Not Just Java

Most of us need a jolt (or two) of espresso to get us going in the morning. But why stop there? Breakfast is too good a meal to spend it on cold cereal. Instead, try one of these four southside coffeehouses, with breakfast offerings that’ll start your day off right.

By Jennifer Uhl

Pumpkin Scone
Strange Brew Coffee
4800 W. Smith Valley Road, Greenwood,
» IU alums who miss the oddities of B-town’s coffee shops find solace in Strange Brew, with its wonderful quirkiness of double-stacked fish tanks, ceiling-dangling gnomes and crushed velvet couches. Customers who have to eat and run might grab a vegan doughnut courtesy of Fountain Square’s Rocket 88, but those still on college time hunker down with a good book or a laptop and one of Strange Brew owner Toni Carr’s pumpkin scones, made with “all those pumpkin pie flavors,” Carr says, “cinnamon, nutmeg and a ton of butter.” They’re softer than biscotti but more crumbly than a biscuit — sort of a biscuit-meets-muffin hybrid. Topped with a cinnamon-nutmeg glaze, they also show up at office meetings around town, ordered by the dozen. At $2.75 each, pumpkin-o-philes like to pair them with Strange Brew’s pumpkin chai, but if that’s a little too much pumpkin (is there such a thing?) the plain chai will do just as well. Midway through either, be sure to check out the walls that feature paintings by local artists, who receive all the profits from each work purchased.

Broken Yolk Sandwich
Coffeehouse Five
323 Market Plaza, Greenwood,
» Call it a coffeehouse with heart. Greenwood’s Coffeehouse Five is a “for-benefit” establishment, where proceeds from every purchase from mochas to muffins profit local families through initiatives including marriage counseling, addiction recovery programs and support for local food pantries. Even the baristas serving the 100 percent organic, certified fair trade coffee are volunteers. The focus on community and family can be found on the menu as well. Many of the all-day breakfast items have a familial backstory with lead barista and marketing director Amanda Peters. The housemade parmesan chive biscuit is a creation she and her mother perfected one summer, which snagged a then-middle-school-age Peters a grand championship ribbon at the Johnson County Fair. The dough recipe for the cinnamon rolls (served on select weekends) goes back four generations to Peters’ great-grandmother, and her mother invented the maple cream cheese icing that tops them. We’re unabashed fans of both the biscuit and the rolls — not to mention the oddly yummy Nutty Colby, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich slathered with peanut butter, though a recent addition to the newly expanded menu might beat them all. The broken yolk sandwich features bacon, Havarti cheese and a sunny-side egg tucked between slices of cheddar-encrusted sourdough. Peters says the sammie is proving to be a smash hit (pun intended) with the breakfast crowd, adding, “That first bite when the yolk oozes onto the plate is seriously amazing.”

Maple Sausage Quiche
Benjamin’s Coffeehouse
49 E. Court St., Franklin,
» This cozy coffeehouse serves breakfast all day, a big plus for downtown Franklin shoppers, courthouse square employees and nearby college students in the mood for the popular deep-dish quiche at 2 p.m. Even with the recent surge of new restaurants less than a block away, Benjamin’s few tables inside and out remain packed Tuesday through Saturday, a testament to its unwavering popularity among locals who appreciate the large chalkboard menu and an assortment of nearly 30 coffee flavorings (including those never found at a certain national chain). The Greek quiche and other variations have their fans, but come cooler months, the go-to housemade quiche includes an autumnal trifecta of maple sausage, cheddar cheese and Granny Smith apples — all the best flavors of fall wrapped in a fluffy egg filling. Like the hefty side of potato chips that accompanies Benjamin’s pressed sandwiches (the chicken pesto panini is a best-seller), portions are generous. And at only $3.75 a slice, it’d be a shame not to spend the rest of a fiver on a sweet autumn cider, steamed with caramel and topped with whipped cream and a shake of cinnamon. Heading out to the apple orchard or pumpkin patch afterward? Grab an apple cinnamon scone from the bakery case to nibble on the way.

The Garfield Eatery & Coffee
2627 Shelby St., Indianapolis,
» When Garfield Park residents Beverly and Tom Manuel heard their local coffee shop was going out of business last year, they decided to run it themselves. It was a natural decision for Beverly, who loves to cook and bake, and after tweaking the original menu and adding more breakfast options and baked goods, “The Garf” reopened. Beverly, her son, Nicholas, and daughter-in-law, Lori, serve customer favorites eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, and a lunch menu of sandwiches and salad — even Indiana’s own fried pork tenderloin — every day but Monday, and Lori keeps the bakery case filled with a to-go goodies, including golden-topped bacon-cheddar scones. (She also operates the sidewalk New Orleans-style snoball truck with homemade flavorings during the summer.) The surprisingly spacious eatery is bright and filled with colorful paintings by local artists, and the long coffee bar is staffed by University of Indianapolis students-turned-knowledgeable-baristas. Garfield Park residents in the know and brunch lovers make it a priority to drop in during the weekend, settle in at one of the Arts and Craft-style tables and order a lavender latte and the strata, a breakfast take on lasagna. Beverly changes hers to include a variety of ham or turkey, assorted veggies, cheese, eggs and cream, all layered on bread and left to soak overnight. But no matter how she makes it, it’s always a new-favorite combination, and only available on the weekend.