Cafe Strudel

Coffee House | Diner | Eclectic | Vegan-Friendly
Memorable
One of the best
Michael Stern | February 08, 2017
Save

You can’t make a reservation to eat at Cafe Strudel, but you can call ahead and put your name on the waiting list. If you plan to come during a normal mealtime, especially breakfast, and even more especially weekend brunch, make the call. This little coffee house cafe just across the Congaree River from the city of Columbia often has more customers than seats.

Not all such conspicuous popularity signals something good, but in this case, the buzz among locals and traveling foodies is justified. Cafe Strudel is a casual, come-as-you-are place, but its standards are lofty and the meals it serves are a cut above. Continue reading

You can’t make a reservation to eat at Cafe Strudel, but you can call ahead and put your name on the waiting list. If you plan to come during a normal mealtime, especially breakfast, and even more especially weekend brunch, make the call. This little coffee house cafe just across the Congaree River from the city of Columbia often has more customers than seats.

Not all such conspicuous popularity signals something good, but in this case, the buzz among locals and traveling foodies is justified. Cafe Strudel is a casual, come-as-you-are place, but its standards are lofty and the meals it serves are a cut above. Everything on the menu is made from scratch using the best (mostly local) ingredients. Shortcuts are not taken and meals are not quick. Every plate is prepared to order. The namesake dish, strudel, is a particular beneficiary of this strategy. When you order a piece, it is sliced from a large loaf in the refrigerated case. It is then brought back to the kitchen where it is buttered and slowly grilled so the apples caramelize, the fine pastry turns crisp, and the whole package delivers intense warm pleasure that reminds me of a great Parisian tarte tatin.

Other indications of kitchen virtue: Grits are Adluh brand, from a Columbia mill that dates back to 1900. If all you know are watery white grits, these are a revelation: thick, rich, and earthy, wonderful with nothing more than a crown of butter, but even better when mixed with a trio of vivid-personality cheeses.  Breakfast meats are nitrate-free. Beef is local and grass-fed. Orange juice is squeezed to order. Croissants and biscuits are baked in house. The coffee menu and cocktail menu are both voluminous and intriguing. There are draft beers, craft beers, and ciders. Prices are reasonable. Portions are large. Nothing is ordinary at Cafe Strudel.

Dishes to try
Cafe Strudel, Apple Strudel
Apple Strudel
Must-Try
Divine dessert. Slices of apple strudel are buttered and grilled, resulting in caramel-edged pastry around soft apples and crisp nuts.
Cafe Strudel, Hangover Hash Browns
Hangover Hash Browns
Must-Try
Topped with tomatoes, banana peppers, and melted sharp cheddar. crunchy-crisp "hangover hash browns" could be a wonderful vegetarian breakfast unto themselves, especially if topped with a couple of eggs.
Cafe Strudel, Adluh Grits
Adluh Grits
Must-Try
Stoneground Adluh grits, made in Columbia for the last 100+ years, are here mixed with 3 kinds of cheese to become the richest and most satisfying grain imaginable.
Cafe Strudel, Shrimp & Grits
Shrimp & Grits
Must-Try
Many big shrimp, luxuriously creamy grits, and plenty of bacon are abetted by zesty Bloody Mary Cream Sauce to become shrimp & grits extrarodinaire.
Cafe Strudel, Breakfast Burger
Breakfast Burger
For a photo's sake, I ordered the egg on my breakfast burger sunnyside up. Once it got squished atop the bacon, beef, cheddar, and mayo inside a toasted brioche bun, the yolk oozed everywhere. A happy and delicious mess!
Cafe Strudel, Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake
Moist, 4-layer red velvet cake is adorned with thick ribbons of fluffy sweet frosting, creating a much lighter slice than one with more typical cream cheese frosting.
Cafe Strudel, Cherry Strudel
Cherry Strudel
Cherry cheese strudel is mostly cheese -- like frothy cheesecake -- atop a layer of sweet-tart cherries, enclosed in buttered and grilled pastry.
Cafe Strudel, Coconut Cake
Coconut Cake
Coconut cake is is a powerhouse that wants to be eaten in small forkfuls. The cake itself is dense and moist, ribboned with thick layers of sweet coconut curd.
Cafe Strudel, Sweet Tea
Sweet Tea
For those not drinking espresso, cold brew coffee, draft beer, craft beer, or hard cider, Cafe Strudel offers good ol' southern sweet tea.
Cafe Strudel, Hawaiian Pineapple Bread French Toast
Hawaiian Pineapple Bread French Toast
French toast: Fluffy Hawaiian pineapple bread is just sweet enough to make syrup redundant.
Cafe Strudel, Pineapple Cobbler
Pineapple Cobbler
Although it's billed as vegan (as well as gluten free), this pineapple cobbler arrived topped with squiggles of spray-on whipped cream.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday10am - 9pm
Monday8am - 3pm
Tuesday8am - 3pm
Wednesday8am - 9pm
Thursday8am - 9pm
Friday8am - 10pm
Saturday8am - 10pm
Information and Policies
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
Yes
Outdoor Seating
No
Reservations Accepted
No
Delivery Available
No
Takeout Counter
Yes
Website