Each morning at Amazin Glazin Donuts, master donut architect John Rizer lays out freshly fried ring-shaped treats as early as 5:30 a.m., sweetening up his customers’ morning routines. Customers can stop by before work for a dozen gooey, glazed creations to share around the cube, or stuff all twelve confections into their own cheek pouches for later. Either way, two donut-dunkers can both wash the sugary circles down with a morning cup of joe. Unfortunately, Rizer's airy gems sometimes sell out before midday, forcing customers to wait out their crave for 24 hours or attempt to sate it indirectly by pulling donuts in the parking lot.
The menu at Sister Bean's Coffee House offers customers a variety of flavorful gourmet coffees, with a rotation of fresh-baked delicacies rolling in daily. Purists can opt for a large portion of fresh-brewed bean juice in its plainest form ($2). However, a small white mocha—concocted from white chocolate, espresso, and steamed milk ($3.30)—is a far better way to subdue a ravaging sweet tooth, especially when paired with a hunk of cake or a tasty pastry. Regular-sized frozen chai lattes irrigate overheated palates ($3.70), and organic sencha, a delicate Japanese green tea (regular $1.85, large $2.25), is a great brew to serve when meeting the environment's ambassador.
The owners of North End Café don't just purchase local produce: they also grow vegetables and herbs in their own garden in Simpsonville. Since April, 2003, their chefs have championed this focus on local, seasonal ingredients with a healthy approach to cooking. North End Café's menu features traditional meals from around the world, ranging from grass-fed beef burgers and flatiron steaks to grilled fish and scallops to vegetarian lasagnas, stir-fry, and cakes. For sharing, chefs build eclectic small plates such as crab cakes, fried goat-cheese ravioli, and almond-crusted brie. They also prepare a range of vegan and gluten-free dishes, taking care to avoid the pyrotechnics that result when steak and tofu touch.
To accompany these meals, bartenders pour American and international wines, and blend cocktails from fruit and old-fashioned ingredients. At the Highlands location, a brand-new tap system spouts 23 craft beers, including imperial IPAs and peppery black porters. In warmer months, the aromas of cooking and laughter of clientele also fill the Highlands location's new outdoor patio, an expansive wooden deck surrounded by leafy plants and tall, wispy trees.
The menu at Funmi’s Café swims with the names of West African dishes, tangles of unfamiliar syllables. Kachumbari, asaro, and kelewele may sound intimidating initially, but they conceal a cuisine characterized by warmth and gentle spice. Kachumbari is an African spin on coleslaw, asaro is a goldenrod-hued yam porridge, and kelewele is a snack of fried plantains.
In the kitchen, chefs stir pots of stew and sauce, often eschewing meat and dairy to fill Funmi’s menu with vegan options. Beneath murals of circular huts on a colorful savannah, fair-trade organic coffee imported from Africa pours forth steam like a robot trying to understand the end of Of Mice and Men.
Whipping up handcrafted flavors with sugary virtuosity, Coco’s Chocolate Café provides patrons a tasty-treat abode that won’t melt into a puddle of pudding in the hot sun. Coco’s is a top-notch spot for picking up chocolaty delicacies. Made from the finest ingredients available, specialties such as turtles with Madagascar vanilla bean ($2 each), hazelnut pralines ($2), and butter truffles ($1.50) provide smile-inducing sampling. Beverages like cappuccino ($3.49) and dark hot chocolate ($2.99) offer savory sips, while a small fondue with strawberries, marshmallows, pound cake, or crispy treats gives rogue dippers the chance to indulge ($11.99). Additionally, patrons will be able to kick back and relax in a welcoming atmosphere featuring striking lighting and lustrous wood accents.
Fleur de Lis Cafe crafts a savory spread of gourmet goodies, boasting an array of classic fillets, burgers, and more to suit all times of the day and moods of the palate. Enliven your spoon's morning with a quick dip in a succulent sea of shrimp and grits ($11) or gift teeth a noontime nibble on a curry chicken-salad sandwich ($9). For dinner, select warming entrees such as roasted-acorn manicotti ($13) to easily sate nutty hankerings without the hassle of shells and the despair of sticky peanut-butter jars. See the café's site for full menus, which include ample vegan and vegetarian options as well as a kids' menu for the most petite of patrons.