Every so often, I have the most bizarre conversations with people regarding the geography of Phoenix. Although I am a Phoenix native and still remember when Shea Boulevard and Scottsdale Road was a small dirt road crossing, I also know that downtown Phoenix is, well, downtown. I was taught in school that downtown Phoenix can be located in one of two ways:
First, if you look at the Phoenix skyline from either the east or the west, you will notice there are two areas with skyscrapers separated by an area that has very few buildings over one or two stories. The group of skyscrapers to the south is downtown. Second, if you are driving down Central Avenue and start noticing that all the east/west streets are named after dead U.S. Presidents, you are in downtown.
So, I am always amazed when I tell people I live near 32nd Street and Camelback Road in Phoenix and some will say, "Oh! You are near downtown."
Well, not quite.
As fate would have it, Dave the roommate and I were in downtown Phoenix and decided to try Matt's Big Breakfast at 1st Street and McKinley (a dead U.S. President!). Matt's is located in a little, red brick building next to an old motel. We located it more from the people standing outside waiting for a table than from the sign on the building.
We parked across the street and put our name on the list. Luckily, we had missed the brunch rush and only had a 10-minute wait until we were shown to a table. Once inside, we noticed that this place was tiny. About a dozen tables and counter space for another 10 people were all this place sat.
Our table was in the small room off to the north side. The entire restaurant was plainly decorated with just a few framed prints of lithographs of breakfast foods. (We got seated under "Eggs."). We were handed menus and were asked for our drink order.
Dave and I both ordered some orange juice ($2.50 each) and also a Diet RC Cola ($1.25 each). While our server got our drinks we reviewed the menu and really enjoyed the choices. I was intrigued by the "Butter Burger" which was described as ground chuck grilled in butter. Matt's clearly wanted to keep cardiologists in business.
Our server returned in moments with our drinks and we placed our order. The orange juice was fresh squeezed, full of orange pulp and delicious. I decided to skip the lunch selections and went with the Salami Scramble ($6.50) while Dave went with the Roasted Pepper Scramble ($6.75), which was the special of the day. We also decided to split a Belgian Waffle ($6.00) which was accompanied with bacon.
We waited for about 15 minutes or so before our breakfast bonanza was delivered. During that time, our service went from great to so-so and up to good. It was rather inconsistent, which was a bit troubling when we were trying to get refills on the drinks.
The first thing brought to our table was my Salami Scramble. It was three eggs scrambled with strips of Italian soppresatta salami and served with a generous portion of home fries. The eggs were soft and fully cooked and the salami was excellent. They had sauteed the salami prior to mixing it with the eggs and it was slightly crispy on the edges. It was a wonderful contrast to the eggs. The home fries were delightful. The potatoes were thoroughly cooked, but not to the point of mush. Both onions were slightly carmelized which gave the home fries a touch of sweetness. It was also served with a huge slice of sourdough toast with this amazing raspberry coulis for a spread.
The flavor balance of my meal was spot on. Savory, salty, sweet and bitter was all together in one package and I was very pleased with my meal.
Dave was really enjoying his Roasted Pepper Scramble. In his mix were three eggs, cheddar cheese, pieces of smoked bacon and roasted jalepeno peppers. It was served with hash browns and a grilled tortilla. It looked and smelled wonderful. He said the peppers were excellet and the best part was the bacon. The tortilla had some charred areas on it, and that seemed to please Dave. It was a very fragrant and savory meal.
The only thing Dave didn't have high marks for were the hash browns. He stated the taste was okay, but the texture was more like "fried mashed potatoes." He noted the problem may have been how small they grated the potatoes. Still, he did enjoy his breakfast.
The only thing left to devour was the waffle. Dave and I try to never pass up a waffle, particularly at a dedicated breakfast place. Our waffle was big and fluffy with a big dollop of butter in the center and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It was accompanied with maple syrup and two strips of the smoked bacon. Dave slathered the butter on the pastry and then poured the syrup. Alas, he is not from the "fill each nook and cranny with syrup" camp, so I had to remedy that after he took his first bite.
The waffle was hot, slightly crisp and light as a feather. It was an outstanding Beljan waffle and we were both pleased with it. What was not up to par, however, was the bacon. The two strips looked and smelled wonderful and the taste was pretty darn good, too. However, they were droopy and seemed to either have not been drained properly or simply needed another minute on the grill to crisp. Dave was rather surprised by this considering that the bacon in his scramble was crisp and crunchy.
As we finished our meal, another wave of hungry Phoenicians was building and we finished our meal, paid our bill and departed. Our total bill was $28.89 including tax. We felt that for the quality of the food and the portion size, this was a very good value. Dave and I did agree, however, that $2.50 for six ounces of orange juice (even fresh squeezed) was a bit much.
We got into the car and headed out to do some errands and shopping. Our bellies were full and we were happy, so Matt's was a success for us.
Despite the fact that there were a couple of minor issues with our meals and service, we both would return in a heartbeat to Matt's Big Breakfast.
Matt's Big Breakfast
801 North 1st Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Notes: Only open for breakfast and lunch.
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