Check out 5 new restaurants opening in Columbia and the Midlands

There’s a bevy of new restaurants opening in Columbia and the Midlands.

One has a new twist. Another mixes coconuts and beer. There are biscuits and itty bitty burgers.

Here’s a rundown of some new foodie destinations:

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Jeff Wilkinson

Philly Pretzel Factory

Coming soon to Rosewood Center, 2800 Rosewood Drive, next door to Publix.

The national chain was established in 1998 in, well, Philadelphia, according to its website.

It started in a single storefront in the Mayfair neighborhood. Today, the chain boasts 170 stores in the northeast and along the Atlantic coast.

It features traditional hand-twisted pretzels, pretzel twists and mini-pretzels.

Unlike some pretzels on the market, Philly Pretzel Factory’s are fat free and cholesterol free with 14 grams of protein, said Alex Ravitz, who owns the Rosewood franchise with his partner in business and life, Alison Lake.

Ravitz of New Jersey and Lake, from outside Philly, are both University of South Carolina graduates.

For those who want a little fat and cholesterol in their lives, the stores offer meat-filled pretzels, like pepperoni melts, cheesesteaks (of course), pretzel dogs and a wide variety of dips from honey mustard to cheddar cheese to cinnamon.

Ravitz said the store will have a soft opening towards the end of next week with a grand opening later. For the first week, the store will give out a free pretzel to all comers and special deals for the rest of the month.

A second store is in the works for Irmo, Ravitz said.

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Jeff Wilkinson

Cocos & Beer

It’s hard to miss this new Mexican restaurant on Fort Jackson Boulevard.

Located in the old Chocolate Nirvana building across the street from LaBrasca’s Pizza, it has a near-life-sized metal sculpture of a bull out front and the baffling name (for most Americans) of Cocos & Beer.

No, Cocos doesn’t have her own beer. Coco is shorthand for coconut, said Alvara Guadarrama, who owns the restaurant with his brother, Marcos. And drinking beer (or margaritas or beer in a margarita) from a coconut is a thing.

The Guadarramas opened the restaurant about five weeks ago. They completely renovated the interior and spruced up the parking lot with palmetto trees.

The brothers own bakeries in Greenville and Hendersonville, N.C., and a meat market/taqueria in Fletcher, N.C. (It’s name is Los Toros. And the bull sculpture was supposed to go there. Long story.)

Cocos & Beer is their first venture into a full-fledged Mexican restaurant.

“We decided to do something different,” Alvara said. “A bigger experiment.”

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Bubba’s Biscuits

Restaurateur Arif Rizvi, owner of RF’s Corner Grill in Lexington, and his 17-year-old daughter, Zoya, have opened up Bubba’s Biscuits, a high concept biscuit joint and coffee shop that’s not just for breakfast.

The restaurant features biscuit combos like Bubba’s Catch — a fried catfish biscuit with gravy and a fried egg, topped with pickles and habanero aioli drizzled with bang bang sauce.

Or Bubba’s Shrimp and Grits — sauteed shrimp, gravy, bacon and grits on a biscuit.

Or the Applewood Chop — a center loin sauteed pork chop on a biscuit, smothered in fried apples, with an apple wood drizzle and topped with a fried egg.

You get the idea.

The biscuit shop opened last week in the former White Duck Taco Shop space at 612 Whaley St., in the shadow of the Olympia and Granby mills.

Rizvi said that while amped-up biscuits are en vogue in Charleston and some markets in North Carolina, they hadn’t migrated to the Capital City.

“We wanted to bring something new to the market,” Rizvi said during the shop’s first day of a soft opening last Friday.

Rizvi is also opening a second location in Lexington at 115 West Main St. in November.

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Jeff Wilkinson

El Jimador Restaurante

This local Mexican chain is doubling it presence in the Midlands from two stores, both in Lexington, to four stores. It also has restaurants in Clemson and Anderson.

And the individual stores are growing as well.

El Jimador — pronounced el hee-ma-door, the Spanish name for a farmer who grows and harvests the agave plant from whence comes tequila — recently opened a third location at the old Miyo’s store in the Village at Sandhill in northeast Columbia. It’s located at 715 Fashion Drive.

And coming soon is a fourth store at the old Carolina Mattress location next to Marco’s Pizza at 514 Knox Abbott Drive in Cayce. That store should open in November, El Jimador marketing director Frank Roberts said.

He said authentic Mexican recipes coupled with unique creations by chef and owner Francisco Macias are driving the expanding business.

“We’ve been blessed to grow over the past year and a half,” he said.

In addition to more stores, the chain is building an outdoor cantina at Scarborough Place store in Lexington (108 Scarborough Drive) and the restaurant at 5343 Sunset Blvd. in Lexington is expanding by one third.

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Apparently people like little burgers.

A Israeli-based chain specializing in mini-burgers opened its doors earlier this month off Killian Road near Blythewood. The restaurant at 1033 Roberts Branch Parkway in Killian’s Crossing is the chain’s only South Carolina location.

The IM on the end of burger is Hebrew, rhymes with “team,” and makes the word “burger” plural.

BurgerIM first opened in Tel Aviv in 2011, and had opened 168 locations around the world by 2016, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The chain is known for its chef-inspired 3-ounce burgers and wide variety of patty options, including beef, lamb, salmon, turkey, chicken, falafel and plant-based burgers.

If burgers aren’t your thing, they will also have chicken wings and strips on offer. Craft beer will share counter space with a milkshake bar, BurgerIM says.

The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. A grand opening is planned for November.

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Jeff Wilkinson has worked for The State for both too long and not long enough. He’s covered politics, city government, history, business, the military, marijuana and the Iraq War. Jeff knows the weird, wonderful and untold secrets of South Carolina. Buy him a shot and he’ll tell you all about them.