Best of Columbia 2014

Posted On July 13, 2014

You voted, we counted. Old favorites, surprises, newcomers. Food, drink, services, retail.

Compiled by Katherine Pettit, Kristine Hartvigsen and Lisa Arnold

 Best of Columbia SC 2014



Bonefish Grill

Talk about the Bang Bang Theory! As in the spicy Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer. You’ll need a refreshing cocktail with that. There’s actually someone in charge of “beverage innovation.” Upscale seafood restaurant with two Columbia locations offers a savory starter menu with something for everyone. Crab cakes. Bacon wrapped scallops. Calamari. Tuna sashimi. But don’t tell Schrödinger’s Cat. 407.1599

 Authentic American 

Hampton Street Vineyard

Be sure to ask about the flash-fried oysters, a popular menu special. In a word, heavenly. Lovely downtown eatery with sumptuous seafood-rich menu. Customers also rave about the pork tenderloin and prime rib. Extremely knowledgeable professional staff. Romantic downstairs dining room plus sidewalk tables for dining alfresco amid colorful potted plants. Unbeatable ambiance. This place is known for its extensive wine collection. 252.0850

Authentic Asian


Growing family-owned dynasty offers fresh Asian cuisine. Multiple locations. Chic decor and intoxicating aromas invite you in; delicious food from wide-ranging menu keeps you coming back. Healthy selections include a variety of sushi, edamame with sea salt, steamed pork dumplings, lettuce wraps, and vegetarian dishes. Seafood galore. General Tso’s chicken is a huge crowd-pleaser. Wide assortment of wine, beer, cocktails. 781.7788

Authentic Italian

Rosso Trattoria Italia

You can buy gorgonzola pre-crumbled, but the owner of Rosso in Trenholm Plaza worries about moisture levels and buys high-end, large cuts to crumble on site. This is just one of many fine details that make Rosso a top destination for great Italian food and spirits. Ingredients are locally sourced from such places as Caw Caw Creek Pork and City Roots Farm. After experiencing Rosso’s signature red decor, leather seating, open kitchen and wood-fired aromas, you’ll be smitten. 787.3949

Authentic Mexican

San Jose

Can you say Happy Hour? A margarita or Dos Equis goes down great with fresh guacamole, salsa, and complimentary tortillas. That will bring many in the door, but the tasty, generously portioned Mexican fare keeps folks coming back. From savory burritos to satisfying fajitas, this festive eatery has many convenient locations. San Jose is the kind of place where the staff knows the names of their regulars. There’s a kids menu, fast service, and the prices will please budget-conscious families. www.sanjosemex.com.


Tin Roof

You know the great sound of rain on a tin roof? This place is full of great sounds, from live music nearly every night (Dierks Bentley played here) to young professionals cheering their favorite team on the big screen. Of course, the bar itself is the hub and offers a variety of beverages to slake any thirst. Kitchen’s open late, and made-from-scratch quesadillas are their specialty. Tube steak fans should try the deep-fried dogs. Laid-back and full of fun. 771.1558

Breakfast Spot

Café Strudel

After a triumphant night on the town, there’s nothing better than Strudel’s famous “hangover hash browns” or a to-die-for omelet. Great lunches (check out the quarter-pound stuffed burger), rich coffee and sumptuous desserts, but brunch is a hands-down favorite. Eclectic décor with local art on walls, even a repurposed sewing table, replete with foot pedal, perfect for seating a single or couple. Reasonably priced. Cozy feel, friendly staff. 794.6634


Five Guys

Where else can you order a burger 250,000 ways? More than a dozen franchises in South Carolina. Just look for the red and white checker décor. Award-winning burgers and splurge-worthy fresh cut French fries. Menu is limited, but that’s the point. Five Guys specializes in burgers. For those burger-averse, there are hot dogs, too. You’ll enjoy mouth-watering scents from the minute you enter. www.fiveguys.com


