Coffee, any kind, from Sidamo Coffee & Tea in Fulton. Especially the Americano. It is strong and bold but without the bitterness of Starbucks. This is for people who like coffee, not sweet, syrupy, coffee-flavored drinks. Depending on my mood, I'll add a splash of milk and some cinnamon, or just leave it black. Or on a particularly warm day, a plain iced latte really hits the spot. I really love that they serve it in real mugs when you're not having it to go; it's just a nice little touch that you don't get without asking at Starbucks. On a nice day, take your real mug outside. This is truly one of HoCo's finest parking lot cafes. Even on a hot day, you can't smell the, um, by-product from Maple Lawn Farm. When the weather is unbearable, sit in one of the comfy chairs inside. Either way, it will be time well-wasted. (But if you stay long, do them a favor and order a second cup of coffee; business seems slow but steady, and I'd hate for us to lose the best cafe this part of the county may ever get).
Ramshead in Savage is our family's special occasion standby. The Don Cornycado salad (though I refuse to EVER say that name out loud, instead I insist on showing the server what I'd like to order because seriously, what a silly name!!) is always fresh-tasting, with quite the Old Bay kick to go with the avocado, roasted corn, shrimp, and scallops. I like to pair it with half of my fiance's fries (which are hands-down the best fries in the county) stolen, one at a time, when he isn't looking. The best way to wash it down is with a bottle of Pinkus organic hefeweizen, preferably poured into a glass so you can at least pretend you're civilized. This is the perfect meal from about March straight through to the end of October.
Finally, I wanted to stay away from chains because they just aren't part of what makes it worth it to live in HoCo, but Eggspectation in Columbia is another standby for one reason: the orange juice. Fresh-squeezed and just sweet enough to be refreshing without being overpowering or syrupy-tasting, it goes perfectly with the Oy Veg (but skip the tomatoes that come with it- they're marginal at best, and downright awful compared to the latkes). Have the latkes with a bit of sour cream, get the eggs over easy and dip some toast in the gooey yolk. (No? I'm the only one who does that? You don't know what you're missing!) It will be the best breakfast you have all day. The orange juice alone makes it worth choosing this non-ubiquitous chain over Double T (at least during daylight hours), but the fact that the meal isn't soaked with grease is another plus (at least for those of us with sensitive stomachs).