Stack 'em High, North Carolina, USA
1225 N Croatan Hwy
158 Bypass MP 9
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
+1 (252) 441-7064
by Fidel Gastro
Stack 'em High is always bustling on Sunday mornings, even before the tourists pour into town for the summer. There’s a mix of locals coming back from church service and hungry out-of-towners looking for a good breakfast before the drive back to Washington or New York. It feels like a summer-camp: high ceilings and brightly-painted wooden rafters with various corny words of wisdom written on them; a cafeteria-style queue that offers juice and cold breakfast items before you reach the order counter.
Choosing a breakfast is no easy task: Stack ‘em High is known for its pancakes, including specialty ones, such the "Island Delight" which comes with coconut, chocolate chips and bananas. They also have “Redneck Specials” like Minnie’s Biscuits and Gravy, which I ordered. Then, for an all-out soul food flourish, I got some cheese grits and a cup of coffee.
The nature of a "real" Southern breakfast can be serious business... or a selling point for a weekend tourist who likes Southern food but has mixed feelings about the South. A real Southern biscuit is a blend of baking powder and slight butteriness, not really flaky in the style of French pastry, but with layers that maintain a certain texture that work equally well with jam and butter and the salty white sausage gravy that are staples of Southern breakfast specialties. The biscuit at Stack 'em High was large, fluffy, and versatile. It was so good and so huge that I couldn't bear to waste it all on the creamy white sausage gravy. I took a portion and put butter and grape jelly on it, savoring the masterful Southernness of my breakfast. I’m pleased to say that even after spooning up cheese grits onto another portion of the biscuit, it maintained that flaky integrity with the slightly sour-tart bite of the baking powder. The cheese grits, in contrast, were a slight disappointment -- too salty, not cheesy enough. But my biscuit more than made up for it.
Feeling stuffed and aware of the five hour drive back to Washington, I finished with a last gulp of coffee and left, already looking forward to the next dose of beach time and down-home cooking.