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Best of Columbia SC Dining 2021

Posted On July 12, 2021

Appetizers 

Catch 22 Seafood & Raw Bar

Facebook.com/Catch22Chapin

Experience the taste of the sea with options sure to please the whole family. In addition to seafood, find vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options on the menu. Crowd favorite appetizers include the Carolina crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, blue crab stuffed mushrooms, crab and cheese wantons, and blackened filet tips. With separate lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch menus, choices are sure to be plentiful at Catch 22. 

Authentic American 

Tombo Grille

Tombogrille.com

Tombo Grill is situated in a quiet corner on Forest Drive. Since 2002, this local favorite has been highly regarded for creative comfort food, wines, beers, and desserts. Try a salad or a “smile bite.” Regulars recommend the heirloom tomato salad, fried Brussels sprouts, or fried chicken livers. And the savory lobster Rangoon are to die for! The entrée menu offers creative spins on American classics. Consider the grilled meat loaf, the pan-roasted Norwegian salmon, or the burger. 

Authentic Asian 

Bodhi Thai Dining

Bodhithaidining.com

Uniquely housed in a historic bank, Bodhi Thai Dining is a premier fine dining restaurant in the heart of downtown Lexington. Chef Nivit Tipvaree is a native of Thailand and wears many culinary hats. Menu favorites include the Toong Tong appetizer – fried wonton stuffed with chicken, shitake mushroom, and garlic, served with a sweet chili sauce. Enjoy other Thai favorites with Chef Nivit’s unique spin: Tom Kha Gai soup; Yum Neua (beef salad); basil stir fry; red curry; green curry; and more! 

Authentic Caribbean 

Legacy Caribbean Bar & Grill

Legacycaribbeanbarandgrill.com

Looking for a fabulous night out? Savor the tastes and flavors of Legacy Caribbean Bar & Grill. Their authentic Jamaican dishes – beef pattie, coco bread, jerk wings, oxtails, brown stew fish, and more – are beautifully compliment by an extensive assortment of island cocktails. There is a 100ft bar, four brand new pool tables, indoor and outdoor patio seating, and a jukebox! Legacy also hosts Monday night karaoke, Friday nights with DJ B Lord, and Reggae night every Saturday. Take a day trip to the islands with Legacy Caribbean Bar & Grill! 

Authentic Italian 

Di Vino Rosso

Divinorossosc.com

Di Vino Rosso is a white-tablecloth restaurant specializing in traditional Northern Italian dishes with local twists. In business for over ten years at their Gervais Street location, they are open for dinner only from 4 – 10:00 p.m. and close on Sundays. A private dining room is available, and reservations can be made online or by telephone. The wine list is extensive and offers options by the bottle and glass. Menu favorites include the braised Spanish octopus, Formaggi (assorted cheeses / toasted Marcona almonds / berries / crostini), pan seared sea scallops, and an assortment of pasta dishes. 

Authentic Mexican 

Tacos Nayarit

Facebook.com/tacosnayaritmexicangrill

Tacos Nayarit brings the cuisine from the Mexican state of Nayarit to beautiful Columbia, South Carolina. Eat and savor the burritos, gorditas, and authentic flavors. There are fresh, handmade tortillas, tacos, tortas, and more. The kitchen is powered by a staff of trained chefs providing the opportunity to explore the varied and exciting foods of Mexico. Visit the brick-and-mortar location or their food truck and enjoy fresh, local, handmade goodness in every bite.

Bakery 

Tiffany’s Bakery & Eatery

Tiffanysofcolumbia.com

Tiffany’s Bakery & Eatery is proud to offer a variety of elegant and delicious cakes, petit fours, pastries, and brownies for any occasion. They also serve savory soups, salads, and sandwiches. All of their dishes and baked goods are made from scratch, using only the finest ingredients and they’re happy to personalize your baked goods or prepare you a dish you’ll love! Whether you’re celebrating your graduation, a birthday, or anniversary, their signature cakes are always a perfect choice. 

Bar 

Bourbon

Bourboncolumbia.com

Bourbon is a whiskey bar and Cajun-Creole restaurant located in the historic Brennen Building just steps away from the South Carolina State Capital building. They specialize in bourbon, whiskey, craft cocktails, and the flavors of the Louisiana Bayou. They currently have the largest whiskey list in SC with everything from Angels Envy to Van Winkle, as well as Irish, Scotch, and Japanese Whiskies! Their bar currently opens daily, Tuesday – Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and they do not take reservations. 

Barbeque

Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-B-Q

Williejewells.com

Smoked for hours and served in minutes, at Wille Jewell’s too much is never enough! A little history: Willie Jewell Daniels was a 16-year-old girl with no home and no means when the Adeeb family rescued her from the streets of Jacksonville, FL and offered her a job at their restaurant. They soon discovered she was an amazing lady who would change their lives forever with her exceptional cooking, sharp wit, and immeasurable heart. Ms. Willie passed some time ago, but her legend lives on through Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-B-Q.

Breakfast Spot 

The Original Pancake House

Originalpancakehouse.com

The Original Pancake House is a second and third generation family business, which takes great pride in maintaining the high standards that make their food so outstanding. Their recipes demand only the finest of ingredients, such as a 93-score butter, pure 36% whipping cream, fresh grade AA eggs, hard wheat unbleached flour, and their own recipe sourdough starter. Their signature items include the Apple Pancake, a single large pancake smothered with sauteed apples and cinnamon sugar baked to perfection, to create a deliciously rich cinnamon sugar glaze.

Burgers 

Rockaway Athletic Club

Rockawayathleticclub.com

Rockaway Athletic Club opened in 1982 as a small beer hall and a refuge for four guys who were kicked out all the other places in town. Today it is known for The Rockaway Pimento Cheeseburger, Pimento Cheese Fries, and its main bar, The South Carolina Liquor Library, which hosts one of the largest selections of liquor in the southeast, as well as a robust selection of beer and wine. Don’t look for a sign, Rockaway has never had one, but they are in plain sight at 2719 Rosewood Drive, in an industrial styled brick building with large black shutters. 

Candy & Chocolate 

The Peanut Man Chocolate Factory & Café

Thepeanutman.com

The Peanut Man Chocolate Factory & Café’s chocolatiers handcraft each delectable piece of milk, dark, and white chocolate combined with the tastiest combinations. They are famous for their boiled peanuts – plain or Cajun, a variety of popcorn, candy, and gift items. Their gourmet café serves fresh salads, soups, flatbreads, hot sandwiches, and house favorites. Choose dine-in or outside seating. Curbside pickup, catering, and family meals are also available. Call or stop by for more information. 

Caterer 

Southern Way Catering

Thesouthernway.com

Established in 1982 with locations in Columbia and Greenville, Southern Way Catering is proud to be celebrating over 30 years of catering events from intimate dinners to elegant weddings, to large corporate galas. They have catered for as few as eight people and for as many as 8,000! Southern Way specializes in off-site catering anywhere in the Southeast with a fully equipped mobile catering kitchen and, delectable food, attentive service, and the most memorable presentations for the most pleasurable experience. 

Cocktail 

Goat’s 

Goats2.com

Goat’s is a wine and craft cocktail bar and restaurant in Five Points. Owned and operated by Olando “Opie” Patterson, Goat’s maintains the same atmosphere as its predecessor, Goatfeathers and offers an inviting menu, desserts, and a wide selection of wines in addition to signature cocktails. Just listen to what guests have to say: “Some of the best bartenders in town are here. The atmosphere is dark, sexy, and relaxed. The music is always cool and serene. Definitely a super sophisticated yet quirky place to bring a date.”

Coffeehouse 

Blum Coffee

Blumsc.com

Whether you are grabbing a coffee to go or plan to stay a while, Blum is there for all of your coffee, tea, and food needs. Blum opened in 2019 with the intent to create a modern, sleek, and inviting space for guests to meet, work, and hang. They also want to educate customers about all thing coffee! Whether you’re a coffee aficionado or a newbie to the world of craft coffee, their educated and helpful staff are happy to help you along the way! Look out for a second location, opening soon in Charleston.

Crab Cakes 

Travinia

Traviniaitaliankitchen.com

The crab cakes are to die for, but that’s just the beginning of what Travinia has to offer. Chefs at Travinia are compelled by a passion for the flavors and freshness of regional ingredients. Guests look forward to a creative and varied menu of contemporary Italian cuisine, an extensive gluten-free menu, an impressive collection of carefully chosen wines, and an unmistakable atmosphere of comfort and style. There are two area locations – one in Lexington and one in the Northeast. 

Craft Brewer 

River Rat Brewery

Riverratbrewery.com

Named for the three rivers that run through our city and the working-class men who labored on the canal here more than a century ago, River Rat Brewery was founded in 2013. In honor of these men, they set out to create craft beers that would satisfy anyone’s thirst after a long day’s work. Using only the freshest ingredients, they’ve tested and refined in order to develop complex flavors. Take a visit and relax in their taproom or outside on the deck. They’re dog friendly, too! 

