Sweetwater Café Brunch in Charleston, S.C.

For Thanksgiving this year, my mother, who lives in Asheville, North Carolina, decided she wanted an adventure. And so we packed ourselves in her car and drove four hours south through the state of South Carolina to Charleston, that charming little Southern city right on the water.

Charleston

I had been to Charleston just once before, back in April for a magazine conference, and had the fortunate chance to stay in the city’s best hotel, dine in the city’s the best restaurants, and wander around its streets like an overwhelmed tourist. It’s just so pretty there.

Charleston

Everything in Charleston—at least everything in the beautiful southern tip of Charleston’s peninsula—is gorgeously ancient and quaint. Being there makes me feel like a Southern Belle in an extreme state of leisure. I just wanted to sit on my pretty porch or in Battery Park, reading for hours. Where’s my hoop skirt?

Charleston

The city’s long history unfolded itself for my family and me over Thanksgiving weekend through a series of touristy excursions. First, on a requisite horse and carriage ride around town. And then in the evening, on a ghost tour through the alleyways and cemeteries. Sounds cheesy as all hell, but those are two must-do things when visiting Charleston.

Charleston

For Thanksgiving dinner we ate turkey, smoked fish, and filet mignon at High Cotton Restaurant, which came highly recommended by a friend of my mom’s. We were seated by a window and so were able to watch people wander down the cobblestoned, gas-lamp-lit Easy Bay Street throughout the evening. The restaurant was so lovely and cozy on the holiday. The food was amazing, and the waitress was pleasantly kind and good-natured, even though she was clearly working late, like a dog, on a busy holiday.

The next morning we had coffee and bagels at City Lights Coffee on Market Street. This café is a must-visit for a quick pit stop, to catch up on the paper, to fuel up on some caffeine, and then be on your way to the market.

Charleston

As we were leaving City Lights, we noticed another café right next door, Sweetwater Café, and decided to try it the following day for brunch. The line, after all, was out the door, so it must be good, we thought. We should have done a little more investigating.

Sweetwater Café looks charming from the outside, especially with the rub of City Lights Coffee right next door. Inside, and upon further inspection, the place was busted. The shiny red booths were ripped, the chairs were rickety, the walls cracking and flaking white paint. Who knows what the kitchen looked like. The walls were covered in old posters of movie stars, in an effort to look like an old diner. Ancient, yes. Not so quaint.

Sweetwater Cafe

We would have overlooked that first impression had the food made up for it. We were eager to dive in to the egg dishes on the menu (and the menu is primarily egg dishes). Except the food took, oh, an hour to arrive to our table. Yes, the menu did warn of the cooking wait, with a sentence that said something to the effect of “We start cooking when you order, so it’ll take a minute.” But an hour for three egg dishes was a little extreme. And, our coffee was not refilled promptly enough to keep me calm.

My mother’s spinach, feta and tomato omelet was woefully disappointing. She ordered it with tomatoes and spinach and got a mushy mess of undercooked eggs and runny tomato guts spilling out. My brother had a breakfast sandwich, which was egg and cheese heavy, and promptly devoured before I could take a bite (the norm when dining with Christafoffle).

Sweetwater Cafe

Even with such things as The Deuce (two buttermilk pancakes, two eggs, two pieces of bacon, two sausage links, side of grits and bread choice) on the menu, I decided to play it safe and order a basic two-egg breakfast, with egg, bacon, and side of of sourdough toast. It was as boring as I expected. Nothing fluffy or tasty at all.

Sweetwater also serves grits, biscuits and gravy, and Nutty Banana Pecan Cakes, which we should have tried, but alas, I doubt we’ll be back. There are so many gorgeous restaurants in Charleston, we won’t be leaving our next brunch pick there to chance.

Sweetwater Cafe

The Bitches say: D- Definitely go to Charleston for its charm, but give Sweetwater Cafe a miss. Find a better brunch spot in this gorgeous city.

Sweetwater Café
137 Market Street, Charleston, SC
843.723.7121

Sweetwater Cafe on Urbanspoon

High Cotton on Urbanspoon

City Lights Coffee on Urbanspoon

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Comments

  • Marie says:

    Having grown up in Charleston and lived there for most of my life before moving to NOVA I have to say sorry…If you ever get another chance to go to Charleston I would definitely recommend Hominy Grill or the Brunch at the Mills House Hotel….Also if you ever want to have the best burger in the south…Your Place is a hole in the wall across from the courthouse on East Bay Street.

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