Good food is always made better if it’s found in a strange place. You know, like the Cheetos you find in the couch cushion. No, but seriously, like BBQ at a gas station. Such is Tom’s Thumb in Scottsdale. And while it may be more of a restaurant that happens to have a gas station attached than the other way around, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is literally a gas station and BBQ place.
Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more breakfast spots in Scottsdale for me to visit, I give you First Watch. Now, First Watch actually has locations in 17 states, so it’s not entirely special to Scottsdale. And from what I had been told, it was not entirely special no matter which location you went to. Yet, that didn’t stop me from finding the one thing on the menu that seemed unique and unvegan.
In my ceaseless quest to find the best breakfast in breakfast heaven (Arizona), I found myself at the creatively named Breakfast Kitchen Bar in Scottsdale. Yay for sarcasm. But while the name wasn’t creative, the menu had a few things I had never seen before, one of them being the Breakfast Pizza.
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate mornings. Yet, I love breakfast food with all of its bacon and eggy goodness. It’s a conundrum that I am coming to terms with in the Phoenix area, which I believe to have the highest per capita breakfast restaurants. My latest was Snooze in Scottsdale, which is inappropriately named as far as I’m concerned, but the line of people waiting to eat there didn’t seem to mind.
Perhaps one of the most underrated songs of the 90s was “Ecstasy” by Rusted Root. And while none of the lyrics are really related to eating at a breakfast spot called Eggstasy in Scottsdale, I nonetheless found myself unable to get the song out of my head for the duration of my meal there, and also it is stuck in there now, as I write. But I digress, what matters is the food, and actually the service for once.
It’s not often that I eat at a new place (for me) twice before getting a chance to review that place. Yet, that weirdly happened with Hash Kitchen, a breakfast spot (no, not a dispensary) with a few locations around the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. As you may expect, they specialize in Bloody Marys. Okay, but also in different kinds of hash if you’re not in a Bloody Mary mood, which I literally never am.
One of the coolest things about older cities is that they aren’t perfectly planned. Roads aren’t necessarily straight lines and newer buildings stand next to buildings that have stood for more than 100 years. These features add character to a place. Yet, when it’s 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity and you’re looking for breakfast first thing in the morning, it can be a bit frustrating when you find yourself walking down a residential street to find breakfast at a place with a name that is only written in Chinese. Yet, that only made finding 丰盛号 in that alley over on the left all the better.
When you need breakfast or brunch in Encino, where do you go? Well, when the opportunity presented itself to me I found myself at Claudine, which is like a bakery and restaurant in one. You order at a counter, and seats are hard to come by on the weekend, but I managed to snag a table right out from under an old lady. To be fair, all she needed was 2 seats and we needed 6 so I found another table for her. Sheesh.
Perched on a corner in what is more neighborhood than retail area in Ventura is a restaurant called Cafe Nouveau. The restaurant boasts a pretty great outdoor eating area, but the wait there was nuts so we went inside to what felt like a home that had been converted into a cafe. I set to work at figuring out what to order, but after a quick look at the menu I had made up my mind.
The Original Tops is a classic countertop-style diner in Pasadena that would probably evoke nostalgic memories if you were from the area. As someone who is not from Pasadena, I at least get excited over the prospect of a new burger spot, especially a no-frills type of place that has stood the test of time like The Original Tops.