It’s an iconic emblem of our carnival culture. We are suckers for an RC Cola and a MoonPie here in the Port City, adopting what made Chattanooga famous as our own. We even ring in the New Year with a MoonPie drop, so how fitting is it isthat we have our own MoonPie General Store.
It’s part of a small chain with most of them in Tennessee cities such as Chattanooga, Franklin, Lynchburg and Pigeon Forge, but there’s also a MoonPie General Store in culinary-heavy Charleston, South Carolina. Mobile is the latest in the group. You’ll find ours in the RSA BankTrust Building, the very one that holds Dauphin’s on the 34th floor and a Pollman’s Bakery on the ground level.
It was a beautiful day for a downtown lunch as I made my way through Bienville Square with Katie Evans at my side. We were having a conversation — a deep conversation — about pimiento cheese. It seems the young Katie is under the impression it’s called “pimiento and cheese.” Not down here, sister. She’s an Ole Miss gal who spent years in Memphis followed by a stint in Denver. I guess it was the Denver that rubbed off on her. Anyway, she makes a mean pimiento and cheese, but I always correct her.
We enter the building on the St. Francis side and snake through the catacombs of the tower, finding the MoonPie General Store more toward Royal Street. There’s a gift shop on one side, with T-shirts and the like, and a candy shop on the other, with old-school sweets you’ve not seen in decades. The restaurant/soda fountain is right in the middle.
We take a seat at the soda bar and strike up the menu talk with our server. I think she was named Jasmine. Jasmine is on her path to culinary school (despite an aversion to gravy and moonpies, together or separately) and was helpful navigating the four or five pages of options, which led me to notice there were more than a couple of items that included pimiento cheese.
Introducing Katie, I told Jasmine of our conversation. “Naw, girl, pimiento cheese are together. There’s no ‘and.’ Those words are married, and they ain’t never breaking up. It’s just pimiento cheese down here.” I inquired about the soup of the day and she said, “Chicken noodle ($3.99).” I said, “Are you sure it’s not chicken and noodle?” I think Jasmine and I got our point across.
After all the fuss about dips, sandwiches and hot dogs with pimiento cheese, we ended up not getting any of those things. Jasmine was proud to tell us that on this day we could get breakfast all day. Knowing I wanted a cross-section sample of the menu, I avoided the giant signature breakfast platter and settled on the Conecuh Sausage Breakfast Burrito ($6.49). Coming with hash browns, I couldn’t help dressing them up with cheese, bell peppers, onions, jalapeños and mushrooms. A nod to the Waffle House with sliced American cheese and similar potatoes, for sure, but the burrito was fantastic. Chunks of sausage with no telling how many eggs and cheddar cheese was good enough to share half and save the rest for the morning.
Crazy Fries ($8.99) is a thing that’s sweeping our area. Reminding me of Big White Wings in Prichard, the chicken and cheese on these medium-cut fries are drizzled with the trio of house-made ranch, sweet heat sauce and honey mustard.
Katie was into the burgers and ordered The Original Mardi Gras ($9.49). This is a blackened burger with blue cheese and bacon, dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion. Condiments are on the table, but we quartered this and didn’t touch a thing. Even dry it was good, but next time I’ll at least get a little mayo.
The previously mentioned chicken noodle soup was very enjoyable, with chicken similar to that in the fries. Nothing fancy, it was just a good example of the classic.
You should guess that we took a lot of food home with us, but we couldn’t go to the MoonPie General Store without trying a MoonPie, right? The soda fountain called and we answered with a MoonPie Milkshake ($5.99). This was our choice of vanilla ice cream, a salted caramel MoonPie, whipped cream and a cherry on top in a to-go cup. We put together the right combination, as this was one of my favorites that day.
I couldn’t leave without perusing the nostalgic candy store, but abstaining from the Big League Chew, Push-Pops, Squirrel Nut Zippers, multiple kinds of Pop Rocks and many other classics was easier with a full stomach. There was even a shaving mug that read, “Jesus Shaves” next to the plastic dancing dashboard version of the Savior once immortalized in song. “I don’t care if it rains or freezes, long as I got my plastic Jesus.”
If you think you’ve got to miss out on your Royal Crown at a moonpie place, think again. They had RC Colas lined up in bottles, and I couldn’t resist. I’ll say the first half was not nearly as good as I remember it in the ‘70s, but the last half was divine. It just took a little getting used to.
A brisk walk to the car followed by another couple of necessary walking miles when we returned home, and my afternoon was shaping up. This place is what it is, nostalgia in a marshmallow cookie. I dreaded it as a tourist trap but was pleasantly surprised with the food. I think local lunch-goers can safely put this on their list of stops, and we always need more breakfast spots downtown.
Monday through Friday they open at 7 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.; Saturday they open at 8 a.m., and Sunday the hours are abbreviated from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
I’ll be back for the pimiento cheese.
MoonPie General Store
RSA BankTrust Building
107 St. Francis St., Suite 115
Facebook | Along with an expensive gift shop and ice cream parlor, the MoonPie General Store in downtown Mobile serves breakfast and lunch.
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