The term “Southern food” can be problematic because it glosses over the nuances of local food cultures in favor of general tropes. That said, there are expectations of cuisine and aesthetics in Columbia, and Spotted Salamander Cafe delivers on them in the most true-to-itself way. The space is housed in two adjoining white bungalows on a tree-lined street in the Historic Robert Mills District. Sipping a sweet tea and noshing on cornbread-crumbled deviled eggs on a sunlit patio is the kind of experience you probably daydreamed of when planning your trip. And you can do it here. This is more than just lazy fantasy, however: chef owner Jessica Shillato’s Sriracha fried chicken sandwiches with cucumber-laden slaw are what dreams are made of. There are flaky biscuits too, pecked with air pockets and moist with butter; they’re served with bacon jam. For dessert, there might be “church lady cakes” with lemon cream frosting, inspired by vintage church cookbooks. The menu is short and sweet, and changes daily.
Yelp: 5 stars, 8 reviews Mobile bratwursts. It’s like a million people’s dreams all got simultaneously answered in one big swoop of the food truck. The main cook is a German-trained master-chef. The Brats are cooked to a perfect pop, and the sides are cooked using only local foods. If what they want to make is something that they can’t find in that particular region someday, then they decide on making something new instead of settling for sub-par ingredients. Check their Facebook account frequently to keep a running tab on where they are so that you never have to miss them when they’re nearby.
Yelp: 4 out of 5 stars on Yelp with 125 reviews You can find a steak almost anywhere. The problem is, you can’t find a good steak just anywhere. So, when a cut of beef is up for order tonight, then you’re going to want to know where to go. And that’s the Blue Marlin. Half surf, half turf, this modestly classy restaurant serves up much more than the beef. The shrimp and grits are a favorite order, and keep your eyes out of the sesame-encrusted tuna or the salmon pontchartrain. You’ll also find fire-roasted chicken and pasta dishes here, ensuring you’ll be able to talk anyone into coming here, since there’s something for everyone.
The college town of Columbia is full of character, historical buildings, wide avenues and museums. Its culinary tradition is built on local BBQ, burger joints and comforting Southern cuisine, served up in innovative ways and unique settings. Get stuck in to some great food at these top South Carolina restaurants.
I know that bagels aren’t the healthiest choice of breakfast in the world, but I can sleep happy knowing that my cinnamon raisin bagels actually contain some nutritional value and can be enjoyed along with a balanced and healthy diet.
For some of the freshest seafood and best atmosphere around, try Pearlz Oyster Bar. This rustic restaurant serves up a mix of shellfish and local seafood, and is part of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative. The raw bar offers a range of oyster varieties, including Low country and Gulf oysters, while the rest of the menu consists of all manner of seafood concoctions, including tuna tartar, steamed mussels and oyster sliders. Pearlz is also famed for its signature oyster shooters; Pearlz Black Pepper Vodka, oysters and cocktail sauce. It also has its own line of award-winning draft beers, the TBonz Homegrown Ales, which are the perfect accompaniment to the spicy peel-and-eat shrimp. There’s also a jazz and blues music lounge upstairs, perfect for post-dinner drinks.
I have worked in a coffee shop for a few years. I have learned that people are mean. People are very rude, and people who have never worked this job do not realize there is a specific way to order things. I am specific when I order my coffees off the clock. I figured I could share my advice with you all on how to order when at a coffee shop whether inside or in the drive-thru. Let’s begin.
Yelp: 4 stars, 140 reviews One of the first restaurants to help revamp the Vista district, Motor Supply has been building a great reputation and has become part of the backbone of this neighborhood since they opened their doors in 1989. The menu includes a great mix of American, French, Italian, and Asian cuisine and changes almost daily, so you know they’re not kidding when they say they’re fresh. You’ll usually be able to find a great grilled steak or house-brined pork chops, neither of which you should miss out on. The cocktails are the real highlight here, though, which is saying something. They were recently voted as having the best cocktails in town, which is instantly believable once you watch mixologist Josh do his job.
