Top 10 Biscuit Breakfasts of 2008
From Austin, Texas, Benedict to migas and biscuits, Austin's Bs & G scene rules
1) The Frisco Shop: So what if it's a new location? Ricky Nelson is still on the jukebox, and the breakfast cooks still smile when you light on a counter stool. Biscuits come with several breakfast combinations; my favorite is the Decorated Eggs, which share a platter with chili, beans, grits, and biscuits. Order a portion of Laurence's gravy on the side; it's just about the best sausage gravy in town. If you want butter and preserves on the fluffy golden biscuits, no measly little packets here – you get an entire saucer full. 6801 Burnet Rd.
2) Lamberts Downtown Barbecue: Too bad Lamberts only makes biscuits for Sunday brunch. There's a lot to like on the buffet, but don't stop eating without an order of this town's tallest buttermilk biscuits, which come with mildly spiced sausage gravy and eggs beautifully cooked your way. 401 W. Second.
3) Arkie's Grill: This is an Austin institution and a great place for a traditional Southern diner breakfast. Two eggs to order, a sausage patty, and a pond of creamy grits with light biscuits and beautifully seasoned sausage gravy on the side. Not open weekends, but weekday breakfast starts at 5:30am. 4827 E. Cesar Chavez.
4) Cisco's: Biscuits and migas are an inspired match that reflects much about Central Texas history and culture. This could be the definitive Austin breakfast – a big beautiful plate of migas with a griddled sausage patty, pinto beans, a spreading pool of red salsa, and smooth, dense, brown-topped biscuits to mop it all up. 1511 E. Sixth.
5) Counter Cafe: In this tiny 21st century diner in the old G/M Steakhouse location, you can get the big crumbly biscuits with a quality cream gravy or go all out for the excellent eggs Benedict: poached eggs with hollandaise and fresh spinach, served on split biscuits instead of the traditional English muffin. Now why didn't I think of that? 626 N. Lamar.
6) TRIO at the Four Seasons: Yes, it's in a swank hotel, and TRIO is a steak house at night, but breakfast on the sunny patio overlooking the river is a very fine way to start a day. I pamper myself with lovely buttermilk biscuits accompanying freshly squeezed juice and an omelet with tender veggies. A slight hint of nutmeg in the silky cream gravy reminds us that the distance is short to a classic French béchamel. 98 San Jacinto.
7) Popeyes: I know, I know: It's a chain, and we don't do fast food, but these are seriously good biscuits – light, flaky, buttery, with just the right touch of salt. No butter is served, but it would be redundant, and do avoid the honey "sauce." Just eat the biscuits, preferably with hot, crispy fried-chicken tenders tucked inside. And importantly, you can satisfy a biscuit jones here any time of day. Nine locations, www.popeyes.com.
8) 1886 Cafe & Bakery: If you find the idea of jalapeño-corn biscuits startling (as I did), don't let that stop you. I shelved my biscuit purism and found them terrific – spicy, crumbly, corny, but definitely still biscuits. On the ground floor of the historic Driskill Hotel, 1886 serves these babies for breakfast every day (till 2:30pm on weekends); they're fine on their own, but go crazy, and order the Austin, Texas, Benedict – poached eggs and smoked bacon on split biscuits, dressed with amazing chorizo cream gravy. 116 E. Sixth.
9) Kerbey Lane Cafe: Kerbey Lane does the right thing and serves breakfast 24/7, so if you need a biscuit in the afternoon or at 3am, this is the place. The big buttermilk biscuits are fluffy rather than flaky, perfectly salted, and served with lovely cream gravy – plenty peppery. Alongside a couple of eggs and two patties of breakfast sausage, you'll be good to go. Three locations, www.kerbeylanecafe.com.
10) Dan's Hamburgers: If you want to know where the retired people of South Austin are at 10am on a weekday morning, they all seem to be at Dan's eating biscuits, sausage, and gravy. Forget about a table unless you have time to wait, but you can get biscuits to go. These big boys are light and a bit crumbly, and the thick, tasty gravy is rife with sizable flecks of black pepper. 4308 Manchaca Rd., 5602 N. Lamar.