That whole “most important meal of the day” adage may have a ring of truth to it, but the lecture on skipping breakfast is just so judgy. It’s easy for the naturally early riser to squeeze in an hour of hot yoga at 6 a.m. before showering, juicing up some kale, whipping up a stack of buckwheat pancakes, and heading out the door on time for work — donning matching socks and perfectly coiffed hair, of course.
Then there’s the rest of us, we snooze button-hitting grouches for whom a five minute morning shower is a major accomplishment. There’s no time for squeezing juice or breaking out the waffle iron. Still, there’s always that nagging hunger, the low stomach growl that will have to wait until lunch to be settled. It’s not pleasant morning company. That’s where a great to-go breakfast comes in — it can change your whole day without emptying your wallet.
Breakfast on the go isn’t just important for us pinnacles of morning worthlessness. Plenty of jobs around Charleston require a specific kind of morning glory. Hats off to the shrimpers, trash collectors, a.m. shelf-stockers, and thousands of others who are actually around to squint at the dawn as they begin the daily grind. You deserve a good meal, too. And the tourists. Locals love to bash you guys, but you’re an important part of Charleston, too, and it’s our duty to tell you how best to gain sustenance. You know, so you can stay pert all day and spend lots of money in our fair city.
So here’s a list, in no particular order, of the best a.m. to-go offerings around Charleston. None will break the bank, as each establishment serves up breakfast dishes for under $10. Whether you’re heading to the beach, hopping on a fishing boat, or rushing out to the office, do yourself a favor and indulge in the day’s “most important” meal. Even if you’re one of those annoyingly on-it morning people, it’s OK to take a break and let someone else cook breakfast. You might even skip the kale smoothie and dive straight into a soul-satisfyingly greasy sausage biscuit. We promise not to judge.
In addition to fuel, hunting and fishing supplies, outdoor gear, and typical convenience store trappings, SeWee Outpost is home to a sweet disc golf course. Though it’s private, they happily share it with friends — any non-fuel purchase of $5 or more gets you a wristband. Fork over that fiver for a country ham and biscuit and a Kingstree sausage biscuit ($2.49 each). The from-scratch biscuits have just enough toothsome bite to hold up to the pork, and the country ham walks a nice line between not-too-salty and not-too-sweet.
Scones are a stand-out on the menu at Harbinger Bakery and Café, a new Upper King Street spot, and they’ll only set you back $3.50. Try the Great Escape, a pistachio and coconut scone with grapefruit glaze, or the Horchata Rocka with almond horchata and a coffee cinnamon maple glaze. A matcha tea latte ($4.25) or café au lait with almond milk ($3.50) will round out your morning feast.
Sunrise is a triple threat — its Spring Street location, Sunrise X-press, is geared towards college kids and fast-moving downtowners, while Sunrise Bistros on Johns Island and in Summerville satisfy breakfast cravings in areas that would otherwise be lacking in options. For maximum portability, get any omelet in a wrap with sour cream and salsa or as a breakfast pizza on homemade dough topped with sausage gravy ($2 upcharge for omelet rolls and pizzas). The Farmer’s omelet ($8) with ham, potatoes, onions, peppers, and pepper-jack cheese is particularly good in either of these preparations. For a cheaper fix, go with a bagel and cream cheese or hummus ($3) — Sunrise actually makes their bagels in-house daily.
The corn cake Benedict at Early Bird Diner — bacon and poached eggs over cakes topped with salsa or hollandaise — should be fodder enough for you to slam on the brakes and head into this unassuming eatery on West Ashley’s busy and unseemly Savannah Highway. Early Bird is the perfect stop for anyone heading out on a roadtrip to Savannah…just make sure you order a graspable breakfast sandwich ($7.75) if you’re driving, or that you have a passenger sweet enough to spoon-feed you corn cakes on the road.
Before you hit the water, pit stop at Marina Variety Store beside the City Marina. You can’t go wrong with pecan fried french toast stuffed with peanut butter and grape jelly ($8.99). On the savory side, there’s the fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese benedict with poached eggs and hollandaise ($9.50). Bring a box of this fill-your-belly fare aboard — just in case your hooks come up empty later on.
When Carrie Morey started her company with a simple goal in mind to make and sell her mother Callie’s delicious biscuits, she couldn’t have known she was paving a golden road of success. She now has an Atlanta store in addition to her original Charleston location, a cookbook, and a crazy successful retail and online ordering business, thanks to mad press from the likes of O Magazine and Saveur. The best way to enjoy her baked gems, however, is still to pick them up piping hot at Hot Little Biscuit and nibble on them as you stroll down King Street. Try the cheese and chive biscuits ($3 for two) stuffed with black pepper bacon ($4) and housemade jam ($.50).
