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Nov 5, 2008 11:27 AM

In Columbia, SC for 3 days. What's a hound to eat?

I'll be in Columbia for work this weekend and am looking to ensure that my team and I get at least a few really good meals in while were there.

I understand that there is some discrepancy about BBQ in SC, so I don't want to get too sidetracked on that, what I'd love are some suggestions for where we can find the best Southern Food (no need to suggest Chinese, Pizza or the like.) If there's a damn good fried chicken spot, a place that offers irresistible pies (or other delicious sweets,) a whole in the wall that has killer cue, or another SC-based treat that locals love to share, I would love to know.

I've hear great things so far about Granny's for BBQ, Mr. Friendly's for more upscale and Motor Supply for dinner.

The closer to the city the better but I'm willing to kidnap my crew and drag them to a good meal if its worth it.

Thanks in Advance!!

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  1. Lizard's Thicket for the best fried okra, et cetera, but the one near the big airport near Lexington is the best location.

    1. Most of the BBQ places in and around town have good fried chicken, too. One place downtown, Palmetto Pig, is good and easy to find (corner of Pulaski & Devine, five blocks south of Gervais in the Vista.) I don't know if they are open on the weekends, though. A little better BBQ, in my opinion, is Little Pigs, on Alpine Road. Like Palmetto Pig, they serve fried chicken as well. One thing that's nice about this place is that they have available the three main kinds of SC BBQ (mustard, tomato, vinegar), as well as pig you can pull yourself. The downside is that the restaurant is about a 15 minute highway drive from downtown, According to their website, they are open on Saturdays, but you may want to call first. Since you aren't from around here, note that nearly all of the BBQ places here are buffet style. Buffet restaurants are usually disgusting foodwise, and as a rule are to be avoided at all costs, so I wanted to let you know in advance that this rule does not apply to the BBQ places here. I can't speak to Granny's, as I have never been, but given its location it may be up to a half hour away from downtown, and I doubt it is better than Little Pigs.

      I gather from your profile that you are from NYC. In comparison to high end places in and around NYC, I think dinner at Motor Supply Co. is okay but a bit tired. For example, during my last visit there I was served a bread basket of rosemary foccacia. And no, the year of my last visit was not 1989. That said, I think it is an excellent place for lunch or Sunday brunch -- perfectly soft scrambled eggs over creamy grits... yum. A better bet for an upscale dinner is MoMo's Bistro on Devine Street, which I like a lot. Another good alternative is Terra, right over the Gervais Street Bridge in West Columbia, on State Street. Make a reservation and when you do so ask for a table by the front window, so you can have a view of the city.

      One local speciality is the pimento cheeseburger. Sad to say, though I would like to try it, I just have not gotten around to it. There are a couple of places around town that serve it, including Rockaways and the new 300 Senate. The latter looks like a pretty good lunch place, but I cannot provide any firsthand reports. (Hat tip to local writer Shoptart, who wrote up her recent visit there on her blog.)

      For this next bit I'm going to need a little help. I recently got my hands on one of the best pieces of pie I have ever had -- a chocolate pecan pie. Its origins are a bit fuzzy. I was told it was made by a woman who makes (or made) desserts for Gervais and Vine (and maybe Rosewood Market?). I do not know if this the same pie-person who sometimes sells pies at the All-Local Farmer's Market. I just haven't had a chance to look into it. If I do, I'll get back to the list with info. If someone else has the scoop, please share. If you have an opportunity to get a slice of that chocolate pecan pie, do not, I repeat, do not miss it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: north2south

        Thanks for that run down! I think Little Pigs sounds like it could be for us. I've read on this board before to avoid the Lizard Thicket and Piggy Park. So at least I know where I'm not heading. Are BBQ places ever open for dinner?

        As for breakfasts and lunches. We might have to do a grab and go one morning so I'm wondering ig you have any suggestion for something fast? I can always buy some yogurt and fruit somewhere but if there are great breakfast rolls or a nice bakery that could get us going... For our sit down brunch Motor Supply sounds spot on.

        And thank you for the Chocolate Pecan pie rec. One of my fondest dessert memories involved the fried choc pecan pie at Camelia Grill in New Orleans about 10 years ago. So dangerously good!

        Lastly, I understand it's homecoming this weekend... Are we going to need reservations at these joints?

        Thanks n2s!

        1. re: plumtart

          If you plan to have Sunday brunch at Motor Supply you will very likely need a reservation.