The Gourmet Shop

A sensory smorgasbord in charming Five Points. Walk in and be dazzled. Enormous selection of culinary treats on display. Everything the discriminating gourmet might need. Wines, cheeses, specialty sausages, cookware, kitchen linens. The star of the show is an array of fine chocolates, from Godiva to Taza. And this is one of the few places you can find Neuhaus Belgian chocolates and even purchase a hand-selected “ballotin” (gift box). Custom gift baskets available. Lovely café next door. 799.9463


Kristian Niemi

His love of rustic Italian cuisine has made Rosso Trattoria Italia another triumph in Chef Kristian Niemi’s substantial stable of restaurant successes in Columbia. With attention to his craft, as well as local sourcing, his work continues to shine and Columbia lovers of excellent food flock to his tables. Fun fact: he once spent time as a Farsi translator of U.S. Army intelligence units. Folks around here know that when he tackles a project, the results will be nothing short of spectacular. 787.3949

Cocktail Selection

Art Bar

This is the kind of place where The Big Lebowski might shuffle in for an out-of-this-world White Russian. Highly eclectic crowd. Folks from all persuasions are comfortable here. Preppies, punks, Mad Men, accountants, belly dancers, and more come in for standard beers and wines. Lengthy cocktail list runs gamut from cosmopolitan to dirty martini. They’ll even concoct a custom cocktail and name it after your tribe if you ask. You’ll be shaken and stirred. 929.0198



It’s a place where just ordering is an art form. Where hipsters write their screenplays and college kids surf the net. For a joke, tell them your name is “Bueller” and walk out. Seemingly unlimited coffee choices. Seriously strong java that goes so well with decadent bakery offerings, from banana bread and assorted pastries to indisputably addictive cake pops. Now they even offer Oprah’s Teavana chai tea. Great vibe, high quality. www.starbucks.com

Craft Brewer

Conquest Brewing

Beer aficionados appreciate the snarky, bearded proprietors, who are passionate about their craft and fairly likely to plunk down next to you and discuss the various smoky undertones, bready essences, or malt profiles of any beer on the menu. Located near Williams-Brice Stadium, Conquest’s “pint-sized” tasting room offers a range of suds, from blondes to coffee stouts. Try seasonal offerings or take home a growler of Artemis Blonde any time. Available in bars and restaurants around town and also carried by Green’s and Morganelli’s. marketingatconquest@gmail.com



The perfect place to duck in for dessert after the ballet or philharmonic. Cozy, romantic ambience. Doubles as a gallery featuring the work of local artists. Dramatic flaming desserts prepared tableside include such favorites as Crepes Suzette and Cherries Jubilee. Like a child, you’ll want to press your nose up to the display case, which gushes forth with all manner of cheesecakes, super tall layer cakes, fruity pies, and even Linzer tarts filled with raspberry goodness. 779.9599

Family Restaurant

Flight Deck

If you think delicious “airplane food” is a thing of the past, you haven’t been to the Flight Deck in Lexington. Great family atmosphere with fun aviation theme. Unbelievably diverse menu has something for everyone − even the pickiest eaters. An onsite arcade entertains restless kids. Entrée names like the “Tailgunner,” “Memphis Belle,” and “Spruce Goose” are clever and creative. Dessert case at the entrance tempts everyone. Go ahead and take home a dozen homemade cookies. 957.5990

Fine Dining

Saluda’s Restaurant

White tablecloth setting, 21 wines by the glass, southern cuisine with French and Italian overtones, and exquisite attention to detail. (You don’t get a fine dining accolade without all of the elements meshing perfectly.) Try the lobster bisque, shrimp and grits, sweet tea pork chop and anything on special. Climb those stairs and know you’ve got one fabulous meal waiting for you and yours. And don’t skimp on dessert. Another fine dining marker – every part of the meal is divine. “Elegant but not snooty.” 799.9500

Happy Hour

Cantina 76

The perfect spot to unwind after one of those days. Their margaritas are legendary, but don’t ignore the strawberry basil – tequila, lime juice, triple sec, muddled with strawberries and basil. Hello downtime. Happy hour from 4-7 (except Saturdays), a dollar off all drinks and special deals of the day, including wine nights, beer specials and so much more. Try the Honeysuckle margarita when you’re looking for a very special flavor – all grown up. Devine St. 708.6004. Main St. 764.1769

