Is Matt's Big Breakfast Really Worth Getting Out of Your PJs For?

Categories: Food Fight

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Flickr via rob_rob2001

Lauren: Yeah, speaking of waiting . . . I don't really care how good your hash browns are. I refuse to wait 30 minutes to sit at a tiny table in a tiny restaurant to eat a meal I could whip together in half that time at home. And in my pajamas, no less.

I'm looking at you, Matt's.

Is it quaint? Sure. Is the food delicious? Helllllllls yeah. And the last time I dropped by, I stopped in and was sat immediately. It was epic. Truly. But the bottom line is that nine times out of ten, I refuse to bake outside in the hot sun for any significant amount of time before enjoying my first meal of the day.

Ando: Look, the wait is the wait. If you go anywhere besides Denny's for breakfast, you're going to wait. If you're going to Matt's, you're going there because you don't just want to shovel some slop into your cake hole. You want to eat one of the best damn breakfasts anywhere, let alone the Valley. Granted, I admit that I'm a sucker for the ordinary-foods-prepared-extraordinarily school of cooking.

So here's the thing. I'm willing to pay a cook to make me a steak. I can grill a fine steak at home but I recognize that I'm limited to whatever meat Sprouts happens to have on sale that week. I'm willing to pay a chef, not just to cook a steak perfectly, but also to use their knowledge and connections to procure the best goddamn steak they can find and season it with sea salt from the left slope of Kilimanjaro and so on. I'm even willing to pay a premium for the service, perhaps two to three times the cost of an equivalent cut of the Safeway special.

I'm willing to do the same thing for Matt's because it's clear to me that they take as much care in selecting their ingredients as they do preparing them. Look at their "Hog & Chick." This meal is caveman-simple. Two eggs, thick cut bacon, and their usual sides. That bacon is going to be, basically, perfect bacon. It's going to hit your plate like a roofing tile but crunch in your mouth like only perfectly cooked bacon can. The bacon is going to be the perfect foil to the richness of the eggs that come with it.

For the record, you're an unwashed heathen for ordering scrambled eggs.

The point is that Matt is doing something I can do only if I plan for one breakfast a week ahead of time, scam every farmers market for the right ingredients and probably screw up because I crack an egg yolk or forget to pull the toast out at the right time. All told, including gas, I'm probably going to end up paying more to make my perfect breakfast than I would if I drove my ass down to Matt's and paid someone else to do all that for me.

Lauren: Ahh, yes, the perfect bacon. I do love that bacon. And I get that some people see Matt's an an eating "event," but to me, eggs and hash just doesn't translate into an epic memory. Maybe some incredible French toast or fancy eggs Benedict, but an omelet? No. The most memorable part about eating an omelet at Matt's is probably going to be how long you had to wait or how you pretty much ate it with the strangers sitting on top of next to you.

I guess the problem is that if I wanted to assemble my "perfect breakfast," it would involve a lot more than finding good bacon and fresh eggs. If I wanted to wait and pay for a breakfast experience, I want it to be something I really couldn't in any way shape or form do at home. Something crazy! Something more complicated than toast. Because really, Ando? Over-toasting toast is a problem for you? Really?

Ando: I mean Matt's isn't exactly doing rocket brain surgery in there: Good ingredients + perfect preparation + rational prices = Worth my time and money.

Here's the thing, though: I look at the price point and equivalent service here. Breakfast at Matt's will run you around $10. Sure, you have to shank someone to get seated, but the food is excellent and won't choke your wallet to death. If you'd gone to Denny's or, gods help you, Coco's, you'd probably be paying more and getting greasy crap at that.

The other point is that dining out is a luxury. By definition, that indicates some level of luxuriousness. If I am going to be eating breakfast outside the confines of my tiny apartment, it might as well be at a place like Matt's.

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Matt's Big Breakfast

825 N. 1st St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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19 comments
azbluesgal
azbluesgal

Actually the Athenian Express has a much better deal, and they offer fresh fruit in lieu of potatoes. There is a large law enforcement presence there some mornings, so you can feel safe while eating. it's not fancy, but the food is good, and rest rooms adequate. down side - closed on sundays..An even more kick ass place is Two Hippies on 7th ave in Melrose...six buck special bowl (custom scrambled eggs with six toppings on top of potatoes) will fill you up and make you smile. Jack is a wonderful host and the decor fits in that crazy Melrose 50's atmosphere.

Dominic Armato
Dominic Armato

"For the record, you're an unwashed heathen for ordering scrambled eggs."

Hold your tongue, dear Ando.

When you're talking real scrambled eggs, and not the BS broken omelets that pass for the same, whisked over low heat with a metric ton of butter until they just barely curdle, there's no finer treatment.

jliven23
jliven23

I went the first time not wanting to like it due to the line and the hype. It was outstanding. That said, I've been twice and think that will be about it. Great food and deserves the accolades, but what I'm looking for in breakfast I get somewhere like Jim's Coney Island Cafe in S. Scottsdale.

Katie
Katie

Matt's is worth the wait as Ando mention simple food done well. While there are many good real fast spots in PHX I don't know of any others that have as good of a ham steak, from The Pork Shop in Queen Creek. The time it woukd take you to go there yourself get your ham and go home and cook it alone is worth the wait at Matt's!

Adrienne
Adrienne

I love Matt's Big Breakfast but I am left wondering, "why does this restaurant get all of the glory?"

For breakfast, Over Easy Cafe is just as good (if not better), The Deuce serves up eggs and bacon that are every bit as bada&^% and Wy Knot Cafe has some unbelievable french toast. All of these places deserve to be the Phoenix go-to breakfast spot just as much as Matt's does.

