When I think of the fall season, certain spices always come to mind. Hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, or clove in the air instantly bring me back to the holidays I spend with family and friends. When most people think about food during the holidays, breakfast may not be the first meal that comes to mind. For me, though, there is nothing better than waking up in the morning to the smell of holiday cooking.

What better way to have the spices of the season in your breakfast than French toast? To honor this special time in people’s lives, I wanted to talk about three fun places in Gainesville with French toast that will bring back all your holiday nostalgia.

Cracker Barrel

Caia Reese

Out of the three places I visited, Cracker Barrel had the French toast that stuck closest to tradition. Made with sourdough bread and their signature egg batter, their French toast had a nice chewy texture that didn’t feel too heavy on the stomach. They gave me a scoop of whipped butter on top as well as a warm bottle of their syrup on the side, perfect for those of us who like to customize our savory-to-sweet ratios. And of course, it wouldn’t be French toast without the sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. 

Customers also have the option of adding strawberries to their french toast and/or making their dish a meal with eggs and breakfast meat of their choice. If you are someone like me who loves mixing your savory and your sweet into one bite, cut up some sausage to eat with your french toast. If you haven't done that already, it's a game-changer.

Pit & Peel

Caia Reese

Pit and Peel’s French Toast is a more upscale version of the traditional recipe. There are so many elements in this dish that I was truly curious as to how all the flavors would come together. The French toast was made with brioche bread and was topped with cream cheese, mixed berries, mandarin oranges, pistachios and, of course, powdered sugar and syrup. Altogether, the plating was incredible and made the dish look very colorful and attractive. The fruit had a fresh taste and was cut up in a way that made it easy to collect multiple flavors at once. I got sweetness from the French toast itself, tartness from the fruit and some nuttiness from the pistachios.

I decided not to get meat with my meal, which I assumed would stop me from being completely full afterward. However, I walked out of the trendy brunch spot with my stomach feeling like a balloon ready to burst. Lesson learned, never underestimate the power of fruit and carbs.

Luke's New York Bagels

Caia Reese

Lastly, I thought it’d be good to try a French toast option for those who may be on the run or don’t want to sit down at a restaurant in order to eat their favorite breakfast meal. Luke’s New York Bagel Shop has the perfect on-the-go option for these folks: the French Toast Bagel.

When I first open the bagel, my eyes were drawn to the yellow spiced dough and the generous amount of cream cheese. The cream cheese complimented the chewy bagel beautifully — a  good level of sweetness coming from the bagel and cream cheese as well as some added crunchiness from the walnuts. The bagel also has powdered sugar on top which melted into a sticky coating when toasted.

If you want to stick closer to traditional french toast, you can get your bagel sliced and toasted with butter instead of cream cheese. And if you want to add a fruity element, you can replace maple walnut cream cheese with strawberry cream cheese. The choices are endless at this customizable bagel shop.

The French Toast Lowdown

So there you have it! Those are just a few of the french toast spots to check out while in Gainesville during the holiday season. Whether you're by yourself this year or celebrating with a group of family or friends, take some time out of your day to enjoy the foods that remind you of home. Hopefully, the smell of spices will lead you to a bunch of new places where you can create some traditions of your own.