Upscale Valley restaurants solve the riddle of the griddle.
6960 E. First St., Scottsdale, 480-878-4172, alocafeaz.com
We’re calling it: Waffle mania has arrived. Two new waffle food trucks roam Valley streets; a new sandwich shop in the West Valley substitutes waffles for bread, cradling everything from beef patties to peanut butter and jelly; and chicken and waffles are a menu staple on a sizable flock of high and lowbrow restaurant menus. We get it – what’s not to love about the deep-pocketed, sexy cousin of the pancake? For chefs, it’s a blank canvas ready for ironing out inspired creations. Take the Waffle Cristo (pictured) at the cracker-box-size Alo Café, hidden deep in Old Town Scottsdale. A riff on that most classic of fried sandwiches, the Monte Cristo, it starts with a from-scratch golden Belgian waffle topped with griddled ham and turkey and a thin layer of melted Swiss. The crowning glory is a fried egg and triple berry (blueberry, raspberry and strawberry) jam. ($10.75)
2245 N. 12th St., Phoenix,
Back in 2008 – the year Tuck Shop opened – chicken and waffles as a dish was scarce in the Valley, save for the one pioneered by Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles. Instead of copying the sweet-and-savory formula, owner DJ Fernandes opened with a savory waffle and stuck with it. It’s our favorite rendition. Citrus-brined chicken, deep-fried to a mahogany brown, sits off to the side of a stacked cheddar cheese waffle, separated by gingery grilled green beans. Instead of an airy, crisp waffle, this one is soft and spongy and oh so good. And there’s no maple syrup in sight. ($20)
2201 E. Camelback Rd.,
Salty, earthy red miso is an umami flavor bomb used extensively in savory Asian dishes. Leave it to Chef Bernie Kantak to stretch your imagination – and amuse your palate – with a butter-whipped waffle gilded with brown sugar. And not just any waffle. Kentak’s is feathery light and crisp, thanks to a combination of rice flour and a gluten-free flour blend, plus a flash dunk in a deep fryer. Topped with ginger-marinated pineapple and a dollop of whipped cream, this mind-blowing beauty is available at lunch and Sunday brunch. ($10)