Healthy Fare

Zoe’s Kitchen

Two locations in Columbia. Marinated slaw which is quite addictive and tastes fresh and healthy. Yummy Greek salad, chicken salad, hummus, and kabobs. Don’t forget their fresh limeade, a perfect combination of tangy and sweet. And when you’ve had enough of healthy, there’s always Yaya’s handmade chocolate cake. Eat in, take out, or pick up several pints to treat a friend. 782.1212

Late-Night Menu

Hunter-Gatherer Brewery

OK, you’ve come out of some event at Koger and hunger strikes. A couple of blocks away, you’ll find Hunter-Gatherer, cheerfully serving their entire menu until 10 on week nights and 11 on weekends. Pizza? No problem. Blackened Shrimp Po-Boy? On the way. Mac n cheese, beer-battered chicken thighs, a big burger? Keep it coming. Enjoy the music, the people and the great beer. 748.0540

Lunch Spot

Motor Supply Company

It’s the kind of bistro that makes you want to stretch your lunch hour and linger longer. Its appealing location makes it perfect for a business lunch, or to meet a buddy for a tasty break in the work day. The menu reflects what’s fresh, with a strong nod toward farm-to-table and in-house details. It’s always good and very special. (Chef Tim Peters another winner) 256.6687

Outdoor Dining

Carolina Ale House

It just feels like a party on the rooftop deck at Carolina Ale House. (The live music on Saturdays, from 8-11 is an added bonus, but even every other night, the place is buzzing with food, drink and lively conversation. A favorite with professionals who can leave their cares behind up on the roof, Carolina Ale House has the atmosphere that brings people back over and over. 227.7150


Za’s Brick Oven Pizza

With almost 70 ingredients (including love’em or hate’em anchovies) there are literally thousands of combination possibilities to build your pizza. Fancy smoked Gouda with blackened shrimp, eggplant and roasted veggies? Not a problem. Za’s is a Shandon favorite and has been for years, with folks eating in, taking out, or picking up and baking it at home. In other words, having it your way is all over this eatery. 771.7334


Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

If you want to work at the Flying Saucer, you’ll need a “working” knowledge of the beer. That can be quite a challenge with more than 80 beers on Tap, plus more than 100 bottles. The atmosphere is comfortably pub-y, and specials keep things lively. Want to explore the wonderful world of specialty beer? Ask for a sample and discover the delicious difference amongst brewskies. 933.9997

Raw Bar

Pearlz Oyster Bar

Who tasted the first oyster, fresh from the creek? That brave soul started something and we’re happy to continue the tradition. With fresh mignonette and briny bivalves, Pearlz delights. Ask about specialty varieties. They really do absorb taste from the terroir and you will find a favorite. Peel and eat shrimp (try chipotle-lime aioli) and tuna tartar, plus lots of thoroughly cooked options. A little live jazz never hurts either. (See Pearlz profiled, this issue) 661.7741

Romantic Atmosphere

Al’s Upstairs Restaurant

It’s been a Columbia fixture for years. Couples come for the view and the atmosphere, and return for the food. For some, it’s an anniversary tradition. And more than a few “important” questions have been popped here. Their Italian menu wins them accolades as well. The chef specials are always great, and the Lobster Fra Diavlo hits the spice combination just right.   794.7404


California Dreaming

What makes a salad award-worthy? Fresh greens , of course, but creative combinations and unusual touches. Flexibility in the salad world? Another plus. CD has all this and more, from folks who never order anything but their signature salad, to the out-of-towner who raved about salmon salad, subbing bleu cheese dressing. The Caesar Salad with fried oysters – heaven in a bowl. 254.6767


Blue Marlin

Award-winning Shrimp and Grits, she-crab soup that’s a cut above, salmon Pontchartrain that wins raves from someone who doesn’t like salmon. They’re known for their Lowcountry seafood (as well as their collards, but that’s another story). When the catch of the day is parmesan-encrusted grouper, you’re in for a real treat.   However, the fresh mahi mahi covered with shrimp and crab meat might just be the best of all seafood worlds. 799.3838


