Mason-Dixon Cafe, Fredericksburg, Virginia

Nancy and I went to the Pottery Barn Outlet in Fredericksburg in search of a low price on some furniture. The place turned out to be mainly an outlet for returned furniture — returned for good reason. We left empty handed and started looking for a place to eat lunch. My barbecue research not having turned up any place that cooks exclusively with wood, we hopped in the car and wandered into town — and what to our wondering eyes should appear but this gem of Googie* architecture:

Who could resist that design? Who could drive on by at mealtime? Especially with a culinary safety net like this right next door:

The Mason-Dixon Cafe actually turns out to be a favorite of Yelp and Trip Advisor raters, as well as sundry regional publications. Mason-Dixon is lauded especially for their breakfasts, which they serve all day. So in we went. We actually felt comfortable enough to sit inside at one of the widely spaced tables. We were at least eight feet from the nearest diner, and a good 14 feet from anyone who was breathing in our direction. Everyone was fully masked, nose and all, and all condiments, right down to the salt and pepper, came in individual packets.

We ordered — breakfast, of course — with French toast for the usually abstemious Nancy.

Nancy loved the French toast. It came with cardamom butter, which was very good, as well as a good syrup. That was a lot of French toast, as you can see, more than Nancy could eat.

I went with eggs with sausage, home fries, and sourdough toast.

And, in the interest of research, I ordered a side of cheese grits. A very large side, as it turned out. And there’s the toast, too.

Like Nancy, I really enjoyed my meal. The over-easy eggs were cooked precisely as ordered, with none of the yolk solidified. The sausage patty was large and tasty. It was fairly mildly spiced but not bland with more herbs than pepper, and it was nice and meaty — not greasy. The home fries were quite good, better than any I remember having in Washington. And the toast was unexpectedly good, made from very good bread. I’ll quibble with the cheese grits as overbalanced toward cheese. I prefer the grits to stand out, but I’m probably in the minority there. And I’ll whine that they had Cholula rather than Tabasco Sauce or Texas Pete’s, but those are quibbles. This was a very good breakfast.

Mason-Dixon offers lots of sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs, and some entrees in addition to their numerous breakfast choices. The menu currently is somewhat truncated amid the coronavirus complications, this based on my comparison of their website with their facebook page, but there are plenty of choices. I’d especially like to try their shrimp po’ boy to check out their remoulade. And they have a full bar.

If you’re in Fredericksburg at mealtime, head on over to the Mason-Dixon Cafe. You’ll enjoy it.

And let the record reflect that we did not walk over to Carl’s for a shake or even a small ice cream after our lunch. But that doesn’t mean you can’t.


*I had to do a little digging to find the name, Googie. I actually looked up “space age architecture” and pinned down the Googie style, named after Googie’s Coffee House in Hollywood, designed by John Lautner in 1950. Here’s a shot of the interior —

The coffee house is no longer standing, and most of the extant examples of Googie architecture are in California, so it’s a treat to come across one.

UPDATE: I just found a fairly good exterior shot. There on the right —


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