We have a taste for great food. Just within the last few years, Columbia’s culinary bar has been raised by creative chefs, passionate proponents of sustainable, locally sourced ingredients and spirited purveyors of beverages.
Enjoy a cooking class, dine at one of the many farm-to-table events, or sip on a locally crafted beer, all within a few miles of one another.
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On the Menu: Bar food
You’re out and about and in the mood for something more than pretzels and peanuts. Try these selections for a more worldly taste:
Prosciutto & Mozzarella sandwich or hot dogs (a late night favorite available during daylight) at Thirsty Fellow, 621 Gadsden St., (803) 799-1311.
The Bruce pizza (Applewood smoked bacon, gorgonzola and mozzarella) or Mac-N-Cheese at Hunter-Gatherer, 900 Main St., (803) 748-0540.
The Yardbird (grilled, blackened or fried chicken w/lettuce, tomato and onion and Gamecock sauce), 2108 State, 2108 State Street, Cayce, (803) 200-2108.
Brewpub Burger (with a fried egg) at Old Mill Brewpub, 711 E. Main St., Lexington, (803) 785-2337.
Fried pickles (OK, OK, there had to be one in the bunch) at Pawley’s Front Porch, 827 Harden St., (803) 771-8001.
If you like this, then try the Portobello Burger (grilled marinated portobello mushroom, red peppers, Monterey jack and pesto) at Goatfeathers, 2107 Devine St., (803) 256-3325.
On the Menu: Classics
We call them “classic” because they’ve been around for almost forever. And, these places are kid- and family-friendly.
Fried chicken salad (fried chicken atop green salad) or the meat-and-three at Lizard’s Thicket, multiple locations.
Homemade vegetable soup and cornbread or the meat-and-three at Compton’s Kitchen, 1118 B Ave., West Columbia, (803) 791-0750.
Pollo Fundido (two rolled flour tortillas filled with chicken, topped with sour cream, melted cheese, served with rice and guacamole salad), Eric’s San Jose, 6118 Garners Ferry, (803) 783-6650.
If you like this, then try anything at Grecian Gardens, 2312 Sunset Blvd., West Columbia (803) 794-7552.
On the Menu: Breakfast
On the run? Jumpstart your day with one of these great plates:
Grits (add butter, bacon and cheese or your favorite combination) at The Lunch Box, 1305 Lady St., (803) 799-3318.
Buttermilk pancakes (also good late at night) at IHOP, various locations.
Sausage gravy biscuits at Compton’s Kitchen, 1118 B Ave., West Columbia, (803) 791-0750.
German pancakes (oven baked, served with whipped butter, lemon and powdered sugar) at The Original Pancake House, 4840 Forest Dr (Trenholm Plaza), (803) 782-6742.
If you like this, then try the Dawn Breaker (scrambled eggs with bacon and mushroom, melted jack and cheddar cheese, tomato and onion) at Le Peep, 701 Gervais, (803) 254-1200.
On the Menu: Brunch
Weekends were meant for brunching with friends (or late-morning recovering from the night before). A sure cure for starting your Saturday or Sunday off right:
Hangover hashbrowns (hashbrowned potatoes, onion, banana peppers, tomato, cheddar cheese and two eggs), Cafe Strudel, 300 State St., West Columbia, (803) 794-6634.
Bacon, egg and goat cheese sandwich with a side of Anson Mills grits (with white cheddar and serrano pepper) and a bottomless mimosa, The Oak Table, 1221 Main St., (803) 563-5066.
Crab cake Benedict at MoMo’s Bistro, 2930 Devine St., (803) 252-2700.
Eggs Charleston (English muffins, crab cakes, two poached eggs, hollandaise sauce) and take home some pimiento cheese at DiPrato’s, 342 Pickens St., (803) 779-0606.
If you like this, then try the strata of the day (crustless quiche) and a selection from the Bloody Mary menu, 116 State, 116 State St., West Columbia, (803) 791-5663.
On the Menu: Farm-to-Table
These restaurant menus change on a daily basis, depending on what’s fresh from the market, so naming just one dish is nearly impossible. But look for ...
Charcuterie plate (homemade cured meats and meat-based spreads) at Motor Supply Co. Bistro, 920 Gervais St., (803) 256-6687.