Mr. Friendly’s

Take a look at reviews and you’ll find the words “great service” many times over. It’s part of their concept – Great Food, Great Service, Great Wine. For many of their regulars as well as newcomers, the name says it all. Friendly servers who take the time to explain the menu and not just specials; a sincere welcome from the staff; accommodating special requests such as moving indoors because of a sudden chill in the air. Service. An essential component of a pleasant dining experience. They’ve got it. 254.7828

Specialty Drink

The Oak Table

There are lots of reasons to go to The Oak Table, and their bar and drinks certainly contribute to this restaurant’s popularity. Their Strawberry Harvest cocktail includes Cottle Farms strawberries and fresh mint grown on the patio. It’s muddled with Bee Trail Farms honey. Add American harvest vodka. Shake, pour over ice, and top with Cannonborough Honey Basil Soda. A delightfully refreshing summer sipper! 563.5066


Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Ruth’s Chris Steak House has built their top-drawer reputation on their steaks. Their signature USDA prime steaks practically melt in your mouth. Served impeccably on a very hot plate, the restaurant, located in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in The historic district, Ruth’s Chris is perfect for business lunches as well as romantic dinners. And notice the details. Perfection is the key here, and they do not disappoint. 212-6666



Don’t let the exterior fool you. Inside, you’ll find master sushi chefs who will steer you towards the really good stuff. The fish selection is large and the creative combinations complement the delicacies. If they have blue fin tuna, order it. And go ahead and indulge in a good saki while you are there. It’s even a super place for a business meeting or a romantic interlude. 731-2538

Sunday Brunch


On Sunday’s DiPrato’s magically transforms itself from a working person’s lunchtime deli-type restaurant to a fine dining experience. Their brunch is a wonder, from Eggs Charleston (substitute crab cakes for Canadian bacon and you’ll swear you’re in the Holy city), or perhaps banana pecan pancakes with warm syrup. Order their homemade onion sausage, too. They have healthy options, so everybody’s covered – deliciously. 779.0606

Vegetarian/Vegan Options

Blue Cactus

We’ll let a Yelp reviewer write this one … “Cheap as dirt, uber-delicious, vegan friendly food make the Blue Cactus, by far, my favorite restaurant anywhere. I live in Boston now, and I constantly pine for Bee Bim Bop from Blue Cactus. I've had the same dish from countless Korean restaurants, including top-rated restaurants in Boston and New York. Nobody really nails it like the B.C. (Everything else on the menu is delicious as well - everything vegan, that is.)” 929.0782

Waterview Dining

Liberty on the Lake

This is one super indoor/outdoor restaurant, with views like no other anywhere around Columbia. During perfect summer weather, sit outside, sip your favorite frosty beverage, and imagine yourself in one of the gorgeous boats plying the waters, or docked near you. Try the second floor dining area for a sunset view that can’t be surpassed.

The food ranges from southern favorites to steaks and burgers, plus entrée salads. 667.9715

Wine List

Gervais and Vine

This Mediterranean Wine and Tapas Bar features more than 40 wines by the glass – enough to satisfy the adventurous spirit in every oenophile. There are frequent wine tastings, wine dinners, and a wine club to further encourage stepping out into the big beautiful world of the fruit of the vine. And the glorious thing is, you can taste to your heart’s content as you sip. Cheers! 799.VINE (8463)




You eat with your eyes, first, and at Tiffany’s, the decorations set the stage for yummy bites of delicious sweetness. Picture baby booties on the best petit fours you’ve ever tasted. Or perhaps balloons for someone’s birthday, or a monogram for a special tribute. Petit fours offer the perfect bites, but you can always ramp up the wow factor with one of their special cakes – think chocolate overdose, my friends. (They serve breakfast and lunch, too.) 736-cake


Southern Way Catering

With mobile catering capacity and two lovely venues, Southern Way Catering has the settings to provide a lovely entertaining experience. Add to that creative and talented chefs, a great menu selection, and the willingness to explore new ideas, and it’s no wonder this caterer garners rave reviews, especially through the wedding sites. As one happy bride put it, “They are large enough to meet all your needs and small enough to give you great personal service. 783.1061

