Richmond is in the Cultural South–the capital of the Confederacy, a group of states that fought to protect their right to work hard and maintain their thriving rural economy without Federal impediment forcing taxes down their throats and taking away their right to own guns or people. With this focus on hard work and farming came the necessity to wake early and tend to the fields of tobacco or peanuts or cotton–pick your poison. And you can’t work on an empty stomach, right?
Right! First, you must fill your gullet with delicious butter-soaked biscuits, grits, sausage gravy, bacon and a short stack. Then, go outside and sweat. Seems counter-intuitive, but what do I know.
Richmond does not lack in the breakfast-food department and like New York has their Greek Diners, Richmond has its fair share of Southern “Hi-Honey!-What-Can-I-Getcha-Darlin'” Diners. For days when a jog–or any movement for that matter–isn’t in the plans, I love a good southern breakfast or even better, a sunday brunch.
So within the city limits, what do we have in the way of good ole’ diners where the locals eat?
Plenty. First stop on the butter tour is Perly’s on Grace Street, downtown. Perly’s serves up a full breakfast menu with items like eggs and country ham and western omelets. Never-ending coffee and attentive service in a great atmosphere, Perly’s feels like a relic of another time.
If you’re in the Fan, try City Diner. Formerly Karen’s, City Diner is a fast-paced butter palace that will get you anything from simple toast and jam to fried steaks to the red herring special. The wait staff rivals only the syrup on the table in sweetness and your order is ready in about 10 minutes, cooked at the bar in front of you even with the daily procession of patrons spilling onto Broad street.
I just sent a friend visiting from Belgium to both City Diner and Perly’s for breakfast on back to back days and he couldn’t eat for the rest of the day so be conscious of “the eyes are bigger than the stomach.” With that disclaimer, it was a great example of what the South is all about in the morning.
If its Sunday, you have a great opportunity to cripple yourself with too much heavy food and drink alcohol before noon at Sunday brunch in town. Brunch in the city is generally more upscale and even heavier than a normal Richmond breakfast.
(At this point, I have to pat myself on the back. I’ve only mentioned Comfort on Broad Street once since I started writing in this blog despite it being my go-to place for lunch or dinner and even just dessert and coffee but unfortunately, that streak is over thanks to the unbeatable brunch menu at Comfort.)
Still the same comfortable place with the same great attention to every buttery detail, Comfort on Sundays serves up brunch specials like my favorite: Two poached eggs on fresh biscuits smothered in warm asparagus and crawfish hollandaise sauce. Oh momma! Couple that with a coffee and a mimosa and you’ll be gently cradled into a post-meal Sunday coma that’ll bore even the house cat.
Other than Comfort, Millie’s at the foot of Church Hill on Main Street and 26th offers brunch Saturday and Sundays.
Cramped and noisy with a line out the door, Millie’s is a perfect place to eat something delicious like an Andoullie sausage omelet or scrambled eggs with lobster and bacon. Just don’t tell your cardiologist where you’ve been. Pair that with a bloody mary and you’re in business–and out of commission until the afternoon.
I know that I’ve missed plenty of great places to eat in the morning like the Boathouse at Rocketts Landing for Sunday Brunch or the Dairy Bar for every morning, but really I can only eat a “real” breakfast so many times in a week. Besides, as the moral of every story goes, we can keep up with the big boys of cuisine here in Richmond.