Great dining in Columbia, SC??
Mr. Friendly’s – simply the best Columbia has to offer. This is the place we ALWAYS want to go. NO RESERVATIONS!!! It is that good. When a place is REALLY good, EVERYTHING is good. The bread and butter is awesome, the regular salad with the homemade buttermilk basil bleu cheese dressing is fabulous, the wine list is great… Of course the entrées are almost always mouth watering. My favorites are probably the trout and the pork tenderloin. If you like fried green tomatoes, Friendly’s is the place. Overall I think we continue to go back because it’s reliable, service is great, food is great, and the prices are not exorbitant.
Hampton St Vineyard - they change their menu seasonally. I used to have lunch here a lot but it has dropped off my radar. I think the menu stopped interesting me.
Motor Supply - menu changes daily. They used to have awesome bread but now it tastes like frozen rebaked bread. VERY LOUD. Made the mistake of taking my grandfather here. Service is iffy. Expensive especially considering the uncomfortable seating. We had brunch here once and it was good. We had some interesting food here, but it’s just not reliable and priced well enough to keep us coming back. Seats and service leave more to be desired.
Gervais & Vine. Can be fun but service is rather poor. Good place for a girls night dining but the service always leaves something to be desired. Slow, inattentive, act like they are doing you a favor.
Garibaldi’s – pretty good. Ambience OK. I had lobster for V-day a few years ago and it was very good.
Saluda’s – really need to give this place another try. I’ve eaten there once a LONG time ago.
Terra – eaten there twice. First time wasn’t that memorable, second time was memorable – for being bad. The menu is way too limited. The quail egg salad was a little bit scary (nobody at the table wanted to look at it either). The scallops were lukewarm, gi-normous, and I won't say what the cauliflower puree looked like (tasted gross too). The pistachio creme brulee sounded great in theory but it was nothing special. Overall disappointing.
Mo Mo’s – We arrived at maybe 7 pm and the place was almost empty, yet they would not seat us because of reservations, so we had to sit at the bar. We ordered the special that night - a filet with foie gras. We knew it would be expensive, but we were just flabbergasted when we got the bill. They hadn’t told us the price and we didn’t think to ask. I think it came out to somewhere around $175 for 2 people. The atmosphere wasn’t that special - it’s pretty casual. That’s just too much to pay to eat at a bar. The filets were good, but it’s hard to get that wrong. I just don’t think it warranted the hefty bill.
Dianne's on Devine St.- dark, heavy, unimaginative food. You could probably get a good steak and mashed potatoes here.
Henessey's - Nothing special. Depressing atmosphere. I have had bad experiences here, and many of my friends have reported the same thing. I like my steak medium rare and it was beyond rare. I sent it back and 15 minutes later it was still rare. My friends reported VERY poor SLOW service.
Al's Upstairs - the food is nothing special. Bad experiences here too, related to getting seated/reservations.
Sake Tumi - great food & sushi & drinks. The music is loud but I love the ambience! The food is so good! We had a bad experience last time where they let us sit at the bar for like an hour and never bothered to come around the bar and call our name. We were at the point where we were feeling sick from drink and no food!
Antai - everything is good here. We eat here ALL the time. The owners are SO NICE!
Miyo's in Harbison. Gourmet Chinese. - does not compare to the new Antai in Lexington. The dishes are not that inspried, have gone downhill.
OTHER FOOD WORTHY OF MENTIONING
Antonina’s – we have read many good things about their pizza. It is unique, and probably the closets thing to authentic Italian pizza. The gelato was very good. Too bad it’s such a haul, and I live in Lexington!
Hudson’s – I have been converted to mustard based barbeque after moving from Virginia. The sauce appeals to me and I love their collards. I get really frustrated with making a to-go order there. I hate it when they have multiple lines rather than one line where the next person goes to the next available cashier. This can cause some serious heartburn there. The atmosphere is great for families.
Dianne's on Devine St.- always good steak. good fish entrees.
Henessey's - just an institution. Nothing special.Decent food.
Depressing atmosphere.Old boys club. Sit upstairs, not 1st fl..
Al's Upstairs. - just an institution. Nothing special. Just hype. Most tables do not have a view of skyline. Overdone shrimp 2 out of 3 x. I gave up. Overprice for Quality.
Hampton St Vineyard. Interesting menu. Changes for the seasons.
Great food and atmosphere inside. Good service.
Motor Supply - Changing menu for freshness.
Gervais & Vine. Fun but very noisy. More casual.
Miyo's in Harbison. Gourmet Chinese. Great ambience.
Nice preparation and presentation.
Back Porch - lunch. Not dinner.
Based on your request for comfortable and quiet I would suggest Hennessey's. Can't say anywhere in Columbia has truly GREAT food but I've had very good food there. I've been to Al's only twice and while a seat in the room overlooking the river is nice, I've found the food to be bland and somewhat pre-fab. Motor Supply can be good but is rather cramped and noisy as a result of the acoustics.
1649 Main Street
I complete agreement to your recs Ellen, I'll throw in my 2 cents woth too
Terra (near Al's Upstairs), for nicely prepared food with a focus on local produce but slow service
Mr. Friendly's in Five Points or it's sister Soltice in NE Columbia - I have not been there - NE area is pretty far fom me.
Inakaya on St. Andrews Rd. for sushi, etc.
A nod to Al's - I haven't been in a while because one of the things I dearly loved, the lobster bisque soup had the recipe tweaked to include too much salt, and when he wouldn't attend to that well, I lost interest. But a seat on the indoor porch at night is really quite nice.
Tombo on Forest Dr. - I think may be the quietest and possibly the most expensive.
That covers pretty much territory wherever you may be staying.
Without the benefit of details SweetPea requested, here are my thoughts. For what they're worth.
Al's Upstairs Italian has a great view of the Columbia skyline and is touted as having good food in a romantic atmosphere. I HAVE NOT been there. Just seems like a good possibility. West Columbia.
Hampton Street Vineyard downtown has fine food and wine but has a tendancy to be noisy unless you can be seated in the back room.
Hennessy's just around the corner is a solid dinner destination.
Nice little spot on Gervais Street is the Back Porch. Adjoins Haven's Gallery across from the Clarion Townhouse.
Down the street is Motor Supply. Ignore the name; excellent food, atmosphere, and service. Would be my number one choice.
Hope you enjoy your visit to our town!