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Great Breakfast Spots

Posted On September 14, 2014

From mom-and-pop joints to elegant champagne brunches, Columbia has plenty of ways to greet the morning, sunny side up.

By Kristine Hartvigsen and Katherine Pettit

 DiPratos Restaurant Columbia SC

British Bulldog Pub

Were he to visit Columbia, chances are that footballer David Beckham would be right at home at the British Bulldog Pub on Bower Parkway in Irmo. This is the only place in the Midlands where you can get a traditional English breakfast that’s tasty and authentic. Brunch selections include Irish potato pancakes with eggs, English baked beans on toast, and even a selection of English hot tea (be sure to try the decaffeinated peach tea) served with lemon and honey. Customers sing praises for the Pub’s Scotch Eggs. Locally owned by transplanted Brits, the Pub has a casual, communal ambience that can get feverish when folks gather to watch soccer or rugby on one of the flat-screen televisions. 227.8918

Café Strudel

This quaint, bohemian gem of an eatery has been a local favorite for 17 years. Serving breakfast seven days a week, including Sunday Brunch, Café Strudel is family friendly but also a great cure for recovering revelers. Legendary “Hangover Hash Browns” win the day every time. Get your “hair of the dog” with the “Smoky Bacon Bloody Mary” or a fresh-squeezed mimosa. Daily ala carte breakfast always available. Brunch specials may include a superior Eggs Benedict or a tri-pepper omelet with smoked Gouda. They don’t take brunch reservations, and there’s usually a moderate wait. But this is not fast food, and the reward is well worth it. A brilliant self-serve coffee bar allows patrons to help themselves with bottomless mugs. Charming old building with tin ceiling and local art everywhere. Friendly service. In West Columbia. 794.6634

Cool Beans

Just a stone’s throw from the USC Horseshoe, Cool Beans is where folks young and old come for their caffeine fix. As you’d expect, Cool Beans offers an array of hot and cold coffee drinks. But you might be surprised (and delighted) to discover a yummy breakfast menu that’s available all day long, so your breakfast cravings need not be limited to the morning hours. The grits at Cool Beans have been described as “life-changing,” and many a visitor has noshed on their satisfying breakfast croissants. Parking can be a challenge, and Cool Beans gets very busy with students when school is in session. There’s free, wifi and several cozy nooks to enjoy studying or playing a board game. Bonus: This fair trade-friendly café offers appealing vegan options. 779.4277

Crêpes and Croissants

They’re relatively new kids on the block, but already have attracted quite a number of devotees who swear by the Paris Crêpe (eggs, ham and Monterey jack cheese). These crêpes are so authentic, and well they should be. Laurent, the owner, is a French Master Crêpe Maker who has brought his particular knowledge to offer Columbians sweet and savory crepes for breakfast and lunch.  The food is très bonne of course, and the photos of Paris and the French music will make you long for the banks of the Seine. 462.4779

Di Prato’s

As legend has it, eggs Benedict was the brainchild of Wall Street broker Lemuel Benedict, who in 1894 deposited himself at the Waldorf Hotel requesting the satisfying combination anchored by English muffins and topped with Hollandaise as a hangover remedy. Di Prato’s features both the traditional Eggs Benedict as well as Eggs Charleston, which substitutes crab cakes for the Canadian bacon, on its weekend brunch menu. Come early to beat the crowd. Their extensive brunch menu includes generously portioned dishes of salmon cakes and Adluh grits, huevos rancheros, broccoli quiche, homemade corn beef hash, and mouthwatering potato cheese casserole. Take something home from the deli counter, too. 779.0606

DRIP

With their coffee making on display, you never forget that this is unabashedly a coffee shop first. People from far, far away make it a point to stop in at DRIP when they’re in town. Locals find all sorts of reasons to stop at the Main Street or Five Points locations. A Habanero latte – really? Yes, really. Salmon on a Greek olive bagel, or perhaps the blackberry French toast give you choices, so sit back, order a cup of Joe, and linger over the menu. If you’re there later in the day, order a Duck Rabbit, milk stout made in Farmville, NC, with a shot of espresso for good measure. 661.9545/Five Points; 799.0067/Main Street

Gourmet Shop

Ooh la la. This European-style café in Five Points serves breakfast seven days a week for both the discriminating epicurean and college student alike. Upscale but casual, the Gourmet Shop serves up a mean breakfast Panini with egg, Parrano cheese, roasted red peppers and bacon. In good weather, enjoy a rich cup of coffee at an outside table watching hipsters stroll by. Got a furry friend? The wait staff will bring out a bowl of water for the pooch. Another favorite selection is the breakfast bowl, which has egg, cheddar, and bacon or turkey sausage topped with grits. Comes with toast and raspberry rhubarb preserves. After your meal, shop the retail side next door, which carries a mindboggling selection of culinary gadgets, artisan cheeses and sausages, cigars, and even dark chocolate-coated espresso beans dispensed from a gumball machine! 799.3705

