Matt’s Big Breakfast could be called downtown Phoenix’s most public secret. Although an unknowing passerby might peer into the cramped, cream-colored interior and believe it was just another diner, they would probably realize their mistake as they were being pushed aside by members of the crowd that regularly gathers outside Matt’s doors.
In spite of the diner’s popularity, I ventured to give Matt’s a fair appraisal—and in fairness I do hate breakfast. Nonetheless, I tried to clear my mind of these thoughts as I signed my name on the wait list outside the front door.
The wait is certainly the most unappealing part of the Matt’s experience. Lounging around on an overstuffed cushion in the cool entryway of a restaurant while sipping a cocktail is one thing; hunching on a flat, wooden bench in 110-degree heat is something else entirely. But as I sat there, wondering what prompted such foolishness, I took solace in the fact that everybody else there had to be at least as crazy as me.
I’m told by one patron that a way to adapt to the long wait is to go on Saturday morning. While the lines may be longer, she suggested wandering around the public market that sets up across the street in order to pass the time.
A quick look over Matt’s menu will reveal little that is unusual, beyond the occasional set of hyphenated adjectives used to let you know that you’re eating something special (steel-cut oatmeal, skillet-seared Iowa pork, off-the-bone ham). The dishes themselves are exactly what you would expect from a diner—they’re just made better at Matt’s.
Matt’s eggs are fluffier and more flavorful, the home fries are elegantly spiced and laced with sprigs of rosemary, the maple sausage is crisp and savory and the toast and bacon are extra thick. Their honey lemonade is a concoction that is just as wonderful as it sounds (if your taste buds can handle it), and a sip of the orange juice (served in a painfully small glass) tastes like a bite out of an orange.
The Five Spot, Matt’s version of a breakfast sandwich, is also quite good—simple, but well-executed. Of the dishes I’ve tried, the hash browns were the only item whose quality could be described as average.
There is no doubt that Matt’s Big Breakfast serves some very good breakfast. Unfortunately their menu is little more than a compilation of items that are a step above what you would find at any other breakfast joint, rather than a mélange of cutting-edge dishes. Matt’s is worth a try, but you have to weigh the cost of waiting for half an hour to be seated.
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