Variety of meat was great; roasted to our desire (medium rare) flavorful and well seasoned. Nice salad bar, and good selection of accompaniments (savory mushrooms, onions, gravy) potatoes, rice, greens with the meat. Much more than we could eat! Have eaten at several other Brazilian-style restaurants in Chicago, Houston, Dallas & Las Vegas- while Cowboy was not quite up to their level in ambiance and service, it tasted good and was priced reasonably. We will return for another special occasion.
Pawleys Front Porch is a South Carolina institution, with a branch in Mount Pleasant and one on Harden Street in Columbia. This burger joint is consistently nominated for local awards for its innovative burgers. Chef Kyle Taylor conjures up some unique combos that are bursting with flavour, such as the Isle of Palms burger, with homemade pimento cheese and jalapeno bacon, and Fripp Island burger, southern salsa, boursin cheese and fried green tomato. Keep an eye out for their award-winning food truck, which parks up at the Soda City Market every Saturday.
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 64 reviews Head to the heart of Five Points where you’ll find Saluda’s, an elegant dining experience that consistently aims to provide unparalleled food and service. You’ll find an 1800s mahogany bar and a 1915 grand piano to perfectly accompany the crisp lines and white table cloths. Arguably the best shrimp and grits in town, and hands down the best sweet tea pork chops you’ll ever bite into anywhere, Saluda’s menu will have you on the edge of your seat as you venture through one delectable course after another. And definitely don’t miss out on the swankiest Sunday brunch in town.
Take a stroll down the cobble stone streets in the Vista and make sure you stop at this restaurant, which happens to be ranked one of the best seafood restaurants in SC! Grab lunch or dinner at Blue Martin to experience a blend of African, West Indian, and Caribbean flavors. You have to get the Shrimp & Grits!
(803) 788-6966Yelp: 4 stars, 41 reviews The Solstice Kitchen is the kind of place you’re looking to impress because from the décor to the menu, it works like a charm every time. The food is creative and modern with strong Southern influences, and never crosses the line into feeling too uptight. Your best bets are the spinach-walnut ravioli, the petit filet mignon (with fried green tomatoes, of course) the lobster risotto, or the goat cheese and bacon-tomato confit. You’ll also find an extensive wine menu, which helped them earn the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Regardless of what you order, it will always exceed expectations.
Despite recently celebrating its 20th birthday, Blue Cactus Café isn’t that well known. In fact, it’s quite hard to find or stumble upon, being tucked away on the edge of Five Points without a sign outside. But those in the know keep returning for its unique, and affordable Korean Tex Mex-style home cooking, and cherish it for its quirks. The café describes itself as ‘arrogantly slow’, and even takes pride in its ‘intentionally curt’ service. The mish-mash decoration is also nothing to write home about. But all this is part of its charm, and the food, cooked and served by Julie, Mary and Lloyd, is certainly worth the wait. Expect generously portioned Korean staples such as spicy bibimbap and bulgogi, served alongside regional comfort food.
Pawley’s made an appearance on “Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives!” This burger joint features specials each week. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to eat from their food truck, which was voted Best Food Truck in Columbia in 2014! Come as you are, pull a seat up next to the bar, and devour!
Just like pineapple on pizza or chicken and waffles, contrasting and unconventional food combinations often provide some of the greatest food experiences. Cinnamon and raisins may not sound like the best flavors to make a bagel out of, but the end product is a sweet, yet grainy combination that makes my mouth happy.
I hear a lot of people talking smack about cinnamon raisin bagels, and I do not like it one bit. Cinnamon raisin, in my opinion, is by far the best kind of bagel, and the people who hate on them are simply too unsophisticated to comprehend the exquisite flavor that is found in each bite. If you are one of these cinnamon raisin haters, I hope that the following reasons will inspire you to add a little pizazz to your morning meal.
