Looking for a restaurant that will help you set the mood for a winter date night?
There are plenty of choices here in Columbia. Here are five we like:
If it’s candlelight with a view you’re after, Al’s Upstairs Italian Restaurant could be your place.
Nestled in the corner of Meeting Street and Sunset Boulevard/U.S. Hwy. 378 just across the bridge in West Columbia, Al’s opened in March 1979 and features one of the area’s best vistas of the Columbia skyline in a building that is now a century old.
Al’s has become one of the most popular sites for engagements as well as other special occasions. It serves up Italian favorites like cannelloni, veal marsala, shrimp fettucini and more.
300 Meeting St., West Columbia. (803) 794-7404, www.alsupstairsitalian.com
Hampton Street Vineyard
Nestled on the lower level of the Sylvan Building on Hampton Street in the heart of downtown Columbia, Hampton Street Vineyard’s charming cellar-style atmosphere is reminiscent of an eatery tucked off a side street in New York. Wine aficionados are impressed with the fact that Hampton Street’s wine list has annually received Wine Spectator Magazine’s “Best Award of Excellence,” one of only 400 restaurants worldwide to earn this recognition. The wine list is updated weekly and boasts more than 650 selections. They taste all the better in the restaurant’s cozy wine room, available for private parties.
1201 Hampton St. (803) 252-0850, www.hamptonstreetvineyard.com
Though Saluda’s well-known romantic outdoor patio seating may be a little too chilly for dinner in December, the restaurant’s interior seating is just as intimate. With wood floors, white table cloths and leather chairs, the dining room sets the tone for romance. Executive Chef Josh Rogerson’s French and Italian dishes and an award-winning wine list add to the ambiance.
751 Saluda Ave., Five Points. (803) 799-9500, www.saludas.com
Lexington resident and artist Karen van Heerden is bringing her skills garnered in 22 years managing two cooking schools in Italy to the Midlands at Sapori. Italian for “flavors” or “tastes,” Sapori is on North Lake Drive just off downtown Lexington. Items such as Tuscan lasagna and quiches are customer favorites and occasional menu treats such as homemade dough flatbread with melted gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses topped with sautéed fresh pears are highly requested as well. On Saturday, Dec. 17, Sapori will host an “intimate holiday art showing” on the restaurant’s private patio from 4 -9 p.m.
Rosso Trattoria Italia
The great thing about Rosso is that it offers the opportunity for romance at any price point. It’s a casual neighborhood place, with an open-fire grill and warm atmosphere and lighting. The menu offers diners everything from wood-fired pizza to shrimp scampi or wood-grilled salmon to an exquisite 6 oz. filet Mignon. Ask about Rosso’s Christmas Eve dinner.
4840 Forest Drive (Trenholm Plaza), Forest Acres. (803)787-3949, https://rossocolumbia.com/