Cahoots Cafe in Hartselle, Alabama

Cahoots Cafe on Main Street in Hartselle, Alabama is part museum, part boutique, part restaurant, but ALL great food and nostalgia.

Location: Cahoots Cafe, 117 Main Street W, Hartselle, Alabama

Menu: Cahoots Cafe has daily lunch specials that are posted on their Facebook page. These generally reflect the seasons and the whims of the kitchen staff, but there are also a number of constant items from which to choose. A veggie plate, various sandwiches, salads, and hot entrees can always be ordered. The Cahoots Salad Sampler is very popular with chicken salad, pimento cheese, tuna salad, green salad, and fresh fruit. A typical veggie plate might include mashed potatoes, green beans, slaw, fried green tomatoes, and cornbread, but the items vary according to availability.

A recent sheet of daily specials included roast beef with three vegetables, spaghetti with meat sauce or a bowl of chili with a grilled cheese sandwich. The next day brought country fried steak, chicken and waffles, or coconut butterfly shrimp. The dessert bar always attracts attention with such offerings as chocolate cake, peanut butter pie, cupcakes, strawberry pretzel salad (a wildly popular Southern favorite), and a couple of sugar-free pies.

Cahoots is where you’ll find Southern comfort foods and perfect sweet iced tea.

Thoughts: Cahoots Cafe might be primarily an eatery, but it is also a quirky collection of memory-producing decor pieces with furniture and walls filled with items owner Rhonda Morris has gathered. Don’t think, though, that when you’ve visited once, you’ve seen everything. Ms. Morris is constantly bringing in new treasures and swapping their locations.

Each of the tables and sets of chairs is different, and the array of whimsical elements surrounding them varies according to the nook or corner where you are seated. Most of the collection is reminiscent of the 1950’s and 60’s. You would need to visit more than a dozen times to see the majority of what is housed at Cahoots. Unusual light fixtures and lamps, handpainted signs, clocks, umbrellas, vintage photos, player pianos, pump organs, toys, purses, and even a skeleton have made their way into prominent spots around the cafe. The definition of the word cahoots is “colluding or conspiring together secretly,” and that appears to be exactly what the intriguing hodgepodge of decorative delights is doing.

Main Street in Hartselle is comprised of an eclectic mix of shops, many of them selling antiques. Cahoots Cafe could also be considered a shop since there is a small boutique tucked into one area selling jewelry, scarves and camisoles. Ms. Morris continues to keep things interesting in this prime location on Main Street since she opened it in 2004, and I’m sure her creativity will continue.

The building itself has served a number of purposes during its long existence, and the interesting interior layout provides many areas to explore. There are lots of alcoves and crannies for intimate lunches with close friends or bigger spaces for a lively group. Your senses of smell, taste, and sight will receive a great workout at Cahoots Cafe.

Price range: Entrees range from $7.25-8.50. Desserts are $2.95.

Connie Pearson

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