Desserts 

Silver Spoon Bake Shop

Silverspoonbakeshop.com

Like so many wonderful businesses, Silver Spoon Bake Shop was born out of family traditions. Owner Erin grew up in rural South Carolina where baking was a part of everyday life. She remembers baking dozens of varieties of holiday cookies with her grandfather and her mother’s fearlessness in the kitchen – willing to try any recipe. Erin studied Classic Pastry Arts and the Art of International Bread Baking at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. After working in both Charleston and Charlotte, she came back to Columbia to open Silver Spoon in 2013. Place your pre-orders online today!

Family Restaurant 

Bistro on the Boulevard

Bistroontheblvd.com

Irmo’s Bistro on the Boulevard offers a relaxed casual setting with fine-dining quality ingredients. Their fresh, prepared to order menu options and nightly chef’s specials have made them a family favorite! They offer a full-service bar, happy hour drink specials, and a competitive, award-winning wine list. Tip: Inquire about their “off menu” wine availability as they often have special sections on reserve. 

Fine Dining 

Alodia’s Cucina Italiana

Alodias.com

With locations in Lexington and Irmo, Alodia’s Cucina Italiana is a restaurant born from the love of an Italian family. Named after proprietor Adam Huneau’s great-grandmother, Alodia’s fare and ambiance resounds with the smells and tastes of Old Italy. Fresh sauces and homemade pastas are the foundation of the menu that continues to bring families together. Alodia’s is open for dinner Monday – Sunday. Check their website for details and for menu specials. 

Happy Hour 

Cantina 76

Cantina76.com

Cantina 76 is a lively, independently owned restaurant and bar that specializes in Mexican-inspired cuisine and hand-crafted margaritas, providing a fast yet satisfying dining experience in a casual, upbeat atmosphere that encourages guests to hang out before, during, and after dining. The bar is stocked with a selection of premium tequilas, and “skinny” margarita fans love the Cantina Margarita, sweetened with low-glycemic agave nectar. Lunch and dinner are served seven day a week, and the bar is open late. 

Healthy Fare 

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café

Tazikis.com

Inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean, Taziki’s colorful menu offers handcrafted, elevated, affordable fare the entire family enjoys. Try the grilled chicken breast, grilled shrimp, grilled beef, or grilled tilapia. Each is served with a Greek salad and your choice of roasted new potatoes or Basmati rice. The expansive menu also includes appetizers, sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts, and daily specials. There are gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options available as well. 

Ice Cream  

Zesto of West Columbia 

Zestowestcolumbia.com

Zesto of West Columbia has been serving their loyal customers for 71 years! Talk about a Columbia tradition. Their success is a reflection of their commitment to excellence in customer service, food freshness, food quality, and cleanliness. In addition to their ice cream, the burgers and fried chicken are legendary! Chicken dinners are served with fries, coleslaw, and a roll. Burgers are served with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mustard, and mayo. Just look for the giant ice cream cone! 

Late Night Menu  

Henrys Restaurant & Bar 

Henrysgrillandbar.com

With four locations to choose from, dining at Henry’s is always convenient. Their late-night hours make it even easier to get your fix of classic American bar fare done right. The menu includes staples like fried pickles and buffalo chips as appetizers and over a dozen variations of burgers. Their Cayce and Devine Street locations offer a Sunday brunch menu with something for everyone. The bar is fully stocked and there are weekly specials. Check their website for details! 

Liquor Store  

Green’s Beverages

Greensbeverages.com

Green’s Beverages has been operating out of their location adjacent to California Dreaming since 1984. In 2003, they opened a new type of store near Harbison Blvd – a 1,500 square foot warehouse full of pallets of wine, beer, and miscellaneous goods. With two convenient locations, Green’s is a gameday, party, or just because it’s Thursday staple in Columbia. Locals pick Greens when stocking up their home bars or their cooler for a tailgate party. There is also a cash discount, so stop by the ATM on your way.

Lunch Spot

Libby’s 

Libbysoflexington.com

Libby’s of Lexington has been serving guests from its quaint location on Main Street Lexington since 2010. The food is diverse with Shanghai shrimp and bruschetta among the appetizers and entrees ranging from smothered chicken to Folly Beach shrimp to Greek salads, veggie, wraps, and an array of daily specials. Libby’s is a true family run business with owner, Clint, in the kitchen and his wife, Brandi, greeting customers at the door.

