I wondered recently what it would look like to find a dish at each of Hartselle’s restaurants that would get me completely through the alphabet. Preference, of course, went to locally owned businesses, but in order to have 26 different places, a couple of chains made their way onto this list. Here’s what I came up with. Loosen your belt and give your taste buds a thrill.
A – Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies at Sugar Mama’s. Sugar Mama’s offers several breakfast items, hot and cold lunch choices and an impressive list of cookie flavors. They recently started providing charcuterie boards in various sizes, perfect for watching sports with friends. These must be ordered in advance.
B – Breakfast Club Sandwich at Mr. Henry’s. Mr. Henry’s just reopened under new ownership with expanded hours and a fresh menu. Breakfast is extremely popular, and Sunday lunch is back. I’m sure they’d love to show you all the improvements they’ve made.
C – Catfish Fridays at Pigskin All Sports BBQ. Oh yes, Pigskin has plenty of barbecue, but their Friday night catfish menu has cars lined up for hours. The fish is lightly breaded, and the plates come with French fries, slaw, a pickle, and a hushpuppy. They are cooked to order, so call ahead or be prepared to wait. It’s worth it.
D – Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper at Arby’s. Yes, you’ll want to accompany that drink with a roast beef sandwich, a Market Fresh sandwich, curly fries, or a turnover, but at least you know you can cut calories with a diet drink, right?
E – Egg and Cheese Flatbread at Subway. Foot-longs, six-inch subs and wraps are the headliners at Subway, but they offer breakfast choices, too. Recently they’ve added Protein Bowls with plenty of meat and veggies without the bread. Good for health-conscious folks.
F – Fried Chicken Box at Jack’s. Eight pieces with 4 biscuits or 12 pieces with 6 biscuits. Burgers make up only a small portion of the menu items at Jack’s. You might want to add a blueberry pie and a shake to go with your chicken.
G – Grilled Chicken Sandwich at Zaxby’s. A potato bun, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard sauce. Yum. Zaxby’s is well known for its wings and chicken in general. It excels with 9 sauces and 4 dips. The Zaxby’s Zalads are popular for those sticking to their January diet resolutions.
H – Hot Wings at The Back Alley inside Family Lanes and Amusements, Hartselle’s only bowling alley. Auburn fans are particularly fond of The Back Alley because of its gatherings with like-minded people on Game Days.
I – Iced Flavored Latte at Warehouse Coffee Shop on Main Street across from LifeChurch. Coffees, teas, hot chocolate or slushies to drink and wonderful muffins and pastries to eat. This is a great gathering place with a welcoming vibe.
J – Jumbo Loaded Potato at Southern Hickory. Alton Sulcer serves great smoked pork, turkey, chicken and ribs and has been in this location since 1977. His loaded potatoes are generous in size and loaded with meat, if you order yours that way. Alton also has a personal turkey stew recipe that he offers from October to April. This is a drive-through location only.
K – Kraut Dog at Bentley’s at the Outhouse, corner of Sparkman and Main Street. Bentley’s is best known for its dozen different burger possibilities, but the hot dog choices are creative, too. They recently expanded to offering meat-and-two plates and have homemade banana pudding listed for dessert.
L – Lemon Chicken at Asian Buffet. Of course, all the expected Chinese dishes also appear on the menu. Be sure you get your fortune cookie before leaving. Asian Buffet is near Kroger on Highway 31.
M – Maple Flavored Cotton Candy at What’s Popp’N. Popcorn takes the headline at this new snack shop on Main Street with original, kettle and a dizzying array of candied, savory, cheese and deluxe popcorn varieties. They also have 21 flavors of cotton candy. You don’t even have to wait for the fair to come to town. Just walk in for those familiar carnival flavors.
N – Nachos BellGrande at Taco Bell. A yummy concoction of beef, beans, tomatoes and cheese sauce make this a hearty meal. Hartselle has a brand-new Taco Bell location on Highway 31 S that has a larger drive-through area.
O – Onion Rings from Holy Smoke BBQ. Holy Smoke sets itself apart from the other barbecue places in town with its brisket, sides, and rotating homemade dessert options. It is located where Pig Stand stood for years on Highway 31.
