Today, May 14, is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day.
As I’ve said before on the blog, I’m a huge sucker for biscuits. Anytime I visit a new city, I make it a point to try their best biscuit spots. To do it right and really get a sense of a restaurant’s biscuit prowess, in my opinion, you have to taste three variations: a biscuit sandwich, biscuits and gravy, and a basic buttermilk biscuit with butter and jam.
When I lived in London, my American friend and I used to reminisce fondly about how we missed biscuits and gravy in the States. We were met with incredulous looks from our British friends, who thought we had concocted some sort of national delicacy out of cookies topped with brown turkey gravy.
To be clear, I’m talking about the classic southern buttermilk kind—flaky and buttery pastry, usually topped with some kind of white pepper gravy. Not that I don’t also enjoy a Digestive biscuit every now and then.
Anyway, in honor of National Buttermilk Biscuit Day, here are my top picks for some of the best biscuits in America.
Pine State Biscuits (Portland, Oregon)
One time, on a first date, I talked about Pine State Biscuits for a solid 20 minutes. True story. (Luckily, my date was also very into biscuits, so it was well received.)
Talk to anyone who has visited Portland, and chances are they’ll mention Pine State Biscuits. It has launched into iconic status since first opening in 2005. In a state far from the south, Pine State Biscuits does justice by the traditional southern buttermilk biscuit. It makes sense; the founders hail from North Carolina and know biscuits very well.
The cream top biscuit with butter and jam (when I’m in the Pacific Northwest, I’m getting marionberry jam with everything) is a perfect biscuit, done right. The Reggie is their famous biscuit sandwich—fried chicken, bacon, and cheese, topped with gravy. Add an egg and make it a Reggie Deluxe. It’s delicious, but it is rich, and I am kind of picky about how messy a biscuit sandwich can be before I give up and eat it with a fork and knife and call it “biscuits and gravy.” The Reggie is pretty messy. At that point, you don’t really need a separate order of biscuits and gravy. It’s a lot.
Biscuit Bitch (Seattle, Washington)
Yes, I think using the word “bitch” in any sort of food-related name is gimmicky and in poor taste.
But. This is a good option if you’re in Seattle and need a biscuit fix. As a biscuit and gravy purist, I had the Straight-Up Bitch.
The biscuit options on the menu do get pretty complicated (over complicated, in my opinion), with Louisiana hot links, jalapeños, or grits. Sometimes the focus is more on the toppings than the biscuits. I’ll continue to stay away from any biscuits topped with shredded, unmelted orange cheese. But I’d happily try their sweet biscuits or the Straight-Up any day. The Canadian Bitch with maple peanut butter and bacon sounds promising.
Denver Biscuit Co. (Denver, Colorado)
The biscuits are huge, and so are the portions. Biscuit sandwiches here are more like biscuit towers, too large to lift with your hands. The Franklin is popular—fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, smothered in gravy. Full of southern flavors, it did not disappoint.
I rolled myself out the front door afterwards.
They also have unlimited self-serve coffee, which I love. Choose your own mug out of a collection of eclectic ceramics, and keep refilling.
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits (Chicago, Illinois)
The biscuits at Bang Bang are a little smaller, denser, and more compact than the others on this list, but they are no less delicious. The round egg disc on top containing a slightly runny yolk is so cute and adds a little extra moisture. I love that in addition to traditional options, like gravy or butter and jam, Bang Bang also offers healthier, creative takes on the biscuit. There are plenty of vegetarian options, and some that are almost… salad-like?
They serve some really good pies, too, so come hungry.