I’ve lived in Clifton for about eight years now, which means I’ve driven by Hall’s Cafeteria & Catering in Butchertown roughly 1.8 million times. Of course, I always wondered what it was like inside, and of course, I never stopped.
And then a few weeks ago my Dad, out of the blue, said, “We should meet for breakfast at Hall’s sometime.” Hall’s? Really? My parents live in southern Indiana, so I was mildly surprised he even knew Hall’s exists. Well, except that it’s been there for decades.
So, for the first time, I stepped foot inside Hall’s Cafeteria. One of my favorite things is when I walk into an establishment and I feel like I’ve been transported back in time. Hall’s, which is located at 1301 Story Ave., fits that bill – it’s like being in a time capsule, from the vintage Pepsi-logo menu behind the counter to vintage photos of Butchertown landmarks to the throwback plaid wallpaper.
I could imagine the place looking exactly the same – minus the flat-screen TVs that now adorn the walls, of course – in the mid-1950s. There was even what appeared to be a vintage clock advertising a business called Staley’s Market. Was this a Butchertown business? Given the number of small businesses that used to line Story Avenue and the rest of the surrounding neighborhood, I can only guess that it was.
Anyway, Hall’s has been on Story Avenue for 60-plus years, according to the business’ website; based on one of the photos on the throwback wall, it was previously in a much smaller space, probably a storefront that once was one of the classic buildings in which the business downstairs was owned and operated by a family living upstairs (kind of like Hauck’s in the Germantown-Schnitzelburg neighborhood).
And just as you would expect, throwback is the theme when it comes to the food as well. I’ll let the website say it for me: “Our specialty is home cooked food like grandma used to prepare for Sunday dinner. We still use the same recipes that have been in the family for generations.”
It also doesn’t hurt that the staff is friendly and service is prompt. My dad and I had to wait a couple of extra minutes to pay while an employee worked out a glitch on the register. For our trouble, she gave us a 10 percent discount on our breakfast. Totally unnecessary, but appreciated nevertheless.
My dad and I both got the basic breakfast of two eggs, meat and toast for $4.50. He got sausage patties, while I got bacon. Pretty basic, but there are tons of other options, like omelets, biscuits and gravy, sausage biscuits and ham biscuits, and breakfast sandwiches. And, of course, there are lunch and dinner items as well, from grilled cheese and chili to fish sandwiches, chicken fingers and the like. Most all of it comes in under five bucks.
Anyway, we chose a table in the small dining room and, literally, our food came to us as we were taking our seats. Now, that’s service. Before me were two sizable eggs, two pieces of wheat toast, cut in half, and a pile of bacon.
How many pieces? Four. That warms my heart as well as my stomach. And I would make an argument that each strip was as close to being perfectly cooked as I could ever imagine. By that I mean that the bacon was pliable, but the edges were crispy. So, people who like crisper bacon were at least partly covered, and those who like their bacon chewy also would be served. It’s a bacon win-win for the ages.
Meanwhile, the eggs were, like the bacon, perfectly cooked, with crispy edges, fluffy whites and runny yolks with just a hint of cooked yellow shell around that yolk. Spot on. The wheat toast was wheat toast.
All in all, worth the stop and well worth a return visit. And it only took me eight years. It won’t be that long next time around.