Big Spring Cafe

1 Feb 2011
Cheap Eat (up to $7)
Downtown Huntsville
4 out of 5

Big Spring Cafe

Melanie’s Take

Sometimes, you just want a greasy burger. Not one that’s just greasy because the cook didn’t know how to avoid it, but one that is greasy because that’s exactly what the cook intended. If you’re ever in the mood for such a burger, visit Big Spring Cafe, the self-proclaimed home of the greasy burger. Located on Governor’s Drive about a mile west of the parkway, Big Spring Cafe is a Huntsville institution. Its original location was beside the Big Spring, and its current spot is the fifth building to house this local gem. The place is full of character. It’s a hole in the wall where the waiters know your name and how you like your burger. If you’re looking for a fine dining experience or an elegant dining room, this place won’t deliver. If, however, you want casual food in a welcoming, albeit run-down, dining area, you’ll be happy you visited.

Inside Big Spring CafeWe were welcomed after taking our seats along the counter and ordered burgers. I chose the double cheese with mustard and onions. Shane chose a burger as well and we decided to share a large fry. We watched our burgers being fried up on the griddle and two minutes later they were placed in front of us atop a piece of parchment paper in lieu of plates. The burgers are like large sliders, not full-size burgers, so I would recommend the double. The taste of the patty is definitely the draw of this burger. It is a secret combination of ingredients. I know because I asked the owner and she wouldn’t budge. My guess is that it’s part ground beef, part ground pork, and part bread crumb. Whatever it was, it was the best I’ve had in Huntsville to date.


It’s always a bonus when the people running the place are nice, and that was definitely the case at Big Spring Cafe. Shane and I will happily return for more greasy burgers and to sample their other items. At $2.15 for a double burger and $1.20 for fries, you can sample all you like without taking a hit to your wallet. We were encouraged by the owner to give their breakfast a try; I think we just might do that. I’d love to see a place like this stay in Huntsville for a long time.

Big Spring Cafe

Shane’s Take

I’m guessing people who read this site also enjoy Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. You know the kind of restaurants that Guy Fieri visits: most of them are some combination of kitschy, delicious, and unhealthy. Plus, most of them are run by interesting people who live on and in the restaurant. Of the Huntsville restaurants I’ve visited, Big Spring Cafe probably is the closest to a Triple-D restaurant that I’ve been to. It’s kitschy. For one, the store is tiny. There are about ten chairs at a bar, maybe two tables in the corner, a register, and a grill. Even when empty, there is little standing room. Decor is sparse. I noticed a “Big Spring Cafe” sign, an Auburn national championship sticker and pennant, a Double Cola sign, and little else. It’s an intimate environment, and it would be hard to eat there without sharing your conversation with everyone in the store. Some people might find the close environment intimidating—and I did a little—but it’s generally comfortable and unassuming. Double ColaThe burger and fries were delicious. I really liked the greasy burger of who-knows-what-kind-of meat. It was juicy, flavorful, and filling, whatever it’s made of. The melted cheese complimented it well, and the shiny greasy bun made for a nice package. The fries were fresh and tasty. Like many of the fries we’ve discussed on this blog, they were straightforward and unspectacular, but they’re fries, so who really can complain? Of course, this combination of food is incredibly unhealthy, as evidenced by the greasy smell that stuck to my clothes the rest of the afternoon, but it’s a good eat on a day when you’ve eaten little else.


I also should mentioned the owner, who was working during our visit. Despite having been at work for about twelve hours when we visited, she was friendly and proud of her restaurant, making our already-pleasant visit even more pleasant. She also talked about the history of the store—they’re in their fifth location, on their 3rd or 4th generation (I forget), and have been around since 1940-something. It was neat information, and I imagine she could tell a few good stories from the days when they were located downtown. I really enjoyed our visit to Big Spring Cafe. I’ve often claimed that Huntsville didn’t have any cool places to just swing by and grab a cheap tasty eat, but Big Spring Cafe stands as the first exception. Any time you’re in the mood for a greasy burger at a good price, I recommend swinging by. You’ll like it.


Closing notes:

  • Big Spring Cafe is a cash-only joint. They don’t do cards yet.
  • They once were located where the VBC parking lot is now located but moved when the VBC was built in the early ’70s.
  • I didn’t try it, but the stew was popular while we were eating. It (and everything else) is from an old family recipe, so I would guess it’s tasty stuff.
Big Spring Cafe on Urbanspoon

6 Responses

  1. phildebbie

    Yummm! This is Phil’s favorite Saturday lunch spot. Try the chili burgers–that’s my favorite. They are tiny, you might need two, but share fries or forget them. My only complaint, is they don’t serve Coke products.

  2. Phyllis Young Basham

    Sounds good to me. Ya’ll are doing an excellent job in writing your reviews. I enjoy them not just because your my kids either.

  3. Helen Keniston Oney

    I keep meaning to try this place – I think I will but it will have to wait until I’ve lost some weight! Excellent blog – so many of your comments on the various eateries are similar to my own thoughts. I do have a dining suggestion for you – Mama Annie’s, located adjacent to the A&M campus on Meridian Street. They do not have weekend hours and are open til 7pm weekdays. I like soul food and theirs is quite good and reasonably priced. Another one I enjoyed was the Japanese place on the backside of Bridge Street Town Center (right by the carousel). Again reasonably priced and quite good. Tasted rather authentic to me (not that I’m an authority) but there were some Japanese ladies who came in while we were there and they were of a “certain age”, seemed to be regulars and were conversing in Japanese, which makes me think that it is honest-to-goodness Japanese food. Ohio gozimas!

  4. Shane & Melanie

    Helen,Thanks for your comment! We’ve actually blogged about Mama Annie’s. Check this link. We’ll have to check the Japanese place out sometime.

  5. Keith

    I have eaten breakfast there, twice. Bacon egg biscuit once, and sausage, egg, cheese sandwich on wheat, once. Both times I was impressed with how much better the food tasted than what I typically buy at Hardee’s or Burger King, or McDonald’s. My $3 sandwich was much more rewarding than the ~$3.50 “artisan” thing I got from Starbuck’s, also.

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