I’ve never had the barbecue at Demetri’s BBQ. Based on the peppery, smoky smell that hangs heavy in the air and lingers on my clothes after I leave, it’s probably delicious.
But I’ve only ever gone to Demetri’s for breakfast.
The BBQ joint is a bona fide establishment in Homewood, a suburb just south of Birmingham, Alabama. Demetri’s opened in 1961 as El Rancho and got a new name when it moved to its current location in 1973. The sign out front of the wood-and-brick building changes almost daily, sometimes to feature birthday wishes, other times to offer sage advice and fair warnings: “If you leave here hungry, it’s not our fault.”
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Coffee is free on Wednesday mornings on account of the restaurant’s winning the title of Playboy’s Best Breakfast in the South. That’s also why the bow-tie-wearing bunny logo is printed on the left corner of the menus. On Sundays, Demetri’s is closed; and the reason is crystal clear: One of the chalkboard signs above the register reads "Sundays — Closed (At church)."
It’s a no-fuss, no-frills establishment that lets the food—good, simple food—do the talking. My friend Sarah, who first took me to Demetri’s, also introduced me to my go-to order. It’s not on the menu, but if you ask nicely, the seasoned wait staff will bring you the breakfast sandwich of dreams: Extra crispy bacon, eggs, double gouda cheese, all piled high on a grilled biscuit. I don’t know if ordering "double gouda" is really even a thing, but order it just like Sarah does and you won’t be disappointed. If biscuits aren't your thing, try an omelette from the so-called “secret omelette menu” that’s printed right there on the actual menu, or the French toast, which is breaded in something (cornflakes, I think) that gives it the just-right amount of crunch.
Demetri's is the one place I’ve ever felt like a regular, and that’s more a testament to the memories of the staff than how often I show up there for breakfast. If Ian is my waiter, he knows I’ll start with a half-and-half tea that’s still sweet enough to give you a toothache. But I’m hardly the restaurant's only frequent flyer. There’s a slew of regulars who keep the place busy any given morning, from men's Bible studies that meet there early on weekdays to families that fill the covered patio on Saturdays.
But whether you're a first-timer or a regular, you won’t leave hungry. And if you do, it’s not Demetri’s fault.
Demetri’s BBQ is open for breakfast Monday-Saturday from 6-10:30 a.m. If you miss breakfast, lunch and dinner are available Monday-Saturday until 8:30 p.m.
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What's your hometown can't-miss BBQ spot? Share it with us in the comments.