Our bar opens daily, M-F at 4PM and 11AM on Saturday and Sunday. Our kitchen is open until Midnight Tuesday through Saturday and until 10PM on Sunday and Monday. We offer Saturday and Sunday Brunch from 11AM til 3PM.
“All RAW all the TIME!” – Good Life Cafe. All menu items consist of unprocessed plant foods that have not been heated over 115 degrees. “Executive chef, Sharon Wright, has been preparing natural, wholesome, nutritious and delicious meals, juices and smoothies for 24 years!” -Good Life Cafe. Yummy and nutritious? You had better hurry!
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 39 reviews If you’ve searched through the deepest, darkest corner of Columbia in pursuit of the perfect sushi place and have still come up empty-handed, that’s only because you somehow skipped Inakaya Watanabe. Classy without being too upscale, Inakaya’s offers the perfect experience for some sushi, sashimi, maki, specialty rolls, bowls of noodles, or just some authentic Japanese cuisine. With the highest quality fish and an extensive menu with a variety of delicious options alongside a menu of hand-selected wines and specialty beers, Inakaya’s is the place you will continue to visit again and again whenever a fresh, Asian meal is calling your name.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House is proud to call Columbia, the beautiful capitol city of South Carolina, home. Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Columbia is located in the heart of the city near the historic University of South Carolina, and one block from the South Carolina State House. The energetic and friendly personality of the city provides the perfect backdrop to the upscale American steak house dining experience at Ruth’s Chris.
Our bar currently boasts over 350 whiskeys, most of which are bourbon, rye or Tennessee whisky. We also have a growing collection of whiskeys from other countries like Scotland, Ireland, Japan and Canada.
In most cases, heirloom produce—which relies on farmers saving the seeds of the best plants that year—is still largely a small-scale operation in which farmers hand-deliver vegetables to restaurants. As a result, these ingredients inform only a small part of even the most conscientious menus, but they’re an undeniable victory for Midlands cuisine, both its heritage and its future. And it’s hard to go to Columbia without hearing about it.
Before settling down in Columbia, Wes Fulmer cooked behind the stoves of Michelin-starred Maison Christian Étienne in Avignon, France. In his impressively small kitchen at Motor Supply, coppa and pork legs hang for curing below a shelf of a dozen artisanal vinegars; kimchi ferments nearby. The daily rotating dinner menu might feature plates of yellowfin tuna, seared and placed onto a bed of crispy endive, glistening with smoked olive oil and mayo-like tonnato. It’s the perfect balance between tart, salt and sweet. Many of Fulmer’s creations have a Thai-inspired twang of acid and herb, although you can also order redfish and butter beans heirloom grits that were milled in town—and you won’t regret it. You would also be remiss to skip the cocktails; Josh Streetman’s bar program is worth the visit alone. His smoked drinks are spectacular, and his Jalisco Sour, which is a whiskey sour riff that smells like bacon, is savory in the best way possible—the smoke doesn’t translate into an overpowering flavor profile.
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 16 reviews When you’re in the mood for some creative and delicious comfort food, but really don’t feel like making the commute downtown, head to Forest Acres where you’ll find the Tombo Grille, the premium restaurant in the area. Start off with the fried Brussel sprouts. Trust me. Regardless of how you feel about the vegetable, I promise you won’t leave one behind. Then move onto any one of the varieties of intricate pizzas with a bottle of wine to wash it all down or a high gravity beer. And leave some room for the dessert menu, because chance are no matter how full you are here, you will keep eating.
Valet parking is available to guests on a first come, first served basis. Be sure to let the valet know you are dining with us when you arrive to ensure you receive the reduced Ruth’s Chris parking rate.
