Happy Cafe

Sandwich Shop
One of the best

The ladylike side of Roadfood is nowhere more appealing than at The Happy Cafe, where, at two different lunches, females outnumbered males 10 to 1. If it’s musclebound fare you seek — sputtering hot links, four-alarm chili, boilermakers, and T-bone steaks — this is not the place for you.

If, on the other hand, you value Cordon bleu tomato-basil soup or southern-style savory tomato pie or warm casseroles or impeccable pimento cheese, or creamy-fresh (organic) chicken salad bedded on al dente broccoli salad barely bound in mayo and crowned with sunflower seeds, The Happy Cafe is a taste of heaven.

Step up to the counter and order from a small menu of salads, cold sandwiches, grilled paninis, wraps and — Thursday through Saturday only — chicken BBQ. The pulled chicken can be layered onto cole slaw or kale or broccoli salad or contained in a sandwich or a wrap. All the usual hyperbole applied to more rugged barbecue is inadequate here, for this chicken is elegant. I want to call it delicate, but such a tender adjective does not do justice to its refined smoky flavor, which is memorable.

I’ve saved the best for last: dessert. Caramel cake is out of this world, available as a cupcake, as mini-muffins, as a small bundt cake or as large cakes up to sixteen inches across. The caramel is an eye opener, applied in abundance, a masterful balance of butter and sugar and cream that is sweet-tooth nirvana. But after the stunning goodness of caramel commands all attention in the first few bites, one notices the cake it crowns: so soft and fluffy and flavorful. It’s like pound cake, but tender and light. When I asked the staff just exactly what made these cakes so wonderful, the reply was, “It’s mama’s recipe.” Mama is owner Sue Hodges’ mother, and I got the feeling that if anyone on staff told me the exact formula, they’d have to kill me.

Such a friendly place, bright and sunny, with a staff who are delighted when they make customers happy … which they do. The house motto is: Food, Family, Love.

What to Eat
Happy Cafe, Cupcake
Painfully tender cake, outlandishly buttery caramel frosting: one of the best, anywhere.
Happy Cafe, Chicken Salad
Chicken Salad
Chicken salad atop al dente broccoli
Happy Cafe, Pimento Cheese
Pimento Cheese
Pimento cheese: sharp cheddar and a whisper of hot sauce
Happy Cafe, Caramel Bundt Cake
Caramel Bundt Cake
Mini bundt cake smothered by the best caramel topping on earth
Happy Cafe, Carrot Slaw
Carrot Slaw
Crisp slaw really tastes of carrots ... and secret shreds of coconut.
Happy Cafe, Tomato Basil Soup
Tomato Basil Soup
Tomato basil soup is a close cousin of Italian Nonna (granny)-level Sunday gravy.
Happy Cafe, BBQ Chicken
BBQ Chicken
Sunflower seeds add pop to refined chicken BBQ.
Happy Cafe, BBQ Chicken Sandwich
BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Tangy/sweet BBQ chicken on sourdough: Thurs, Fi & Sat only
Happy Cafe, Chicken Tetrazzini
Chicken Tetrazzini
Chicken tetrazzini: soft-spoken comfort-food casserole
Directions and Hours
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Tequila’s

    Aiken, South Carolina

    A modest-looking strip-mall restaurant, Tequila’s serves some of the best Mexican food in town. Shrimp are especially wonderful.

  • Backyard Cafe

    West Columbia, South Carolina

    The Backyard Cafe is a destination for handsome hamburgers, after-5pm Dixie dinner & from-scratch ice cream atop squares of gooey butter cake.

  • Triangle Restaurant

    Johnston, South Carolina

    Loyal customers come to the 1961-vintage Triangle Restaurant for steaks at supper and meat-and-three cafeteria lunch. A South Carolina diamond in the rough!

  • Blue Canoe Cafe

    Ridge Spring, South Carolina

    Located in a grand old Main Street bank building, the Blue Canoe is a cheerful town cafe with good coffee an’ pastries and locally-sourced meats & veggies.

  • Aiken Fish House & Oyster Bar

    Aiken, South Carolina

    A locals’ favorite for all manner of fresh seafood and fine accompaniments, Aiken Fish House & Oyster Bar is a nice, clean place to dine.

  • Prime Steakhouse

    Aiken, South Carolina

    Big-city sophisticated but small-city hospitable, Prime Steakhouse is first-class all the way, featuring the best beef for miles around.