Mike and I had a meeting in Austin, Texas a couple of days ago and upon leaving early the next morning, stopped in to a Cracker Barrel Restaurant to grab some bacon and eggs for the road. My distant memories of stopping at Cracker Barrels on the way to visit our sons in colleges in Virginia and Tennessee, include a vast array of non-egg-and-bacon stuff on the menu–fluffy buttered biscuits and gravy, pancakes, French toast, waffles. Fearing the worst, I steeled myself against all those things that I wasn’t going to order, but that I would, no doubt, have to witness be enticingly gobbled up at tables all around us. On that score, the restaurant was everything I feared and more. Everywhere I looked folks seemed to be scarfing down tasty-looking carb concoctions by the front-end-loader-full.

But a real surprise greeted us on the menu: an entire section of Low Carb Breakfast options! Eggs, any style, with sliced fresh tomatoes where the breakfast potatoes or biscuits and gravy would have sat and with thick slab bacon, hickory smoked patty sausage, or ham. If you wanted, you could do double meat or even step up to the plate for all three meat offerings. And they were delicious, just lightly scented of hickory.

It was fantastic. Quick, tasty, filling, inexpensive. Best of all, no need to modify anything, no special requests, no wasted toast left on the side–or worse yet eaten!

And their low carb fare extends to lunch and dinner, too. Seeing low carb in such a bastion of sugar and flour makes me more convinced than ever that the news of the death of low carb has, as Mark Twain once put it, been greatly exaggerated!


  1. I think part of what has led to this idea of the demise of the low-carb diet is that less people are obviously doing it. But I think that it was manufacturers/stores, really, and peoples’ inability to stick to a diet that led to this.

    I remember 2004 being a year of tons and tons of low carb products coming into the grocery stores. I was excited each week as I’d learn what new products were out. I remember the low-carb Oreos, and the low-carb breads, and the low-carb everything. But I was never a big purchaser of them for ONE reason: they were incredibly expensive!! So in all, I think people stopped doing low-carb because they wanted an easy way out; they wanted all the same bad foods for them just in low-carb and they didn’t want to have to spend more. Thus no one bought them and the companies stopped making them and people just went back to their bad eating habits (or low-fat). People just figured if the low-carb products weren’t out there, they couldn’t do the diet.

    I find the same was true in a lot of restaurants I went to during that time, as well. As like you, I found at many restaurants they had low-carb menu options. What I often found, however, was that all they had done was change a menu item that currently existed, took the startch out, replaced it with something cheap and less than exciting, and quite often actually raised the price. Again, they basically provided little incentive for people to eat low-carb because people didn’t want to be gouged.

    I’m glad you were able to find a place that had low-carb menu items for a good price. I think what is a better strategy (which I’m sure you do all the time) that people need to really learn is to just be able to walk in and order in an unhealthy restaurant and actually eat what’s good for them. Once people master that, and actually go to the grocery store in order to purchase quality food, I think only then will the low-carb diet really be seen as a “lifestyle” instead of simply a diet and will be widespread.

  2. I often go to Cracker Barrel too and am pleasantly surprised that their low carb fare is not only still there, but they’ve added to the veggie selections!

    Subway still lists their LC selections, and have added a salad with tuna. Ruby Tuesday still lists their carb counts on the menus and offer mashed cauliflower and a low carb cheesecake for dessert. TGI Friday’s has an “Atkins Friendly” menu, and each of their 3 course choices has a “guilt free” choice that includes a low carb appetiser and entree…and their ONLY “guilt free” dessert is a low carb cheesecake!

    You can still get bunless burgers at most of the fast food joints, and most places don’t look at you like you have 2 heads when you ask that they not bring bread!

    But the biggest surprise? Captain D’s seafood also now includes a low carb choice. Either chicken or fish with a salad and 2 veggies!!! I’ve had the fish and it was great! It comes with broccoli and mixed veggies and a side salad!

  3. I’ve almost given up on chain rstaurants, partly because I’ve seen the buckets of carby salad dressings and cubes of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil used to lube the grill.
    However, there is a local diner we frequent. When we ask for bacon and eggs, no toast, no potatoes, no pancakes; the waitress says “good for you!” and presents us with a side of beautiful fresh fruit and extra meat. It’s wonderful.

    I think that manufacturers stopped making low carb products because they were junk, and a dedicated low-carber wouldn’t eat them anyway. So in that respect, the low carb “junk” diet is indeed dead. A common trick would be to make a smaller package (eg Onion Soup Mix) that had fewer carbs per serving, but the serving size was reduced by half of the regular product. Same product, smaller package= low carb.
    Notice, however, that the best of those products remain on the shelves- like Heinz 1 carb ketchup.

    I sincerely hope that the true low carb way of eating is still in it’s infancy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *