Best of Columbia SC Dining 2019


Get appetizers with a view at Terra. Whether you are inside viewing the cityscape of downtown or on the patio enjoying the lighting and atmosphere, your senses will be delighted with the scene and tastes. Owner and Chef Mike Davis never disappoints with appetizers using as many locally grown ingredients as possible. The appetizers change on a regular basis, but the Lamb Mac is a staple you should not pass up.

Authentic American
Tombo Grille

If you are looking for delectable American cuisine, look no further than Tombo Grille located in Forest Acres. Its menu includes American classics such as barbeque pork ribs, a chopped salad, and meatloaf. If your palette is more adventurous, try the fried chicken livers, authentic Caesar salad or cast-iron scallops with brown butter, golden raisins, sorghum spaghetti squash and smoked tomato risotto. The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday for dinner and includes live music Mondays and Wednesdays.

Authentic Asian

If you like Asian food but want lighter fare, look no further than Miyos. Miyos is a locally owned Asian restaurant with locations in Forest Acres, Harbison, and Lexington. The cuisine is a combination of northern and southern Chinese, Korean-style barbeque, Vietnamese, Thai, and Japanese sushi. Miyos and the M family strive to serve delicious, healthy food throughout the Columbia area. Locations are open for lunch and dinner every day, but please verify your preferred location’s hours.

Authentic Caribbean
Fire & Spice

Located in Irmo, Fire & Spice is a unique restaurant providing barbeque with a Caribbean flare. This lunch spot serves up barbeque, jerk, and cheese steaks. Some of the best dishes include a jerk chicken and pork plate and a garlic cheese steak. The food is made fresh daily and served to the first who come. Reservations are not available. Bacon-wrapped barbeque meatloaf, anyone?

Authentic Italian
Villa Tronco

Villa Tronco not only dishes up some of the best Italian food in town, but it is also the oldest restaurant. The house salad boasts a delicate and delicious homemade dressing, and everything on the menu is worth trying, including the eggplant parmesan. The wine list is delicious, unique, and compliments the menu perfectly. Save room for amazing desserts, including Carmella’s outstanding cheesecake. You can also see live opera singers the first Thursday of every month by reservation.

Authentic Mexican
Real Mexico

If you pass Real Mexico during business hours the parking lot will be full, and for good reason. Known throughout Columbia as the place to get authentic Mexican, it is no wonder it was voted in. The restaurant is known for its variety of tacos, like chicken, chorizo, fish, shrimp and more. The burritos, enchiladas, tortas and margaritas are also popular. Open every day of the week, Real Mexico can satisfy your Mexican food craving just about any time.

Tiffany's Bakery

Recently relocated, Tiffany’s continues to be Columbia’s go-to for the best in baked goods. While still on Two Notch, but in a larger location, the new bakery encompasses a bar, restaurant, and elegant bakery cases. The menu and drink options also expanded. Famous for its petit fours, Tiffany’s should be your next stop for lunch and a bakery order. Cakes range from the basic to as creative as you are. 



Bourbon is a unique whiskey bar and Cajun-Creole style restaurant located on Main St. near the capitol building. Settled in the historic Brennan Building, the restaurant has a historical atmosphere with modern Louisiana Bayou flavors. The menu also encompasses the largest whiskey selection around. The bar is open Monday through Friday starting at 4 p.m. and opens at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday to include a brunch menu. The restaurant does not take reservations, but it is well worth the wait.

Midwood Smokehouse

An extension of the Charlotte, North Carolina famed smoke house, Midwood Smokehouse in the Cross Hill Market needs to be on your list of go-to restaurants. The restaurant has had television spots and a presidential visit to one of the locations. The barbeque is making a name for itself with South Carolina mustard, Eastern North Carolina vinegar, spicy habanero and the famous Midwood signature in addition to mouthwatering smoked meats. 

Breakfast Spot
Original Pancake House

Spend your morning shopping in Forest Acres after you head to one of the best breakfast joints in Columbia. Known for its pancakes, The Original Pancake House has every kind of pancake you could imagine. But the scrumptiousness does not stop there. There is a wide variety of breakfast options on the menu, including lighter fare. Do not forget to enjoy breakfast with a side of freshly squeezed juice and fresh bottomless coffee (with real cream). Crepe, anyone?

Rockaway Athletic Club

No, Rockaway Athletic Club is not a gym offering burgers after your workout. It’s the inconspicuous brick building on Rosewood Drive that has the best burgers in town. The mouthwatering burgers come with a variety of toppings that do not disappoint. The restaurant is large, family friendly, and has a great patio. It is even notorious for a presidential visit. Be sure to try the pimento cheese fries or the peel-and-eat shrimp while you are there. You will not regret it.

Ally & Eloise Bakeshop

Main Street is officially revived, and Ally & Eloise Bakeshop made its mark in the district. Also located on Forest Drive, this bakeshop uses fresh ingredients and bakes from scratch. Baker and owner Ally has a passion for the kitchen and it shows through her recipes. Frenchie Eloise enjoys being the face of the business, posing for photo shoots on a regular basis. Stop by for your next special occasion or craving for something sweet.

Southern Way

Founded in 1982, Southern Way has made quite the impression on Columbia residents. Known for its elegant catering services, it is no wonder it won caterer of the year. Responsible for events such as Power of the Purse, governors’ events, and United States presidential dinners, Southern Way brings delectable Southern cuisine topped with the best in fine dining service. You can book intimate dinners, weddings, corporate galas and more. The company has catered for as few as eight people and as many as 8,000. Remember Southern Way for your next large dinner or event. 

The Woody in the Vista

Located in the cute corridor behind SakiTumi, The Woody in the Vista is known for its drinks and dancing. Have a night out with friends or head there for your next date night to dance to music from a variety of genres. Disc jockey Woody Windham and his daughters opened the dance club, spotlighting Woody’s extensive experience as a disc jockey and radio legend. Break in the dancing shoes with good music and nightly drink specials.

Tazza Kitchen

Tazza Kitchen, located in Trenholm Plaza, has some of the best cocktails in town. Sip a War and Peas, Soma, or other signature cocktail while sitting on the cushioned seats or on the patio. Whether your taste is more classic, wine, beer or something unique, Tazza Kitchen has a beverage for you. Do not forget to have a bite to eat while you are there, too. The quiche, flat bread and tacos are just a few of the dishes worth trying.

Indah Coffee

Indah Coffee is not only a delicious, locally owned coffee shop, it is also a roastery. You can tour the roastery on Sumter St. and see how the coffee goes from seed to cup. You can also enjoy house-made scones and even grab a traveler to go that serves up to 12 cups. Catch Indah coffee on Sumter St., Main St. and at the Soda City tent on Saturdays in front of the Columbia Museum of Art.

Crab Cakes

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If you are a crab cake enthusiast, be sure to spend an evening at Travinia. Both the Lexington and North East Columbia locations will light up your palette with these flavorful, crab-filled cakes served with tomato orzo and lemon butter. While you are there indulge on the fresh, hot bread with olive oil. The spinach salad with fried goat cheese and warm pancetta dressing will make a great starter. 

Craft Brewer
River Rat Brewery

Make sure River Rat Brewery is at the top of your next brewery tour list, or just plan to spend the afternoon there. With drink varieties for all tastes, indoor and outdoor seating, and a silo with a view, there’s something for everyone. The brewery also has a delicious food menu and is family friendly. The craft beers change regularly and are all worth trying. They also have frozen drinks, wine and non-alcoholic beverages available. 


Based out of Charleston, S.C., Kaminsky’s is known for its decadent desserts. But the sweet does not stop there. You can get a specialty coffee, milkshake, spirited drinks and more. The desserts change on a regular basis, but you can see the specialty order menu online. Stop by after your next night out or place a specialty order for your next event. The restaurant is also family friendly.

Family Restaurant
Flight Deck

Pack up the family and board Flight Deck. This Lexington restaurant is aerial themed, including historical and present aviation décor. Not only is the food “Top Gun,” but it’s also an entertainment experience. There is a lot to look at and includes an arcade for the kids, or the kid in you. The restaurant also offers catering, banquet facilities and can hold groups up to 120 in the restaurant. Check out Flight Deck for your next family fun night or group event.

Fine Dining
Private Property

Ready for a mouth-watering menu with a Louisiana flare? New Orleans Chef Paul Prudhomme makes enticing meals, including a special technique for blackening seafood or meat. Head there for dinner or your next special, private event. The location is able to accommodate weddings, rehearsal dinners, showers, birthdays, business events and more. Catering options, including pick up and drop off, are also available. 

Happy Hour
Cantina 76

Cantina 76 is a locally owned, Mexican-inspired taqueria and bar known for delicious varieties of hand-crafted margaritas. If you prefer “skinny" margaritas, try the Cantina Margarita, which is sweetened with low-glycemic agave nectar. Both the downtown and Devine St. locations are equipped with contemporary, eclectic décor, TVs for big games, and an entertaining happy hour. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m. The happy hour specials vary by location.