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Yelp: 4.5 stars, 17 reviews There isn’t an appetizer to be found at Henry’s that isn’t good. From the spinach dip to the hush puppies, you’ll think you died and went to bar food heaven. But considering that Henry’s sells tapas plates, it would be more notable to mention the things on the menu which aren’t good. So far, that list is zero lines long. But definitely don’t leave without ordering one of the burgers, as they’re among the best in town. Try to order something new every once in a while, though, because once you start eating here, the burgers are going to be a hard habit to break. And ordering a bacon double-cheeseburger for breakfast just doesn’t seem logical – even by my standards.
Experimenting with new sauces, rubs, and toppings every day, Southern Belly BBQ is sure to hit the spot and leave you wanting to try more unique creations. Make a pit stop here on your way to Williams Brice Stadium for some Carolina football and pick up some yum for all! Be prepared for your tailgate to be the talk of the town!
Great ambience, our family has visited flaming grill on many occasions since moving to SC. Flaming grill had great word of mouth reviews from many of the guys on base. But let me say again “had”! Our past two visits were crap, the service sucked and the staff took FOREVER stocking the hot bar, we absolutely love the fried blue crab however the pan stayed EMPTY. we intentionally overstayed our visit just to see how the staff handled the situation especially since my husband mentioned the DRY pans more than once… OK so once it was replenished it was enough for like 5 customers SAD!!!!!! Come on Flaming grill step up your service! Why should PAYING customers have to struggle and beg for GOOD Service!!! KEEP THE FOOD STOCKED!
Yelp: 4 stars, 101 reviews No matter what time of day it is, when you’ve got a hankering for breakfast, Café Strudel has become the place to go. Loaded with onions, peppers, cheese and two eggs, their Hangover Hashbrowns have become famous around town, especially with the college crew, as being the ultimate hangover remedy and, yes, you can order them all day. So, the late-risers never have to worry about catching the worm. The banana fosters French toast isn’t known for curing hangovers, but it’s one of the other most delicious things on the menu. You’ll also find yourself a stellar coffee bar and much lighter options like a delicious smoked salmon bagel. If you come for lunch or dinner and are looking for something other than breakfast, order up the fish and chips or the Portobello mushroom with Havarti.
Yelp: 4 stars, 45 reviews At the corner of Main and Gervais in downtown Columbia sits The Oak Table, a modern American restaurant that specializes in amazing food with a side of true Southern hospitality and service. The food here is cooked using only regionally-sourced ingredients, fueling a seasonally-strong menu made up of American classics. You’ll find everything from different cuts of steak to seafood, but nothing here ever feels the same as any place else. The venue is quaint and has some killer views of the Capitol, so either get here early or make reservations so you can score one of the best tables in the house.
Just like Saluda’s, Mr. Friendly’s is hidden away in Five Points, a historic area full of bars and galleries, known for its laid-back, hip vibe and popularity with the students at the nearby University of South Carolina. It was founded as a sandwich and cookie shop in the early 1980s, but since 1995, Mr. Friendly’s has operated as a café serving ‘new Southern cuisine’. Frommers even calls this award-winning eatery ‘one of the finest and most innovative restaurants in South Carolina’, with its gourmet versions of classic dishes. Try the pecan crab cakes, fried oysters, buttermilk fried chicken or the grilled filet mignon wrapped in bacon and pimento cheese. The café’s whitewashed brick walls, covered in art, serve as the backdrop for a chilled-out afternoon.
Other highlights: Go to Tallula’s for the brussel sprouts with tahini, and get a bone marrow chocolate pop for dessert. (Chocolate ice cream is bodied with bone marrow, and served in a push pop at lunch. At dinner, things get a little more fancy, and it’s served in the actual bone.) The charcuterie board at The Oak Table is probably the best in town; when not at the restaurant, chef Todd Woods has been known to drive venison that he’s shot and butchered himself to the James Beard House in New York, where he puts on dinner.
This is more for Dunkin’. Because hash browns, in reality, take the longest for us to get ready. So please when ordering don’t ask for them at the window, please order at the speaker. We don’t mind cooking them last minute but its inconvenient for you and our time.
