This “brunch” post feels like I’m cheating a little because McAlister’s is not what you would consider a place for your traditional type of brunch, but I cannot deny one of my most favorite places the chance to shine in the spotlight. Unfortunately for us here in South Florida, there is no McAlister’s to be had (however I do encourage anyone with $500k+ who is looking for a smart investment to open one immediately down here), so when I get into a city that has one of these fine deli establishments, I make it a point to dine there at least once. This past weekend, while visiting my Alma Mater (Go Gators), I ate not once, but twice at the very location that I first fell in love with McAlister’s (Gainesville, FL).
If you are not fortunate enough to have dined at one of the 300+ McAlister’s locations, I urge you to give it a try. They are located nationwide (primarily in the South), so there is a chance that you live close to one or will be in the vicinity of one on your next out-of-town trip. McAlister’s offers a quick and casual experience, with a walk up counter for ordering and the food brought to your self-seated table.
What makes McAlister’s so good? Many things actually. They have a giant selection, which caters more towards the lunch type fare, and everything is made fresh. From their large array of soups to their “Texas size” spuds, each item is made with great tasting ingredients combined to create dishes that you will want on a more regular basis. I have eaten at McAlister’s with at least 50 different people over the years and everyone seems to have their favorite go-to’s (McAlister’s Club, Veggie Spud, Broccoli Cheese Soup), but if you want the Flavor Appraiser recommendation, go with the Harvest Chicken Salad Sandwich (on a Croissant) and a Cup of Chicken Tortilla Soup (which should actually be coined as “Spicy”).
And no McAlister’s meal would be complete without a large cup of their iced tea. It is so good that they actually trademarked it as “McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea” and sell it to-go by the gallon.
Since my college days, McAlister’s has made a few changes, omissions, and additions to the menu (such as the mac and cheese, which would have been ideal for hangover curing), but no drastic measures have been made, including the pricing. You can get a complete meal, including the drink, for under $10. As a college student, this type of inexpensive fare was a necessity and being able to still enjoy an amazing brunch (or lunch or dinner) for just a few bucks makes each meal here that much better. With such affordable prices, you can even splurge on one of their delicious fresh baked desserts.
McAlister’s was started in 1989 by a dentist in Mississippi, who knew what good restaurants were all about, and has evolved into one of the greatest “Fast Casual Restaurants” of today.