Ice Cream

Marble Slab Creamery

Perhaps it’s the unlimited add-ons that seal the deal for this ice cream success story, but before the toppings there has to be scrumptious ice cream (or sorbet) and they deliver, big-time. The service is impeccable, because this is one franchise that gets it. You can count on taste, flexibility, convenience, and delighted family and friends who enjoy the results. They’ll even share some of their most popular flavor blends (Sweet Cream with Crushed Butterfinger®, Chocolate Chips & Caramel). Gervais St./765.9100; USC/550.1081; Pelham Dr./783.6243; Columbiana Place/749.4233; Village at Sandhill/419.8300

Seafood Market

Ole Timey Meat Market

It’s been a popular fixture on St. Andrews Road since 1975, and the place to buy top quality meats, but now, folks are turning to Ole Timey for the freshest salmon, scallops and shrimp as well as market specials, just off the boats. Peruse their great selection of specialty gourmet and down home sauces as well – just as crowd-pleasing on seafood as a good steak. Three locations: St. Andrews Road/798.2521; Lexington/358.6848; South Congaree/755.3171

Wine Store

Total Wine and More

Eight thousand wines, 3,000 spirits, 2500 beers and knowledgeable staff who can really advise you on the perfect drink for that special occasion. Great prices and tastings every weekend open up a whole new world of flavors. Gifts and snacks, that upscale mixer you can’t find anywhere else and well-marked sections to help you find that Spanish Rioja you had once, at a party. Their staff selections are fun to try, and you’ll soon learn which team member shares your taste preferences. Harbison Blvd. 407-3737


Art Gallery

City Art

Something for everyone. This Vista favorite has featured artists in the exhibition gallery, as well as a great representation of fine art, pottery, glass, sculpture, jewelry – you name it. Art classes are held upstairs and the artists’ supply store has the goods to create more masterpieces. There’s a framing design department and for art lovers, the ambience created here can be rented and enjoyed for parties. 252.3613

Bridal Boutique

Jo-Lins Bridal

For more than 20 years, Jo-Lins has provided a full range of services for the bride-to-be and her family. Wedding gowns, the perfect shoes and veil to enhance the look, and clothes for bridesmaids, mothers, and flower girls. They choose designers carefully, and after the bride has found her dream dress, they provide altering and steaming to keep the look at its best. Located in the heart of Irmo, Jo-Lins consistently wins awards from wedding sites, as well as accolades from brides. 781.9697

Bridal Registry


There are many reasons the readers of Columbia Living chose Non(e)such as their favorite bridal registry, including beautiful and often unique products, as well as impeccable service that goes the extra mile, not only for brides, but also for those shopping for the perfect wedding gift for someone they love. And there’s variety. More patterns to choose from and so much else. 254.0772

Car Dealership

Jim Hudson Automotive Group

For many Columbians, the relationship with Jim Hudson goes back to the 80s. That’s 30 years of remarkable vehicles, super service and professional help. With a move to a new state-of-the-art dealership on Killian Road, customers can test drive an even larger variety of vehicles from one location. The company gives back to our community in so many ways, supporting Harvest Hope, Oliver Gospel Mission, Autism awareness, Ray Tanner Foundation and the list goes on … and on. 783.0110

Clothing, Kids

Little Lambs & Ivy

“Dress them cute before they grow up.” It’s easy to do, (but difficult to choose) at this very unique children’s clothing shop, located in Columbia’s Shandon area. For 26 years, the folks (who’ve watched their own little ones grow up too fast) have chosen lines that are fun and comfortable for active little ones. Hint: check out the SC-born line of Babiators – the cutest and best sunglasses for children you will ever see. 343.7070

Clothing, Men


Every time you wear an outfit from Brittons, you know you’re looking great, and you won’t see your outfit everywhere you go. Their motto – “First Impressions are Lasting Impressions” is oh-so-true, regardless of the venue or setting. Their clothing is unique and their professional staff well-versed in putting together the entire look. Added bonus: Check out Lucky Levinson, of Brittons staff, explaining how to tie a bow tie on You Tube – accolades worldwide. 771.2700

Clothing, Women


Lisa Arnold: Sometimes after a tough day a girl just needs to hang out with a few good friends; for me it's usually Christian, Jimmy and Stella.   When I'm in need of a little therapy (of the retail kind) I head over to Coplon's to catch up on the latest trends and say hello to the owner, Bruce Greenberg and his fabulous staff. Located in Forest Acres, Coplon's is both a treasure and an institution having been here over a quarter century. Coplon's carries a wide variety of clothing, accessories (including fine jewelry) and cosmetic brands that can't be found anywhere else in The Midlands.