High quality Food: the lobster and the filet were delicious and perfectly cooked and showed in the dishes. The waiters were kind and professional and so welcoming. Great atmosphere, ideal for a special occasion! – Barbara C. (Facebook)
Yelp: 5 stars, 25 reviews Most people would agree that it’s pretty hard to mess up ice cream. Even the worst stuff still tastes like two scoops of childhood. Sweet Cream Co. is two scoops of heaven drizzled with unicorn sprinkles. They make handcrafted sorbets, small batch ice cream, and organic frozen custards right on-site, mixing traditional and modernly creative flavors together, offering a little something for everyone to enjoy. You can also get a scoop put between two homemade cookies for one of the most decadent sweet sandwiches you’ll ever try.
He’s also worked with several chefs in Columbia, where he lives, to do the same. At The Oak Table, Woods crafts watermelon molasses, which Brock has also been known to feature on his menus. It’s just a bunch of watermelon flesh boiled down, no sugar or water added. Intoxicatingly, it smells like tomato and tastes almost florally sweet. There’s usually just enough for a precious drizzle over chicken liver mousse or head cheese.
columbia sc restaurants
best restaurants in columbia sc
What started as a farmers’ market tent has now grown into a brick-and-mortar location in a relatively short amount of time, a leap made possible both by Indah’s loyal fan base as well as Columbia’s fertile food scene. Get the Thai coffee, which is a barely aerated nitro brew; it’s thickened with an aromatic sweetened condensed coconut milk that’s made by reducing coconut milk by half and adding a touch of sugar. The resulting dairy-free concoction is also spiked with cinnamon, and isn’t too sweet or too strong. It’s simply, perfectly refreshing. If you’re feeling peckish, head over to Drip Coffee in Five Points for a housemade biscuit sandwich.
Private Dining & Parties At Ruth’s Chris Steak House, we make event planning easy for our customers. Find information on the variety of elegant private dining options at our Columbia restaurant here. Read
The food is always good. A little variety on the vegetables that come with entrees would help. Seems a lot of the menu items all come with the same vegetabes. If you don’t like brussel sprouts, that limits your choices. I’m sure you can probably substitute. The pizza is great.
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Yelp: 4 stars, 71 reviews What happens when a Tex-Mex lover marries a Korean foodie? The Blue Cactus Café, that’s what. This Tex-Mex/Korean barbecue fusion restaurant is a unique gem in Columbia’s trendy Five Points district. Spawning such creations as kimchi burritos and red bean ice cream, Blue Cactus has been offering something different, delicious, and always fun to locals since the mid-90s. The kimchi is always fresh and extra spicy, the bi bam bap is authentic, and the spicy pork is something you simply have to experience. Don’t come if you’re in a rush, though. Everything here is made to order and extra care goes into making each dish just right.
While the city has always had great access to these small scale farmers and milling companies, it has been challenged by a lack of culinary talent. Charleston, on the other hand, was home to Johnson and Wales University for over twenty years, and this provided restaurants with a competitive pool of cooking school grads who (for better or worse) were able to work in kitchens for rock-bottom rates. “This definitely helped set it up as a culinary destination,” says Wes Fulmer, executive chef at Columbia’s Motor Supply Co. Bistro. As Charleston is getting more expensive, however, there’s a trickle of talent and food connoisseurs spilling over to Columbia, which is helping to bolster its food scene and a growing constellation of standout spots.
Barbecue is a central part of South Carolina life, and one of the best places to try it out is Little Pigs Barbecue. Serving a huge range of barbecue, ribs, brisket, pork chops, chicken wings and many more home-cooked dishes, using three different styles of barbecue marinade, the food is consistently tasty, with that unmistakable hickory smoked flavour. No wonder it is regularly cited as the best barbecue in Columbia, with a handful of awards to its name.