North Central News

A family tradition of Southern home cooking

By Marjorie Rice

Some kids are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. For Larry White Jr., substitute a fried chicken drumstick.

Larry “Lo-Lo” White Jr. continues to serve up his familyl’s traditional Southern home style cooking, with his own spin, at Brunch & Sip on Indian School Road (photo by Marjorie Rice).

His grandmother, Elizabeth White, started Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café in downtown Phoenix back in 1964, with a menu of traditional Southern soul food, and while she isn’t involved in the day-to-day operation (son Larry White Sr. owns the café now), she still is the matriarch and the spirit behind the family’s restaurant tradition.

Her grandson, Larry Jr., nicknamed Lo-Lo, is on the way to becoming something of a legend in his own right, serving up Southern fare at six Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles locations; Monroe’s Hot Chicken restaurants in Phoenix and Tempe; and most recently, Brunch & Sip at 39th Street and Indian School Road.

Brunch & Sip celebrates its second birthday on June 1, but the restaurant’s roots stretch back to the 1960s.

“My grandmother laid down the foundation when she moved to Phoenix in 1963 from Temple, Texas,” White said.

A year later she opened the Golden Rule Café. “She’s 99 and still as strong as an ox.”

Larry White Sr. started cooking there while he was still in elementary school, his son said, and it was natural for the next generation to follow suit.

“As soon as I was able to walk and talk, they put me right to work.”

His chicken and waffle restaurant concept grew up there as well.

“The Golden Rule Café was closed on weekends,” White said, and “she allowed me to showcase Lo-Lo’s chicken and waffles, earn extra income and see if the concept had legs. It took off and people started coming seven days a week, looking for the chicken and waffles, and I thought, ‘I think I’m on to something.’”

He certainly was. That was the first chicken and waffles restaurant in Arizona, and today, Lo-Lo’s has four locations in the Valley, as well as one in Grapevine, Tex., and Las Vegas.

“I was the first Nashville hot chicken restaurant in Arizona as well,” White said.

That’s Monroe’s Hot Chicken, featuring Nashville-style fried chicken — noted for hot sauce and cayenne in the coating and spice levels ranging from “hot” to “what the cluck.” It opened in 2019, and like all of White’s restaurants, the emphasis is food made from scratch on the premises — even the pickles.

“All of our hot pickles come in to us as cucumbers, and we slice them and brine them in house,” he said.

Then came Brunch & Sip.

Lo-Lo’s menu had grown too big for its kitchen, he said, “so we took the chicken sandwich off the menu and started Monroe’s and took the French toast and pancakes off the menu and started Brunch & Sip.”

Instead of waffles, the extensive and imaginative menu offers big, fluffy pancakes that are available gluten-free and vegan. They come with toppings such as peach cobbler, bananas foster, a lemon-ricotta-blueberry combo and strawberry cheesecake. Toppings change with the seasons and the chef’s imagination, so ask what’s available.

Standout brunch entrees at Brunch & Sip include chicken biscuit and peach cobbler topped pancakes (photo by Marjorie Rice).

Or try the pancakes and chicken, this with Louisiana hot maple glazed chicken wings with raspberry infused butter. That’s a customer favorite, White said, along with fried chicken biscuit — a buttermilk biscuit served with an omelet, topped with a fried chicken breast, smothered with turkey sausage gravy and topped with turkey bacon.

Or splurge on the “Epic Tableside Flambe” ($29), with pancakes, bananas foster and vanilla gelato prepared and flamed at your table. Banana bread French toast is available plain or with the same toppings as the pancakes.

And there’s a wide selection of brunch favorites, including shrimp and grits with lump crab meat and a Creole red sauce, short rib hash with eggs, and huevos ranchero; and a selection of “Benny’s” including crab cake with fried green tomatoes, lox on a croissant, and short rib with roasted sweet peppers on a croissant and herb-braised portobello with spinach — all with poached eggs and hollandaise.

Lunch items include Southwest chicken salad and a crab cake BLT served on ciabatta.

But this place is called Brunch & Sip, after all, and there are two pages of drinks on the menu that deserve attention. After all, what is brunch but an excuse to imbibe in bubbly and other libations early in the day?

“We have an amazing mixologist,” White said. “All of ours are hand-crafted cocktails, and they go well with all our menu items.”

There’s the usual sparkling wine, mimosas, bloody Marys and margaritas, but why stop there when you can sample from the “Bad & Boujee” list that includes a peach devil: Jack Daniels, brown sugar simple syrup, pomegranate liqueur, lemon juice, rose water, strawberry puree and rose champagne?

Or signature cocktails such as the jalapeño blossom with Patron Silver tequila, strawberry puree, lime and grapefruit juice, a rose float and sugar rim.

Or go big and splurge with the Frozen Cadi ($50) made with frozen 1942 Don Julio extra añejo tequila, fresh lime and a Grand Marnier float served in a recycled glass made from a 1942 bottle.

With this combination of food and drinks, “we knocked it out of the park,” White said. And they’re looking at possible additional locations, so stay tuned.

“This place is a day party — especially on the weekends. We bring in our DJ, we get the vibe going and it’s a party. You can come to Brunch & Sip, have a good time and get home before the sun goes down.

“We pride ourselves on customer service and no microwaves in any of our establishments. Everything that you’re going to get here is scratch-made, good home cooking. We don’t take any shortcuts.”

And customers must agree, because waits can stretch up to three hours on weekends. There are no reservations, so come early and bring a book.

Brunch & Sip, at 3950 E. Indian School Rd., is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday; and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday through Sunday. For more information, call 602-675-1459 or visit www.brunchnsip.com.

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