After I walked back to downtown Austin, I caught up with Travis McFetridge, and he and his friend wanted to check out the rapper Danny Brown who was performing at the Red Bull Sound Select stage at The Belmont, so I agreed to go with them. I had heard of Danny Brown but never actually heard any of his music, and he wasn’t bad. I had fortunately gotten press credentials, so I was able to take some pictures of his performance, and the stage was outdoors in a courtyard, and was very cool indeed. We left about 2 AM and headed over to 24 Diner, which was a lot more crowded than I had expected. Getting our food took quite awhile, and I didn’t get back to the hotel room until 4 AM. But it was the best way to end my year at SXSW- a good breakfast with friends.
I had left my car in East Austin, so after the Kool & Together show, I had a fairly long walk to my car, which was at the Carver Community Center. By now, I was a dead tired, but it was the satisfied kind of tired, so when I had driven out toward my hotel in Cedar Park, I stopped at the 24-hour Kerbey Lane Cafe out on Highway 183 for a midnight breakfast. While I was there, ferocious winds came up, and the weather became not merely cool but downright chilly.
As I have said on previous occasions, during South By Southwest (SXSW) eveyone ends up at 24 Diner sooner or later. It’s strategically located for one thing, directly next to arguably Austin’s best record shop, Waterloo Records. For another, it never closes, the prices are reasonable and the food very good indeed. The 24 Diner is sort of a diner, and has American comfort food, as one would expect a diner to, but it presents its menu with a chef-inspired New America twist, and also has a wine list and craft beers. A visit to 24 Diner for breakfast is perhaps the best way to start a day at South By Southwest. Afterwards, stroll next door to Waterloo Records for an hour or more of record-hunting pleasure. New CD’s, used CD’s, vinyl, DVD’s, books, Waterloo has them all, with great selection even in the hard-to-find genres like avant-garde jazz. Nobody should leave Austin without at least one visit.
My homeboy Darren is the bass drummer for the awesome TBC Brass Band, so when he suggested that we grab a breakfast on the West Bank, I was eager, except that I had never spent much time in Algiers, and didn’t know much of what was over there. Fortunately, Yelp suggested a place called Tout de Suite, which proved to be one of those cool corner breakfast cafes in a quiet neighborhood called Algiers Point. It’s mostly a coffee bar, but you can get omelettes or traditional breakfasts with bacon and eggs, and the environment is relaxing and comfortable. After breakfast, we strolled around the vicinity, taking pictures of the kind of really cool buildings that pop up only in New Orleans neighborhoods. Especially cool were the boarded-up Rita’s Bar which had once been the home of the Mohawk Hunters, one of the Black Indian gangs of New Orleans, and the Manicure Record Shop, home of the Westbank Steppers, one of the social aid and pleasure clubs.
McElroy’s Seafood used to be called McElroy’s Harbor House, but that was back when the restaurant was in Biloxi, right by the Small Craft Harbor on the mainland across from Deer Island. It had a great reputation for seafood then, but hurricanes have not been kind to the venerable old restaurant, and when Hurricane Katrina destroyed the building, the restaurant relocated across the rebuilt bridge to the arts community of Ocean Springs. In many ways, the move was for the best, because the new location, very near the site of the original French settlement of Biloxi, backs up to Indian Bayou, with lovely water views through the big picture windows. I’m reliably told the seafood is as good as ever, but the surprise here is breakfast. Amazing breakfast, I might add. Nothing too unusual, pretty much the standard omelettes, bacon and eggs, yet delicious, accompanied by the water views mentioned above, and also with one unique coastal addition to the menu, New Orleans-style beignets, which are hard to resist, even after an omelette. And now McElroy’s has reopened in Biloxi at their former location, high off the ground in case of another hurricane. Either location is worth checking out for lunch, dinner or even breakfast.
I had been to Emory Village’s Rise-N-Dine once before, but it had been many years ago, so I was ready to go back. On my last visit, the coffee of the day had been Ethiopian Yergacheffe, and it was at Rise-N-Dine that I first learned to love that coffee’s unique citrus notes. On this morning, the coffee was equally good, and although there was quite a crowd, I didn’t have much of a wait to sit at the bar. The atmosphere is cheerful, and Rise-N-Dine has all the usual assortment of breakfast foods, including omelettes, which are always my favorite. Food portions are generous, and priced reasonably. Like most Atlanta breakfast restaurants, Rise-N-Dine is open only for breakfast and lunch, and seating and parking are limited, so getting there early is advised.
1565 N Decatur Rd
Atlanta, GA 30307
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At least that’s what our parents said, and many health experts seem to agree. Certainly it’s the most enjoyable, and that’s even much more the case when you find a brunch restaurant as good as North Atlanta’s Buttermilk Kitchen. The Buttermilk Kitchen is a breakfast and lunch concept from Chef Suzanne Vizethann, who is well-known in Atlanta food circles, and who won a contest on the Food Network. It’s not hard to tell why, because the Buttermilk Kitchen is a restaurant of perfection, from the food, to the furnishings, to the bright, sunny feel of the place. Even the most basic menu choices, like bacon, eggs and a biscuit, are clearly prepared with love and attention to detail, and the freshly brewed coffee is truly amazing. My friend Fort Knox met me there, and was also pleased. Normally, Buttermilk Kitchen is not open at night, although they do occasionally open at night for special events, including “fried chicken nights.” I’ve also been told that their lunch burgers are amazing. They are closed on Mondays, open on Tuesday through Saturday from 8 AM to 2 PM, and stay open an hour later on Sundays.
One of the absolutely coolest things about New Orleans is that you often stumble across restaurants tucked away on obscure corners deep in residential neighborhoods away from the beaten path. These usually prove to be awesome, and for some reason, they often serve breakfast. Such is the case with Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe, a neighborhood restaurant in Uptown New Orleans a couple of blocks off of Carrollton Avenue. It’s not the easiest place to find, but well worth the effort, as it has some of the best breakfasts in the Crescent City. There’s nothing particularly unique or trendy about it, as for the most part the breakfast items are standard fare, but the food is great, the service attentive, and the bright surroundings pleasant. My Triple Play omelette was Riccobono’s take on an omelette that is common on New Orleans menus, uncommon elsewhere, an omelette made with bacon, sausage and ham. This one was decent sized, loaded with meat and cheese, and with a slightly spicy kick from the sausage. The Panola Street Cafe is also open for lunch, and has burgers, which I haven’t tried yet. But for breakfast, set your GPS to the location and find it. You may have to park a block away and walk, which you also shouldn’t mind, as the neighborhood is pleasant and attractive. It’s worth the extra effort.
Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe
7801 Panola St
New Orleans, LA 70118
Open 7AM-2PM Daily
I’ve discussed the great breakfasts at Surrey’s Uptown Juice Bar in New Orleans before, but what caught my attention on this particular day was a humorous piece of artwork on the wall depicting a rooster with the legend “9th Ward Poultry” and slogans such as “I’m a bad MF, Ya Heard Me” and “What you lookin’ at, fool?” As it turns out, feral roosters really have been a problem throughout New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, and particularly in the 9th Ward, so this apparently is the inspiration for this amusing piece of art.