These popular brunch places offer more than just a place to have a mid-morning meal. With different atmospheres and menus, their goal is the same: to serve good food and embrace people in the community.
Judging by its name, Cafe Strudel in West Columbia sounds like the perfect place to enjoy brunch with friends and family. Its quaint exterior and cozy dining room and bar combine to create an experience that is arguably unique.
Cafe Strudel has two locations, one in Lexington and one in West Columbia, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. General manager Bradley Naylor has worked at both of Cafe Strudel’s locations for two years, and he said the culture and relationships are what make this restaurant so special.
“You feel like you’re a part of a family when you walk in. It’s something that you don’t get a lot of places,” Naylor said.
The bond between the regular customers and employees, often portrayed as the classic dining experience on television, is characteristic of countertop restaurants such as Cafe Strudel, and it’s something Naylor said has been lost in American culture. Somehow, Cafe Strudel manages to keep that idyllic tradition alive.
“The clientele, the regulars that we have, I mean, they’re awesome. They’re from all different walks of life, and everybody can find common ground,” Naylor said.
It’s likely a combination of the food and the atmosphere that keep customers returning. Naylor said the restaurant is “eclectic,” citing the mismatched tableware and walls covered in local artwork as proof.
The food is what really stands out, and the brunch menu especially embraces savory southern-style recipes. Some popular brunch items include shrimp and grits, BLTs with fried green tomatoes and something called a “pregame,” which Naylor said is a plate of hash browns topped with marinated chicken, jalapeños and cheese. All of the ingredients used are locally sourced, and nearly everything is organic.
Brunch is a very popular meal not just at Cafe Strudel but everywhere.
“When I think of brunch, I kind of think of relationships. I think of friends; I think of family,” Naylor said.
This emphasis on relationships is what makes Cafe Strudel so inviting, so it seems the perfect place to have a meal such as brunch.
Cafe Strudel in West Columbia is open Monday and Tuesday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Cafe Strudel in Lexington is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
At Drip, the smell of sweet baked goods and roasted coffee beans immediately hits anyone who walks in the door. In two locations — one in Five Points and one on Main Street — the coffee shops offer food fit for a good brunch.
Both locations have a few signature items, including peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches and Nutella french toast on buttery brioche. The menus between the two stores, however, are drastically different.
Drip in Five Points has unique meals such as “pork belly, egg and apple butter on a housemaid biscuit,” while Drip on Main Street offers wholesome sandwiches such as “roast beef and sauerkraut with swiss and house-made horsey sauce on rye.”
Sean McCrossin, owner of both Drips, said the two locations are just as different in style and design as they are in menu. McCrossin said the Drip in Five Points has an “eclectic, bohemian vibe.”
“The one in Five Points obviously has a lot of wood, and the lighting is a little more subdued,” McCrossin said. “The one on Main Street, I designed it to sort of echo, or mirror, the downtown buildings, so it’s a little bit more of an urban feel.”
Drip in Five Points also has a collection of vinyl records customers can look through while enjoying their meal. The wooden crates and colorful images of musicians on the walls create a comfortable, warm atmosphere. Though the mood in Drip on Main Street is colder in comparison, McCrossin said both places aim to serve the community.
“Bringing a quality drink, atmosphere and service to those customers and to the community are kind of what gratifies me,” McCrossin said. “It’s a lot of fun having a place where people can come and express themselves, be who they are.”
Drip in Five Points is open Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Drip on Main Street is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Eggs Up Grill
Eggs Up Grill is a classic brunch place, where warm syrup, pure sugar and smooth butter never leave the table.
Originally founded in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, in 1997, the franchise has two locations within 20 minutes of USC, one on Devine Street and one on Forest Drive. Each have red booths, wooden tables and a menu with a wide variety of brunch meals.
A classic breakfast — pancakes, eggs, bacon, grits and home fries — is one of their most popular meals, according to the manager of the Forest Drive location, Brandon Reeves. Along with its classic brunch meals, Eggs Up Grill also offers plates such as sweet potato praline pancakes and a shrimp and grits omelet.
Reeves said what makes Eggs Up Grill a great place is the quality and visual appearance of the food.
“It’s easy to make bacon and eggs, but if you just throw it on a plate and serve it, that’s a whole lot different than caring about your customer,” Reeves said. “We say, ‘Our families eat here,’ so we want to make sure everything is the right quality.”
Eggs Up Grill is open Monday through Sunday 6 a.m. to 2 p.m in both locations.