Big Spring Cafe, “Home of the Greasy Burger,” is an old place with a new location.
The original Big Spring Cafe opened in downtown Huntsville, more than 95 years ago. In 1970, it moved to a location on Governors Drive. Today it is located just west of that location, in a new building. It is the oldest continually operating café in Huntsville.
The inside is classic diner, with booths, tables, and single stools. It’s all full service, except that you take your check up to the register before you leave. There are full breakfast and lunch menus (with the lunch menu doubling as a dinner menu if you can sneak it in under the closing time). That’s what Lea, the boys, and I did.
That Good Good Greasy Menu
In 1922, when you ordered a Big Spring hamburger, it came with mustard and onions… and mustard and onions. That’s still what you get today. A hamburger special is what you want if you’re expecting more accoutrements, and that comes in a single or double.
OK, so now just when you think you’ve got it figured out, a cheeseburger already comes with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato — and there is no cheeseburger special. (But still specify single or double.) Chili burger? Handled. (Single or double.) And it’s good, uniform beanless chili, too, that lends itself wonderfully to things like chili cheese fries. Read on.
I wasn’t sure how the chicken sandwich would come cooked, and not minding the mystery, I just ordered it (but dressed, which is the optional topping upgrade term for sandwiches that aren’t burgers). Turned out it was a fried chicken finger sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. Lea got a chicken salad that made use of the same fingers.
For sides, we got some onion rings and some chili cheese fries. Are those Kraft singles on the chili cheese fries and on Lea’s salad? May well be. We’re not talking culinary showboating of any sort here.
But How Was It?
We are talking some great tastes, though. All of our dinners were freshly prepared and delicious. The boys laid waste to their burgers, and the chili cheese fries took some table Louisiana hot sauce excellently. This is good, simple, stick-to-your-ribs cooking, refreshing in its lack of pretense.
The lunch/dinner menu also includes several other sandwiches, hot dogs, and a couple of different entrée salads and plates, as well as chili and Brunswick stew (which is popular ordered half-and-half in the same bowl). The breakfast menu includes omelets, biscuits, and customary combination plates, also with Southern sensibilities. (Fried bologna biscuit, anyone?)
When I asked about dessert, our server actually volunteered “oughta be pie, oughtn’t there? Well, there isn’t.” She offered that they usually kept a few individually-wrapped items in stock, like marshmallow-crispy rice treats and such. So here, I suppose, is a small hole in the café/diner ambience, depending on how seriously you were taking it anyway.
Big Spring Cafe for Kids
There is no dedicated kids’ menu… and yet, the entire menu is a kids’ menu. When there are a la carte items like a single “weenie,” hamburger patty, or chicken finger available, you can craft your own child’s meal. Highchairs and booster seats are available. Restrooms are clean single-seaters, but they do not contain changing tables.
I have saved the most striking news for last. It is nearly shockingly inexpensive to eat at Big Spring Cafe. The prices aren’t quite from the 1922 opening, but they’ll still almost certainly come in under your expectations. There just aren’t very many double cheeseburgers out there for $2.90, or chili dogs for $1.80.
Big Spring Cafe is not fancy, but it’s a ceaselessly honest place to eat, with appealingly straightforward offerings at excellent prices. Put it on your list for a quick breakfast or lunch. I’m also thinking it just might go on my list for takeout to have while watching football games!
Big Spring Cafe Details
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