The path that leads one to Uptown Cafe is like that of a hero’s journey. The hero: a broke college student, a working parent, or even a yoga instructor. The quest: find somewhere that does a classic breakfast well.

We’ve all been there. Waffle House tastes pretty darn yummy, but leaves you sick; that cute brunch place has awesome French toast, but is super expensive; and that family run diner has all the right foods, but isn’t very good. Everything’s either mediocre, too expensive, or leaves you feeling gross. Or so it seems. Over thirty years ago a cry arose from the streets of Tallahassee for a great American diner to feed its people, and the family-owned Uptown Cafe has been answering that cry ever since, with a restaurant that is at once delicious, healthy, and affordable.

Photo by Gaby Tribou

Photo by Gaby Tribou

Actually dining at Uptown Cafe is indeed a bit like a journey. With all the regulars and newcomers eager to get their breakfast fix, parking can be a little difficult to find. The rather small lot outside the restaurant has a tendency to be full, and within the residential and business areas nearby there’s a high risk of being towed. If you do manage to snag a spot in the lot (or if out of desperation you buy something you don’t need from the Walgreens across the street so that you can park there), you might feel like you can now conquer anything for the sake of your meal. Don’t get ahead of yourself: while the hard part may be over, the challenges have just begun.

Just kidding. The truth is: once you’ve parked, there’s nothing exceptionally difficult standing between you and a great breakfast. The restaurant is right before you, and though the actual door to enter it can be a little tricky to find, I’m sure you’ll figure it out through trial and error. The only real test remaining is the menu. The reason: Uptown Cafe has just too perfect of a selection.

Between Mancakes (pancakes infused with bacon, ham, sausage, and then served with two eggs on top), the Uptown Smoked Salmon Omelet (made with Uptown’s famous smoked salmon, cured out front), and other solid choices like a Build-Your-Own Grits Bowl and Banana Bread French Toast, settling on something to order can seem like the most difficult part of the hero’s journey.

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Photo courtesy of Uptown Café on

Luckily for us all, Uptown Cafe is fairly cheap. Even their most luxurious breakfast selections, appropriately grouped under the MacDaddy’s section of the menu, are still only $8.99. Their One Egg Breakfast, served with grits or hash browns and toast, is only $3.49. Almost everything on the menu falls somewhere in between. As far as Tallahassee dining goes, that’s a pretty great deal. It means that if you decide on one thing to eat, but have a backup list of three or four, you won’t have to say goodbye to those potential meals for forever, only until next time (is tomorrow too soon?).

So from what we’ve established, Uptown Cafe’s food is heavenly. It’s family-owned, healthy, and they smoke the salmon out front. But what exactly about this earns Uptown Cafe the titled of “Great American Diner”? Sure, they serve up a good ole’ breakfast, but it has to be more. The restaurant itself is cute, but its physical appearance is nothing out of the ordinary, so that can’t really be it. Is it because it’s local? The answer is all of the above. Uptown Cafe succeeds where all other breakfast places fall short. It’s kinda on a budget, inventive, delicious, and fresh. Simply put, if your quest is a breakfast diner for the ages, visit Uptown Cafe.