The Hottest Brunch Spots
One of America’s favorite dining habits combines breakfast and lunch and all sorts of good things to tease your taste buds and please your palate. Of course, for some, it’s a civilized way to enjoy an adult beverage before noon. Others simply prefer breakfast food – all day, any hour. It’s a good way for friends to meet, especially on weekends. And here in our capital city, the chefs are creating spectacular offerings that rival any dinner menu.
By Deena Bouknight, Clair DeLune and Kathy Pettit
Alodia’s Cucina Italiana
Nestled in a strip shopping center near Irmo, one can experience a true taste of Italian heaven anytime, but Sunday brunch from 11am-2pm is especially memorable. Frittata Carne, an Italian omelet with Italian sausage, peppers and onions provides a spicy perspective to those whose palates have been lulled and dulled by dining at chains.
Their Egg & Crab Cake Strata, featuring lump crab cakes, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce, puts an Italian twist on a Southern favorite, and you can also find more usual fare such as strawberry-banana pancakes and Eggs Benedict on the menu. If you want the wildly popular Chicken Fried Chicken, you are advised to arrive early. Staff is attentive and friendly, making patrons feel like treasured relatives being honored with the delights that emanate from this dolce cucina. A Mimosa or Bloody Mary might enhance the experience even more. 803.781.9814, alodias.com
Surrounded by Bourbon’s brick walls and huge windows overlooking a recently refurbished Main Street and Capitol building, patrons can wet their whistles from a selection of whiskey that runs the length of the restaurant. However, it is the Cajun-Creole food that will whet one’s appetite.
Enjoy the Green Tomato Chowchow perched atop Fried Green Eggs and Ham; or revel in their hallmark breakfast of Congaree Milling Company Hominy Grits, Two Farm Eggs, Choice of Bourbon Smoked Bacon or Andouille Sausage, Collard Greens and Buttermilk Biscuit & Gravy. Of course, the further into brunch hours, the more tempting their Crab Cake becomes, especially when accompanied by succotash of Sweet Corn, Black Eye Peas and House Cured Bacon, Congaree Milling Company Hominy Grits, and nuanced with Tarragon Aioli. Brunch served 11am-3pm on Sundays. 803.403.1404, bourboncolumbia.com
Anchored in the old train station in the Vista, the Blue Marlin serves brunch from 11:30am-3pm each Sunday, and you may avail yourself of the wide array of libations from their well-stocked bar. The Blue Marlin brunch menu shines as it marries Lowcountry crab cakes with Eggs Benedict and Hollandaise sauce, along with grits and a side of asparagus. For more traditional tastes, their weekly special, or a Quiche with a salad, or a creatively paired Surf and Turf, (consisting of a Filet Steak cooked to order with Crab Cakes, asparagus and hash browns) will wake up your palate. 803.799.3838, bluemarlincolumbia.com
It’s a great gathering spot for friends and family and their Sunday Brunches are packed with happy folks. For starters, their Bloody Marys and Mimosas are perfection. (Try a Bloody Maria. You can thank us later.) The menu is packed with deliciousness, including a breakfast quesadilla, steak and eggs, and lots of breakfast sandwiches, French Toast, and Hangover Hashbrowns (which earned a mention in Southern Living and remains a classic for all of those who had a bit too much fun on Saturday night). For a bit more traditional fare, try one of their oh-my-goodness omelets. Yummy!
They serve brunch from 10am-2:30pm, but don’t be late. Café Strudel’s fame has spread and a crowd usually gathers. Can’t make brunch? It’s great for lunch and dinner, too! 803.794.8834, cafestrudel.com
Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli
They just may be changing the world, one cinnamon roll at a time. The mother/son owners have experience in making great, fresh food and it shows. Even better, they’re nice folks who want to make you happy and give you the best food ever. For obvious reasons, the bourbon caramel cinnamon rolls are best sellers, however the strawberry cheesecake cinnamon roll is deliciously decadent. Not a sweets-lover? Try their Big Max for brunch: your choice of bread (including gluten free), with eggs, cheddar, black pepper bacon and honey mustard. Bonus: Check out the artwork on the walls. It’s created by local students and military and a big percentage of the proceeds from sales of the art goes to local animal organizations. Open from 7am-2pm, Tuesday-Sunday. 803.465.4947, thecinnamonrolldeli.com
Crepes & Croissants
Enjoy Brunch Parisian style in this downtown spot where a native Frenchman – and master crepe maker – is responsible for much of the delicacies, including entrée and dessert crepes with everything from goat cheese drizzled with honey and topped with baby spinach to Nutella with whipped cream. There are customized omeletes and specialties such as quiche Lorraine, bacon sandwich, and croquet-monsieur, which is toasted bread with ham and a mix of sour cream and Monterey Jack cheese. Every day there are croissants to eat there or to go, as well as fruit tarts, cream puffs, and macarons. There are coffee treats to go along with, such as Café Miel: latte with honey and cinnamon. Brunch is on Sunday from 10am-2pm. 803.462.4779, crepesandcroissants.com
Di Prato’s Delicatessen