          Phone: 803.256.6687

          1. re: plumtart

            As Cpt Wafer said, you'd need a reservation for Motor Supply, as well as MoMo's and Terra. I think it would be hilarious to call Palmetto Pig for a reservation; I wonder what they'd say.

            Two places for breakfast come to mind. The first is the Gourmet Shop, on Saluda in Five Points. They open at 9am (except Sunday) and have breads, croissants, coffee, fruit salad, etc. You can find them and their menu online. The other place is Immaculate Consumption, on Main, just South of the State House. They open at 7:30am during the week but I think they're closed on weekends. They are known for excellent coffee. As for breakfast, they have some very modest offerings, but usually an excellent small banana chocolate muffin or ginger apple muffin. This is also a good place for sandwiches for lunch, but go armed with the knowledge that they take their time making your food.

            A final option, which would be real special for you, I think, depends on the calendar. The All-Local Farmer's Market takes place at alternating locations on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month, from 8am - noon. It is small, but there are some good offerings, including breads from Heather's Artisan Bakery (the cinnamon bread would be good at that time of day), but you can also get a decent crepe or the "State Plate" breakfast, which is local eggs, local grits, and local sausage, for about $5. See .

        2. Yesterday's in Five Points for some good Southern comfort food and a mixture of others. There's a reason it's been there for 30+ years. I think almost every "upscale" restaurant in Columbia is overrated although Saluda's ostrich with foie gras is quite a dish if you get rid of the overly goat cheesed risotto. Definitely try Rockaway's for the pimento cheese burger. DiPrato's for a nice deli lunch (try their pimento cheese with toasted pita as well). DiPrato's also has a nice selection of desserts as well. If I think of anything else I'll be sure to toss up another post.

          2 Replies
          1. re: butidigest

            I agree that DiPrato's is a great lunch place (esp. their hot pita chips), but I don't think it offers very much for someone looking for a distinctly Southern experience. As for Yesterday's, please tell me what dishes you recommend. I have been twice and have not been impressed in any distinct way. I am near Five Points a lot and would really like to like this place. Thanks.

            1. re: north2south

              I always get the Arkansas Traveller (cornbread with gravy, roast beef and blackeyed peas) when dining at Yesterday's. I've not been in about six months, but it's been good in the 15+ years I've been going thus far. I'm not a fan of chicken fried steak (IIRC, it's called "Confederate fried steak" on their menu), but I have friends who rave about it.

          2. So all the BBQ joints are lunch only?

            7 Replies
            1. re: plumtart

              Palmetto Pigs is. Little Pigs' website says that it is open for dinner Thursday - Saturday. I have never been, and I don't know how reliable the website is, so I would call to check.

              1. re: plumtart

                Plumtart -- i'm heading to Columbia next week. Did you write a trip report or any follow up of your weekend last month? My goals are similar to yours.


                1. re: gold75

                  I didn't write a report, because sadly work got the better of me and I barely had a chance to eat while in Columbia.

                  That said, the two real meals we did have were standouts (amongst a sea of mediocrity) and were at Mr. Friendly's and Terra. The fried green tomatoes at Mr.'s were outstanding. The scene is a little simple there but the food was very yummy.

                  Terra i have to say was exceptional. Great view of the city, good drinks and most importantly great food.

                  If you can do a higher end night out (not that much higher than mr. friendly's mind you) Please go to Terra and have the duck confit croque madame. I dream of it...

                  Enjoy! May you eat more bbq than I was fated to.


                  1. re: plumtart

                    I definitely can relate to that outcome. Thanks so much for the recommendations! I will definitely (intend to) try them both.

                    1. re: gold75

                      I know I am late to this discussion, but for future readers, I don't think any discussion of BBQ in Columbia can happen without mention of Maurice's. You'd be hard pressed to miss his billboards, which may make his place seem a little cheesy, but trust me, Maurice knows his meat.

                      1. re: rmlovvorn

                        Have to totally disagree about Maurice's. I can't even consider it BBQ, the meat is so doused in the BBQ sauce that you can barely taste it. All you're going to taste is the sauce which isn't good to begin with and Ithis is coming from a fan of mustard based BBQ sauce.

                        Sadly the BBQ scene is pretty poor within Columbia.

                        1. re: rmlovvorn

                          I have to agree with youngbuk. I think there's much better food out there than Maurice's, although I would also say that I don't know of any really great BBQ joint in Columbia.