Famous White Chili
Ed Hyter graduated from Huntsville High School almost 40 years ago. To say he’s stayed fairly close to home is an understatement. Ed got a job at Duffy’s Deli in Huntsville, Al a week later and has, for the most part, been there ever since. Sure, he did leave for a couple of weeks but found the grass on the other side of the fence was not greener. So he came back. Ed didn’t turn his back on his alma matter either, acting as HHS’s Panther football squad as Equipment Manager. His work at Duffy’s has earned him the title Chef Edward and The Soup King. His work with the Panthers has earned him the title, Mr. Huntsville High. In the Five Points area of Huntsville, he seems to be Mr. Everything.
Duffy’s, founded by former University of Alabama Crimson Tide Quarterback John “Duffy” Boles, sits in a 100 year old house. Sadly, the house is in probate court right now and Linda Ledbetter who owns and operates the Deli with her husband Terry, has no interest in relocating. The plan is to continue the tradition until they’re uprooted and then retire. They’d like to sell the business but time will tell. It’s an unfortunate part of life when an institution is taken from locals however life is not always sunshine, lollypops and rainbows.
From the outside it looks like, well, an old house. Of course, most houses don’t have a sign outside and the lawn has been replaced with a parking lot. As with any century home, it needs some TLC but given the uncertain future, no one wants to invest the money. So there it sits, sadly needing some love, awaiting it's fate.
Inside Duffy’s has an order counter as you walk in. You then procede to the dining room and wait for your goodies. There really isn’t one big dining room but a handful of smaller ones. There’s plenty of newspaper and magazine articles decorating the walls. Of course, there’s all kinds of Crimson Tide paraphernalia. Perhaps the most important feature though, Eddie is always near by. When not cooking in the kitchen he’s in the dining room mingling with customers. Talking football mostly.
Speaking of Eddie and his kitchen, let’s get a look at what he’s got to offer.
I’ll start with the star of the show. The White Chili. Very simple in nature and not heavily seasoned it’s truly a work of art. The beans and chicken really shine through. It has a really nice, well rounded flavour. I found the gravy to be fine as far as thickness although reviews I’ve seen see people consider it thin. What really ties this whole dish together is the generous amount of cheese in it. It’s a spectacular dish.
The Catfish is quite good. A nice, thin, crispy cornmeal batter encases a melt in your mouth filet of fish. As far as the fish goes, it has that signature earthiness to it. While they use frozen fries, these are among my favourites. They’re coated and makes for a really crisply exterior and conceals a fluffy, potatoey interior. As I’ve said before, good frozen fries beat bad fresh cut every day of the week.
A daily special sandwich is Italian Meatball. Served on a hoagie bun it’s packed with gum ball sized meatballs in Maranara and topped with Mozzerella cheese. There’s no alchemy going on here, it’s just an around tasty sandwich.
The Baron sandwich is also fantastic. Salami and Ham on Rye (they were out so a whole wheat bun was subbed) with Swiss. The meats really complemented each other rather than competed. What really “Made” this sandwich though is the mustard. A nice deli mustard. Just enough to add some character but not so much as to take over the whole thing. Fab-U-Lous.
The Bayou Hoagie is a tasty sandwich as well. Pieces of Cajun Sausage on a hoagie roll with mayonniase and spicy mustard. The simplicity is really what makes it. The condiments are only there to compliment the sausage and the bun to hold it.
Eddie takes great pride in his burgers and it shows. Some hail it as Huntsville’s best. As of yet, I‘ve found no better. A great beef taste in this hand formed and flat top (ahhhh) griddled burger. Topped with cheese on a nice fluffy bun. It’s simply great.
The Deep Fried Cheesecake is fantastic. They get a simple cheesecake from a local bakery and deep fry wedges. They top it with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Eddie tells us that he loves it with raspberries on top.
So there you have it. Great sandwiches and legendary white chili in a Huntsville institution that, hopefully, will endure.
You can find Duffy’s at 2324 Whitesburg Dr S, Huntsville, Al.
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You can also find them on facebook.
Well that’s all for now folks, see you next time in the food court.