Breakfast on a Budget

Reliable spots for a cheap, quick bite

Photography by Emma Meskovic

I’m a morning person. I enjoy the quietness of the house before everyone else wakes up. I enjoy a good cup of coffee. But most importantly, I enjoy a good breakfast. Growing up, I always heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (Equally as important as “second breakfast” and “third breakfast.”) But my mornings don’t always flow smoothly. Some mornings, I move entirely too slow. The “nighttime” Patricia often thinks she can read past 10 p.m. and still wake up on time. Some mornings, it’s due to one of the kids. 

Whatever the case may be, I don’t always get the opportunity to eat a “sit-down” breakfast at home. On those days, I look to a few fast, low-cost favorites to provide the perfect start to my day. Whether I’m craving fried chicken, a sausage biscuit, or something more akin to a country buffet, Memphis never fails me. 

Bryant’s Breakfast: Country Breakfast

I’ve been dining at Bryant’s Breakfast since I was in high school! I would grab a bologna, egg, and cheese biscuit before making the trek to Kingsbury High School. Some mornings, after dropping the kiddos off at school, I still make a stop there for a biscuit sandwich. (Shhh—don’t tell them.) Don’t be swayed if you see a line. Most mornings it moves pretty quickly. 

3965 Summer Avenue
Opens Wednesday – Sunday at 5 a.m.
Cost $6


Cafe Eclectic: Quickie Coffee & Sausage Biscuit

One morning I was running behind for work, and I do not work a job where skipping breakfast is an option if I want to be my best self! I called Cafe Eclectic and asked, “How quickly can you prepare a sausage biscuit and a Cinnful Jim?” The reply was, “In about seven minutes or so.” I arrived in nine, paid, left, and arrived at work on time! This same scenario has replayed on several occasions, and I have never been disappointed. 

603 North McLean Boulevard
Opens Monday – Saturday at 7 a.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m.
Cost: $5 drink + $5 biscuit


Donut Man: Donuts, Croissant Sandwiches, & Kolaches

Every Friday, I like to treat my kids to donuts before school. My kids typically order a sprinkled strawberry frosting donut, a dozen donut holes, a large cinnamon roll, and a spicy kolache. But I always go for a breakfast croissant sandwich. (They have turkey, ham, sausage, and bacon.) Why? One, these breakfast sandwiches are huge. Two, the croissant is soft and flaky, with the protein, egg, and cheese ratio on point; you are guaranteed to get the perfect bite every time. Three, they are so very yummy. The Donut Man, who clearly needs a better name, serves breakfast burritos and breakfast biscuit sandwiches too.

3224 Austin Peay Highway
Opens daily at 3:30 a.m.
Cost: $6


Fabiola’s Kitchen: Full Breakfast Menu

I’m extremely picky about my biscuits. They must be soft, but not too doughy. I must taste the butter and the love in each bite! Fabiola’s biscuits are perfect! I can eat them with just egg and cheese. I can eat them with egg, cheese, and bacon. And I can eat them with just some butter and jelly. And as great as their biscuits are, they’re not the top sellers! The pancakes are. The magic is in the batter. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Have you ever had to pause and look at what you were eating because you couldn’t believe that something that delicious could be real? That’s Fabiola’s pancakes!

1353 Jackson Avenue
Opens daily at 7:30 am
Cost: $7


Lulu’s Cafe & Bakery: Vegan Breakfast

While I initially started visiting Lulu’s for their coffee, their breakfast is dope too! The Black Eyed Pea Sausage & Biscuit is delicious and very filling. Did I mention it’s completely vegan? Yeah! Everything at Lulu’s is vegan! Go ahead, get a cookie too. You can eat it “later” (aka, in your car on the way to work).

3119 Poplar Avenue
Opens Tuesday – Friday at 7 a.m. and Saturday at 8 a.m.
Cost $9


RaceTrac Deli: Breakfast Sandwiches, Tamales, & Fried Chicken

All Memphis natives know that gas station food is a thing, and RaceTrac Deli inside the Valero gas station does not disappoint. If you arrive at 6:30 a.m., you can find them battering and frying the chicken, putting fresh breakfast sandwiches together, and wrapping tamales. My go-to is the fried chicken tenders. They have a little bit more spice and flavor than I’ve found at other gas stations. Plus, they’re a really nice size. And if I’ve failed to pack my lunch for the day, I can grab it here too. 

4822 Raleigh-Millington Road
Opens daily at 5:30 a.m.
Cost: $5


Team Car Cafe: Breakfast Tacos

On rare occasions, I’m able to treat myself to tacos for breakfast at Team Car Cafe inside Latting Speed Shop. The Chorizo Breakfast Taco (made by El Mero Taco, Team Car Cafe’s next-door neighbor) gives the right amount of spice and puts me in the best of moods. I do not recommend battling Memphis traffic while trying to wolf these bad boys down. So just do what I do: Devour them in the car before pulling off! 

8100 Macon Station Drive, Suite 101
Opens Monday – Saturday at 8 a.m.
Cost: $8


Toarmina Grocery & Market: Down-home Cooking

Sometimes I want a good ol’ country breakfast before I go to work. I’m talking about grits, eggs, bacon, or maybe a fried pork chop. Toarmina serves up this weekend-style, country breakfast Monday through Saturday. The line can get long quickly, but the hardworking ladies staffing the kitchen are professionals and the line moves really quick. Other options include rice, gravy, biscuits, sausage, and fried chicken.

1486 Chelsea Avenue
Opens Monday – Saturday at 6 a.m.
Cost: $9

Patricia Lockhart is a native Memphian who loves to read, write, cook, and eat. Her days are filled with laughter with her four kids and charming husband. By day, she’s an assistant principal and a writer, but by night—she’s asleep. @memphisismyboyfriend

Emma Meskovic is a digital content manager, illustrator, and super fan of this publication who loves taking photos of her food. @emmamesk