How and why did Matt's get elected Student Body Breakfast President of Phoenix? (Guy Fieri – I am looking at you)

For that matter, I'd like to ask the same question of "Pizzeria Bianco." Is it more highly-praised just because it's been around longer than The Parlor or Humble Pie? Or is 'the wait' really something that people like (despite the fact they claim otherwise)...

Great article.

Cory Mingo
Cory Mingo

That's a simple question to answer about both of those restaurants. Pizzeria Bianco and Matt's are downtown. The media, landlords and ASu wants to built up downtown as a up and coming dining destination so that all those empty spaces are filled. I have personally never been to pizzeria Bianco but I think the palor has great pizza. There funghi and potato pizza is some of the best pie I have ever had. I bet if those restaurants were downtown they would good more run. It's about building up downtowns rep as an up and coming dining destination.

jliven23
jliven23

I often have that same conversation with people about Biancos pizza. For some people, there cannot be "equally enjoyable establishments." Everything needs to be ranked. I find that to be especially true with pizza and mexican (especially in Tucson on the mexican part).

Ando Muneno
Ando Muneno

Well in my case I went to school downtown but refused to pay for parking. I had to trek from my sketchy parking spot to school and past Matt's pretty much everyday. I don't think Matt's was quantifiably better than any of the fine establishments you mention it just was... convenient and good. 

Chris Cardinal
Chris Cardinal

I order their Five Spot with home fries about twice a week. I get it... TO GO. I know this is breakfast sacrilege to most, but I simply have never had as good an egg sandwich, OR potatoes. Yeah, I'm sure I could make it at home myself if I bought and kept amazing eggs, sauteed my own onions, had fresh rosemary for my potatoes, and finally convinced Erenia to tell me where they buy their damn bacon. But then I'd have a huge mess on my hands, I still wouldn't get it right, I'd have to make sure the bread isn't stale, and I'd have to cut and prep my own potatoes.

The Five Spot is that rare breakfast item that holds up for the 10 minute drive I make home with it. The eggs are fried so they don't turn horrible or anything, and the bread doesn't get soggy.

The wonderful thing about ordering take out is that I never have to wait, unless I'm meeting someone there. On those rare occasions, I just put my name down, swing over to the market, and wait for an appropriate amount of time in the air conditioning. (No longer an option, sadly.)

Matt's uses only exceptional ingredients. It matters, when you're dealing with standard breakfast staples. There's a reason your eggs aren't as good at Denny's or IHOP. There's a reason why most places totally screw up bacon, sending out tiny, grease-ridden slivers of shame. Matt's does it the best I've ever seen, and my 85 check-ins on Yelp probably attest to that.

Ando Muneno
Ando Muneno

And then you'd have all these extra ingredients right? Because you can't buy just a couple pieces of bacon (well you can if you go to whole foods and pay their premiums). So you're not buying one breakfast, you'll have to make like three of them, or figure out something else to do with all the crap you've bought. 

And then you'll get busy, and not be able to make breakfast, or do something with all that rosemary and by the time you look at everything again it'll be wilted, or slightly stale, or in the freezer or... whatever. Less than optimal. 

And then you'll end up at Matt's again ;)  At least that's my cycle. 

Chris Cardinal
Chris Cardinal

Right. I eat there a lot, but I definitely would be throwing tons of food out if I was trying to reproduce this at home. I mean, eggs keep for a long time, but bread and bacon and such, less so.

Cory Mingo
Cory Mingo

As someone who is in the industry, I love matts big breakfast. Best pancakes in the state. I am from the Seattle-Portland area and these type of small restaurants are where it is at. Matt's style is of a typical northwest family owned restaurant that typical chain restaurant diners don't understand. For me to be able to her the chef beating eggs with a fork in the stainless steal mixing bowl is a big plus for me. To know my bacon is cooked to order is a big plus for me. To know that the little amount of jam I get with my thick cut toast is home-made is a big plus for me. I dont put a price tag on freshness, quality or just doing simple things right. Keep up the good work. Jokingly, I hope this article makes some of you stay home and cook, so my kids and i can get a table without waiting. Love Matts.

Eric
Eric

No way, getting dressed and waiting in line so you can buy a $3 meal with an $8 side order of hype is ridiculous.

joe.distort
joe.distort

the wife and i are food nerds, and we have yet to successfully wait in line here. everytime we just go to one of the other great spots around town. theres no shortage of fantastic breakfast in phoenix!

Ando Muneno
Ando Muneno

I think the bigger problem with the wait is that it's so random. I've been there on like, a Tuesday at 9AM and there was a 40 minute wait. But then I come back the next day at the same time and I'm instantly seated. I'm assuming it's because they're small and attract groups (which is always slightly hilarious to me). 

Kristin Heggli
Kristin Heggli

Ha, very entertaining article! I don't mind waiting outside for Matt's, I just avoid it in the summer.

Hock
Hock

You're also forgetting about the social aspect.  Generally when eating at Matt's (or other breakfast joint) you are having a converation with a person sitting at your booth.  I may add, that it often isn't the person you wake up next to int he morning, but even if it is...it's a social event that can't be had sitting in your own kitchen.

Wayfaring Pilgrim
Wayfaring Pilgrim

In answer to your question, NO!  While Matt's Big Breakfast is good, it ain't worth getting out of your PJs for, let alone standing in line!  All for the honor of partaking in some down home grub in a funky little locally owned diner?  No thanks!

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