Featured brands include Diane von Furstenberg, Trina Turk, Goldsign, Isabel Marant, Lanvin, Yigal Azrouel, Stella McCartney, and Bruno Cucinelli just to name a few. In addition to the brands that they carry in the store, there are many trunk shows throughout the year. You will find shoes and bags by Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Givenchy and Manolo Blahnik again naming just a few. Alterations are done onsite (thank you!). Whether you're headed to a football game, the islands, or a cocktail party, Coplon's has the "famously hot" looks to keep you red carpet ready. 790.0015

Day Spa

Urban Nirvana

This is no one-size-fits-all day spa. Walk through the doors and you’ll be treated to a unique massage by licensed, trained professionals who know how to scout out those stress points and relieve them. Their therapeutic facial treatments help you look and feel better – more relaxed, for sure. Male or female – give yourself a special spa day and take advantage of their complete range of services – really restorative. Columbia: 727.1010; Lexington: 356.0119

Dentist, Adult

Vista Smiles

Pain-free dentistry sounds like an impossible dream, but Vista Smiles achieves great results in a relaxing environment. They offer cosmetic and general dentistry, as well as teeth whitening, sedation dentistry, and ongoing patient care. Dr. Gregory Wych is well-respected in Columbia, and the dental hygienists receive rave reviews from families who appreciate the calm comfort they receive there. 779.9666

Flooring Company

Redd Flooring & Design Center

What’s your floor MO? Classy, trendy, strong, practical? Tile, hardwood, laminate, stone, carpet, a combination? Redd Flooring & Design Center is known for working with customers to find what works (and appeals) to you and your lifestyle. They’ve got a reputation for great choices and trained staff as well as being environmentally responsible and budget-conscious. Now you can tap-dance on that! 776.5933


Rosewood Florist

They’ve been a fixture in the Rosewood area for years. In addition to the talent and prompt service for which they’re known, the professionals at Rosewood Florist have the ability to be sensitive during the sad occasions and jubilant for the happiest of celebrations. Traditional or contemporary, with a large inventory of fresh flowers and great skill at silk and dried arrangements, they’ve grown a large contingent of devoted customers who trust them for every occasion. 256.8351

Furniture Store

Whit-Ash Furnishings

With home furnishing, lighting, art, rugs, gifts jewelry and more, Whit-Ash has been in the Vista for more than 40 years. Simply put, it’s a fun store to walk around in, sitting in the over-stuffed chairs and imagining this piece or that in your own home. You can find classic or contemporary here, but you’ll see unique pieces not found elsewhere and that pure fun! It seems to go on forever and indeed, includes about one acre of showrooms. 779.5123

Garden Center

Wingard’s Nursery

First it takes a team of professionals to showcase a nursery. Experience helps, as does a natural green thumb – or many thumbs. From humble beginnings as a roadside azalea stand, Weingard’s has grown into an award-winning nursery and offers everything for the garden, from gorgeous plants to accessories, water features, gifts, workshops, and lots of ways to give back to the community through charitable events. Some say that simply strolling the grounds is like stepping back to Grandma’s garden. 359.9091

Gift Store

Just the Thing

We’ve got so many friends who head to JTT when searching something a little bit unique and very special. With stylish fashions and all kinds of gifts in every price range, you will find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. It really is like a candy store for women looking for a great item for themselves and their family and friends. 771.9969

Golf Course

Golden Hills

Nestled in the heart of Lexington, Golden Hills started life as a plantation, but now is a flourishing golf community and championship course. Playing here is a challenge, in an attractive setting that invites friendly competition and self-motivation to constantly improve one’s game. For white ball aficionados, this is about as good as it gets. 957.3355


