Phoenix Hike and Brunch: Duza's and South Mountain

 Crab shrimp Benedict with tomatoes

Crab shrimp Benedict with tomatoes

Tucked away in the historic Coronado neighborhood near downtown Phoenix is a charming little restaurant called Duza's Kitchen. I love introducing people to the place, as a former boss introduced me to it. Whoever I take leaves impressed and wanting to return, just like I do.

Duza's Kitchen sits inconspicuously, blending in with the surrounding houses, on the corner of 12th and Oak. They've transformed what used to be a back yard into a fenced-in seating area that makes a lovely spot to eat when we're not having record-breaking temperatures.

Entering from the patio takes you through the back of the L-shaped restaurant, down a hallway split between a walkway and a tiny open kitchen, before opening up into a crowded seating area. Inside the little restaurant is just as cozy and eclectic as its patio, with vibrant artwork filling gaps in the walls and a display case of fruit-infused waters, craft colas, and tempting pastries (I strongly recommend the lemon bars).

Their menu is the perfect size, featuring enough breakfast and lunch options to make anyone happy. What sets Duza's Kitchen apart is the chefs—they really put heart into what they're making. They have a passion for food and it shows. I've been impressed with every meal I've ordered (and bites I've stolen off family's plates). I also love ordering their specialty coffees because they come in cups the size of your hand, which makes my day. More places need to get on board with that.

Duza's has become my go-to brunch place. It's hard to find a place you can count on to consistently give good service and great food, but I've found that at Duza's. I always walk out the door wondering who I can take there next.

Hike: South Mountain

South Mountain is pretty close to Duza's Kitchen and it's one of my favorite places to hike. Whether you're looking for an afternoon stroll or a challenging weekend hike—South Mountain can accommodate.

For a moderate hike, Dobbins Lookout via the Holbert Trail is a great one. You'll end up looking out over all of Phoenix. The Mormon Trail is a nice (not too challenging) hike that brings you to a thin rock pass ironically named Fat Man's Pass. The Pima Canyon Trail is an easy hike on the Ahwatukee side that I love doing in the afternoon to watch the sun set over the city.

No matter what trail you hike, you'll be sure to get fantastic views and work up an appetite for brunch at Duza's.