As Lower Broadway honky-tonks are to country music, Hermitage Cafe is to breakfast: the real deal. And while as far as we know Kris Kristofferson didn't write his hit Sunday Morning Coming Down
at this classic all-night downtown diner, he could have easily done so one particular Sabbath. Waylon Jennings and Gary Allan are back-to-back on the jukebox. Autographed photos of country music stars such as Minnie Pearl and George Jones are tacked to the wall. A long, lonesome man in a cowboy hat (a songwriter, we presume?) sips coffee from a thick, well-worn mug while reading a paperback at a table next to the front window. The veteran waitress greets you with a "Whatcha like to drink, darlin'?" and barks your order in verbal shorthand to the fry cook behind the counter. A bountiful, perfectly prepared plate of biscuits and gravy arrives first, enough for a meal in itself. The eggs arrive over easy as ordered, the sausage patties fried just shy of crisp, the thinly sliced and slightly crusty home-fried potatoes the best you've ever eaten anywhere on earth. And you remind yourself that a suitably greasy cheeseburger awaits you when the Hermitage Cafe reopens at 10 that night, or sometime later after an evening at the honky-tonks a few blocks north.
"Go for a glimpse of the eccentric locals and the solid egg sandwiches and patty melts with fries."
- Tandy Wilson, chef-owner of City House, for Southern Living