This popular spot for the Five Points area and USC professionals is plenty busy throughout the week, but the locals know that weekend brunch is must-try. The usual suspects are here in fine form, from pancakes (peaches and cream) to pecan raisin French toast, eggs, omelets, paninis, and breakfast croissants, or smoked salmon and toasted bagels. Do consider the Eggs Charleston, with crab cakes, poached eggs, and hollandaise over an English muffin. When you go, remember that a weekend brunch is only enhanced by an adult beverage. Bloody Mary? Mimosa? Ah yes, the office politics can wait until Monday. To make the weekend even better, plan to pick up a few deli items before you leave. Always fresh and always delicious. Brunch served Saturday and Sunday from 10am-2pm. 803.779.0606, dipratos.com
Eggs Up Grill
Eggs Up Grill can be found in 14 towns in and around South Carolina. Columbia’s Grill can be found on Devine Street, where all ages enjoy the excellent brunch fare. Favorites include the Western Bagel with eggs, cheese, ham, peppers and onions, and a version of eggs benedict with corned beef hash (happy man food). The regulars are present, often with a twist. Have you tried bananas foster pancakes? You should. For the egg-averse, there are burgers and sandwiches. 6am-2pm. 803.661.9174, eggsupgrill.com
Fancy That Bistro
This downtown eatery offers breakfast and lunch seven days a week, with a killer $3 mimosa to set the mood. Omelets are very popular, with all the fixin’s (your choice, of course). The menu features bagels, hash browns, home fries, plus all types of breakfast sandwiches. Want that goodness for your office or group? Ah, perfection. Their breakfast catering is a great deal – for the tummy and the pocketbook. And don’t forget to ask about their egg muffins. You can’t order them in the restaurant, but for a catered brunch, make sure they’re on your list. An added touch? The old photos that grace the walls. Columbia, as it was in the early 1900s. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia during breakfast. Sun-Tues, 7am-4pm; Wed-Sat, 7am-8pm. 803.779.6110, fancythatbistrocatering.com
Brunch is available in the Vista at Le Peep any day of the week. Customers can choose from a myriad of items from the extensive breakfast or brunch menu. Egg dishes abound: skillet combinations like Drifter with potatoes, fresh vegetables, mushrooms, onions, and cheese, or an omelet with chicken, mushrooms, broccoli and cream cheese, or a benedict such as the one with a broiled salmon steak placed on top of cream cheese and a toasted English muffin, poached eggs, hollandaise, and a sprinkle of dill and tomatoes. Not interested in eggs for brunch? There are also salads, sandwiches, crepes, waffles, pancakes, and French toast. Le Peep’s vast offerings meet a variety of cravings. Open until 2pm. 803.254.1200, lepeep.com
Liberty Tap Room and Grill
Sunday Brunch at this downtown institution is worth waking up for. Of course, you know the drinks will be all a Sunday morning could desire. After (and during) your wake-up libation, think about a shared bowl of bleu cheese chips. Then, try a salmon benedict, liberty omelet (applewood-smoked bacon), bananas foster or strawberry French toast, or an order of Lincoln Street Hash – called the “ultimate hangover cure.” Sunday Brunch 10am-2pm. 803.461.4677, libertytaproom.com
Motor Supply Company
Farm to table has become a culinary trend like no other in these last few years; however, Motor Supply Company takes that seriously all week long, and even during Sunday brunch. The menu is always chef-driven and inspired by whatever is in season that will provide a made-from-scratch, made-to-order, fresh-food experience for patrons. Menus are changing, but items might include low country crab cakes, Adluh grits, house-smoked meat, salads using local greens, and house-made Mexican pastries. In the drink department, Motor Supply claims to have the city’s best Bloody Mary – infused with bacon; plus, there are gourmet sodas and, when in season, South Carolina peach Bellinis, which is an Italian cocktail with sparkling wine. Served Sundays from 10:30am-2:30pm. 803-256-6687, motorsupplycobistro.com
The Original Pancake House
This hometown favorite off Forest Drive has been pleasing patrons for years. Who could refuse a freshly squeezed glass of orange or grapefruit juice? You can’t beat decadent and healthy. Ever tasted Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberries and whipped butter? What about a traditional Bavarian Dutch Baby, oven-baked, with whipped butter, lemon and powdered sugar? The cherry Kijafa crepes are Danish favorites, filled and topped with Montmorency cherries simmered in their own sauce. All the regulars are well represented, too. The key to its long-lasting success can be found in their finest of ingredients, including home-grown sourdough yeast pancakes. (Coffee aficionados probably already know that their brew is blended, roasted and ground to their exacting specifications.) Classic or non-traditional -- it’s all good here. Mon-Friday 6:30-9pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 7am-9pm. 803.782-6742, originalpancakehousencsc.com
Described as not-your-average taco restaurant as well as not-your-average neighborhood restaurant, Publico is a distinct Five Points spot featuring cuisine that fuses tastes and ingredients. Besides Brunch Libations that include the You Want S’More Cold Brew Coffee with house-cold brew, coco, s’mores vodka, a graham cracker rim, and toasted marshmallows, there are Grilled & Griddled, From the Range, and The Skinny menu items each Sunday. Favorites are the Frosted Texas Toast with a side of turkey sausage, the plantain peanut butter pancakes with bacon, and The Breakfast Burger with brisket, short rib, Texas toast, bacon, and a sunny-side-up egg. There is some spice in the Publico Shrimp & Grits, and a healthy item is the Coconut Quinoa & Kale dish with cilantro lime vinaigrette. Sunday Funday brunch served from 11am-3pm. 803.567.5738, publicokitchenandtap.com