Don't miss out - 3 places to eat downtown and their fan favorites


J. O'Gradys

Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch; dinner is 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for brunch; dinner is 4 to 9 p.m.

Get a "fork and knife" burger - you will need them, given the generous toppings - and take in the Sumter County Sports Hall of Fame of local memorabilia at the 5 S. Main St. eatery.

Sumter legend Bobby Richardson probably has the most memorabilia on display, followed by Freddie Solomon and Jordan Montgomery, according to General Manager and Partner Drew Estep.

Favorites on the menu include Bucko's Pacific Islander Tacos, The Cannarella and Clyde's Pecan and Cranberry Chicken Salad, he added.

Friday and Saturday nights are generally very busy with dinner and the bar.

On the generous portions, Estep said the restaurant wants people to feel like they get their money's worth when they come in.

"We try to make a living, but we want the community to be able to come and enjoy a place and get a good meal for a fair price," he said.

The take-out option is also popular.


Hours: Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch; dinner is 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, dinner only, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch; closed Monday and Tuesday

The only fine-dining restaurant in the city is a perfect place for that special occasion but also caters to casual as well, especially with the addition of La Piazza as a regular service area, according to Hamptons Front of House Manager Mary Halverson.

Hamptons is at 33 N. Main St.

All menu items are created by Executive Chef Raffaele Dall'Erta, she said.

"He's very focused and dedicated to his work," Halverson said. "He is also passionate about food and drinks and flavors and likes unique combinations and textures."

Three favorites on the dinner menu include a Japanese-style blackened seasoning (Togarashi) fish with sweet soy and crab fried rice and is pan seared to perfection, she said. The braised short rib is also a menu staple and is fall-off-the-bone tender and "quite a unique dish," Halverson said.

She also recommends any of Dall'Erta's raviolis.

"It's an old family recipe," Halverson said. "We use the extra-fine flour so it has a very velvety texture to it, and he is always creating a different sauce. It's a very delicate procedure how he folds the raviolis, so they are all the different shapes."

Favorites from the lunch menu include the pan-seared salmon, tuna poke bowl and chicken green curry bowl.

A baker in house makes everything on the dessert menu down to the ice cream, she added. Staples include the crème brulee, warm brownie and carrot cake.

"We want to cater to those special occasions, but if you want to come in and have a casual, nice meal, I definitely recommend the lunch or the brunch menu," she said. "With that, you get to experience the service, the flavor, the food, and not have to worry about breaking the bank to do so. It is kind of like a step in the door, I say, and then save the dinner for those special nights."

Baker's Sweets Bistro and Bakery

Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Open nearly three years now, Baker's Sweets at 119 N. Main St. offers coffee and cold case grab-and-go items but also a full menu of hot food with the same quickness, according to General Manager Kate Foster.

Signature menu items include shrimp and grits, the Farmhouse breakfast sandwich and the pecan-crusted chicken salad.

The main store on Alice Drive has been around since 2000 and is a Sumter staple, but the downtown bistro and bakery is not too different, Foster said.

"We are a little bit newer than the main store, but we offer most of the same things that they do," she said. "All of their favorite coffees and pastries are here. We have a little different menu, and our atmosphere is more quick and casual since most of our customers are business employees downtown from the nurses in the hospital to the lawyers in the courthouse. So, we are really here to serve our fellow workers in the community."

The bar top area is equipped with internet outlets along it, and - with large windows - provides a view of the old Sumter County courthouse.