Gold’s Gym

A variety of programs, convenient locations, great personal trainers and state-of-the-art equipment all combine to make gold’s gyms a favorite of fitness addicts as well as those just starting out. From calorie crunching classes to motivational tools, people stay with Gold’s because these gyms have it all and bring results. In five Columbia locations: Forest Acres, 787.4950; Columbiana Drive, 798.1000; Killian Road, 569.4653; North Lake Drive, Lexington, 359.6100; Forum Drive, 451.4496

Home Accessories Store

Strobler Home Furnishings

With 15,000 square feet and one location which includes items for living, home office, kitchen, bedroom and throughout the home, plus a clearance center, there’s much to explore when seeking a new look for your nest. Shoppers come back for the large selection, professional and courteous staff, and the inspiration that will help update and improve a little – or a lot. 790.6300

Home Audio/Video

Upstairs Audio & Video

When stores last, it’s usually because they offer a product and/or service that’s important to their customers. For more than 40 years, this brainchild of a former USC student has allowed consumers to audition products and talk with experts about custom installations and specifications. For those who want to see, touch and understand the real deal in the store before making a financial commitment, Upstairs Audio & Video has the hands-on atmosphere that appeals. 256.3277

Home Security Provider


It’s so much more than a security company, although that’s how they earned their chops and rightly so. In addition to great technicians (personal experience), and the most current technology 24/7, ADT offers video surveillance, wireless security, flood monitoring, remote access, energy management and medical alerts. A complete package that offers peace of mind. 877.473.9434


Vesta Builders

This award-winning company has garnered rave reviews for their honesty, professional expertise, talent, willingness to listen, flexibility and attention to detail. Tammy and Joe Jur have extensive credentials, and Joe is a Certified Master Builder (there are three on staff). As a result of their experience and philosophy, the homes they build are top quality, built to exacting standards, on time and on budget. Lexington, 957.1821


Hilton Columbia Center

Travelers love the 4-Diamond AAA Hilton in the Vista because of its location: close to USC, the Capital, SC State Museum, Riverfront Park, Innovista, and next door to the Convention Center. It’s also walkable to great restaurants, clubs, galleries, shopping and pubs. The outdoor saltwater pool is a nice touch, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House is on-site. Ideal to put up family and friends, and a perfect destination for locals who want an in-town getaway. 744.7800

Insurance Provider

Johnston Allstate Agency

Joe Johnstone is a small business owner with many friends and colleagues in the Columbia area. His experience helps him and his associates to provide customers with great service. It’s important to work with a well-respected, solid company, but on the local level, knowing your agent personally has huge advantages.   Building a solid foundation for the future for home, life, cars and boats, commercial and more. It’s a good goal.252.6091

Interior Designer

Ford Boyd Bailey

In 1992, interior designer Ford Boyd Bailey opened Verve as a resource for her design business, Ford Boyd Interiors. With a background that includes a BFA in Interior Design, plus study at Sotheby’s and years of creative interior design, she is highly sought-after for her skill, inspiration, taste, and ability to work with clients to enhance their living environments. You can check out her own home in the book, Trade Secrets, available in bookstores and at Verve. 799.0045

Jeweler/Jewelry Store


In an historic and charming building on Main Street, Sylvan’s has been building jewelry relationships for decades. With certified gemologists on staff, they also work with incredibly skilled designers for unique pieces. They have a large inventory of jewelry, watches and more, a highly-skilled service department, and they offer appraisals and cleaning. Walk into their store and you feel the quality of workmanship and service in every corner. Did you see the Columbia Living Jan/Feb cover? Enough said. 779.2250

Kitchen/Bath Remodeler

Remodeling Services Unlimited

Perhaps it’s because kitchens and baths are so necessary and personal, but when remodeling happens, the nest is thrown into an uproar. And there’s the clutter, and dust, and strangers in your home. The good news is Remodeling Services Unlimited feels your pain and has helped countless homeowners get through the trauma to the absolute joy of living with a comfortable, updated space. More positives: Certified Aging in Place Specialists, Certified Green Professional and SC Master Builder. 765.9363

