By M.V. Moorhead
In our culture, some food dictums are gulped down obediently by those lifelong followers of The Breakfast Rules.
After all, didn’t Mom insist that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
Sure, people may eat and enjoy eggs, pancakes, French toast and cereal, but if you heard me recite any of those universal favorites on Family Feud (or whatever gameshow is at the top of the charts these days), you’d lump them into a single, incontrovertable category: Breakfast foods.
The pig, it turns out, is not in that category.
That noble creature has mouthwatering associations with lunch—the ham sandwich, for instance—and with dinner—pork chops and spare ribs, to name only a few.
That’s why Donnie Baxla wasn’t sure that “Oink” was the right name for the restaurant he was planning.
“We were always going to open a breakfast place,” recounts Baxla.
“The name Oink came up, and we sort of liked it, but we thought it sounded like a barbecue place.”
But eventually Baxla realized that the pig is every bit as central to our idea of breakfast, in the form of sausage links and sausage patties, ham alongside eggs or diced in omelets and, of course, bacon.
“We had five different kinds of bacon when we started,” says Baxla. “Now we have eight kinds.”
So Oink did indeed become the name of Baxla’s first breakfast joint that opened in 2011 on the edge of Paradise Valley Mall.
A Valley native whose family had run pizza restaurants, Baxla chose to try his hand at the breakfast trade because he preferred the hours.
The concept took off, and soon a second Oink, run by Baxla’s sister, opened in Tucson.
Now there’s a third little pig, in the shell of the departed Marcello’s eatery at the intersection of Warner and McClintock.
Gone are the dark piano bar trappings in favor of cheery green walls decorated with pictures of pigs imaginatively Crayoned by young diners.
Framed pictures of bespectacled pigs stare down without reproach from the walls. A big-screen TV offers the day’s news, in some cases happily drowned out by the bustle of customers interacting with friendly, enthusiastic young servers.
Baxla has even added a few tweaks to the menu.
“We added a Sunrise Benny: Hollandaise sauce with ranchero mixed in—all Southwestern.”
In honor of the new Oink’s location, says Baxla, “We’re also adding a Tempe Sunrise Omelet. That’s sauce on top of an omelet, with a chorizo patty.”
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., the place has so far been well received in its new home.
“Business has been good,” says Baxla with satisfaction. “Great corner; busy, good neighborhood. You could just tell it was going to be great.”
Oink can be found at 1701 E. Warner Road in Tempe.
For more information, go to oinkcafe.com or call 480-839-6465.
M.V. Moorhead, a longtime writer for Phoenix New Times, contributes regularly to Wrangler News.