Of the seven major meals of the day, my deepest love will always be breakfast. Sure, everyone loves a good afternoon tea or an after dinner supper. Brunch may be over-celebrated, but it still makes you dance with joy — How could you not, right? But breakfast… that is where the greatness lies. From a humble bowl of cereal to the almighty buffet, the options are endless. I am lucky enough to live in a city with restaurants that pay homage to the breaking of my fast in such a spectacular way. One such french toast stick in a tray of toast is Moore Street Cafe.
As a Scott’s Addition resident, I am blessed with several great breakfast spots within a three minute walk. Still, I find myself drawn constantly to walk the block to Moore Street Cafe. Set in the bottom floor of a brick building right near the intersection of Moore St. and Boulevard, this is a very unassuming little gem. They are open Monday to Friday from 6 to 2:30 and Saturday from 8 to 2. (It is closed on Sundays. I thought I would get that out of the way right off the bat because it causes me deep pain and flashes of annoyance. I WANT IT ALL WEEKEND!!!) It looks kinda small from the outside, but that is because you don’t realize there is a back room of seating so don’t hesitate to bring a large party. I have a few times. The staff is super accommodating.
Someone once asked me how I would describe the feel of Moore Street Cafe. I summed it up like this: When you walk in, you immediately realize that they don’t try really hard to convince you they are this classy pretentious breakfast destination. They are honest and say, “We are a cafe that does what cafes should do. Either you are in or you’re out.” I love that. One thing the north has a lot of is diners. I grew up going to them on weekends or skipping school with friends to hang out in one. Walking into Moore Street Cafe is a wave of nostalgia for me. It’s simple as it should be.
The staff is always super friendly. They encourage you to sit where you wish and are prompt to take your drink order/drop off menus. On weekends they have Moore Mosas, which I highly recommend. You can get a 32oz pitcher for yourself for $6. They are the perfect ratio of juice to champagne. Last time I was there, they offered 10 different flavor options. Pineapple was superb.
Take time to peruse the menu. It won’t take very long as it is short, like a solid menu should be. Classic breakfast foods dominate the page, like eggs and hash, omelets, or stacks of pancakes. There are two dishes that jump off the page each time I eat there, the first of which is the Squirrel’s Nest Breakfast Bowl. As we are in the shadow of The Diamond, home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, this bowl is a nice little nod to them. It consists of bacon, eggs, and cheese over top of tater tots covered in homemade sausage gravy. It comes in small or large size. I recommend you get the biscuit with it for sopping up leftover gravy. To say it’s filling is to say the King Kong was merely a gorilla. This bowl delivers on size and flavor. It is savory and delicious. A must try. The second dish that has become my fat-man go-to is The Darcy Jones. This platter of food is a base of hash browns (cooked with onions and peppers) over which a thick layer of house-made corned beef hash is placed and then it is crowned with four fried eggs if you get the full, or two eggs if you do the half. I like to add cheese to the top of mine because duh. I always order the pancakes with it. This sheet pan of happiness is amazing. It is rich and fortifying. The sweetness of the big fluffy cakes helps to balance it all out in your mouth. So damn good.
I have also been for lunch on several occasions. While the menu is slightly bigger than breakfast, it is no less solid. The burgers are fresh and juicy. They aren’t small either, as they are ⅓ of a pound. I love the tame heat of the Jalapeno Jack Burger. It won’t leave you with a mouth on fire, but it still gives you a tingle. I would say it’s more campfire than housefire. The true lunch gem for me though is the Bologna Burger. Wow… just wow. A thick cut of bologna grilled beautifully so that the outside is gently caramelized while the inside remains warm and flavorful. I added cheese and a fried egg to mine. It is served on a great bun that adds a layer of earthy flavor to it. I would eat one every day if I wasn’t 100% sure it would kill me. The side choices are vast and varied. I was a fan of the housemade macaroni salad, but the coleslaw and the 3-bean salad also had my attention.
Moore Street Cafe is the definition of neighborhood joint in all of the best ways — welcoming, friendly, and consistent, all for a fair price. From the early morning workers to the beat cops to the college students to the families, all kinds find a refuge there among the bustle and the good smells, if only for an hour. So, skip the long wait lines at all these “must visit Richmond brunch spots” and come over on a Saturday. Wrap your hands around a cup of coffee while the cooks grill your breakfast. Joke with your server as you sip your mimosa. Enjoy life as it’s meant to be enjoyed, if only for a little. Until next time faithful reader, may your bologna be thick-cut and your Darcy be Jonesed.