Wanting to try something different for breakfast on a Sunday morning in New Orleans, I headed to a place called Wakin’ Bakin’ on Banks Street in a neighborhood called Mid City. This was a part of New Orleans that I had never seen before, and there actually proved to be several legendary breakfast spots in the area. In addition to the one I chose, there was also a placed called Biscuits and Buns on Banks, which had a line of people sitting outside waiting to get in, and a dive bar/music venue called the Banks Street Bar & Grill that apparently serves brunch on Sundays. There were also a couple of other kinds of restaurants for other meals of the day, such as the brightly-painted Mid City Pizza or The Crescent. Although it was hot, I chose to sit outside at a sidewalk table, since Wakin’ Bakin’ had quite a wait for an inside table. As is usually my choice, I opted for a bacon and cheese omelette, with breakfast potatoes and toast, and all was quite good. Prices are not particularly expensive either, so Wakin’ Bakin’ is a good go-to for breakfast in the Crescent City, although you should be aware that they are not open on Mondays.
Each year on a Sunday, usually in August, the Satchmo SummerFest sponsors a second-line that runs from the St. Augustine’s Church in the Treme neighborhood to the Old U.S. Mint in the French Quarter, featuring Indian tribes, brass bands, the Baby Dolls and various social aid & pleasure clubs. This year’s second-line was scheduled to start at 12:30, and I thought it would start on time, so I felt I didn’t have time for a leisurely breakfast down in the city, and I grabbed a quick breakfast near my hotel at the Tic Toc Cafe in Metairie. With the parking situation so expensive and limited in and around the French Quarter, I decided to park my car up in Treme, close to the start of the parade route, and, fortunately, I had no problem finding a place to park near the Treme Coffeehouse. It was already extremely hot outside, so I grabbed an ice coffee from the coffeehouse, and then started walking down towards the church where the second-line would be starting. Like many other mornings when I had been in the neighborhood before a parade, the Treme was calm and quiet, but with a sort of eager anticipation in the air as well.
New Orleans is absolutely loaded with coffee houses and breakfast restaurants, and somehow I’ve always ended up missing the Who Dat Coffee Cafe. I had never managed to drive past it, and somehow, when I saw it in lists of restaurants, I suppose I always thought it was just a coffee house with maybe a few sandwiches. This time, I read the Yelp reviews, and came to realize that the Who Dat Coffee Cafe serves full breakfasts, and tremendous full breakfasts at that. And like all of the Crescent City’s better breakfast places, it has the charming interior decor, and the sidewalk seating as well. Of course the coffee is first-rate as well, and there are salads and lunch options too. Be sure to pay Who Dat Coffee Cafe a visit on your next trip to New Orleans.
Almost anyone who has been to the French Quarter has seen Buffa’s Lounge. After all, it’s been there since 1939, and it’s on Esplanade, which is one of the major thoroughfares leading into the Vieux Carre. I had passed it any number of times over the years, but of course New Orleans is a city full of food choices, and so it just never occurred to me to try Buffa’s until I read somewhere a couple of years ago that they stayed open 24 hours a day and had a decent burger and decent breakfast. They also started booking live music a few years ago, and feature live traditional jazz at brunch on Sundays. So I decided that this was the year I would try Buffa’s, and I am glad I did. Parking was somewhat difficult, as it always is in the Faubourg Marigny, but the weather was beautiful and I didn’t mind walking a couple of blocks. The restaurant is in the back behind the bar, and there was literally only one table left when I walked in. Soon there was a small crowd waiting outside the door for tables, while a jazz band called Some Like It Hot was playing on stage. Breakfast was the reason I had come, and I had a delightful bacon, cheese and mushroom omelette with homemade biscuits and coffee. Omelettes are huge, taking up half the plate, and the only thing better than a breakfast in New Orleans is a breakfast in New Orleans with live jazz going on. Brunch at Buffa’s is an experience not to be missed.
I’ve eaten many breakfasts in St. Louis over the years, but somehow never made it to the Goody Goody Diner , a 1948-era chrome and formica place on Natural Bridge Avenue that is a St. Louis landmark, and rightfully so. For more than 60 years, the Goody Goody belonged to the Connelly family, but at the end of April 2014 it was sold to new owners. Happily, my experience in the second week of May was a good one, so hopefully the owners are continuing the place’s great tradition, and what a tradition it is. Breakfast is what brought me to the Goody Goody, and the diner has numerous options for that most important meal of the day. Omelettes are my thing, so I ordered my favorite bacon and cheese omelette, and was very pleased with what I got. Chicken and waffles is also on the menu, as well as pancakes, and of course there are plenty of non-breakfast options. One would expect such a historic spot to be full of tourists, but most of the customers seemed to be from the local neighborhood, giving the place a friendly, hometown feel. The Goody Goody Diner is definitely worth a visit when in St. Louis.
I had passed the Blue & White Restaurant in Tunica, Mississippi many times in my life on trips into the Mississippi Delta, but I had never stopped there to eat. But this year, on my way to the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, I hadn’t eaten breakfast before I left Memphis, and decided to stop at the Blue & White when I realized that they served breakfast all day. The interior of the restaurant had been lovingly restored to its vintage 1940’s look, and the breakfast was really quite good, especially the homemade biscuits. Thoroughly satisfied, I headed on out to Clarksdale.
Lafayette is probably second only to New Orleans when it comes to great cuisine, and the city has lots of breakfast choices. But I was especially intrigued by a downtown restaurant called The French Press, which has been called one of the best breakfast restaurants in America. The relatively small cafe occupies a historic building in the downtown area, and has an attractive and inviting atmosphere. Swamp pop music plays from the speakers overhead. The menu is New American and rather trendy, with few traditional breakfast options, opting rather for benedicts, chicken and waffles and grillades. I’m not a huge fan of boudin, but I tried the Cajun breakfast sandwich and it was for the most part really good, although I could have done without the aioli that came on it and that wasn’t mentioned in the menu. As one might expect from a place called The French Press, the coffee was absolutely incredible. Prices are not cheap, but not outrageously expensive either. Altogether it is a trendy and experimental spot for culinary adventurers, but not the place if you just want bacon and eggs or an omelette.
I had invited my fellow Recording Academy chapter board member Reid Wicks to breakfast, and he recommended the New Orleans Cake Cafe, a place I had heard of but never been to. I would have expected it to be a dessert place, and they certainly have great desserts, but it is also an excellent place for relatively upscale breakfasts, including scrumptious omelettes. The place is rather small, but there is a fair amount of outdoor seating, at least in pretty weather, and the walls are covered with attractive local art works, as is so often the case in New Orleans restaurants. I loved my food, and plan on returning the next time I’m in New Orleans.
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.
Back on the downtown side of Town Lake, there were a lot of things going on, particularly a lot of events associated with the Interactive part of the South By Southwest conference. Unfortunately, the Samsung exhibit, which I had hoped to get a look at, was closed for a special private party. I walked around, considering several different places for dinner, and finally settled on one I encountered on Congress Avenue called Annie’s Cafe, which turned out to be part coffee bar and part restaurant. I opted for a bacon cheeseburger, and while my order took awhile because of how crowded everything was, the burger was really good, and the surroundings pleasant. Annie’s menu was somewhat limited, but I did notice that they feature a complete breakfast menu in the mornings.