TALES FROM THE Gluten Highway
No time for a meal? How ’bout a steak, egg, and cheese biscuit?
It’s been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I am in full agreement. Given the time, I’d eat at the premier spot in town, which is any and every Waffle House ever. As time is not often on my side, it’s down to any number of drive-thrus on the six-mile stretch from the East Nashville Burger King to the Madison Burger King.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Gee, I wonder what the best fast-food breakfast in town is?” but have never had the desire to chow through every option: Rip this page out and stick it in your glove box, because I am the Rand McNally of drive-thru breakfast.
Let’s start at the top with Bojangles. At their recently opened Madison location, biscuits are hand-made behind a giant window on the other side of the register, so you know they’re not coming out of a box. They have the standard selection of, “What can I put on a biscuit?” They also have what almost no other place has: steak, egg, and cheese on a big-ass biscuit.
This is the biscuit that the guy on the Brawny paper towel package eats for breakfast, and there’s a legend in Minnesota that Paul Bunyan actually fought the Brawny guy over the very same biscuit (of course local favorite Paul Bunyan won).
Size-wise, this is no run-of-the-mill, drive-thru fare. This thing is the size of a fist, full of butter-soaked goodness and chock full of every protein you could need to get through the day. It will hit you like a hammer of tasty goodness. I ate two of these once and actually felt my heart stop.
Pair it with an order of Bo-Rounds (“potatoes, fried to a golden brown with just the tiniest hint of onion”) and a giant sweet tea, and you can ride out most of the day, as long as part of that day is lying on the couch stuck in a YouTube wormhole of your choosing.
If you’ve been out drinking until 3 a.m. and find yourself too drunk or broke to deal with the immediate urge to soak it all up, this is the best decision you will make all day. Ask yourself: If you had to have your breakfast served through a drive-thru by a King, a Clown, or a Lumberjack, which would you choose?
Godspeed and Prilosec,
A stretch of blacktop known as Gallatin Road or Pike, sometimes Highway 31E, runs north by northeast through and out of Nashville for approximately 30 miles. TDOT says on a normal day this four-lane monument of misery sees up to 30,000 vehicles carrying people through East Nashville, Inglewood, Madison, Hendersonville, and finally the city that gave it its name, Gallatin.
Along the way: pawn shops, title loans, independent businesses, the occasional porn store, and every single fast-food chain in existence. If it’s fine dining you’re looking for, you have chosen poorly, for Gallatin is a drive-thru highway at its core.
There are exceptions, of course, with a handful of independently owned, fine-dining establishments scattered here and there. But this column is meant to focus on the “I need it now!” kinda spots.
My name is Chark, and I am no friend of fine cuisine. A good 90 percent of my meals have been served to me through a window, by a stranger who may or may not have wished me a nice day. I’m fine with that. I am a man of simple dietary needs, who views food as a basic source of fuel to get through the day, nothing more. I need it fast, and I need it now, and if it’s under $5 then more dough for the fast-approaching bar tab.
This basic view of culinary consumption has enabled me to survive countless miles across this country on various tours, having only gas stations as a primary food source. I’m the guy you call for advice on how to select the perfect roller dog (always from the middle) or whether you should eat a pre-wrapped microwavable cheeseburger (you should not). These are things that the average person with a normal craving for “something good to eat” just won’t understand. So, with that unpacked, let me take you on a guided tour of my world — a world of high-calorie/low-flavor offerings from the best-worst places to eat on what I refer to as the “Gluten Highway.”