Bow down to these giant biscuits with a fanatical WV fandom
With its warm, from-scratch specialties and Mountain State roots, Tudor’s Biscuit World is a sentimental West Virginian favorite.
A winning recipe
Just take a peek at the ingredients. Though recipes vary, most biscuits rely on southern staples like buttermilk, sugar, and butter. “Softer” wheat grains grow well down here, too. Use this type of flour, and you’ll get an especially light dough. Volume is key. After all, there’s nothing like a biscuit, hot and steaming, with butter inside. Plus, biscuits are affordable, easy to make, and durable — the ideal meal for mountain crossings.
The Tudor dynasty
A home-baked biscuit reaches the height of simple pleasures. Whoever captures that crunchy exterior and pillowy interior is on to a winning thing. Such a revelation happened to one West Virginia couple.
It started with ham biscuits. During their travels to the Carolinas, William and Mae Tudor would look forward to the salty, rich snacks. Then they started to daydream. What would happen if the two of them opened a restaurant?
The first Tudor’s Biscuit World opened its doors in Charleston in 1980. Shortly thereafter, from-scratch biscuits took West Virginia by storm. You could order them singly — always a treat — or as golden sidekicks for breakfast and dinner platters. Other favorites, like omelets and pancakes, also starred on the menu. But biscuits remained the most popular feature by far.
The Tudor family went even further: they took their biscuits and made them into sandwiches. It was a brilliant decision. After that, Tudor’s really took off in West Virginia. You can visit dozens of them throughout the state, and there’s even one in Florida!
Out-of-state visitors can’t get enough, either.
“Our annual trip to West Virginia always concludes with a breakfast stop,” an online reviewer posted. “Best biscuits, fried apples, eggs, bacon … don’t forget the biscuits-and-gravy!”
(Almost) heavenly biscuit sandwiches
Salty, flaky, buttery … there’s plenty to like about Tudor’s bestsellers. It doesn’t hurt that they have appealing names, either. In fact, a West Virginia theme connects each one. The “Miner” biscuit sandwich is an obvious nod, while some references are much more subtle. Case in point: “Thundering Herd,” a sausage-egg-potato-cheese tribute to Marshall University.
Tudor’s also makes its own version of the pepperoni roll, West Virginia’s state food. Just ask for the “Peppi” the next time you visit. It’s a biscuit sandwich with melted cheese and sliced pepperoni. As for the popular “Mary B” and “Ron,” both honor loyal customers.
That West Virginia pride makes Tudor’s especially endearing. It may be a chain, but each restaurant evokes small-town spirit. It’s a cultural thing.
One online fan puts it simply. “It’s home. Hillbilly honor, that’s the truth.”
No doubt about it: Tudor’s has legions of fans. All the same, musicians Parry Casto and Alex McCoy probably lead the pack. One of their hits — “Mary, Mary” — honors the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. The duo didn’t stop there, either. Joining forces as Boulevard Avenue, they quickly found their muse.
“It’s uniquely West Virginian,” Casto explained. “I’m from Point Pleasant, and the Tudor’s there is a meeting place and hub for the area. It’s a place where you can sit down and talk.”
Boulevard Avenue also has a soft spot for the Morgantown Tudor’s, which has exclusive biscuits like “Nasty Chicken” and “Huggie Bear.” (The latter, in case you’re wondering, is a nickname for WVU’s basketball coach.)
“The owner also has this enormous Tudor’s costume,” McCoy said with a laugh. “We once talked him into using it for a performance.”
It didn’t take the musicians long to discover the musical properties of biscuits, Casto said.
“We were looking at a Tudor’s menu, and it occurred to us that the names made great song titles.”
“Most fit a mold right out of the gate,” he said, referring to the sandwiches. “For example, the ‘Peppi’ has just 2 ingredients, it’s simple, it’s fun. The ‘Miner,’ is more solemn. But we also looked at the biscuits, examined the toppings, and asked ourselves, ‘What kind of archetypes do we have here?’ ”
More than that, they were struck by the Mountaineer symbolism. Boulevard Avenue’s songs likewise became an extension of state pride.
“We’re West Virginians, and this is an album about West Virginia.”
They soon had a full menu but needed funding to unite the opus. Fortunately, a Kickstarter campaign brought in the dough. The result: “Biscuits as Usual,” an ambitious 15-track collection.
You won’t find any filler in this album. Like Tudor’s, Boulevard Avenue is grounded in country but isn’t afraid to experiment. “Rocket on a Bagel,” for example, is a forceful mix of “Appalachian dirt hip hop.” In contrast, “The Duke” flirts with “spaghetti-western balladry.”
Other West Virginia musicians jam along, too. Their vocal and instrumental talent, sometimes in the form of violins and harmonicas, enhances Casto and McCoy’s catchy originals.
If you’d like a listen, the entire album is available online. You’ll find “Biscuits as Usual” just as varied and upbeat as its hero.
Casto and McCoy also have a concept album in the works. They promise something even bigger in scope with more genres and musicians.
“It’s a natural progression of ‘Biscuits as Usual,’ ” McCoy said. “It will be something that will bring people together in the same way.”
You can also catch them performing throughout the year with THE M.F.B and Friendly Fire.
What’s for lunch?
By now, you should know the answer to that question! You’re not stuck with biscuits or all-day breakfast platters, either. Tudor’s, in fact, also covers lunch and dinner.
Popular entrees range from traditional sandwiches to southern classics. You can order burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, BLTs, chili, grilled cheese, and lots more. Tudor’s also has heartier dishes. Baked steak with mashed potatoes; beans and cornbread; hot roast beef; and a generous vegetarian platter are just some of the options.
Ready for a bite? Check out this handy map for Tudor’s locations in West Virginia and Ohio.
This post was last updated on November 13, 2017