The Glory of a Small-Town Breakfast Joint

Photo courtesy The Grainery on Facebook

Every town needs some type of “mom and pop” breakfast diner. As the Finger Lakes are full of small towns, there are a plethora of local places to find something to eat for those early morning hunger pangs.

This post originally started out in praise of the best doughnut I’ve ever had- which came to me from the ovens at Ridge Donut Café on Portland in Rochester. It was a double chocolate piece of heaven, and I frankly tuned out a bit while the friendly old man next to me tried to chat about Summerville’s glory days. Luckily, my mom had me covered conversationally, so I could stop talking with my mouth full.

But as I thought about it more, I couldn’t just give tribute to one place when there have been so many morning staples in my life. Just the thought of those familiar booths makes me start to smell coffee and think about the vast variety of combinations of eggs and bacon.

Closest to my heart is Java Jungle in Dansville. I faintly remember when it was the Bella Vista, and I was so excited when giraffes and elephants started popping up on the walls. Whenever I visit Dansville now, I try to squeak in a friend date here. There’s nothing quite like bonding over massive omelets and fluffy pancakes. If you manage to make it over to the Jungle, I recommend having a good idea about what you want early on because the menu is delightfully expansive. And if you show up at a time when you could reasonably order breakfast or lunch, forget about it. I’d be indecisive for hours.

You could also wander down Main Street a bit and make it over to the Sunrise, which has a bit more of a classic diner feel. If you’re in the mood for a no-fuss, no muss, darn good breakfast, this is your place. Though you’ll have to remind yourself that breakfast is much too early to be thinking about the desserts that are in the rotating glass case inside.

A few newer spots that have opened up in the past few years is McFadden Coffee Co. and the restored Sugar Bowl. I don’t have as much experience with these two, but McFadden makes a mean latte, and the Sugar Bowl pastries rival those that I had during my study abroad in France.

Then, there’s my absolute favorite: The Grainery in Naples. It’s worth the short drive for me every time. Friends, family, and community all manage to bump into each other at The Grainery. It’s everything that a community morning post should be. The only dilemma that I seem to have at The Grainery is if I should get the best spinach bagel in the world (sounds weird, looks weird, is AWESOME) or the best breakfast wrap in the world (Rock Castle, fully loaded with potatoes and sausage). To tailor a line from T.S. Eliot: I could probably measure my life out in spoonfuls of Woodstead sauce from The Grainery.

For those keeping track at home, Bob and Ruth’s is the Sunrise of Naples. Leather booths, sticky sweet syrup and a bottomless cup of coffee. And so much bacon.

Now, this list is by no means all-inclusive. Consider this a handful of heartfelt recommendations from a rooted girl that simply loves breakfast.


Halie Solea 2013By Halie Solea