RSVP Montgomery

Southern Food is Good for the Soul


Angela Hardgrave
If you happen to be in downtown Montgomery and are craving deliciously authentic Southern food, two great choices are Yellowhammer Cafe on Bell Street and Cahawba House on South Court Street. Either location will fill your need for great Southern comfort food and leave you feeling like you’ve shared a meal with family.

Cahawba House

Cahawba House, which has the tag line “Bama Bona-Fide Southern Cuisine,” is a fairly new addition to the downtown area and is owned by Tara Essary, the general manager, and Tim Essary, the back-of-house manager.

Siblings Tara and Tim opened Cahawba House in October 2016 with the desire to bring “a historical Southern flavor with a new twist to downtown Montgomery.” 

“By infusing fresh local ingredients with traditional recipes, the restaurant brings a unique and healthy choice of eating to the city,” said the Essarys. The choice of a name for the restaurant is also unique. They said, “The name Cahawba was originally the first official state capital of Alabama, and therefore, a bit of history from the South remains.”

The Cahawba House menu boasts distinctively Southern fare, such as pimento grilled cheese, smoked pork sliders, meatloaf, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese. “All ingredients used are local and fresh from the earth of Alabama. Inspired by secret family recipes derived from the South, Cahawba House features homemade Southern cuisine that everybody loves,” said the owners. “We feature many menu options that change with the season, which includes soup and salads, meat and three, a market salad, and sandwiches. Some popular menu items include the smoked pulled pork, fried green tomatoes and the house salad,” they said.

Cahawba House has different brunch specials every Sunday and will be adding a new breakfast bar in 2017.

These offerings are thanks to Chef Lashanda King, who is a prominent local chef known for cooking with quality ingredients and a Southern flare. Chef King has been with Cahawba House since its inception.

Owners Tim and Tara Essary are thrilled for their restaurant to be a part of the capital city experience. “Cahawba House is at the heart of the capital of Alabama, and that brings in a diverse crowd of people. The restaurant is proud to serve the community while supporting local farmers and businesses,” they said.

Cahawba House is open from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., Sunday through Friday. It’s located at 31 South Court Street, by the market square fountain in front of the capital building. The restaurant is capable of staffing on and off location catering. You can reach them by email at or by phone at 334.356.1877 or follow them on Facebook.

Yellowhamer Cafe

Yellowhammer Cafe, owned by Kym Darveau, recently debuted in downtown Montgomery. “We are a brand new restaurant brought about by years of working in the restaurant industry and YEARS spent in the kitchen with my mom, grandmothers and great grandmothers,” said Darveau.

“We are a Southern, home cooking diner. The recipes we use were passed down for generations in my family, along with some new creations born from cooking and experimenting with and for my children and their friends,” Darveau said. Their menu features items such as bruschetta chicken, the “Yellowhammer Burger,” hand-breaded onion rings, and a breakfast offering called “Little Bit of Everything”—three eggs, hash browns, biscuits with gravy, Conecuh sausage and bacon.

Darveau said, “The most popular item on our menu is probably a toss up between our hand-breaded fried green tomatoes, fried okra, onion rings and a very old-fashioned southern spin on creamed corn.” The popularity of their sides is probably attributable to the fact that their vegetables are all fresh and locally grown.

All of this Southern comfort food is made possible by Yellowhammer Cafe’s two chefs, Will Owens and John Hooks, who have both been with the cafe from day one.

Yellowhammer Cafe also offers catering and event hosting. They have a large dining room equipped with audio and visual equipment for presentations and will cater off-site events as well.

Yellowhammer Cafe has been a great addition to the heart of the city. Darveau said, “My goal is to provide a taste of the South. I also have local vendors that sell their goods in the restaurant, from candles, candies and hot sauces to spices, music and jewelry.” Local businesses supporting other local businesses—it’s a wonderful thing.

Yellowhammer Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They are located at 1961 Bell Street in Montgomery. You can reach them at 334.239.7758 or follow them on Facebook.

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