Healthy Fare
Good Life Café

The Good Life Café is an organic, raw, and vegan eatery located on Main St. in downtown Columbia. Executive Chef Sharon Wright prides herself on preparing natural, wholesome, nutritious and delicious meals that would entice even the meatiest of eaters to try the café. The menu consists of American, Italian, Indian, Thai and Mexican cuisines, as well as smoothies and juices. The café also offers catering and private event services.

Ice Cream
Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs

Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs has been around the Columbia area since 1979. Known for the best hot dogs and ice cream in town, only the best is served at all four local restaurants. The hotdogs are made in-house with Certified Black Angus and the best made-from-scratch toppings available. The restaurant is also filled with sweet, rich ice cream in a variety of favors that can come in cups, cones, sundaes, shakes or made-from-scratch banana splits. Stop by and try your dog and cone today.

Late-Night Menu
Beezer’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop

Next time you want a midnight meal, skip the fast food line and head to Beezer’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop on Sumter St. Open from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., and 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, you can get a delicious, made-from-scratch sandwich just about any time of the day. Try the meatball or Italian sub, then top off your meal with one of their famous, over-sized dill pickles. You do not have to be in college to appreciate this late-night snack. All are welcome. 

Green's Beverage

Make Green’s Beverage your next place to shop for wine, beer (even local), and spirits. Located off Piney Grove and Assembly St. downtown, both locations offer a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage options at good prices. The Piney Grove location even has 15 new arrivals from the Wine and Spirits Guild of America. There is also a cash discount, so stop at the ATM on your way.

Lunch Spot

Next time you have out-of-town guests, or you just want a satisfying lunch, go to DiPrato’s. DiPrato’s is known for its famous pimiento cheese, available for takeout. The cases are also stocked with other gourmet sides and dips. If you are eating in the restaurant, try one of the signature sandwiches, paninis, or salads. If you have a sweet tooth, try the giant cinnamon rolls or cheesecake that comes right from New York.

New Restaurant
Hendrix Restaurant

If you have not been to Hendrix yet, you are missing out. There is an amazing roof-top view of Main St. as well as a modern, industrial design complimenting the historical architecture inside. The first record of the building is in 1872 but is named after E.T. Hendrix who owned the space as a grocer from 1906 to 1926. The menu consists of fresh, seasonal fare and signature cocktails. Since the menu is seasonal, it changes often. Visit the website to see what is being served tonight.

Organic Food
Earth Fare

Located on Devine St., Earth Fare is one of the best places in Columbia to shop for natural and organic foods. Prices are affordable, even for organic items. There are also weekly sales on produce, meat and more. The grocer offers recipes, catering and delivery. There is also a military and veteran discount with proper ID. Sign up for the rewards, newsletter and follow them on social media to stay up to speed on the savings and deals.

Outdoor Dining
Mr. Friendly's

Authentic Southern cuisine is one secret behind the success of Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Café. In addition to exquisite cuisine, there is also a beautiful patio tucked away in the Five Points district of downtown Columbia. The intimate patio with ambient lighting is tree-lined and adjacent to old railroad tracks giving it a boost of the essence of Carolina.

Village Idiot Pizza

Village Idiot Pizza, located on Devine St. in the Five Points district, on Forest Drive and now in Olympia @ The Mills, is known for its large, gourmet pizzas. The hand-tossed, New York-style pizzas are available as whole pies or by the slice. You can order your pizza with a pitcher of beer, wings, sandwiches, salads, strombolis and more. Head over today for your next night out and enjoy the drink specials, trivia or sports. Catering is also available.

Pub Tavern

Henry’s has three locations in Columbia and a diverse menu making it the perfect fit no matter where you are or how picky your eaters can be. There are food and drink specials at each location, including specials on wine, beer and wings. The menu has classic bar and restaurant items, as well as unique items such as fried eggplant with homemade ranch. The restaurant also serves brunch, where you can get a chicken and waffle plate you do not want to pass up.

Raw Bar
The Oyster Bar

There is only one place to go in Columbia if you want oysters and crab legs. This inconspicuous spot has called The Vista home since 2001, serving up the freshest raw and steamed oysters topped with the restaurant’s own “Mother Shucker Sauce,” shrimp, scallops and more. The restaurant also has great drinks and sides to pair with your seafood, including sausage, potatoes and grits.

