morning glory chef-owner ari jo ellis photo by izaiah johnson

2019 Best New Restaurants // No. 8 Morning Glory Diner

Ask about the pie. That’s what the sign above the register says, and we trust Morning Glory knows what it’s talking about.

It’s rare for a restaurant to accomplish everything it attempts. Morning Glory isn’t anything fancy – chef-owner Ari Jo Ellis doesn’t try to “elevate” diner fare or put her chef-y spin on anything. She just makes damn good food.

When Ellis was named a 2016 One to Watch as a 20-something sous chef at Southern, she knew she wanted to open this exact diner, down to a prescient sense of her future location. “I would love a place as small as Southern, something real small,” she told Sauce at the time, not knowing she’d end up in the tiny, 30-seat former Vista Ramen on Cherokee Street. 

chicken and johnnycakes at morning glory diner // photo by izaiah johnson

Pull up a seat at the short bar in the familiar space, which Ellis managed to transform into a comfortable, friendly diner while barely changing anything at all. The biscuits are fluffy, and the pitch-perfect gravy is always freshly made. The breakfast sandwich is exactly what a diner breakfast sandwich should be: a perfectly fried egg, crisp, thick-cut bacon and American cheese on white bread. 

Don’t miss the chicken and johnnycakes. The fried chicken is moist and tender with a substantial cornmeal batter crust complemented by light, faintly sweet pancakes.  All you need is hot sauce and syrup. 

Really, there’s nothing new here – just classics in as good a form as you can find them. Give yourself a present, and drop by for two cups of good, hot, black coffee and maybe a slice of pie. 

Heather Hughes Huff is managing editor at Sauce Magazine.