We’re going on a road trip. We need maps.
And provisions. And more provisions. Holy Moly, dad, are we STILL driving?
We’re taking Tampa Bay Breakfast on the road. To the country.
Loyal readers, especially the TBB addicts like fan DeniseK, may recall that our official territory is made up of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties AND the Levy-Citrus-Marion tri-county area, which is essentially Inglis, Crystal River, and Dunnellon. Today we went to Inglis. We visited the Hickory Island Restaurant at
48 Highway 19 South. Note the number of pickup trucks involved.
Obviously, after the snacks and the maps and the crying (first me, then Marek, then together, and finally only him) and the hour and a half in the car Marek and I arrived at the Hickory Island in time for breakfast. As usual, there’s more to the story. And this, gentle reader, is where it gets personal. Nearly confessional. Gather round. Do as a nice older lady suggested to me later that day, and slip whiskey in your lemonade. We’re talking about Inglis. The word “city” in the name is a bit of an exaggeration.
People know about Marek. And by now, people know about pancakes or they just aren’t paying attention. But what folks don’t know is that Marek’s honest-to-God middle name is “Inglis.” I heard you just ask which came first, Inglis the town or Inglis the boy? The town. And yes, he’s named after the town. And yes, he has my explicit permission in 14 years to swipe a town limits sign if the town hall won’t provide him with one. Inglis, much like Nikos diner in Tampa, has an Elvis Thing going on. We have an interesting relationship with Satan. We have a nuclear power plant, and we might have two nuclear power plants. We have around 1200 folks and one stop light and lots of pickup trucks and more churches than bars yet plenty of both and we’re proud of America and wish we had more jobs and we can’t all get along any better’n folks in Yankeetown but at least we have more stop lights. This is my hometown. We came for breakfast.
The Hickory Island used to be The Port Inglis and used to be my all-time favorite breakfast. This was years ago, in the epoch known scientifically as “BM” (before Marek). The Port Inglis had some great old tables made of wood and resin and filled with nautical stuff. The kind of table you’d find from the 70s at a fleamarket and say, wow, I’m buying that just to let people come to my house and say, hey Andy, where’d you get THAT? And the PI used to have a nice gal named April. April would ask what I wanted and I’d tell her “coffee, and lots of it.” April would always bring me two cups of coffee at the same time and tell me I wanted a lot so here you go. Both the tables and April are gone (in the “not in this restaurant anymore” sense, hopefully not in the deceased sense!).
So this is sort of a challenging breakfast, because this location holds a 55 gallon drum of memories for me, but it’s got new owners and has been completely renovated (I noticed that the toilets were the recipient of a much-needed upgrade, from 1930s fixtures and decor to 1970s fixtures and decor. That’s progress. What?). First thing we noticed were friendly folks welcoming us. Second thing we noticed was the nice menu, preserving that bit of Old Florida ways. Third thing we noticed was that we didn’t know or recognize a soul. That’s to be expected when you move away, but it still surprises me. Used to be I knew every face in town.
We sat at a nice booth by the window.
All the tables have big sheets of paper on them, like going to the doctor where there’s the paper covering the examining table. Our nice hostess brought a basket of crayons, and thank you sister, we got to work. Looks like Marek is practicing Hangul.
This was one talented kid.
I kept egging him on. (We had time on our hands. The menu warned us that chow was rolled fresh, so don’t be in a hurry. They weren’t lying!)
And then … out came breakfast. Looks like Marek was writing out some classical Sijo poetry while we were waiting.
Marek wasted no time. He hookup up his four wheel drive appetite and hauled this pancake out into the woods of his belly.
This was a pretty good breakfast. I like the eggs done a little better. The bacon was sweet, which I’m not super-fond of personally. And it was non-Steve-standard. The pancakes were, as forewarned, quite large. And very good. And the coffee was exactly what you’d expect out of a southern fried breakfast joint like Hickory Island. Battery-acid Black Beverage, Boys!
When we were done with coloring and playing and eating and eating, Marek paid the bill.
He played to the crowd, doing a little hide-and-seek around the corners, making all the customers chuckle. Of course, none of them knew Who He Was yet!
He found the register and payed the bill, and even returned the change!
Then we had a nice conversation with some “new locals.” We talked about politics in Yankeetown and how Marek is known to some in these parts as “Baby Inglis.” Then he took me by the hand and hauled me and the spiders out of there!
We had to meet Mom to go to the Yankeetown Seafood Festival, an annual pilgrimage for us. We got in Mom’s car and rolled out to the fest. I think you, my belov’d reader, will join me in the feeling that the below picture may not be improved by any caption or comment.
We had a great visit in Inglis and Yankeetown. We saw grandparents and family. We went to the fest. We had pancakes and coffee. Marek got some exposure to his namesake hometown. And it was good. Hickory Island is a fine example of a down-home breakfast. Y’all go getcha some, and tell ’em Baby Inglis and his old man Andy sent ya. Except for Steve. If you go, bring your own bacon.
We’re pleased to give The Hickory Island Restaurant a Tampa Bay Breakfast four pancake rating.