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Stop by Joe’s Dinner for the best pancakes in Phoenix. Or as the Fonz aka Henry Winkler calls them “pancakes from Heaven.”
When traveling I seek the local spots for meals. Mom and pop shops are my favorite. Especially for breakfast.
You gotta love a locally owned business who’s fighting the Titans with their $1 menus to stay alive. That’s why I made a point to visit Joe’s Dinner during my trip to Arizona.
Joe’s Dinner: Best Pancakes in Phoenix
Joe’s Dinner, where people come to Joe’s for the pancakes.
But it’s more about the sense of community. A hometown feel.
Joe’s Diner is the local watering hole. The breakfast water cooler of sorts.
Where you go to find out the latest news about your town. Or enjoy a morning with friends, chatting over a cup of coffee.
It’s not the typical place you’d expect an Emmy Award-winning actor to seek out. Nor a tourist.
But that’s where I found myself shortly after arriving in Phoenix.
Sitting in a booth near the jukebox, listening to the conversations around me, and enjoying a simple breakfast.
But I wasn’t here for the pancakes.
Cash Back or Miles
When I choose to eat at Joe’s Diner, I didn’t know that the owner, Joe Seriale was a classically trained chef. Nor that he had cooked at the Fairmont San Francisco and the Boulders Resort & Spa.
And I had no idea that they served the best pancakes.
I came because I wanted cash back.
Joe’s Diner is part of Yelp’s Cash Back program. A free program that gives you up to 10% cash back at participating businesses.
When you eat at Joe’s Diner you get 5% cash back.
Free money is good money.
Pro-tip: Joe’s Diner is also part of the iDine network. So you can earn miles in whatever program you’ve chosen to link your credit card.
But you can not double dip Yelp Cash Back and iDine. You used to be able to and get cash back and miles! But Yelp figured it out.
Now you have to choose one. Choose wisely: cash back or miles.
Unlike a modern hipster diner trying to be retro, Joe’s Diner is the real thing.
A Rowe AMI jukebox machine sits against one wall silent, unplayed. Possibly forgotten. A reminder of what once was and is no longer.
It’s a seat yourself type of establishment.
Choose from a red or green vinyl booth or a nondescript table with stacking chairs, the type you’d see at church or school.
Laminated faux woodgrain tabletops featuring business cards and ads from local businesses.
Old gas station signs and photos reminiscent of a day long ago.
It’s quiet. There’s no music or TV. You can have a conversation and hear the conversations of others.
One waitress running the restaurant, taking orders and busing tables. The way it used to be before big corporations and their franchises rolled in.
Regulars sit in the same booth every day. Men talking about golf, AA meetings, and Bible study.
Where it’s not uncommon for heated argument between family members. Mother against daughter.
Resulting in them leaving the restaurant. But only for a few minutes and then coming back to order their food and enjoy their breakfast in a state of detente. Cold stares across the table. Soundless except for the clattering of silverware against plates.
People tend to linger and hang out. A cup of coffee can last for hours.
Joe’s Diner is a great spot for people watching (or listening). It’s a microcosm of America.
Homemade and Local
The food at Joe’s Diner is homemade from scratch. Scratch meaning starting from nothing. You won’t find a bag of Krusteaz’s or Bisquick pancake mix in the kitchen.
Jams, jellies, biscuits, gravy, croissants, pastries, and of course, their pancakes are made at Joe’s Diner.
Fun tip: They sell 3,000 pancakes a month. Twice a day they make pancake batter and three times on Sundays.
They make every effort to source and use local ingredients. Their flour, coffee, cream, honey, and chorizo are all produced in Arizona.
Despite being a diner, prices were high. Higher than I had expected. This was Phoenix, not San Diego.
An $11 meat and cheese omelet? A $10 breakfast burrito? Visions of saving money no longer danced in my head.
Sure I was going to earn 5% cash back but I still wanted to save money.
The best value items are the:
- Pancakes – $4.79 for a short stack or $5.79 for a three stack
- Waffles – $5.99 topped with strawberries and whipped cream
- French Toast – $5.99
- Biscuits and Gravy – $4.49
Waffles are my go to. But today I wasn’t in the mood for carbs. I wanted protein.
Something light and not too heavy to tide me over for the two-hour drive to Sedona.
The two eggs special comes with seasoned homemade potatoes and choice of toast or biscuit for $7.99.
Pro-tip: Order the two egg special separately a la carte from the sides menu and save $0.22.
But my hips didn’t need the potatoes so I ordered an egg and toast for $3.98, not including tax.
My over-medium egg was over easy. But the toast. Oh, the toast.
I love a good hearty piece of bread, especially wheat or a multi-grain bread. Gluten all the way baby!
The thick slices of bread were almost twice the size of a standard slice. The only bummer. It came pre-buttered, perhaps margarine or ghee.
But I’d order it again, specifying to leave off butter. And send back the over easy egg.
4515 N 7th. Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85013
According to Henry Winkler, Joe’s Diner serves “pancakes from Heaven.”
A restaurant whose decor time forgot but the menu prices didn’t. Where locals meet over coffee and families feel at home.
Where from scratch is the standard and it’s okay if you linger at your table.
And you can earn your choice of cash back or miles. The perfect spot for a travel hacker meetup. Oh, did I mention, it’s near a Walmart and Office Max.
I’m looking forward to eating at Joe’s Diner again. Next time I’ll try waffles or pancakes.
Where was your favorite mom and pop breakfast shop?
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