Sweet tea-brined Heritage Farms pork chop, Solstice Kitchen, 841-4 Sparkleberry Lane, (803) 788-6966.
Seared duck breast, Terra, 100 State St., (803) 791-3443.
Prosciutto and fig pizza at Rosso, 4840 Forest Drive (Trenholm Plaza), (803) 787-3949.
Shrimp succotash (seasonal) at Cola’s, 1215 Assembly St. (803) 451-0051.
If you like this, then try Blue Marlin, the first ocean-to-plate sustainable restaurant, 1200 Lincoln St., (803) 799-3839.
On the Menu: Hidden Gems (also known as Dives)
You pass by and don’t give the place a second thought, but, oh, the yummy treasures that await those who chance walking through the door ...
Cheeseburger and onion rings at Mack’s Cash Grocery (cash/check only, line forms in the rear of the store), 1809 Laurel St., (803) 779-9681.
Ox tails or fried turkey wings at Food Gallery & Soul Food, 3701 River Drive (diagonally across from Edna’s No. 1, look for the old gas pump station), (803) 771-0790.
Mr. Bunky’s Bodacious Beef Dinner (32-ounce steak ... yeah, that’s right... 32!), House onion rings (ribbon-cut) at Mr. Bunky’s, 10441 Garners Ferry (just past McEntire Air Base), (803) 783-3501.
Fried chicken (or wings, liver or gizzards) at Anthony’s Dairy Bar, 2200 Two Notch Rd., (803) 252-6910.
Pizza and a cheese salad at LaBrasca Five Minute Pizza (once a rite of passage for first teenage dates), 4365 Fort Jackson Blvd. (803) 782-1098.
If you like this, then try anything at Pontiac House of Pizza, 10531 Two Notch Rd., (803) 699-7070.
On the Menu: International
Believe it or not, Columbia and the surrounding area does have a vibrant international scene. Check out these dining spots or head over to Decker Boulevard.
Be bim bob at Blue Cactus, 2002 Greene St., (803) 929-9782. This is NOT fast food, be prepared to wait (it’s worth it) or call ahead.
Pick-your-own-curry (choose protein, red or green curry and spice/heat level), let your server suggest a beer at Baan Sawan Thai Bistro, 2135 Devine St., (803) 252-8992.
Curry plate (pick your protein, pick your curry ) at Shalimar Curry House, 631 Main St., (803) 960-3755.
Spicy ramen bowl (Japanese yellow noodles and boiled pork in spicy broth) at Menkoi Ramen House, 1004 Gervais St., (803) 708-1569
Tacos (pick your filling) or the buffet, then walk next door to the bakery, at Taqueria Jasmine, 103-C N. 12th St., West Columbia, (803) 939-8397
If you like this, then try Salina Cafe, 1621 Main St., (803) 255-0001, sandwiches by day, Ethiopian menu after 5 p.m.
On the Menu: Just Desserts
Well, everyone deserves a sweet ending...
Madelines at Ally & Eloise Bakeshop, 5209 Forest Drive (on the back side of the building). (803) 708-2982.
Nirvana cupcake (It’s decadent! It’s flourless!) at Chocolate Nirvana Bakery, 1531 Richland St., (803) 799-9982.
Moon Pie (Monday dinner service only) at Mr. Friendly’s, 2001 Greene St., (803) 254-7828.
Chocolate layer cake (make sure it’s available and then order cake before you order dinner) at Julia’s German Stammtisch, 4341 Fort Jackson Blvd., (803) 738-0630.
Sorbets (flavors change daily/weekly) at The Oak Table, 1221 Main St., (803) 563-5066.
If you like this, then try anything at Nonnah’s, 923 Gervais St., (803) 779-9599.
On the menu: Leftovers
Where to put this type of information? Want to try your hand at re-creating some of your favorite dishes? Some restaurants have classes! Get on the venue’s newsletter list for up-to-date information.
Sushi classes: SakiTumi, 807 Gervais St., (803) 931-0700.
Make your own bacon: Motor Supply Co.
Summer grilling: Rosso
Or take along your best four-legged friend to these dog-friendly establishments: Cafe Strudel, Solstice (special dinners), Jake’s (designated nights), Gourmet Shop (outdoor tables)