April 2012 - Breakfast Joints Where Everyone Knows Your Name
Driving North or South along the US East Coast?



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Nothing prepares you for a long day on the road better than a scrumptious hearty breakfast. You do not have to grab a cookie cutter chain egg when you have the option of eating in a local breakfast joint - you just have to know where to find them. Not only is the food fab, but when traveling, it is ever so nice to absorb the spirit of the neighborhood when you can immerse yourself in their morning gossip.

The first 2 joints below are so close, only 7.5 miles apart, but we couldn't decide which to include, so we're letting you make the hard choice.

CT -

Smackdown - Nick's Luncheonette / The Corner Restaurant

VA - Military Meals
NJ - Reserved Seating
SC - Catfish and Eggs
RI -
Jimme Gimme

CT - Smackdown - Nick's Luncheonette / The Corner Restaurant

Exit 44: Nick's Luncheonette - Some towns are lucky enough to have a friendly hangout where all the locals go to chow down. Nick's is that kind of place, with a buzzing, hopping, elbow-to-elbow party going on. Your basic breakfast and lunch menu is there, but they do get creative too, and offer delicious Reese's pieces or banana pancakes, a Greek omelette and kielbasa or grilled pastrami and eggs. Do not miss their home fried potatoes - take some to go, if you have no time to stop and eat. Hours: M-F 5-3, Sat 5-1:30, Sun 5-1:30. 423 First Ave., West Haven. Tel: 203-937-9036.

Exit 37: The Corner Restaurant - It is rare to find a gourmet brunch spot, and this one, around 15 years with its friendly service and decorated with collectibles, gets high marks. We could hardly make a choice amongst the crispy goat cheese over grilled tomato on an English muffin with poached eggs and Bernaise sauce, or pan seared crab cakes or African hash made of zesty beef with lentils on top. There's spiced Indian pulled duck with bacon in a tortilla with scrambled eggs or the shareable trio of strawberry banana french toast, apple cinnamon raisin and cream cheese stuffed toast - and - a slice of their "tres leche" cake soaked in sweet cream and topped with strawberries. We need to go back here often. Hours: M-F 7:30-2:30, Sat & Sun 7-12:30. 105 River St., Milford. Tel: 203-882-1150.

VA - Military Meals


Exit 152: Harold & Cathy's Dumfries Cafe - After 42 years cooking consistently for the military and 21 years here, 84-year-young Harold is used to not changing much on his menu - and that’s the way the locals like it. His 3 daughters running it don't mind if you personalize your order, though.

The diner is a throwback to the 50's, so expect to find chattering folks and local cops chowing down on the popular breakfast biscuits with homemade sausage gravy (peppery yummy), home fries, corn beef hash, scrapple, hot cakes and french toast.

Lunches are hot (Philly cheese steak, corned beef, fish cakes) or cold (chicken salad, BLT, club sandwich, Cobb salad) with set daily specials. The soups of the day are homemade and hearty. We devoured the Thursday creamy potato one, thick and rich with real bacon bits on top, and locals enjoy the beef with vegetables. Hours: Daily 7-2. 17670 Fraley Blvd., Dumfries. Tel: 703-441-1465.

NJ - Reserved Seating


Exit 8A: Teddy's - You can find the regulars on their designated stools each morn creating the day's verbal newspaper. The rest of the townies are being served by 18-year veteran Donna or Teddy's wife (on Mon, Wed, Thurs nights). They're chowing down on the eggs, real home fries with scrapple, creamed chipped beef or the local favorite - pork roll.

Lunch brings on a meat loaf sandwich, liverwurst, pot roast, cabbage rolls, Reuben, tuna stuffed tomato or the triple deckers. Teddy was here for 60 years, and regulars still "sit with him" on the memorial bench outside. Hours: M-W 5am-7pm, Th & F 5-8, Sat 5-2, Sun 5-noon. 49 Main St., Cranbury. Tel: 609-655-3120.

SC - Catfish and Eggs

Exit 57: Olde House Cafe - This little diner, with its rockers on the porch, has been open for 23 years - with the same cooks all that time. They're open for breakfast, with country or smoked sausages, omelets and waffles, and this being low country - shrimps, catfish and seafood too.

They’ve been dishing out lunch or dinner buffets ($8.50 or $10.50 with seafood on F&S nights), which might have fried chicken, mac and cheese, BBQ & hash, chicken or pork perlo (cut up over rice), catfish stew, country fried steak, pork strips, fried squash, greens, etc. Besides the buffet, the locals love the smothered chicken breast (mushrooms, onions, peppers, cheese), the house salad (ham, tomatoes, eggs, almonds, hot bacon, honey-mustard dressing), fried green tomatoes and the sweet potato fries. Wash it all down with an old-fashioned milk shake. Hours: M-Sat 6:30-9, Sun 6:30-3. 1274 Bells Hwy (Rte. 64), Walterboro. Tel: 843-538-2614.

RI - Jimme Gimme

Exit 27: Modern Diner - This Sterling Streamliner opened in 1941. What's cute about the menu here is that it is schizophrenic - the oldsters can still have their classic menu, featuring their famous "Jimme Gimme" (2 poached eggs on an English muffin with sliced tomatoes, topped with melted cheese and bacon), while the youngsters trek in for the modern twist on it: "Eggs St. Nick" (2 poached eggs with fried onions and leeks set in a potato skin).

Daily lunch specials (meat loaf, liver & onions, fresh burgers) remain the same, but brunch on the weekends might bring butterscotch almond coconut pancakes, custard French toast with Kentucky bourbon sauce or lobster Benedict. Hours: M-Sat 6-2, Sun 7-2. 364 East Ave., Pawtucket. Tel: 401-726-8390.

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