IHOP

Ideally located near the USC campus, the State House grounds, and the Congaree Vista entertainment district, this recently rebuilt and expanded Assembly Street IHOP is a longtime favorite of college students, legislators, families, and party animals alike. Attentive staff keep the coffee and famous buttermilk pancakes coming. Diners give the spinach and mushroom omelet high marks. Breakfast sampler is a great value that includes eggs, sausage, bacon, hashbrowns, and all-you-can-eat-pancakes. Expansive menu has made-from-scratch Belgian waffles, crepes, French toast, griddle melts, and lots of bacon. The smells, the flavors, the décor are familiar and comforting. Open 24 hours, this greasy spoon also has “Simple and Fit” selections such as a vegetable omelet. Kids’ options feature smiley face pancakes. There’s a small outdoor dining patio, too. 251.9165

Immaculate Consumption

Tucked behind the State House on Main Street, Immaculate Consumption draws an eclectic mix of politicians, students and nearby professionals. For almost 20 years, they’ve been feeding the locals and they still attract rave reviews for both their hand-crafted, in-house roasted coffee drinks and their light breakfast fare that ranges from homemade buttermilk biscuits to croissants, filled with choices that include eggs, bacon, ham and roasted red peppers. They also offer stone ground grits, granola, and their very popular steel cut oatmeal.   They have great lunch items as well. 799.9053

Le Peep

Founded in Aspen Colorado, Le Peep has become a favorite with Columbians. Located on Gervais Street in the Vista, it’s a perfect pause for coffee, or the fixins, including the Popular Wanderer, which adds bacon, onions, tomatoes and cheese, topped with eggs. The hollandaise sauce is very respectable, and the breakfast burritos yummy. Owner Christian Baez moved to Columbia several years ago and he and his family are happily settled in our capital city. Stop by for breakfast and you’ll be happy they made the move. 254.1200

Lizard’s Thicket

For more than 35 years, Lizard’s Thicket has been a unique Midlands eatery, serving country food and attracting happy southerners for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today, there are 15 locations (one in Florence) and 700 employees, but the menu still reflects southern home cooking. Starting your day off with Southern fried catfish, country ham and eggs, Lexington County homemade onion sausage, a steak biscuit, or even creamed chipped beef on Texas Toast is guaranteed to fill your tank and make you smile.  Stilled owned and operated by the children and grandchildren of Anna and Bob Williams who got this home cookin’ ball rolling, the Thicket is now serving children and grandchildren of the first satisfied customers from so long ago. 799.5016

Mac’s Off Main

Open less than a year as Chickadees Diner in Irmo’s Friarsgate Plaza (next door to the Bi-Lo), the renamed Mac’s Off Main is the new breakfast place on the block. After some growing pains, the eatery is finding its way with new recipes introduced by Susan Walker, wife of Chef Barry “Fatback” Walker of Columbia's landmark restaurant Mac's on Main (now closed). And, yes, you can get Mac’s “World-Famous Peach Cobbler” here. Breakfast is served all day, and an undisputed favorite dish is chicken and waffles, which is served with a spicy maple dipping sauce that will delight your taste buds. Mac’s Off Main also is the “home of the bottomless mimosa,” which is a great deal for $9.99. 724-2843

116 Espresso and Wine Bar

This tiny, locally owned, word-of-mouth bistro is THE brunch place for grown-ups. Dishes that combine conventional with inventive ingredients appeal to more sophisticated palates. Crust-less quiche (strata), stuffed marinated grape leaves (dolma), and sweet potato pancakes are just a few unexpected offerings. Of course there’s the stand-by steak and eggs for traditionalists, and a hands-down menu favorite is the three-potato hashbrowns with sautéed jalapenos, bell peppers, onions, and goat cheese. Enjoy with a creative variety of Bloody Mary drinks. Trendy vibe with exposed brick walls and items for sale by local artists. All food is fresh and prepared with great attention to detail. This is a restaurant with an imagination. No reservations though, so come early and prepare to wait. It will be worth it. 791.5663

Soda City Market

Locavores rejoice! Not only can you choose from oodles of locally sourced breakfast offerings, but you can take home plenty of fine crafts and other goodies from Soda City Market. Open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the 1500 block of downtown’s Main Street, this family friendly market has just about everything local you can imagine. Come hungry and nosh on sweet or savory crepes cooked onsite by Crepes and Croissants, fresh seasonal donuts from Diggity Doughnuts, hot breakfast choices from Rosso, and much more. Wonder about New York’s recent “cronut” craze? You can try one from Spotted Salamander Catering. Venders may change from week to week, but that just keeps it interesting! Leave happy with a full tummy and a selection of artisan pastas, fresh vegetables, handmade clothing, jewelry, boiled peanuts, and even artisanal cheese empanadas. sodacitysc.com

2108 State Street Bar and Grill

Across the river at – where else – 2108 State St., the unassuming is a local’s favorite with super munchies and homemade salad dressing, plus much more. Their Saturday Brunch runs from 11am-3pm and features fabulous homemade Bloody Mary’s and $10 Bottomless Mimosas. Don’t plan on a very productive afternoon, but you sure will enjoy the day! 200.2108.

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