Bacon Unwrapped

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Matt's Big Breakfast (and BLTs)

There is a very small but very popular breakfast joint located on an unassuming corner just north of downtown Phoenix called Matt's Big Breakfast.

Matt's is not the kind of place you would just stumble upon. There is nothing else around that would give you reason to drive down this quiet downtown street. Across the street from the small brick house in which the restaurant is located are empty dirt lots. Next door is an interesting establishment called the Coronado Hotel that advertises a color TV in each room. Yet people flock to Matt's on a daily basis for what is probably the best breakfast in town, and it's one of the few restaurants in the state of Arizona where people are willing to stand outside in the 100 degree weather to wait 45 minutes for a table.

Yes, Matt's is that good (even if we Phoenicians are a bit insane).

I've been eating breakfast at Matt's for a few years now. The Big Breakfast experience is a Phoenix weekend ritual that I cherish, and it is about the only thing that gets me out of bed on a Saturday morning. The bright, cheery interior of the restaurant matches the happy, friendly disposition of the staff. Everything on the menu is made with the freshest of ingredients - most of which are produced locally - and the kitchen does not skimp on quality or quantity. I usually need a few hours to recover from the food coma that is a by-product of eating at Matt's, particularly if it's hot outside (and in Phoenix, it often is).

I usually order the Five Spot for breakfast, which is a sandwich on a roll with two eggs, two slices of thick cut bacon, and American cheese (onions are optional). It is very simply executed, and there is no better way to start the day than with this hearty sandwich served with a side of crispy hashbrowns. The thick cut bacon is scrumptious - it is cooked to a perfect texture of being neither too crispy nor too chewy. Which is perfect for eating on sandwiches or on its own. Matt gets the bacon from The Pork Shop, which is located about an hour east of downtown Phoenix in Queen Creek (a suburb that my friends and I lovingly refer to as New Mexico given that it is technically located in the Phoenix metro area, yet it is halfway to The Land of Enchantment).

I have to admit that I actually just learned about The Pork Shop for the first time this week, even though I've lived in Phoenix for over 10 years. Given my porcine obsession, I'm honestly embarrassed to confess that I had never heard of this place. But I'm planning to take a road trip out there later this week to rectify the situation (and trust me, you'll hear all about it).

So breakfast at Matt's is pretty awesome. But even though you wouldn't know it from the name of the restaurant, they also serve lunch. I've had countless breakfasts at Matt's, but I had actually never been there for lunch until this past weekend. And I didn't even need to open the menu when we sat down at the table - I already had my mind on the BLT.

I've been having good luck with BLTs recently. A couple weeks ago I wrote about a BLT made with caramelized bacon that I had at Brick 29 in my hometown of Nampa, Idaho, a sandwich I declared to be one of the top 3 BLTs I've ever consumed. And the BLT at Matt's Big Breakfast is right up there at the top of that same list. The thick cut bacon is the same hearty bacon they serve for breakfast, so that part of the sandwich alone is worthy of top honors (I really can't wait to go to The Pork Shop...I'm kicking myself for being so ignorant about its existence). But besides the bacon, what really makes Matt's BLT noteworthy is the bread. The strips of bacon snuggle with juicy tomato slices and crispy lettuce, all nestled between two thick slices of toasted country bread dressed with mayo. The bread is so soft and fresh and does a spectacular job of bringing all the ingredients together into one delicious sandwich.

(Sorry about the crappy photo of the BLT, by the way...I only had my camera phone with me.)

Matt's Big Breakfast is one of those not-so-well-kept secrets about downtown Phoenix that I hesitate to tell anyone else about, lest it means I have to stand outside in the 100 degree weather for an additional 15 minutes to wait for a table. But as the number of residents in downtown Phoenix continues to grow, so does Matt's popularity - and rightfully so. I guess I'll just have to start getting out of bed a little earlier on weekends.

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