New Restaurant

Backstreets Grill

Backstreetsgrill.com

Backstreets Grill is excited to serve the Columbia community at their newest, family-operated location on Devine Street. Their modern-American cuisine is prepared with only the freshest ingredients, and unique sauces are made in-house daily. Weekday, daily specials aren’t on the regular menu, but these seasonal, chef-inspired creations are always popular and sell out fast. They have a full bar and are proud to serve a variety of refreshing local brews, seasonal cocktails, and specialty-selected wines. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Outdoor Dining  

J’s Corner Restaurant & Bar

Thejscorner.com

At the corner of Bluff Road and Rosewood Drive stands a vintage gas pump and a small building. For more than a century, this spot has housed Jaco’s Corner, a gas station turned neighborhood bar near the State Fairgrounds and Williams-Brice Stadium. Popular menu items include the Buffalo Blue Chips: House-made chips tossed in buffalo sauce, topped with blue cheese crumbles and your choice of ranch or blue cheese. Wings come in exciting flavors like Jim Beam BBQ, Pineapple Teriyaki, and Lime Pepper. Stop in and become a part of something historic. 

Pizza 

Dano’s Pizza

Danosdelivers.com

Dano’s Pizza has been serving New York style pies in Columbia for over 16 years. Located on Rosewood Drive, they deliver to Downtown Columbia, USC, Shandon, Rosewood, Woodlands, and Kings Grant. In addition to pizza, they serve mozzarella sticks, garlic knots, mac-n-cheese bites, fried green beans, fried mushrooms, calzones, cold subs, hot subs, pasta entrees, salads, Stromboli, and desserts! Dine-in or order to go by phone or online. 

Pub/Tavern 

O’Hara’s Public House

Oharas-public-house.com

O’Hara’s Public House is an authentic Irish pub and restaurant in the heart of historic downtown Lexington serving Irish classics like corned beef, bangers and mash, plus 30 beers on tap! The mini shepherd’s pies on the appetizer menu are a crowd favorite along with the spinach dip and sausage-stuffed mushroom caps. Other traditional Irish favorites include corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, and Guinness stew: a traditional Irish beef stew of carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes in a heart beef stock. 

Rawbar 

Oyster Bar Columbia 

Oysterbarcolumbia.com

The Oyster Bar is still going strong, serving up some of the freshest seafood in Columbia. 

Enjoy the freshest Gulf oysters, steamed or raw. “We do the shucking, y’all do the eating,” is their motto! The steamed shrimp and scallops will keep you talking, but their sauce will keep you coming back. Their signature “Mother Shucker Sauce,” a business in its own right, is sold in house and in select grocery stories. 

Romantic Atmosphere 

Hampton Street Vineyard

Hamptonstreetvineyard.com

Hampton Street Vineyard has been one of Columbia’s premier destinations for fine wine, outstanding food, and warm hospitality since 1995. Today, the restaurant pays homage to its home in downtown Columbia’s historic Sylvan Building with French-inflected cuisine. Their wine selection is award winning and their menu is top-notch. Parisian gnocchi, steak tartare, a cheese plate, and foie gras are stars of the appetizer menu. Ratatouille, duck a l’orange, steak frites, and a roasted half chicken are popular entrees. Check their website for hours and specials. 

Salads  

J.R. Cash’s Grill & Bar

Jrcashs.com

J.R. Cash’s is a fresh, scratch-made, classic American grill. Whether enjoying one of their legendary salads, oversized sandwiches, or a slab of tender, slow roasted prime rib, you’ll find J.R. Cash’s to be a comfortable, affordable throwback to a simpler time. Popular dishes include the honey-butter croissants (five, fresh from the oven and drizzled with hone-butter), the chicken and bacon quesadilla, hot lava shrimp (lightly battered, fried shrimp tossed in a spicy hot sauce), blackened ahi tuna sandwich, Cash’s burger, sirloin, ribeye, and fresh Atlantic salmon. 

Seafood 

Blue Marlin

Bluemarlincolumbia.com

Blue Marlin wins Best Seafood once again! Experience these masterfully crafted southern dishes made with the freshest, locally sourced ingredients for yourself. In the heart of the Vista, this legendary restaurant specializes in Lowcountry-inspired dishes like Charleston crab cakes and their signature shrimp and grits. Finish things off with one of their irresistible desserts. Consider the crème brulee cheesecake. 

