Tallahassee is home to FAMU, Florida State and is our state’s capital. Since it’s a college town, I never really had a reason to visit. My total disinterest in Florida’s racist and terrible history made walking the halls of the capital or visiting the Governor’s Mansion very unappealing.
Capital City Chamber of Commerce President Katrina Tuggerson wanted to expand our minds and show us that Tallahassee is much more than a sleepy college town, so she invited us to visit. She was right. We had such an amazing experience touring Tallahassee’s Black food scene, enjoying some awesome destinations and staying in a swanky modernized newly constructed hotel in the heart of the downtown area.
Our first stop on the tour was Early’s Kitchen, a legendary breakfast spot with over 40 years of history serving some of the town’s most notable grits and sausages. It’s a no frills old fashioned breakfast spot with grits so fluffy and buttery you could accidentally bite one of your fingers if you’re eating with your hands like I do. (Yes, I have bitten my own finger from getting overly excited about an entrée I was enjoying back in the days before Covid-19, but I digress.)
Our first plate was the staple corn beef hash, a soft buttered biscuit and those stand out grits. Jay, the owner, explained that he allows the pre-boiled water to sit overnight with salt and butter. This process maximizes the grits’ flavor, and the widely known fluffy texture results from the grits being cooked between 30 and 45 minutes.
The corn beef flooded me with nostalgia. It took me back to 1992 when I was nine years old and South Florida was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. My family was traveling around in search of food and discovered a Baptist church with a generator that was feeding the community. The corn beef hash they served left an impression on me that was rekindled at Early’s.
The nostalgia surrounding Early’s was on full display during our LIVE review. We were receiving inbox messages from folks about the pancakes when they saw me cutting into a short stack. These buttery homemade pancakes had just the right amount of crisp at the ends. They were like a work of art with crisp edges, soft interior, and golden to dark brown colorization. Yeah, someone inboxed us about these pancakes while on the live. I guess the enjoyment I felt while devouring them with a classic breakfast of grits, bacon and eggs brought back memories.
This food is just downright delightful. The fried fish and grits owes me nothing except another serving. I LOVED the fish and grits so much we came in the next day and ordered a plate. Seasoned with an in-house blend and fried using corn meal (as fried fish should) brought back more memories of my grandmother’s Everglades fishing trips. They were always followed by a fish fry with usher board members drinking Budweiser, cursing, and then a prayer session that would eventually result in various Holy Ghost fits. Yeah, my childhood was interesting.
With so many warm memories, great service, and true southern breakfast, Early’s leaves nothing to be desired. Well maybe a padded chair because after your meal, you’re going to need to be comfortable when that “itis” hits you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Visit Early’s at 1458 S Monroe St, Tallahassee, FL 32301 or give them a call at (850) 224-7090.