While visiting family in Cary, we decided to take an excursion into Raleigh to get breakfast at Big Ed's. We arrived moments before they were closing down the restaurant for the day (I do hate to be the people who come in at the last minute, and usually avoid it, but they were extremely gracious about the whole thing - big points to them for that).
The atmosphere is like an interstate diner that collided with a yard sale. There's old tin signs, farming equipment, and folk art (such as an airplane constructed out of old Pepsi cans). Definitely an oddball country flair, which is something I appreciate.
We were seated and helped by a woman who was the epitome of Southern hospitality. Very warm and friendly, chatting with us, but not so much that it interfered with the serving process. The restaurant is famous for its giant hotcakes. I initially asked for two, and the server gave me a bit of a funny look. I have a pretty decent appetite, but I decided to go with the server's instincts - after all, how often do people at restaurants encourage you to spend less money?
I am very, very glad that I went with that suggestion. As I sipped my coffee (S&D, a national brand, but based in North Carolina, so a local favorite), the food was brought out to us. In addition to the hotcake that was as large as my head, not to mention almost an inch thick, I was also given a small sausage patty, also from a local company. The sausage patty was good, though a little overcooked (possibly overheld, considering that we were the last table to be seated and it was closing time), the link probably would have been the better option. The hotcake was also delicious - complimented well by the provided molasses and syrup on the table. If you have an average appetite, I'd definitely recommend sticking to just one. I have a fairly large capacity for food consumption, and I still struggled to finish off mine.
Everyone else at the table enjoyed their food quite a bit, as well - I was with a good number of family members, so forgive me if I don't recount each item ordered, though mine was not the only hotcake at the table. We finished up our food and departed for the rest of our day in Raleigh.
If you're looking for the Southern diner experience, Big Ed's will definitely give it to you - you'll spend less that $10 per person (unless you try hard), and you'll leave with enough food to get you through a good chunk of the day.