Service  

Terra Restaurant

Terrasc.com

Terra is a chef driven neighborhood bistro focused on highlighting the beauty of local produce. In fact, they chose the name Terra from the word of Latin origin meaning earth or land. Their menu changes weekly and seasonally; dishes are built with care using classic techniques to showcase the bounty from local farmers and producers. Hand cut steaks and chops, carefully selected micro-seasonal produce, and fresh caught fish are perfectly complemented by a world-class wine list and exciting bar program. 

Specialty Drink 

The Aristocrat

Thearistocratsc.com

The Aristocrat is a gastropub inspired by southern heritage, love for fine wine, craft cocktails, and engaging dishes. They make all their food from scratch, down to their pizza crusts, tortillas, and rosemary crackers. Stop by on Wednesday evening for a weekly wine tasting event. Friday nights typically play host to live music – jazz is a house favorite. The atmosphere is comfortably upscale and a tad moody, in the best of ways.

Steakhouse 

Halls Chophouse Columbia

Hallschophouse.com

Halls Chophouse offers it all: the finest steaks money can buy, an extensive wine list, and hearty, family style sides. But it’s the warmth and service that really sets them apart. Halls proudly serves only USDA Prime Steaks from Allen Brothers of Chicago, the premier purveyor of the finest prime meats. Chose from various cuts: filet mignon, New York strip, ribeye, and porterhouse. The generous menu offers a variety of seafood, chops, and salads too. Their wine and cocktail list is extensive and though this is a fine dining restaurant, the atmosphere remains warm and welcoming. 

Sunday Brunch 

DiPrato’s

Dipratos.com

DiPrato’s is a New York style delicatessen with a bright and cheerful ambiance located in downtown Columbia. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Favorite brunch menu items include the Eggs Charleston (essentially a crab cake benedict), banana pecan pancakes, various omelets, hash and eggs, and salmon cakes and grits. Try them out for lunch during the week too. Closed Monday and open Tuesday – Sunday, DiPrato’s offers dine-in, outdoor dining, take-out, online ordering, and curbside service. 

Sushi  

Saki Tumi Grill & Sushi Bar

Sakifresh.com

Saki Tumi is a fusion restaurant meaning half the menu is sushi and the other half contains flavorful grilled items. Since they opened in 2006, they have made a commitment to bring in only the highest quality, fresh food. Fresh fish for sushi is routinely overnighted and they only order two kinds of beef: filet tenderloin and Kobe beef. Try their Kobe burger, Saki-Salmon, lobster wontons, and more. They have a full-service bar, a wide selection of creative and classic cocktails, an extensive wine list, and over 15 craft beers on tap. 

Vegetarian  

Good Life Café

Goodlifecafe.net

Good Life Café is Columbia’s original vegan restaurant! Here, living the good life means making healthy food choices. They have created a menu full of options packed with whole, nutrient-dense foods that both satisfy taste buds and nourish the body. Staff are happy to accommodate customer’s dietary restrictions. The restaurant also features a new Barista Bar serving specialty coffees with the rich, roasted flavors of select organic coffee beans. They use ingredients like turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, and more to create coffee drinks that will delight the palate and fuel the body. 

Water View Dining

Liberty Tap Room on the Lake

Libertytaproom.com

Located just 30 minutes from downtown Columbia on the sunny shores of Lake Murray in Irmo, Liberty on the Lake offers 48 craft beers on tap, amazing lake views, boat access and two private event spaces. The menu is large and crowd favorites include the “Old School” chicken nachos, bonfire shrimp, pizzas, tacos, burgers, and signature steaks. There is the option to order online and take out, but why would you want to when you can experience a view like this one? Kick back and enjoy a meal, a drink, and the unmatched beauty of Lake Murray.

Wine List 

Gervais & Vine

Gervaisandvine.com

Gervais & Vine has a comfortable bar with a vast wine list and plenty of heady brews. This modern Mediterranean restaurant in the Vista is inspired by the season, the history of Columbia, and the chef’s unique taste. Guests should anticipate delicious, fresh foods served inside the cozy, main seating area or al fresco on the patio, weather permitting. Monday is service industry night; Tuesday is for “Tasting Tuesdays,” Wednesday has live music, and on Thursday there are $5 glasses of Rose. 

Wine Store 

Morganelli’s

Facebook.com/morganellissc

Morganelli’s is your local, family-owned, beer, wine, and liquor store serving Forest Acres and Columbia for nearly 50 years. Their huge selection of spirits is constantly expanding. Check their very active Facebook page for updates on new inventory and special offerings. 

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