You can almost hear the cock crowing from the sign at the entrance to Midnight Rooster. That’s because this eclectic, cozy café and coffee haven has been helping downtown Hartsville greet the morning since 2002. At that time, it was largely a funky coffee shop where locals – mostly a college crowd – lingered over steaming mugs of fair trade java and live music. A small café was added shortly thereafter, but coffee, art and entertainment remained the focus. A change of ownership in 2014 brought balance that makes this establishment as appealing to the coffee house crowd as it is to foodies.
When you stop by today you'll find fewer lounging areas in the coffee house and more tables that invite diners to pull up a chair and call for a menu. The outdoor courtyard is charming and a magical place to sip a glass of wine, beer or your favorite cocktail. Food also is in the spotlight, and that’s a good thing. The kitchen at Midnight Rooster might be small, but it churns out some of the freshest, tastiest eats in the Pee Dee. Head there after taking in an exhibit at Black Creek Arts Center or start your day here before soaking up the beauty of nearby Kalmia Gardens.
Breakfast, served weekdays, is an inspired treat, with something to appeal to every morning craving. Think warm and buttery Belgian waffles, with espresso syrup for drizzling, sharing the table with savory bowls of Blizzard Branch stone-ground grits topped with avocado, pico de gallo and house-made pimento cheese. There are eggs served Benedict-style and Carolina Heritage sausage, too. Saturday is reserved for brunch and features a mix of sweet and savory goodies – including mouthwatering crepes – along with a mimosa and Bloody Mary bar. (The spicy Bloody Mary is particularly yummy.)
For lunch, also served weekdays only, there are tasty sandwiches and wraps aplenty with standouts such as the Hot Mama (roast beef, cheddar, pepperoncini tapenade and sundried tomato mayo on freshly baked focaccia) and the Valley Girl (herb-roasted turkey, avocado, lettuce and sprouts, again, with that tangy sun-dried tomato-spiked mayo). There are meal-size salads, too, brimming with fresh veggies and heirloom greens, and plenty of vegetarian specialties. Bonus: All dressings are house-made; try the wasabi ranch for a kick. The tomato basil soup is another crowd favorite and pairs nicely with the quiche of the day.
And, of course, there’s the coffee, which is still one of the best things about spending time at Midnight Rooster. The usual suspects are all there, and you can have it made your way. Indulge in French press, drip, single or table-side pour, or take on a small, but bold cup of Turkish coffee to begin or end your day on a satisfying note.