Romantic Atmosphere
Colas Restaurant


Walking into Colas, you would never know it is a restored 1930s RC Cola bottling plant. The menu has a variety of dishes and an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, when possible. When the weather is nice, sit by the two open garage doors and enjoy the ambience of this casual fine dining restaurant while watching people pass by and catch a view of the Statehouse. The romantic atmosphere and delicious food makes it a great location for your rehearsal dinner or other events. 

Groucho's Deli


No matter where you work or live, there is probably a Groucho’s Deli nearby. This local chain has fresh, made-to-order sandwiches and salads anyone is sure to love. There is a variety of green salads you can get, as well as tuna, chicken, and pasta. If you want the taste of a Groucho’s sub sandwich without the bread, try the turkey and cheese on a bed of green lettuce. Head to your closest Groucho’s next time you are craving a satisfying salad.

Blue Marlin


If you are looking for seafood with elegance, look no further than Blue Marlin in the heart of The Vista. Lowcountry inspired dishes like the Charleston crab cakes and the signature shrimp and grits have flavors that will light up your palate. Experience the masterfully crafted southern dishes and top them off with the crème brulee cheesecake. Open for lunch and dinner, it is easy to make time for this southern classic restaurant.

Seafood Market
Clifton Seafood


Known for the freshest seafood in the Columbia area, Clifton Seafood is rarely without a line. This seafood monger is open seven days a week and stays stocked with a variety of fresh fish and shellfish. Take home the oysters and Dungeness crab for your next roast-at-home, or stop by for lunch and order a plate of ready-made fish with sides. Clifton Seafood will also clean any fish you bring. 



If you are looking for southern fine dining done right, look no further than Saluda’s in the heart of Five Points. Located above Starbucks by the fountain, you can experience an amazing view, dinner and service. Prepare for mouth-watering dishes to be served by waiters who cater to you without making you wait and can even suggest menu items and wine pairings. Make your reservation for the next time you have a celebration or date night.

Specialty Drink

Not sure where to go for happy hour? If you work downtown, you can walk right over to SakiTumi in The Vista. Do not be afraid to drive there either. There’s a garage nearby on Lady St. providing ample parking. You can enjoy the best-of-winning specialty drinks, like one of the many specialty martinis. Pair it with the made-to-order sushi and you have dinner or appetizers you will not forget.

Ruth's Chris


Nationally known for its quality and delicious steaks, it’s no surprise you voted Ruth’s Chris the best steakhouse in Columbia. The steaks are not only prepared exceptionally well, but they are also served on plates heated to 500 degrees. The wine list is equally notable, boasting over 200 award winning labels from around the world to compliment your meal no matter what you ordered. Located inside the Hilton in The Vista, it makes a great place to go whether you are local or visiting Columbia.

Sunday Brunch
Café Strudel


Whether you played hard on Saturday, are partaking in a Sunday Funday, or just enjoy brunch, Cafe Strudel has just what you need. Known for its comfort-food brunch, it is the place to go no matter what your reasoning. This local West Columbia spot is home of the “hangover hash browns” and other delicious menu items. If you prefer a Tex-Mex style brunch, try the sunrise burrito with black beans, sour cream and cheddar cheese.


SakiTumi is taking home the title in two categories this year, making it the best place to go for your next happy hour or dinner. The restaurant has the best selection of sushi in town, both for freshness and variety. Varieties include specialty, classic, nigiri and sashimi, as well as other non-sushi items. There is also zero compromise for location, atmosphere or cocktails. Enjoy an evening with friends or a date night with made-to-order sushi and award-winning specialty martinis.

Rosewood Market and Deli


The days of limited vegetarian options when dining out are over. If you are looking for robust meals with a variety of options for vegetarians, head to Rosewood Market and Deli. The market and deli support local farmers as well as the health and wellness of their customers. There are daily lunch and dinner specials and regular menu items including soups, sandwiches and salads. Live better at Rosewood Market and Deli.

Water-view Dining
Liberty on the Lake


No matter where you live it is worth the drive, or boat ride, to dine at Liberty on the Lake. Almost every table has a breathtaking view of the lake and sunset. Live music is played on the weekends and the menu complements the views. Open for lunch and dinner every day of the week, you can enjoy a cocktail in style or a meal from the menu with a wide variety of options. The restaurant is even family friendly, so do not be afraid to bring the kids to watch the boats pass. 

Gervais and Vine


For expertly paired wine and tapas, Gervais and Vine needs to be at the top of your list. Choose from several flights of wine to taste and pair with savory and beautifully plated tapas. You can feel like you are in a Napa Valley restaurant with the ability to taste test three related wines per flight or pick your own. Available outdoor seating enhances the ambience and intimacy making it the ideal location for your next date night.