Recently I went to Tempe for a wedding. We were in a hotel with a not-good restaurant (Tempe Mission Palms), and the surrounding Mill Avenue area had many restaurants, but the ones we happened into weren't great. Because of our wedding responsibilities, we were not able to wander far for lunch or dinner.
Thanks to Chowhound, I found recommendations for two breakfast spots that were spectactular: Matt's Big Breakfast (in Phoenix, I believe) and JP Pancake (in Scottsdale).
Matt's was fantastic because we felt like we were in a real local place--the restaurant itself is cute in a retro way, but it's next to a rundown old motel. This may seem unappealing to some, but we loved it--we got to talk to locals in line (probably a 15 minute wait on a Saturday morning) and get recommendations on interesting sites not mentioned by our concierge.
At Matt's, we ordered a stack of pancakes, the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich (which had a name, but I can't remember it), a side of home fries, and a side of bacon.
The pancakes were good and fluffy, but not something I'd go out of my way to seek out. Everything else was fantastic. In fact, my friend, listed all of the places where he had eaten bacon and egg sandwiches ("Buffalo, Manhattan, Philadelphia, Dublin...") and declared this one the best ever. I believe it. Take a look at the attached photograph.
The bacon was thick-cut and delicious; it cooked have been just a wee bit more crisp for my taste.
The home fries were perfection. I normally don't like home fries--in San Francisco we get a lot of bland versions with tons of rosemary masking undercooked red-skinned taters. These were well cooked and perfectly seasoned.
The next day we sought out JP Pancake, another chowhound rec. This was in a strip mall in Scottsdale, which wasn't as interesting to us as the Matt's location, but the line of hungry would-be diners convinced us to wait it out.
As the name would indicate, JP does pancakes; don't stray. There are two types: the standard pan-fried variety, and baked versions, which take about 20 minutes to cook. We were like starved dogs by the time we sat down, so we asked the waitress to bring up a pan-fried cake first, followed by the baked version, when it was ready.
We started with the lemon pecan pancake, which was just lovely. The crunch of nut and smell of freshly grated lemon was almost overwhelming; we ordered real syrup ($2.50 extra), but I didn't end up adding any to this cake, which was flavorful enough without it.
Next up was our baked banana walnut pancake, puffed high like a dough crown. We couldn't take a picture before it deflated, so take my word for it that it was a sight to behold. My friend dove in, took two bites, and said "This is the best pancake I've ever had."
"You exaggerate!" I charged. "The best ever egg sandwich yesterday, then the best pancake today?" It was easy to accuse my friend--until I took a bite.
This was the best pancake ever. Again, we had a tiny bottle of expensive syrup, but barely used half. Nuts: perfectly toasted, not a hint of burn or bitterness. Banana: in neat pockets and layers, no parts too soggy.
So thanks to the reviewers whose notes I cribbed to find these two places--we had a great time eating breakfast around Phoenix.
Scottsdale, AZ, Scottsdale, AZ