Landscape Designer

Blue Moon Landscaping

For outdoors enhancement, Blue Moon has it all: all sorts of shrubs and plants, palms, exotic and familiar for landscaping, or just touching up your territory. Their stone walkways are beautiful and practical, and their services include complete landscaping, lighting, plants, and everything in between. Their attention to detail provides delightful little surprises, and the results of their labor and vision consistently attract testimonials from all over. 776.3838


Palmetto Pediatrics

So your little one is sick and it’s getting late. If you call Palmetto Pediatrics, during business hours or in the middle of the night for medical advice, your questions will always be answered by a licensed pediatric nurse (BSN, RN or LPN). Parents appreciate their comprehensive care of children and adolescents. Their website offers a wealth of information to help you keep your children safe and healthy. All of Palmetto Pediatric physicians are Board Certified or Board Eligible in Pediatrics. Several locations. palmettopediatric.com/

Pool Company

Griffin Pools & Spa

These folks have been around for almost 40 years, building a loyal group of clients and repeat customers. From new pool construction, to renovations, repair, new equipment installation, and deck, fence, and gazebo construction, they do it all. Griffin Pools & Spa are great troubleshooters and will help you find a leak, and test your water. Lexington, 957.2121; Columbia, 776.1034/865.8888; Chapin, 941.7471

Real Estate Agency

Russell & Jeffcoat

Bob Russell and Abb Jeffcoat have been leaders in Columbia for years, working to make this community a better place and contributing to a variety of important civic and charitable causes. Today, their company includes a group of seasoned professionals who will help you buy, sell, or rent. They offer workshops, as well as all kinds of valuable assistance for those seeking a new or different home in the Midlands. http://www.russellandjeffcoat.com/

Salon for Women

Bombshell Beauty Studio

Bombshell is a great name for this salon – high energy, eclectic, edgy team of professionals with varied experiences and lots of talent. Just the place to go for a quick touch up, or maybe a total reinvent-yourself makeover. Male or female -- you’ll enjoy the experience as they bring out a new, more vibrant, you. Word on the street is they love what they do and you’ll adore what they do for you. 779.1811

Salon/Barber for Men


This is a true, old-fashioned barber shop in Lexington, with experienced professionals who have a dedicated group of clients who would never go elsewhere. It’s a great place to go for a child’s first haircut. Flat top? Straight razor cut? Special request? Not a problem. Military and Law enforcement receive discounts, and a rewards program makes 7th cut free. 356.6060

Shoe Store


It all began with a passion for shoes (and shoe shopping). Today, Jackie Howie’s fabulous store combines an elegant, comfortable shopping environment with a wide range of designer shoes in so many styles, sizes, and for every ages and budget. Columbia’s fashionable shoppers love Kicks. And when you notice a gorgeous pair of shoes, chances are we know where they were found. 254.3937

Surf Shop

Salty’s Board Shop

This popular Shandon area shop features everything for board sports and the outdoor lifestyle that goes with it. Gadgets and accessories are great, and the paddleboards, longboards, surfboards, snowboards, skateboards (get the drift?) are first class. It’s a little bit funky and a whole lotta cool. Great apparel for all your boarding adventures, too. See below. 748.9946


Salty’s Board Shop

A double winner! You gotta have the right swimwear to get out there and go boarding – or sunbathing, or strolling, swimming. They have such a great selection and try to stay current with styles and top quality, including L-Space, Volcom, Billabong, RVCA, Roxy, Katin, Wellen, Quicksilver, Element, and other. Lots of these are made in the U.S., too, a good thing. 748.9946

Wedding Reception Venue

Millstone at Adam’s Pond

In the South, we love to have our parties in special places, and Millstone at Adam’s Pond is special indeed. The setting is picture-perfect, and wedding couples love the service, flexibility, attention to detail, and quintessential southern feel of the place. Another plus: it can accommodate weddings on a grand scale, or small, intimate gatherings. (It’s great for all kinds of celebrations, but this is a wedding award and we’re sticking with it.) And, Southern Way Catering will make the party a tasty affair as well. (They won under catering, too!) 783.1061