Thursday, December 13, 2012

Forgoing Our First Choice, For First Watch

First Watch
3712 Henderson Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33609

This is another review of a place that we did not mean to go to, but ended up at anyway. We had it all set up that we would be having breakfast at Datz Tampa, but the wait for Datz was an hour and a half. I am sure it would have been pretty good, but that is an awful long time to wait, when you are hungry now. Plus, the parking situation was not the greatest at Datz. So, it was off to Yelp to help us find a breakfast place that might not have as long of a wait. After perusing the local area, we found First Watch.

The wait at First Watch was a more manageable twenty minutes. Not being from the area, we had no clue how this restaurant was going to be. The restaurant was very busy, so I thought this would be a sign that we could get a good breakfast here. Writing this post I learned that First Watch is a chain restaurant with over 100 locations spread across 15 states. They opened up shop in Pacific Grove, California in 1983, but left the West Coast three years later to base their business in Florida. This move must have worked for them, because their web site lists a bunch of restaurants that are coming soon. Our twenty minute wait was up, and I was more into the food that was coming soon to our table.

The vibe inside reminded me of a Coco's, or maybe a Corner Bakery with waiter service. The menu here is definitely breakfast focused. They do serve lunch, but you will not see a dinner option offered. All First Watch restaurants close at 2:30. Thus the reason for their nickname, the Daytime Cafe. I always thought this would be a good move for IHOP's to close their doors at 3, because how many people eat dinner at IHOP? That is another topic for another post, because right now it was breakfast time. Let's take a look at the food that was brought out to our table.

Anthony will start us off with his choice for breakfast, the Burrito Vera Cruz ($8.29). First Watch's take on a breakfast burrito combined scrambled eggs, chorizo, green chili's, onions, and jack and cheddar cheeses, wrapped in a wheat tortilla, then topped with a Vera Cruz sauce and sour cream. Anthony must have really enjoyed this burrito because it was gone within minutes. He said that the flavor of this burrito was milder than he is used to, but the ingredients tasted very fresh. This large burrito was served with a side of seasoned potatoes and fresh fruit.

Simple Sabrina went the very basic route with her breakfast. The Traditional ($6.99) comes with two eggs, any way that you want them, (Sabrina got them scrambled to match her brain!), choice of breakfast meat, seasoned potatoes, and an English muffin. This was all pretty standard breakfast food on this plate. Nothing that really stood out. I have decided that turkey sausage might be a healthier option, but I am not a big fan of it. The meat inside is too densely packed, and not enough fat, but I guess that is the whole point.

The menu at First Watch is of course really heavy on the egg dishes, and some of my favorite egg dishes in general are skillets. When I saw the Market Hash Skillet ($8.49) I knew that Katie would zero in on this choice. It has some of her favorite items included; two scrambled eggs, potato hash, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, red peppers, spinach, mozzarella and herbed goat cheese. I would have missed the breakfast meats with this one, but Katie really enjoyed this. She liked the cut up veggies and the unusual cheese choices on this skillet. She claims she would get this again.

Predictably I also had a skillet breakfast, but mine was of a more traditional variety. The Bacon and Onion Hash ($8.29) caught my attention when I first opened up the menu, so it was no contest I would be having that for breakfast. This hash included seasoned potatoes, bacon, roasted onions, jack and cheddar cheese, and two eggs, which I had sunny side up. This skillet was pretty good, not as flavorful as I thought it would be, but still had some punch to it. I would have liked to have had more cheese on this though.

Not that I did not have enough to eat with just the skillet, but I also ordered Two Chocolate Chip Pancakes ($4.59). I was a little worried when I ordered these because the pancakes at First Watch are listed on the menu as multi grain pancakes. To me that means healthy, but I had the chocolate chips ones to help counteract the healthiness. These pancakes were pretty good sized, and a little lighter than I expected. These pancakes were good, but I would have liked a few more chocolate chips in these. If I had not read that these were multi grain, I never would have known.

First Watch was an admirable fill in for our other breakfast place we were headed to, but nothing that rocked our world. The food was on par with Coco's, and definitely better than anything you could get at IHOP. The coffee drinkers at our table enjoyed that they put a whole pot of coffee on our table, to eliminate waiting for servers to refill the coffee mugs. Speaking of service, our waiter was very solid. He had a very cheery personality, and to prove what a small world it is, he used to live in Orange County. It was fun talking about our hometown with him. The next time we are in Tampa we will try to get to Datz earlier.

Out of five sunrises, (because First Watch is open right after the sun rises, but is never open when it sets), five being best, to zero being worst, First Watch gets 2.5 sunrises.

For more information about First Watch, click here:

First Watch on Urbanspoon

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