Breakfast off the beaten path

Finger-lickin’ warning: HomeGrown’s fried chicken biscuit may be habit-forming. Photo by Bill Rhodes

If you live in Asheville, you likely know about Tupelo Honey Café's sweet potato pancakes and Early Girl Eatery's egg biscuits. Chances are also good that you've stood in line for Sunny Point's huevos rancheros or Over Easy's smoked-trout omelet. If you've missed out, get thee to these standbys before tourist season returns.

But even in the dead of winter, these popular eateries (especially the smaller ones) can get clogged during prime brunch time. And, if you're feeling particularly groggy and grumpy, sometimes you want to go where, just maybe, not everyone knows your name.

There are plenty of eateries to visit for an eggy nosh that are either off the beaten path or might not always occur to diners when it’s breakfast time. (And silence-seekers, we apologize if we've blown up your spot.)

Home on the (free)range

HomeGrown has quickly blossomed into the place to go for inexpensive locally sourced eats. At just about a mile north of downtown, this restaurant is not exactly in Timbuktu, but we feel like this humble and cozy spot is not quite on your breakfast radar yet — but it should be.

First, heed these hours, people: the restaurant serves breakfast from 7 until 11 a.m. only, Sunday through Friday, so there's no breakfast on Saturday. Got it? Good.

We also must warn you: if you've got an addictive personality, it might behoove you to stay away from the local fried-chicken biscuit, especially priced at a very easy $3.50. Even the staff acknowledge a deep and daily craving for this dish.

The chicken isn't the only thing that's local, of course. HomeGrown's M.O. is to source as much from our area as possible: the bacon, the sausage, the preserves, the cheese, the grits, the coffee — you name it. As Miki Kilpatrick, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Greg, told us when she won Best Diner/Home-style in our 2011 Best of WNC readers’ poll,“We really follow through with supporting our local farmers, and that's really important to Asheville.” And we also like that the atmosphere at HomeGrown is as warm, comfortable and home-style as the food. Homegrown is located at 371 Merrimon Ave.  http://slowfoodrightquick.com/

Cornering the breakfast market


You already know that the The Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village serves a great brunch — this place hops on weekends. But how often do you find yourself here on weekdays, maybe for a breakfast meeting? It’s worth it for many reasons, not the least of which is to check out the alluring breakfast specials that change on the daily. Recent selections include a smoked-salmon omelet with goat cheese; eggs Florentine with tomato hollandaise; and even a full-on Eastern Carolina-style barbecue breakfast featuring house-smoked pork, grits and biscuits, plus mustard greens picked fresh from the chef’s garden. You can’t help but imagine the Yankee Biltmore tourists thinking, “Why, good morning, North Carolina!”

Regular breakfast items include cheesy scrambled eggs with local Hickory Nut Gap chorizo, salsa and tortillas for $7, the F. S. Carbon waffle with fresh fruit for $6 and housemade biscuits with sausage gravy for $5. Those are not tourist prices, folks.

The Corner Kitchen is located at 3 Boston Way in Biltmore Village. http://www.thecornerkitchen.com.

Oh, to be in Carolina in the morning

The Morning Glory Café in Black Mountain is a breath of fresh air, especially if you need some breathing room from Asheville. But don't go expecting to find an empty restaurant; when Xpress visited on a recent Sunday, almost all of the tables were full. By the time we ordered, there was a substantial wait.

Located in the Village of Cheshire, practically in the lap of the Blackbird Restaurant, the Morning Glory shares some sensibilities with its dinner-serving neighbor in that both use plenty of local goods in their dishes. Morning Glory walks the walk with local sausage from Hickory Nut Gap in their huevos, local trout from Sunburst in their potato and bell pepper hash, Dynamite Roasting coffees and eggs that are free-range and local.

And we don't know how often this happens, but the server tried to tempt us with a special fried-chicken breakfast that included Tanglewood Farms chicken, two eggs, home fries or grits, toast and sage-spiked country gravy. Goodness gracious mercy.

The Morning Glory Café is located at 6 E. Market St. in Black Mountain, in the Village of Cheshire on Route 9. For more information, visit http://themorningglorycafe.com.

We be jammin’

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Tomato Jam Café is an oasis in the Mission Hospital hustle, serving breakfast, lunch and a number of family-size entrees, available to pick up by appointment only for dinner (so that you can have your Tomato Jam, even when the restaurant is closed).

Tomato Jam's biscuits were noted in Jane and Michael Stern's 500 Things to Eat Before it's Too Late (and the very best places to eat them), published in 2009. While we find that directive to be a bit dire, we suggest you make your way down Biltmore to sample those biscuits at least once. We're also partial to the inexpensive breakfast sandwiches the café serves, like the Porky's Delight, a concoction of ham, pesto, pimento cheese and scrambled eggs for $5.50 that makes a perfect grab-and-go meal. And yes, you may have it on a biscuit.

But Tomato Jam doesn't always specialize in quick food. In fact, you might want to take a seat when you order the "Jamcakes," buttermilk pancakes with apple maple syrup, whipped cinnamon butter, candied almonds and choice of eggs or side of meat.

Tomato Jam is located at 379 Biltmore Ave., Doctors Park 4F (behind Asheville Floral). For more information, visit http://www.tomatojamcafe.com

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