There’s no denying that Columbia ‘s restaurant scene is better than it’s ever been.
Throughout the region, chefs are upping their game, while at the same time supporting local food suppliers and farmers.
“We’re actually moving from local to hyper-local,” says Ryan Nevius, executive director of Sustainable Midlands, which advocates, educates and celebrates solutions that balance the needs of the community, the environment and the economy. “All over Columbia, ingredients are literally changing hands from farmer to chef. Restaurants and providers are building personal connections to the point that some farmers grow things specifically for a certain restaurant.”
And the shift isn’t just occurring at high-end restaurants. When Jonathan Sears and his business partner bought Jake’s, a bar on Devine Street known primarily for music, they could have easily maintained the status quo on food quality. Instead, they decided to turn Jake’s into a bar known as much for its food as for anything else.
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One of the first things they did was to seek out local vendors. Today, the menu features hamburger buns from Crust, a bakeshop on Rosewood Drive, chicken wings from Wil-Moore Farms in Lugoff and lettuce from Columbia’s City Roots.
Ready to support these local partnerships? It’s easy...just go out to lunch or dinner this week at one of the restaurants participating in the Tasty Tomato Festival’s Midlands Restaurant Feast. Through July 18, each restaurant will celebrate the locavore in us all with daily food and drink specials based on local meat, fish, dairy, grains, produce and spirits.
For a complete list of participating restaurants and more information about the Tasty Tomato Festival, visit tastytomatofestival.com
Katie McElveen, Special to The State