Local recommendations-Columbia SC
I've posted here before, but would like some local recommendations of some of the must eat at places in Columbia. I'll go from dives to semi-fine dining. LOL I say semi-fine because I hate the type of places that just decorate your plate with a few pieces of food and a drop or two of sauce. i'm loving discovering on my own so many of the local places like Lulu's for hot dogs, and Mr. Friendly's for a laid back wonderful "new" Southern dining in a nice establishment. Come on folks, I'm here for the long haul, so don't let me down. Thanks in advance.
My brother was visiting last week from New York - he's a Manhattanite through and through, and something of a food snob, but he loves exploring Columbia restaurants with us. He's much less of a food snob than my brother in Charleston (we are native Columbians). My brother wanted to eat out at least once a day (and wanted to pay!) and so we did. The first night we ate at the Blue Marlin. It is our mother's favorite restaurant, and she was scheduled for hip replacement surgery so we went there to indulge her and enjoyed our meal. Not memorable, but always a solid value and we appreciate the excellent service there. The next day I was craving chicken soup, so we went down the street to Zoe's and each had a cup of their excellent chicken and orzo soup, and split a grilled pimento cheese sandwich. I do love this place for simple comforts. Afterwards we went across the street to Rosso and made reservations for that evening. At the risk of going on forever and ever I won't offer much detail except to say that it was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. Perfect martini, superb meal (lamb shank with white beans and the most amazing collards I have ever eaten - a special that night and only $18.00) and delicious dessert. We ate lunch at DiPratos the next day - very tasty grouper tacos (a special that day) which we coulda/shoulda split. DiPratos always serves excellent fresh food in generous quantities at a reasonable price. Their Sunday brunch absolutely rocks. Over the next few days we ate the buffet lunch at Palmetto Pig (meh), another superb supper at Rosso (antipasto platter, soup and pizza which my brother declared "as good as it gets." Then, we discovered the best new deal in Columbia at Mojitos Tropical Cafe on Gervais Street. If you're heading west on Gervais it is on the left in the first block past Assembly Street, next to Z Pizza. For lunch we split a Cubano and a plate of plantains. My brother also had the excellent Sangria salad. He was so impressed that he wanted to go back the next night (even though he originally wanted to do the high-end reservation thing that last night of his visit) So, we went back on Saturday night and easily got a table. I had the lime cilantro roasted chicken, and my brother had the pulled pork. Both dinners came with yellow rice, black or red beans, plantains and yucco con mojo. Just $12.95 per dinner. We're sold. This restaurant is the best thing to hit Gervais Street in years. Totally authentic, excellent service, THE BEST island food and wonderful atmosphere. This place is family owned - you should hope that the mother visits your table while you dine as she is lovely and gracious. The pineapple cake that we split for dessert was AWESOME. I can't wait to go back and hook my friends on this wonderful find.
Hope you try these places and add them to your list of great places to eat! I'm so glad that you appreciate the locally owned restaurants in Columbia. We should all patronize these places so that they're here for many years!
1200 Lincoln Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Here are some recommendations:
Terra: the "quack madame" (duck confit & quail egg open sandwich), or the mac n' cheese with bbq lamb -- both are appetizers there.
Cock n' Bull: the Bull Burger (or at Brunch, "L'Especiale Burger"). Best in town.
Gervais & Vine: scallops w/ three sauces; marinated manchego.
Little Pigs: great bbq buffet.
Sun Ming: crispy salty shell-on shrimp (yes you eat the shell); eggplant w/ pork and garlic sauce.
Hunter-Gatherer: everything but the salads and pizzas are really good here, especially given the price. Great beer, of course, and fun atmosphere.
Heather's Artisan Bakery: the ciabatta is the best. Many other loaves are good, too.
DiPrato's: homemade fried pita chips with pimento cheese.
Gourmet Shop: very rich chicken salad. Get it on a croissant with bacon if you want to overdo it.
Tea: under new ownership (already), but the "House Adventurer" banh mi is just as good as when the place opened.
Antonina's Ristorante: only the pizza. Best NY-style in the area.
Touch of India: dosas, which you can't get anywhere else in the area.
Drake's Duck Inn: fried chicken sandwich - not fantastic or even interesting, but a good representation of this southern sandwich, and it is ridiculously cheap.
All-Local Farmer's Market: (Saturday mornings only) breakfast there is nice, but make sure you get a chocolate pecan pie from the girl who sells the pies. Really very good.
I'm sure there is more but that is all for now off the top of my head.
Take a ride out to Batesburg-Leesville and visit Shealy's BBQ. The bbq is alright (your choice of sauces, including eastern NC vinegar) but the real star is the fried chicken. The sides are delicious but nothing out of the ordinary. And there's always a choice for dessert (it varies, but there's always soft serve ice cream.) Ask one of the waitresses for a bowl of pulley bones.
Burgers at Back Yard Cafe and Pawley's. Murray's for good country plate lunch and burgers.
The Back Yard Cafe @ 940 Old Barnwell Road, West Columbia, SC 803 - 951 - 0405.
Pawley's Front Porch @ 827 Harden St., Columbia, SC 803 - 771 - 8001.
Murray's Neighborhood Grill @ 2433 Charleston Highway, Cayce, SC 803 - 926 - 1809.
Murray's Neighborhood Grill & Bar
2433 Charleston Hwy, Cayce, SC 29033