For decades now, locals have flocked to Ruth’s for breakfast. It is served all day (until 2:30pm closing), and it is pretty darn good. There is genuine country ham — chewy, salty, and profoundly flavorful — accompanied by biscuits that are hefty fellas but nice to eat despite their density, and a fine sop for sausage gravy. Eggs are cooked with a savvy hand, but grits are nothing more than a perfunctory grain. My favorite breakfast actually is catfish — an extraordinarily moist fillet, arriving in a falling-apart jacket of brightly seasoned batter.
It is is also possible to have catfish as the anchor of a meat-and-two lunch. Other everyday lunches are such diner standards as liver and onions, country-fried steak, fried chicken, and hamburgers along with a selection from at least a dozen vegetables. Among the veggies, I recommend candied yams (if you like really sweet, highly-spiced ones), rutabagas, fried okra, and pork-laced blackeyed peas.
If you are a fancier of comfort food, have chicken and dumplings when it is available as a daily special. It is as homey a dish as can be — tender pieces of chicken and fluffy ribbons of dough in aromatic white sauce. It is bland as served, but generous sprinkles of salt and pepper bring forth blissful chicken savor.
Even if you come for breakfast, do consider dessert. Cakes, puddings, and cobblers all are made by either Ruth’s waitresses or the waitresses’ mothers and they are church-bakesale-good. Speaking of waitresses, the crew here is an essential part of the Ruth’s experience. All seem like veterans — quick, able, and helpful — and they regularly josh with regular customers who have been coming to Ruth’s since there actually was a Ruth, long ago. When I first stopped in, I knew I was in my kind of place when the waitress reminded me that it would be wrong to have warm blackberry cobbler without a scoop of ice cream melting on top.