City Café one of Northport's great diners

City Café one of Northport's great diners

Driving through downtown Northport on a quiet afternoon paints a lazy picture. It’s a slow-paced area on the edge of Tuscaloosa and the home of acclaimed, local diner, City Café.

City Café is a classic “meat and three” diner that serves breakfast and lunch on the weekdays. The menu changes daily and is full of all sorts of home-cooked items, such as fried okra and mashed potatoes.

It is located in downtown Northport at 408 Main Ave. The restaurant usually offers specials and is well known for being an affordable choice. They also do call-ahead takeout.

“[City Café is] a good, cheap eat. You can get a meal for under $5,” said Andrew Mills, a sophomore majoring in chemistry

The restaurant has been serving downtown Northport for more than 20 years, and owners of the surrounding shops are fond of the place as well.

The owner of Northport 5 and 10 next door said he has noticed how hard City Café’s staff works.

“They get up and start making biscuits around 2 a.m.,” said Joe Hardy, the owner of the 5 and 10, whose personal favorite is the fried catfish.

Walking into the green building that houses City Café, the windows display the hand-painted hours, 4 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“They work really hard during the week,” Hardy said, which is one of the reasons they are closed on weekends.

The restaurant offers the option of sitting in a booth or at the counter for its dining experience, and its tables are littered with cutouts and pictures plastered beneath their smooth surfaces.

The restaurant has become a Tuscaloosa favorite, and a popular place to bring out-of-state guests. During the lunch rush, it’s common to see the line of prospective diners reach the front door.

“It’s a Southern place – good food and service,” said Elizabeth Loftin, a sophomore majoring in special education.

Besides being well loved by locals, the café’s meat-and-three option has been recognized by the Alabama Tourism Department as one of the 100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die.

Many students have encouraged fellow Tuscaloosa residents to get the real experience by going to City Café.

“There’s no better place for breakfast,” Loftin said. “It’s a great place to just go for a quick meal.”

The café attracts patrons of all ages, from students grabbing a bite to eat before early classes to early risers heading there before work and often before sunrise.

Many students also head to City Café if they happen to still be awake at 4 a.m. after a particularly late night.

“There is nothing better than having some good, Southern food after a night out,” said Elizabeth Stroker, a sophomore majoring in psychology.

Though it’s consistently busy throughout the day, the restaurant is especially famous for it’s breakfast options.

“They’re famous for their biscuits,” Loftin said. “And if you’re lucky, you can get one even after breakfast is done being served.”

City Café serves meat with every meal, and their sides of vegetables offer a variety of southern classics. Customers order one meat and choose from a long list of sides to accompany it.

“I love their corn and mashed potatoes, so that’s what I always choose,” Stroker said. “And their chicken is good, too.”

Stroker said she remembers going to City Café on a visit to the University while she was still in high school.

“It’s just a classic Tuscaloosa experience,” she said.

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