As we all know, Montgomery offers no short supply of holes-in-the wall serving up drool-worthy foods in an establishment seriously lacking in curb appeal. Leading the charge is Davis Cafe, the shack near Old Alabama Town on Decatur Street that seems to be defying all rules of what is supposed to make a restaurant succeed.
The building looks abandoned – we’re talking faded signs and boarded up windows – and parking is a free-for-all. Inside, the atmosphere suggests things haven’t been updated since, well, ever. The torn up booths and aged wallpaper contribute to the reminder that we really need to look past the ambiance and judge the place by the food. Which is fair, I’ll admit.
The food more than makes up for the appearance of the place: meatloaf so moist it simply fell apart at the touch of my fork, creamy macaroni and cheese in a color that I’m sure isn’t natural, and the best fried chicken in town (the consensus is that it’s better than Martin’s!). Collards, butter beans, mashed potatoes, turkey and dressing. Purple hull peas and banana pudding. Bright red Kool Aid.
Davis Cafe is as soul food as it gets.
Rumor has it that loads of famous folks have enjoyed the place, including Jesse Jackson, who’s autographed photo is proudly mounted on the wall. I’ve also heard a that civil rights workers used to meet in secret there, but I also recently learned that it’s only been open since 1988 (for a great write up on the place, check out this Montgomery Advertiser article).
Finding the real history of Davis Cafe is a little tough, but a simple Google search lends itself to endless raves about how delicious the food is. To heck with being unoriginal, here’s one more to add to the search results. Davis Cafe is damn good.
Montgomery’s secrets are a little too well-kept, if you ask me. A meal at Davis Cafe is worth it for any local yearning for comfort food as well as any visitor looking for the full Southern experience. It certainly won’t be what someone outside of the South is used to, and it’s a shame I never got to try good ole comfort food like this until I moved here. Everybody needs a meal here.
When someone asks about the best places to eat in town, we all have our default responses. I’m adding Davis Cafe to my personal suggestions list. If you haven’t eaten there yet: go. If you can’t remember the last time you went: find someone who hasn’t gone and get over there for lunch some time.