By Jacki Mieler | Photo by Paul Markow
The sign out front declares it “The House That Chilaquiles Built,” and judging by the hungry masses waiting patiently outside, you’ll at once know this is a house you want to enter. If a restaurant can define a community, then MartAnne’s sums up Flagstaff in a nutshell: colorful, generous and a little bit spicy.
Anne Martinez bought the restaurant after waiting tables across the street for 15 years. She inherited a clientele hungry for a hearty Mexican breakfast, but the most important person in her new venture literally came with the building. Ms. Alice had worked in that very spot since the 1960s and passed down many of the recipes that Martinez still uses today.
Ms. Alice’s legacy lives on through the pork green chile, among the many Mexican dishes Martinez turns out every day in generous portions. That location, on San Francisco Street, closed in 2012, but Martinez reopened Martanne’s a block away at a larger location.
“If I didn’t cook it, you didn’t eat here,” says Martinez. “If I’m not here, we’re closed.”
MartAnne’s does serve lunch, but one look at the all-day breakfast menu will have you throwing caution to the culinary wind and ordering eggs at noon. The legendary chilaquiles start with fried corn tortillas layered with scrambled eggs, cheese, onions and a choice between green-tomatillo- and red-chile sauce. Add tender pork green chile and you have the Fratelliquiles, named after the brothers who own Flagstaff’s Fratelli Pizza.
The ingredients are always the same, but the dish named after Martinez’s on-again, off-again boyfriend Jerry evolves along with their relationship. Even though it’s currently called Jerry el Mujeriego, or Jerry the Womanizer, the creamy pork green-chile enchilada topped with eggs will make you beg her to take him back.
The deep flavors of the red and green sauces are best sopped up with the warm tortilla and homemade hash browns, rice and beans that accompany breakfast. Venture into the lunch menu and you’ll be rewarded with a rich, spicy green posole.
If you can take your eyes off the food, you’ll notice the walls adorned with Mexican calavera, or Dia de los Muertos-inspired skull paintings. Artist Emma Gardner has worked with Martinez since the beginning, and now sells the paintings, which were originally hung to liven up the restaurant.
Don’t be deterred by the crowd that gathers outside MartAnne’s nearly every morning. The regulars will tell you there is no list; you just have to wait your turn. So, embrace the inevitable wait, grab a cup of coffee from a nearby shop, and savor a little bit of Flagstaff until it’s your turn to step inside “The House.”
MartAnne's is located at 112 E. Historic Route 66 in Flagstaff. For more information, call 928-773-4701.