The worst job I ever had was working breakfasts in the deli department of a grocery chain’s South Parkway location. The shifts started at 5 a.m. As the new teenage summer hire, for the next three months all the crappiest tasks – slicing, washing, wiping, sweeping, garbage — were mine. Eventually, the menthol-inhaling deli manager also let me cook bacon and make biscuits for the steamtable, which, compared to cleaning the walk-in or scraping the grill, felt like winning a date with Debbie Gibson. But hey, I wanted afternoons and nights free, and the job funded fun after clocking out. We do what we gotta do.
MORE: Birmingham’s best breakfast: Our top 5
The point of this hairnet-hued memory: As tough as the restaurant business is — and later-on I worked everything from back-of-house to front-of-house, from sub-shop to fine-dining — the breakfast shift gets extra props. Enjoying a tasty breakfast dining out can energize the day or salve the night prior. But not without the hardworking folks who cook it, serve it, clean it up and do it all over again. It often may not be episode-of-Hulu-restaurant-drama-”The Bear”-sexy. But an everyman breakfast can be the best part of a person’s day. It’s an honorable thing, making that happen. Thank you.
Below are AL.com’s picks for top five breakfast places in Huntsville. As with every other best-this-or-that Huntsville food list I’ve been doing this summer, only local businesses are included. No chains. So, as enjoyable and vital their role in the breakfast universe can be, there’s no Waffle House, Another Broken Egg, etc. here. For this list, we also stuck to Huntsville addresses.
You may agree with all, some or none of the below picks. Whatever. The only best-Huntsville-breakfast-list that really matters is yours.
5. BUBBY’S DINER
8412 Whitesburg Drive S.E., facebook.com/bubbysdiner
In previous weeks this summer, we’ve highlighted local barbecue, pizza, burgers, ice cream, hot dogs, meat-and-threes and doughnuts. Thus far, there hasn’t been overlap in our picks. However, from here on out, there will be. By their downhome-cuisines nature, places good at meat-and-threes often do breakfast right too. For example, Bubby’s Diner. Despite its retro-kitsch motif, this south Huntsville treasure is refreshingly hipster free. Lots of seniors and lower/middle class families. The prices are fair and the value’s high. There’s an endearing neighborly vibe among Bubby’s customers. Bubby’s does a solid biz with their meat-and-three lunches, but Saturday at breakfast it’s packed. This particular morning, my table’s napkin dispenser was empty and the sweet server waiting on me was in the weeds. A guy at the next table noticed this, tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a few napkins from his table’s dispenser. Nice.
What to order: Anything that involves: a.) Bubby’s woodsy country ham, and/or b.) their dense-sumptuous biscuits and Catherine-Bach-kissed gravy.
4. HOUND AND HARVEST
2358 Whitesburg Drive, houndandharvest.com
Creative, healthy, progressive. Perhaps not the descriptors typically associated with a Southern breakfast, but Hound and Harvest flips that script. This new, dog-friendly and self-described “backyard bistro” has been killing it on lunch services with their fresh, flavorful tacos, bowls, salads and beyond. Housed in a former medical office (and more recently, original home of Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro), Hound and Harvest is a collabo between Garrett Hardee, founder of mobile vegan eatery Hippea Camper, and Kennan Tipton, who started Northside Coffee. Downtown stuff. Their breakfast hasn’t caught on quite as quickly as lunch but it’s just as boss. Plus, the staff works their collective asses off, and once fall arrives and temperatures (hopefully) drop below microwavable, the side patio and back lawn will become Huntsville honey holes. The prices are midrange, the portions substantial.
What to order: Yes, H&H’s breakfast includes incisor-centric offerings like the Brekkie Bake bowl (egg, bread, potato, Conecuh sausage, smoked ham, spinach, mushrooms, scallions, red pepper, jalapenos). But there’s special sorcery in the Hot Tamale Supreme bowl (plant-based chorizo and sour cream, black beans house-made salsa, pickled red onions, avocado crème). To some Huntsville diners, vegetarian/vegan is a pejorative. Get over it, Jethro. This is one soulful bowl. The kind of big breakfast you want to savor not scarf.
RELATED: New Huntsville bistro’s parking lot is always full for good reason
3. GOOD COMPANY CAFÉ
7500 Memorial Pkwy. S.W., goodcompany-cafe.com
Nestled within the brick-laced Main Street South Shopping Village, Good Company Café has only been around for five years or so. But its interior’s already comfy and charming as a cool aunt’s windchime bungalow. Out front, the umbrella-dotted patio is ideal for daytime dates and bestie conversations. And attention late risers: Good Company does their breakfast all day (or at least from morning to late afternoon). The amiable staff knows their stuff and will get you to your apex order.
What to order: The signature hit is the Dad’s Egg Sandwich (fried eggs, cheddar, bacon, garlic aioli, sourdough). But don’t sleep on the Breakfast Panini (fried eggs, bacon, feta, pesto, tomato, focaccia). Good Company bakes their own bread, in a space across the back breezeway, so the flavors and textures are vivid from front to back. And biscuits and gravy enthusiasts, GCC makes their gravy from bacon not sausage. Oh la f–ing la.
2. BLUE PLATE CAFÉ
3210 Governors Drive S.W., blueplatecafe.com
Blue Plate Café has been around for 20 years, but it seems longer, doesn’t it? Their South Parkway location didn’t pan out. Who cares? The Governors Drive mothership still prints its own money, packing ‘em in during their meat-and-three lunches and blue-collar breakfast. Every other local restauranteur would love to gaze into founder David Martin’s (other credits include Steak-Out, Rosie’s Cantina and Ted’s Bar-B-Q), culinary crystal ball.
What to order. Three words: Very Berry Pancakes.
1. THE STANDARD SOCIAL MARKET
127 Holmes Ave., thestandardhsv.com
The parking isn’t great. The prices aren’t cheap. But there’s no denying the awesomeness of Standard Social Market’s handcrafted breakfast offerings. If you’re looking for the very best Huntsville breakfast, in terms of quality and execution, welcome home. They also do la-di-da brunch stuff (avocado toast, blackened pork belly BLT,) and most-excellent lunch/dinner (a deft cheeseburger and possibly the city’s most bitchin’ shrimp and grits). Downtown Huntsville was sorely missing a local, must-do breakfast and, upon its 2021 opening, the Standard filled that void. Their coffee and service are on-point too. The Standard’s interior is sleek yet warm and devoid of riffraff.
What to order: The Old School Breakfast. A pregnant, zesty, house-ground sausage patty. Bacon that tastes like a Southern-rock guitar-solo sounds. Fried potatoes like your grandma would make if she was as cool as Helen Mirren, and two eggs how you want them. Plus biscuit or toast — but don’t be lame, do the biscuit.
RELATED: The new go-to breakfast in downtown Huntsville
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