I loved smiling faces and beautiful places long before South Carolina officials decided to put it on license plates.
I get pure delight when I meet a person who isn't wearing a frown, and I like any place that is lovely to look at and fun to be in.
No wonder Lulu's Cafe won me over.
The Myrtle Beach eatery, at 1903 N. Ocean Blvd., is a sunny spot even on a cloudy day, and the food isn't shabby, either.
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This is Misty Coan's domain, where she aims to satisfy the hunger pangs of people craving simple food with an eclectic twist.
I believe she is off to a grand start, although tweaks are still needed here and there.
I visited the cafe on two separate occasions. Once, I went solo, and then I tagged along with Cheryl Pinkley and my friend Rita Cauthen.
Both trips were memorable.
Shortly after Lulu's Cafe opened on Valentine's Day, I went in desiring Lowcountry egg rolls. It is a combination of collard greens and country ham enclosed in an egg roll. Black-eyed pea salsa and a hot sauce dip are both served on the side. The rolls, which I topped with the salsa after dunking them in the hot sauce, were scrumptious.
Misty worked hard to cut down the salty taste palatable in the roll when I tried it last year at the 27th annual Taste of the Town.
She discovered the source of saltiness was the hot sauce mixture that she added to the wrap. And she is absolutely correct. The egg rolls by themselves (you get two chunky pieces cut in half) are delicious. The salsa makes them even tastier, but the hot sauce dip is still a smidgen too salty. I told Misty this via telephone, and she promised me she will work on that dipping sauce.
Nevertheless, the appetizer, which costs $5.95, is a winner.
Next up was the fire-roasted red pepper and smoked gouda bisque, and it was totally awesome. It was smooth, packed with flavor and pleasantly addictive. Slices of toast come with it and came in handy as I sopped in the soup, popped it into my mouth and smiled - big.
I could eat that soup every day and not tire of it. I paid $3.95 for a bowl of pure pleasure.
Since the soups change daily, the aforementioned soup isn't always available.
However, if you love making your mouth happy like I do, do it a favor and ask for the soup when you go in. You won't be sorry.
My dessert was Lulu's French toast. It is thick-sliced brioche coated with cobbler batter and topped with fresh fruit compote and a dollop of whipped cream.
It was a nice ending to a tasty meal. The French toast was lightly sweet, and the berries were truly fruity and in their own juice. It costs $5.95.
On my second visit, I had the rosemary chicken, which came with red potatoes, my side of choice. It costs $9.95 and comes with a hearty side salad.
The chicken and potatoes were downright good. The chicken was moist and juicy, but I didn't taste a hint of rosemary. I, however, suspect that will change once fresh rosemary is available. The red potatoes were seasoned perfectly.
Other menu items include green eggs and ham - ham, pesto, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella combine for a scramble entree that is served with grits. Each scramble is made with three large farm-fresh eggs and whatever ingredients that are a part of its moniker. Prices for the scrambles, including Philly cheese steak, are $5.95 to $8.95 (for the Vancouver that comes with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers).
Breakfast is served all day.
There is also an array of sandwiches, including several takes on peanut butter sandwiches and grilled-cheese sandwiches. Lulu's grilled cheese, made with sundried tomatoes, basil pesto, havarti cheese and provolone cheese, has been getting rave reviews. It costs $6.95.
When I finished my meal, I sat back and took in the sights - the smiling staffers wearing sneakers, denims and these calypso blue T-shirts with "Lulu's" written in pink and the funkiest, colorful decor I've seen in a while, including the checkerboard flooring that is lime green and black.
I especially love the iridescent, soft Caribbean-blue vinyl booths and old-timey lighting fixtures over the bar area.
In that moment of time, Lulu's Cafe felt like home, but in a beach bum, hippy kind of way.
I dig it, and being there made my day.