Escaping frigid weather? In town for the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship? Whatever your reasons for visiting the desert this winter, you’ll need a solid first meal before you hit the hiking trails … or the stadium. These wholesome eye-openers fill you up but won’t weigh you down.
Desoto Central Market
Restaurant, bar, coffee and juice vendors cluster throughout the brick interior of this multifloor market, which opened in April near artsy Roosevelt Row. The MacBook-and-tattoos set hovers over lattes and Noble Bread toast at Tea & Toast Co., while mimosa-sipping groups linger on the expansive patio. It’s the breakfasts from the larder + the delta, though, that kick-start your day with Southern spice—don’t miss the crispy-edged buttermilk cheddar biscuit sandwiching a fluffy egg and fennel-flecked sausage patty, or the sweet-and-savory chicken skin po’boy on an airy Hawaiian roll. Feeling virtuous? Add a side of crispy Brussels sprouts.
915 N. Central Ave., desotocentralmarket.com
Phoenix Public Market Cafe
In a sunny concrete and brick building just off the Central Avenue thoroughfare, this spot’s marked by a sign that just reads “Cafe.” The casual restaurant/coffee shop/bar focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients, often sourced from the farmers market next door; order from the counter, or grab a bar seat for full service. Enjoy Southwest flavor in the Devil’s Mess—a three-egg scramble loaded with spinach, fire-roasted salsa, chilies, onions and chorizo from local butcher Schreiner’s Fine Sausage—or go simple with a smoked salmon-topped housemade bagel. Wash it down with a cold-brew shaker with espresso and habañero simple syrup.
14 E. Pierce St., phxpublicmarket.com
This sleek new eatery’s campus spans an entire acre, offering plenty of space for basking in the Arizona sun: Score a spot on the patio or at communal tables in the beer garden. Then, dive headfirst into reasonably priced plates that are almost too pretty to eat, like the colossal pancake served in a skillet, topped with bright berry compote and sprinkled with snowy powdered sugar. Feeling savory? Go for the massive Breakfast Chimichanga with fluffy scrambled eggs, chunks of moist chicken, broccoli and cheese wrapped in a crisp, flaky shell swimming in green chili sauce. The iced Nutella coffee is a standout, or select from a few craft drafts.
3243 N. Third St., ocotillophx.com
Late night bite: Welcome Diner
Open until 2 a.m. six days a week (closed Mondays), Welcome Diner is a converted ’40s Valentine Diner car that began as the Hi-Way Diner on Route 66 in Winslow, Arizona. Now, it’s a hip, off-Roosevelt Row oasis for post-bar Southern sandwiches like a fried chicken and chipotle ranch-topped biscuit or fried green tomatoes on sourdough. The cool kids take over the diner’s laid-back patio, sipping house cocktails and a tight selection of draft beer.
924 E Roosevelt St., welcomediner.net