P – Peach wood-smoked meats, peach cobbler, peach ice cream, peach jam, or peach bread at Reeves Peach Farm on Highway 36. If you’re looking for something made with peaches, you are very likely to find it at Reeves, but you will also find strawberries in the spring, pumpkins in the fall and dozens of other vegetables in the summer. Smoked meats and stew are the newest additions, and ice creams were added a few months ago. Reeves is in a new, large facility and is North Alabama’s answer to Clanton’s Peach Park.
Q – Quesadilla Rellena at Las Vias. Actually, there are 5 additional variations of quesadillas, along with tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos and such. I’ve also heard good things about their new jalapeno cheese dip that I’ve got to try soon.
R – Roast Beef Dinner at Cracker Barrel with 2 or 3 sides and biscuits or cornbread. Let’s face it. Hartselle was mighty happy when Cracker Barrel finally came to our interstate exit. As with all Cracker Barrel locations, this one is busy from early until late and has been a go-to for carryout plates during the pandemic.
S – Salad Bar or Steak at Oh! Bryan’s. The salad bar is finally back at Oh! Bryan’s but more closely monitored than before Covid. This is the largest salad bar in Hartselle. Steaks, chops, chicken and seafood also appear on the menu along with baked potatoes, sweet potatoes and other staples.
T – Treatzza Pizza at Dairy Queen. A Treatzza Pizza starts with a chocolate cookie crust and is then topped with soft-serve ice cream and candy pieces. A decadent treat, for sure.
U – Uniquely prepared burgers at Willie Burgers on Main Street. We’re not sure of the exact recipe of the patties at Willie Burgers, but we are sure that they are NOT 100% beef – and that’s okay. More than likely oatmeal, breadcrumbs or flour have been used as extenders to the meat before they are patted out and baptized in hot, bubbly oil. The formula has succeeded for almost a century. In 1926, it was Johnny’s Hamburgers before new owners bought it and renamed it in 1995. The recipe remained the same.
V – Veggie Plate at Cahoot’s. The menu at Cahoot’s varies from day to day, but a Veggie Plate is a constant offering. Cahoot’s is a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds with its eclectic décor and collection of antique and attic finds scattered throughout. Cahoot’s is also part ladies’ boutique.
W – Wing Snack at Dari Delite. Admittedly, the chicken fingers, made very specifically by Roy Mim’s secret recipe, are the main attractions for customers at Dari Delite, but I needed a W item and found their wings. Roy Mims died in 2015, but Hartselle folks remember him and are very glad he chose to open this café in 1971. It’s still going strong.
X – Xango at Don Alejo. It’s a dessert. If you see a cheesecake chimichanga on a menu in a Mexican restaurant, I’m sure it’s the same thing. Thankfully, for the sake of this story, it’s called a Xango at Don Alejo. Hallelujah!
Y – Yolanda’s Enchiladas at El Portal. They are described as being filled with chicken and topped with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream and served with rice. Hartselle has 2 El Portal locations. One is near Wal-Mart and the other is in front of Dairy Queen. El Portal has an extensive menu of traditional Mexican favorites.
Z – Ziti at Pizza Ed, Baked Ziti to be precise. Pizza Ed is Hartselle’s only brick oven pizza cafe and created quite a stir when it opened in 2018. Pizzas, calzones, pasta dishes, hoagies and strombolis arrive at tables or appear in carryout boxes and receive enthusiastic response from hungry eaters.
Have you spotted some items you didn’t know were available in Hartselle? Any of these businesses would love to serve you soon.
Connie is a freelance travel/food writer and blogger at www.theregoesconnie.com. She and her veterinarian husband, Steve, live in Hartselle and share 14 fantastic grandchildren. Previously, Connie was a public school music teacher in Hartselle and Morgan County, and they served as Southern Baptist missionaries in Ecuador for four years. In her blog and for other publications, Connie loves discovering the restaurants, history, culture, art, music and accommodations of the places where she travels that reflect the uniqueness of a destination. She and Steve especially enjoy sharing the activities and attractions of Morgan County with their grandchildren during their annual Cousins Camp.