by Mitchell Hillman
Snooze is a regional chain of community minded restaurants intent on bringing you the best in breakfast foods while ensuring their place as a brunch hub in every city they roost. With five locations in the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix, Tempe, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Ahwatukee) they provide a refreshing take on breakfast within an easy drive for most of us. I don’t usually dig on chains, but it’s regional and I have to admit it’s become one of my favorite brunch locations in town. Why? Because the food is spectacular. If a chain does something right, if you feel fantastic every time you leave one of its locations, it seems to me that’s worth noting.
Snooze began in 2006 in Denver, Colorado when brothers Jon and Adam Schlegel were seeking to evolve the AM dining experience through culinary innovation, an eclectic and energetic atmosphere, and comfortable and friendly service. Since then they have spread to Arizona, California, Texas and oddly, one location in North Carolina. The amazing thing is that 13 years after their start and 38 locations under their belt they are legitimately sticking to the founding vision which is a stunning feat for any company with that much growth. They also give back to every community they operate in and have a sustainability program that’s simply impressive.
Enough about all that though, let’s talk about the real deal–the food. I’ve been going to Snooze for five years or so (maybe longer), and in that time I’ve tried nearly everything on the menu and some things that aren’t on the menu currently. Which is another fantastic aspect of this place–the menu changes seasonally. I’m a sucker for trying new things and with Snooze I know that trying something new is going to make my day and possibly my weekend. The last three times I’ve gone there I’ve tried something I’ve never seen on the menu before and each time I’ve been happily rewarded.
Snooze does several things stunningly. By that I mean, I’ve never seen any other place do it better or in such a unique way that it blows my mind. One of these things is Eggs Benedict–Snooze redefined what Eggs Benedict is in my mind, in my soul, and in my belly. They have six options going at any one time and they mix them up each season–the only thing that may limit you is how restrictive your diet is, but it runs the gamut from vegetarian to full on carnivore. Every choice ever has proven delicious. There are some staple choices that I’ve never seen go away. “Ham Benedict III” is the standard, the classic, and Snooze presents it with perfection: two cage-free poached eggs topping shaved hickory smoked ham on an English muffin with smoked cheddar hollandaise. If you’ve never tried their “Bennys” start here.
The other Benedict I’ve never seen stray from the menu is the “Bella! Bella! Benny” which features thin slices of prosciutto, Taleggio cheese, eggs on toasted ciabatta, topped with cream cheese hollandaise, balsamic glaze, and arugula–it is possibly the finest Benny every concocted by humanity. No Joke. My current favorite though is the perfect pick for ovo-lacto vegetarians, the “Smashed Avocado Benny” which features an English muffin topped with fresh smashed avocado and green chili, parmesan cheese, vine-ripened tomatoes, two poached cage-free eggs, smoked cheddar hollandaise, and everything spice. A note about the poached eggs, these are legitimate poached eggs–not some disc shaped poached eggs from a machine–hand poached with love. There are no wrong choices with their Bennys though and if you can’t decide, you can order a “Benny Duo” and get two different varieties on the same plate.
Another thing Snooze does stunningly is pancakes and French toast. I’m not even a big fan of either, but about every other visit I get some to go because they’re pretty much a dessert passing for an entree. I try to get some delicious protein in my system before caving to such delights as “Blueberry Danish Pancakes”, “Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes” or “OMG! French Toast” which is Brioche stuffed with mascarpone, griddled and topped with vanilla crème, salted caramel, fresh strawberries and toasted coconut–which is completely insane and insanely delicious. They have a unique flavor of the day pancake as well as regular pancakes, blueberry, and chocolate chip. Once more, if you are struck by option paralysis and can’t decide–get a Pancake Flight and choose any three flavors!
Other stunning selections can be found right at the top of their menu under the heading “Flavors From The Hen.” This is where your mixed bag breakfasts from standard fare to gourmet explorations can be found–and honestly, Snooze makes a 3 Egg Omelet a gustatory delight with their ample choices in fillings and perfection in preparation. Still, there are some unique dishes here that included the Breakfast Pot Pie which is homemade rosemary sausage gravy smothering a flaky puff pastry, topped with an egg any way you want and perfectly balanced with hash browns. It’s quite divine. The Breakfast Tacos are highly recommended whether as is, with eggs, hash browns, jack cheese, green chile hollandaise, and pico or customized with meat and veggie options.
My current favorite in this category is the “Morning Shakshuka” which is a Moroccan dish–and I love anything that’s inspired by North African cooking. When I saw it on the menu for the first time I had to have it–it was a moral imperative. It was also absolutely perfect–comparable to my own Moroccan tagine meals at home. Two eggs sunny side up smothered in a tomato and Harissa goulash, with Polidori Sausage, goat cheese, and fresh parsley all served on Za’atar oil brushed flatbread. Vegetarians are encouraged to order it without the sausage. Needless to say this international treat is culinary bliss in a bowl.
Their Sammies are pretty amazing as well, two in particular are particularly inspiring. The “Sandwich I Am” is a standard breakfast sandwich made magical by a soft pretzel roll and smoked cheddar hollandaise. It is, however, the “Havana Daydreaming” that is the culinary masterpiece in this category, featuring Free-range house pork, shaved ham, gruyere cheese, homemade pickles and a sunny side egg with cream cheese hollandaise and dijon mustard served up open-face on a hoagie roll. Absolute magic.
Someday I promise myself that I will choose something from the “Like A Feather” section, the super healthy portion of the menu, but there’s always something a little more tasty that get’s in my way. Still, looking at the menu now without the pressure of the moment, the “BRAVOcado Toast” and “Ooo La La Frittata” sound simply amazing. Topping the entire Snooze experience off in grand style is both an amazing Barista menu and a delicious selection of Morning Cocktails. Their selection of coffee, cold brew, and coffee drinks in tandem with some of the finest Bloodies and Mimosa in town make for a great way to start any day whether you’re a drinker or a coffee nut. I’ve been both and it’s like an amusement park for the mind really.
One word of caution, the only word of caution about Snooze–there will be a wait. I’ve never gone to Snooze where I didn’t have to wait 10-20 minutes for a table. I’ve also never had an experience there that wasn’t worth the wait. The food and the service is that great. So if you want an upgrade from IHOP or you want to take a break from your favorite local digs, check into Snooze, and I’m certain you’ll have a happy start to your day if you do.
For more info on Snooze including locations, check their website.