Holiday Dining Guide 2022
Christmas in Columbia means twinkling lights, festive shopping, holiday entertainment, and unforgettable dining experiences at some of the area’s best restaurants. Read on for a curated list of restaurants offering special holiday hours and menus.
By Katie Gantt
Hall’s Chophouse strikes a warm and festive mood for the holiday season with tasteful decorations adorning the restaurant interior. Santa pays his annual visit to diners during lunch on Saturday, November 26, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., and during brunch on Sunday, November 27, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Holiday dining specials will be in effect, but the details had not been determined at press time. It seems safe to assume Hall’s steaks, cut from USDA Prime beef, flown in from Allen Brothers of Chicago, will have a starring role.
Enjoy a world-class meal from upstairs at Saluda’s. Located in a charming, one-hundred-year-old building overlooking the vibrant Five Points neighborhood, their cuisine is “fresh, local, seasonal” and Southern with French and Italian influences. This holiday season, they will be open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve with special menu items created around the highest quality meats and in-season, locally-grown produce. Reservations are encouraged, and private dining room options are available for larger parties. Call for availability.
At Cola’s, diners enjoy a casual fine dining experience in a restored 1930s RC Cola bottling plant. They specialize in seafood and steaks, emphasizing fresh and locally grown ingredients. The 40-foot bar hosts an impressive wine selection and an extensive menu of cocktails and bottled beers. Regular menu items include whole crispy flounder, blackened Mahi and shrimp, filet mignon, and a variety of poultry dishes, but holiday diners should be on the lookout for unique menu options.
Located in a historic 19th-century firehouse, it’s a well-known fact that Villa Tronco is the oldest restaurant in Columbia. Family-owned and operated for four generations, Mama Tronco introduced her traditional Italian cuisine to the capital city more than 80 years ago. This holiday season, enjoy their comforting old-world atmosphere, warm hospitality, and delicious food and drink. Their special holiday items will likely offer variations of their pizza, seafood, and pasta dishes.
Over the bridge in West Columbia, Terra is celebrated as one of the early leaders of the farm-to-table movement in Columbia. Their menu is simple and features popular menu items of steak frites, seared red snapper, wood oven pizzas, and more. Their private dining room can seat up to 50 – call for availability and book as early in advance as possible this holiday season. Reservations are always recommended, and seating at the bar area is on a first-come, first-served basis. Complimentary valet parking is available in front of the restaurant nightly.
Motor Supply’s farm-to-table menu changes daily depending on what is in season, fresh, and available from local farmers. Owner, Eddie Wales, said that while the holiday menu is being developed, diners can plan on seeing colder weather fare such as root vegetables and heavier sauces on dishes. He encourages readers to swing by Motor Supply during the 37th annual Vista Lights festival on Thursday, November 17. “We set up a street bar and serve hot toddies in signature mugs. It’s a big hit; we see hundreds of people each year.” Get there early to beat the inevitable long line.
This year Tombo Grille celebrates twenty years as a local staple on the Forest Acres dining scene. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are recommended. Specials change daily and are updated online and via their social media outlets around 5 p.m. each day. Regulars recommend the fried Brussels sprouts and BBQ pork empanadas from the small bites menu and the pan-seared Chilean salmon and meatloaf for the main event. But the consensus is you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose from this locally owned restaurant focused on bringing guests the freshest ingredients, locally grown whenever possible. Call for information on holiday menu items and hours.
Upper Crust is often referred to as a pizza place, but according to owner Beth Burrell, they have become just as well known for their brunches. This holiday season, Upper Crust will host Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day brunches with special planned menus. Holiday menu items are being planned. Popular regular brunch items include freshly baked cinnamon rolls with amaretto icing, crispy tater tots topped with bacon and cheddar cheese, and a ½ lb ground beef burger topped with a fried egg and served with hash browns.
Ratio, located in Elgin and relatively new to the Midlands dining scene, offers an authentic Peruvian twist on classic cuisine, focusing on seasonal food and drink. Their menu is based on shareable small plates and tapas. Popular dishes include seared scallops, tempura squash, apple salad, and Corvina ceviche. (The Corvina is a highly prized fish in South American diets.) Peru is the third largest country in South America. Ratio is decorated beautifully for Christmas and hosts a special Christmas Eve dinner. Try the Peruvian Hot Chocolate, featured every holiday season. “It’s absolutely delightful, and people go crazy over it,” said executive chef and owner Javier Uriarte.
Bodhi Thai Dining
The buzz around Lexington’s Bodhi Thai Dining this holiday season is their newly unveiled, reimagined dinner menu – the brainchild of owner and executive chef Nivit Tipvaree. New menu items include Kai Yang, a grilled marinated chicken dish served with sticky rice, and a spicy Jaew dipping sauce. Crowd favorites like the Toong Tong appetizer remain. Note that management always recommends reservations, especially during the holidays. They are typically booked up to two or three weekends in advance and are no longer accepting large parties of nine or more on weekends.