn’t hurt either. You take a seat, catch up on the news, and the service is more attentive than just grab-and-go.

drip coffee

If you haven’t tried drip yet, take a swing on 7th and drop by. You really can’t go wrong…and don’t say I didn’t warn you about the nutella panini. You’ll be hooked.

drip street view

drip coffee lounge

2325 N. 7th Street.

Phoenix, AZ 85006


We are so lucky in Phoenix, aren’t we? I mean, even working in travel, it’s easy to take all the resorts for granted. Sweeping views of Camelback Mountain, which are also amazingly reflected in the glassy pools, palm trees rustling in the light breeze and you, behind your sunglasses and underneath your big floppy hat, gaze with amazement. 

views from montelucia

At least I did. Most recently at the Montelucia, a new resort that opened in early November. The thing is – it’s really a step into a different world. The little details everywhere are amazing. The new-thing-in-town restaurant, Prado, gives the same feeling of, “OH – this is Prado?!” 

Now, let’s just admit something. Resort restaurants in the past were – ummm – not exactly the place to be. A little stale, a little stuffy (and not talking about the air), they were just not exciting or lively or fun. But no more, my friends. Now, they are hip and great because they have life in them. 

inside prado

So what’s Prado like? You come in through this grand entrance, and at the front is M Bar, which serves small plates and the full menu and is this dark wood bar, loungey leather area, and live music. Then the restaurant is in the back half, with a great European/Spanish feel, all open to the patio (more on that later). It’s so cozy, but you’re there for the food, really. So I should tell you that it’s as good as you think. And probably better than you know. For dinner, I had the roasted chicken and about fell over it was so good. My husband had the lamb, which was equally amazing, but he even liked the chicken better. We raved about it so much to our waiter that he brought out the chef, Claudio, who proceeded to tell us that the chicken is organic and from a farm strict about no cruelty to animals. He also mentioned all the farms where they get local produce, meat, almost everything. We wound up going to Prado two nights in a row. I had the chicken both nights, but switched it up the second night and saved room for dessert.

{By the way, we ran into another couple who had been to Prado for three nights – they were staying at the resort for their 29th wedding anniversary – and she said that she had the chicken the third night they were there, and if she had ordered that the first night, she would have had it three nights in a row. So there you have it.}

A dessert doesn’t have to try hard to win my affection, but there were these churros that rocked my world. I mean, I have craved them to high heavens since I went, and I have to get my fix. Everyone knows what a churro is, right? In case not, they are these rolled sweet dough things that are covered in sugar. Prado, Prado, Prado, what have you done to me. They were crispy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside and when dipped in the chocolate cream, become spiritual. 

Prado churros

{Another BTW – after dinner, stroll over to the sitting area with what I like to call the “lava wall” where a big wall of fire warms an incredibly comfortable seating area. Actually, there are seating areas all over, and it’s the perfect end to a stroll after dinner. It’s gorgeous. Seriously.}

lava wall

From this experience, nothing short of in love with Prado, we went again for breakfast. We sat on the patio – OH the patio. I have a thing with patios. We have a lot of great nights here, and the weather is perfect for the outdoors. But when your host brings you to your table, it’s like all the personality of the restaurant is completely abandoned in favor of some heaters and metal chairs. No, no, no. Not Montelucia style. Their patio made me pretend that I was visiting friends in Ibiza, cozy but thoughtful. I had some of the most delicious breakfasts, including the french toast with nutella (See a trend? Bread and chocolate?). I have to tell you though, that we were blown away by their coffee. From Italy, it was also crave-worthy and I highly recommend it. 

Prado patioview from patio

French toast with Nutella   breakfast sandwich

The sound of the fountains soothe through the meal, the live music in the background, the Mediterranean colors remind you of Europe, but Prado at the Montelucia takes you there. 


Over Easy

So,  I have a new favorite breakfast spot — well, sort of, because I love Matt’s Big Breakfast too. It’s called Over Easy and it’s right in central Phoenix at Indian School and 40th Street. It’s only open for breakfast (until 11:30am) so they’re really able to do it right. What a simple concept!


I selected the chocolate chip pancakes and I just have one word, y-u-m-m-y. What’s better than mixing chocoate with breakfast? Nothing, as far as I’m concerned. I couldn’t resist the tater tots when I noticed them on the menu so I added those to my order as well. And let me just say, tater tots for breakfast is genius. My only complaint, if you can call it one, was that I could have used a bigger plate to manuver around the pancakes. But, I managed to work around it.


My husband went the more traditional route with eggs, toast, bacon and hashbrowns and was equally as pleased.  Over Easy uses quality ingredients, including cage-free eggs, so not only did we have a fantastic breakfast, we could feel good about what we ate.  Kind of. I’m guessing the fresh ingredients still had their fair share of calories. Oh well, it was totally worth it.


We ate here during the week, a little late in the morning, so no waiting. I hear it’s quite a popular spot on the weekends but based on my experience, worth the wait.