Our Favorite Mom and Pop Restaurants
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Call them Mom and Pop restaurants, call them diners, call them greasy spoons. Whatever you call them, there’s something perpetually cool about eating in one. The contrast they offer to the uber-modern design in many Arizona restaurants is refreshing. Many of them offer comfort food, but even the ones with progressive menus have a vintage feel to them. I can’t say “best of” for this article because every time I walk in one, I walk out happy. Favorites here are chosen subjectively. Heck, what I think qualifies as a Mom & Pop spot may be different than what you think. All of these choices serve breakfast and lunch.
Original Breakfast House
Don’t let the recent renovations and update fool you. “OBH” is still kitschy and a throwback. Original Breakfast House is the very definition of what I have in mind when I say “Mom & Pop” joint. It’s hard to believe it is only coming up on five years serving great breakfast and lunch. Consistently good food, service that makes you feel like their favorite guest, and prices that aren’t insane. You know what is insane? The wait on the weekend. People can be lined up halfway across the parking lot, so plan accordingly.
For more info visit originalbreakfasthouse.com
Wood paneling, darkened from the days cigarette smoke stained every inch of a restaurant. Portion sizes that make you wonder if the eggs came from an ostrich. ASU students and Tempe residents have been hitting up Harlow’s Cafe for breakfast and lunch for over 30 years. If it seems much hasn’t changed at Harlow’s in that time – it probably hasn’t. And that’s ok with us because after a night on Mill, nothing gets us back functioning like Harlow’s.
For more info visit the Harlow’s Cafe facebook page
The Joy Bus Diner
The “youngest” entry on this list. The Joy Bus Diner serves great food AND does great things. It’s a non-profit restaurant that is making a difference in the community. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our video review below. If you have seen it, what are you waiting for? Get down there! Take it from Miguel, “It feels like a nice little Midwest diner”.
Check out our video review to see The Joy Bus Diner’s other offerings:
Visit The Joy Bus Diner directory listing for more info.
40th Street Cafe
East Coast people: ALERT! Pork roll breakfast sandwich! And it is every bit as good as the New Jersey diners you remember them from. I’m sure the other food is excellent as well. I wouldn’t know because I get the breakfast sandwich with Taylor Ham every single time. And for those of you not in the know, pork roll and Taylor Ham are the same thing.
For more info visit the 40th Street Cafe facebook page
JJ’s has a ginormous menu and all the times I’ve been there, I’ve never made a bad choice. When I lived in North Phoenix, I made the drive to JJ’s as often as possible. Now that I live only a couple miles away, you know I’m there regularly. The bagels are some of the best in the Valley, and some mornings you just crave a good bagel. Bonus points for all the New York sports memorabilia on the walls.
Check out our video review to see JJ’s Delicatessen’s other offerings:
Visit JJ’s Delicatessen directory listing for more info.
These places are throwbacks. Homegrown cookin’ that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. No scripted greeting or routine. You want the manager? Don’t look in an office. They’re probably on the floor or working the grill. With all the recent restaurant openings and closings, don’t lose sight of neighborhood gems like these. You’ll be sad if they’re gone, and they don’t make ‘em like they used to.
What are some of your favorite mom & pop restaurants to visit? Let us know in the comments.
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Find Tony Pontecorvo online at @disguyyy