Satori Coffee House • 5460 Old Shell Road Mobile, AL 36608 • 251-344-4575
It’s been a good while since I stepped through the doors of Satori. There is only one reason I’d ever be in a position to say that … I’ve been busy. Yes, it’s a sad excuse, but one that is backed by truth. I first started going there when it was a record shop. I played there a few times after they got their alcohol license, chugged their coffee when I lived closer and ate there many times throughout the years.
The place is funky in every good sense of the word. This is the type of bar, restaurant, diner, coffeehouse and music venue all towns need. A hop and a skip from the University of South Alabama campus, Satori is college funky. It’s flyers of new bands and posters of old bands funky. It’s mismatched drapery over old window panes, natural light for the morning crowd and painted glass for when darkness is preferred funky.
In other words, it’s cool. Music, art, food and drink make going there worthwhile.
Formerly owned by Chuck Cox, Satori is now owned by brothers Neil and Chuck Byrne, though you may see the former Chuck in there working from time to time. With new ownership came menu changes, so I needed to make sure this place was as good as my memories. It all started with breakfast.
Today was the first day I set out to review with just my youngest son, Henry. Daycare was still closed for the holidays, so dad and boy decided on breakfast. The breakfast burrito ($5.50) (all of the burritos are the same price) was a sizable meal. Two eggs, cheese, peppers, spinach, tomato, verde (tomatillo) sauce and bacon packed the tortilla. I ran into a bit of fire along the way, just a quick bite that I appreciated, and found out it was a dash of their house-made hot sauce. Served with that same chipotle hot sauce on the side, the smokiness really came through.
The burrito that came recommended was the carnitas breakfast burrito. Still two eggs, the generous helping of carnitas, potatoes and cheese gave this extra weight. The pork was almost sweet, and with that same hot sauce that accompanied it, there was a balance.
I grabbed a black bean quiche ($6.50) for Master Henry, thinking he’d have a few bites and leave the rest for mom. The roasted veggies were chopped enough for his little, 1-year-old teeth. Garnished with arugula, verde sauce, avocado, tomato and a touch of cilantro, this fancy dish was no match for him. After I swept the greens from the top (they were delicious), he powered through three quarters of it. I loved my little taste and can’t wait to try the salmon quiche.
With breakfast done, we knew we needed more. Dude lunch date was in order. This time we took Rob. Two cups of gumbo ($6) were a must. This chicken and sausage was closer to a bowl than a cup, with a roux almost jet black, but not burnt. There is a difference to it, not full of rice, and Rob won the race to the bottom. No crackers, no bread, just a simple yet powerful example of gumbo.
Rob was into the the chipotle wrap when the first Chuck owned the place. Though he was sad to hear of its absence from the latest menu, he was open-minded enough to try out the carnitas burrito ($7.50). His was a bit different from the breakfast option. Rice, beans, peppers, cheese, verde sauce and that aforementioned chipotle hot sauce. If the breakfast burrito wasn’t hearty enough, this one was a monster, especially on top of gumbo.
The most notable addition to the Satori kitchen is a pizza oven. I never dreamed I’d see the day where I ordered pizza in these walls, but lo and behold, there I sat staring at a slice and a salad ($5.50). With mixed greens, a bit of feta, some sliced cucumbers and tomato, the salad was a healthy contribution with its vinaigrette on the side. The slice was a very large, perhaps a quarter of a 14-inch pizza, with caramelized onions, roasted garlic cloves and pepperoni.
I donated as much of the crust and bite-sized pieces of cucumber to Henry’s plate.
I had Satori for breakfast and lunch. Why not have it for dinner? My wife, Katie, was already the recipient of burrito leftovers and crumbs of quiche. I didn’t feel like cooking anyway, so I brought home a pizza called The 08er ($16.50). This bad boy was 14 inches of duck confit, caramelized onions and bacon with an alfredo sauce. Holding it all in was a thick layer of provolone and mozzarella blend. Garnished with arugula and Grana Padano (like shaved Parmesan), I found it to be a pizza you’d more likely find in a boutique pizzeria with a heftier price tag.
I didn’t miss the red sauce, there was nothing oily about it and the duck confit didn’t overpower any of it. The onions were my favorite, and the arugula added a peppery hint that was nice. Speaking of the arugula, I was surprised how well it held up with reheating. Just microwaving this pizza at the end of a long day and it still being great was a testament to the sum of its ingredients.
There is no time in recent memory that I had breakfast, lunch and dinner from the same location. I’ve already spent my January carbs, but there’s always been something about Satori that seemed a little healthier, no matter what you’re eating. With new owners and a new menu, it still feels that way.
Best of luck to Neil and Chuck for keeping this Old Shell favorite going. It’s looking good so far.
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