The menu at Junction Kitchen and Provisions in North Charleston could never be deemed boring. Breakfast items like the Buzzed Doughnut ($7.75) —coffee-rubbed bacon and an over-easy egg on a biscuit doughnut with a coffee dip and shredded hashbrowns — and the Not Yo Mamacita’s Burrito ($5.50), which consists of scrambled eggs, swiss, coffee bacon, sweet potato chips and a white balsamic drizzle, keep things interesting. Grab your meal and head over to Riverfront Park to enjoy the Cooper in the morning sunshine.
Planning an all-day beach excursion on IOP? You’ll need to pick up some provisions at Sea Biscuit Café, then. Cue the sunscreen, beach chairs, and transportable feast. The Treehugger ($7) — vanilla yogurt, fresh fruit, and homemade granola — is a cool way to start a warm day. There’s also homemade banana bread ($4) and an egg and sausage biscuit that’ll only set you back $3.25.
No one spends hours lingering over a linen-draped table at Hannibal’s — it isn’t that kind of place. Getting takeaway here is the norm rather than the exception. It is, however, home to some of Charleston’s most on-point soul food, and breakfast doesn’t disappoint. Try the fried local shark ($6.50) or sautéed crab ($7.75) with grits and toast, or for a more down-home experience, order the liver and onions ($5).
Bluerose Cafe, a West Ashley fixture, slings some of the finest Irish grub in the Lowcountry. For a true stick-to-your-ribs meal, order the Old Fashioned Irish Breakfast ($9.95) — two eggs, Irish sausage, rashers, black & white pudding, early morning potatoes, grilled tomato, and the house’s famous Irish scone.
Page’s Okra Grill is the prime spot in Mt. Pleasant for gourmand-kissed Southern cookin’. Call your order in ahead or come prepared to wait a little while. It’s home to one of the area’s best biscuit concoctions, T.J.’s Hot Mess ($6)—fried chicken breast topped with scrambled eggs, diced jalapeños, and pepperjack cheese, smothered in sausage gravy. Make sure to grab extra napkins on your way out.
While most restaurants trendily tout their use of local goods and purveyors, North Central Delicatessen is proud to use products that come predominantly from above the Mason-Dixon. There are bagels from A&S Bakery on Long Island, Stiglmeier sausages from Chicago and Taylor pork roll from Trenton, New Jersey, and the dedication to seeking out the best ingredient — local or not — shows. Hungover? Grab an After Party ($8.75) and head back to your cool, dim living room to eat and recover in peace. The sandwich, a cheddar bagel topped with pork roll, scrambled egg, American cheese, garlic aioli, apple butter, and fried onions, will sop up whatever ails you.
Why hello, $3 homemade cinnamon roll…come on over here, and bring your friends. Mozzo in Mt. Pleasant also offers custard-soaked challah french toast and a smattering of danishes and croissants. If you aren’t in the mood for sweets, though, check out the Hoppel Popel Toast with eggs, mushrooms, onions, peppers, pork roll, potatoes, and cheddar ($8).
What stands out most about Society Street newcomer Myth Cafe is the price tag — not a single menu item is over $10. Students even get a 10 percent discount with ID. That means you can grab a slice of sausage quiche ($5) AND a danish or Nutella croissant under budget.
If you aren’t in the know, you might wonder why there’s a line of people stacking up in the small space between Royall Hardware and Hadrell’s Tackle in Mt. Pleasant (where Coleman turns into Ben Sawyer Blvd.). Get in that line, though, and you’ll figure it out pretty quickly. Johnny’s is primarily a tasty hot dog joint, but they have a breakfast menu that’s perfect for anyone headed out to Sullivan’s Island to sun and swim. Breakfast biscuits stuffed with goodies like country fried steak or a pork chop are only $2, and breakfast sandwiches with egg, cheese, and meat run just $3.
Gaulart & Maliclet Café, also known as Fast & French, has graced Charleston since 1984. While it certainly doesn’t have trouble keeping seats filled, this little jewel doesn’t get half the praise it deserves—any place that can actually survive in a downtown location for over 30 years is practically a memorial. Fast & French walks the line between relevant and quaint, trendy and authentic, and it keeps things wallet-friendly. A chocolate, almond, or ham and cheese croissant only costs $6, and that includes coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or juice.