Places like Early Bird Breakfast are the reason I got into food/travel writing in the first place. I’m formally trained as a historian, and so that impulse is always there: to seek, to explore, to discover. Finding spots like this recall the thrill of first starting the blog, when we would chase down little neighborhood diners that were only known by word of mouth.
To back up… a couple weeks ago we stayed in a treehouse at The Mohicans in Glenmont, Ohio (more on that soon). We like finding interesting stops on the way from point A to point B, and a couple folks have written me about this Early Birds Breakfast in St. Louisville. Seeing that our route took us in that general direction, we mapped our way there, making sure to arrive well before they closed at 12:30 that day. (They take the “early” in Early Birds seriously.)
We rolled up to cream-colored building with a little red and yellow sign, right next to Route 13 between Newark and Utica. We parked the van, stepped through the door, and discovered this: a bustling little diner packed with regulars.
One set of regulars, waiting by the door, told us we need to sign in on the white board and wait for a table. I signed us in, then one of the owners scooted over and asked to get her photo with the board.
She handed us a couple menus to peruse, and immediately we knew we were in the right place. Corn cakes? Bacon waffles? Tater tot stacks? We were in.
After a few minutes of waiting, during which the owners and wait staff playfully shouted to each other across the restaurant, they had a table ready for us. By then we had planned our order, taking a cue from our server and some of the other regulars. We decided – as we often do – to share a few dishes as a family.
First: the Tot Stack. Tater tots (you can also order Doritos), crumbled sausage, cheese, onions, plus sausage gravy (they recommended the spicy gravy), two eggs, and toast.
Second: stuffed French toast with bacon. Beautiful, thick, custardy slices. Done just right.
Third: the Bacon Waffle Spicy Chicken Pile-Up. Quite literally a waffle made with crumbled bacon in the batter, topped with a spicy fried chicken breast (a little tough but very flavorful), then gravy (this time the plain), and two eggs. It’s a breakfast-lover’s dream come true.
And finally, another house signature: corn cakes with eggs and sausage. Terrific, as far as corn cakes go. Golden, buttery, lightly sweet. I almost wanted a little jam to go with them, but syrup did the trick.
If the spicy chicken or sausage gravy doesn’t have enough of a kick for your tastebuds, Early Birds has a house-made hot sauce called Black Market. It is not to be trifled with. Here it is, seeds and all.
And you have to carve out time to look through the signs and photos lining the walls.
Our table. It was close to 12:30 when we finished up, so things were quieting down. Early Birds really is for early birds. Weekdays they’re only open from 5:30 to 11:30 a.m. Weekends they give you a little more time, but not much: you have from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to come eat.
It’s my recommendation to always be looking out for places like this. We don’t find ourselves deliberating going by St. Louisville very often, but this roadside stop is certainly worth the detour, and a good reminder of why I love breakfast, and why these little community hubs are the best.