I’m not much of a morning person although I do enjoy a good breakfast. But when I learned about all the locally owned places to find brunch in Columbia, I was suddenly very excited for mornings. Here are five local places where you can find brunch in Columbia, SC.
“What does everyone like to get here?” I asked the waitress as I sat at the large round table near the front door.
“Everyone loves the Hangover Hashbrowns,” she replied without hesitation. With my curiosity piqued I ordered that along with the Sunrise Burrito. While waiting for the food to arrive I admired the local artwork hanging on the walls of the small, cozy Cafe Strudel.
It didn’t take long for the food to arrive. It was hard to decide where to start. The Sunrise Burrito was stuffed with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, house-made salsa, black beans, and gave off a wonderful aroma of Mexican food.
But the Hangover Hashbrowns beckoned to me. Their menu called it “A legend!” and after just the first bite I had to agree. The hash browns were cooked with onions, banana peppers, cheddar cheese, and two over easy eggs on top. “The eggs are the glue that hold the whole thing together,” the waitress explained when she brought it over.
It worked for me. I alternated between the subtle spiciness of the hash browns and burrito, savoring each bite one at a time. After just the first bite I could tell the eggs were something different because of intense flavor. Asking about it I learned the eggs, along with many of the other ingredients, came from a local vendor.
The eggs in the burrito and covering the hash browns dulled the hotness of the meal, but just in case you avoid spiciness altogether there were plenty of menu items without such flare. French toast, bagel sandwiches, and even a breakfast burger offered a few alternatives.
When you visit (because I know you will) the menu items in yellow boxes are the customer favorites.
Location: 300 State Street, West Columbia, SC
Brunch Hours: Monday & Tuesday 8am-3pm, Wednesday & Thursday 8am-9pm, Friday & Saturday 8am-10pm, and Sunday’s 10am-9pm
Brunch Menu: http://cafestrudel.com/food/#menu
The Gourmet Shop
I sat at a table beside a towering chrome rack chocked full of specialty food ingredients. The rack, along with about a dozen others, separated the retail side from the café side of The Gourmet Shop.
Before I even had a chance to take off my jacket a waitress was ready to take my order. The brunch menu included items like a breakfast bowl, croissant sandwiches, and Belgian waffles, but it was the Breakfast Panini that caught my attention.
The panini, along with a side of cheese grits, arrived in just a few minutes. Filled with eggs, Parrano cheese, roasted red peppers, and turkey sausage, the smell immediately excited me. The gooey cheese held the sandwich together between slices of lightly toasted Italian bread. I don’t think I’d ever had Parrano cheese before and now I wanted more.
The cheddar cheese over the grits was a nice touch to an otherwise bland meal. If I’m to be honest I’ve never been a fan of grits because straight off the stove they have no flavor whatsoever. These were different in the kind of way that made me want some more.
After finishing off the hearty breakfast I explored the retail side of the locally owned shop. The racks were full of kitchen utensils and countertop appliances, specialty food items, and one of the largest assortments of fine wines from the world I’d ever seen in a retail shop.
Location: 724 Saluda Avenue, Columbia, SC
Brunch Hours: Monday – Friday 9am-12pm, Saturday 9am-2pm, and Sunday 10am-2pm
Brunch Menu: www.thegourmetshop.net/cafe/
Motor Supply Company Bistro
Of all the restaurants in Columbia a meal at the Motor Supply Company Bistro is the most likely to be compared to a blind date. The menu changes daily and the brunch menu weekly. When I walked in that morning I had no idea what to expect.
Owner Eddie Wales and Executive Chef Wesley Fulmer like running a restaurant devoted to local ingredients and creating a special “farm-to-fork” experience. Each day farmers in the region supply the restaurant with the freshest ingredients of the season and the chef goes to work creating the menu.
One staple for the brunch menu that is frequently available is the bacon-infused Bloody Mary. I have no idea what that is because I’m not much a fan of vodka and tomato juice in the morning, but the lady at the table next to me grinned from ear to ear when I asked about it.
Although the brunch menu changes weekly it typically includes items like buttermilk biscuits, French toast, and various meat entrees. The general manager explained it could be anything from South Carolina shrimp to North Carolina trout and just about anything in between.
The atmosphere at the bistro was upscale but casual in the Southern way. The high ceilings kept the noise level from conversationalists at an appreciable level. Beautiful curated artwork adorned the walls.
Despite nearly every seat taken it did not take long for my food to arrive. The large Buttermilk Biscuit Plate loaded with scrambled eggs and country gravy had that smell of weekends at grandmother’s house. The grandmother always tells me, “You know you don’t have to finish the entire meal.” When it tastes this good yes I do.
Location: 920 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC
Brunch Hours: Sunday 10:30am-2:30pm
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Za’s on Devine
Before I even looked at the brunch menu I knew what I wanted. From my seat in the comfortable booth beside the large picture window I could see the brick oven in the kitchen.
Sure enough as soon as I opened the menu I saw the Breakfast Pizza. Available in 8” or 14” sizes the pizza was topped with a spinach and artichoke quiche, Canadian bacon, diced Roma tomatoes, even more bacon, and a blend of five cheeses. It was everything I had ever wanted a pizza before noon to be.
The somewhat thin crust was easy to tear off in each slice. The cheese balanced the saltiness of the bacon and between the two nearly drowned out the flavor of the quiche. But I’m okay with that because, after all, it’s bacon and cheese.
Recently purchased by four guys who went to college together, Za’s on Devine (technically called Za’s Brick Oven Pizza) has become a staple of the Devine Street Shopping District. The rustic, modern interior had comfortable chairs and booths surrounding an open kitchen and bar. Between the seating inside, a rentable space, and outdoor seating for warmer days the restaurant had plenty of room for your friends and family.
Location: 2930 Devine Street, Columbia, SC
Brunch Hours: Saturday & Sunday 11am-2pm
Brunch Menu: www.zasbrickovenpizza.com/
The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli
The most important thing I learned during my visit to The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli was that a mini cinnamon roll was a “normal” size and the cinnamon roll was the size of my face.
I wish I had known that before ordering my brunch at the walk-up counter. A few minutes later Anna, one of the many friendly waitresses working that morning, brought my food on a shiny metal tray. My jaw hung slightly open at the sight of the cinnamon roll and gave Anna a little giggle.
The most popular brunch menu item was the Loaded Grits bowl, which I had to admit sounded tempting, but I opted to go with the Big Joe Breakfast Sandwich. Two eggs, smoked sausage, and cheddar cheese served on toasted whole grain bread. The generous portion of butter soaked into the bread was perfect with the saltiness of the sausage.
Sensing I was ready for the dessert portion of my breakfast Jody Kreush, who owns the business along with her son Richard, brought over a tray of mini cinnamon rolls. Strawberry glaze ozzed off the cream cheese topping of one, another sat in a puddle of maple syrup topped with bacon, and the third had the sweetest smelling apples on top. Did your mouth water just a little bit?
After finishing off a couple of the rolls I asked Jody about the ingredients she used in everything. “I like making everything in house because it lets me serve high quality food at affordable prices.” As I considered this amazing meal had only cost $10 I had to admit she was absolutely right.
On my way out the door I asked my waitress, Anna, if she had ever come here before working here. “Oh, I used to come here all the time. Now I just come on my days off and bring my friends with me.”
Location: 2617 Devine Street, Columbia, SC
Brunch Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 7am-2pm
Brunch Menu: www.thecinnamonrolldeli.com/menus
It was hard to know where to start eating: the breakfast sandwich with smoked sausage or the desserts with maple bacon and strawberry cream cheese. Sigh. I was a good boy and saved dessert for last.