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Good Eats in Columbia, SC?

Husband and I will be in Columbia for a USC (his alma mater) football game next month. We haven't been to Columbia in YEARS so we have no idea what the food scene is like. In fact, our last trip consisted mainly of Bojangle's and ice cream at Sandy's.

Any recommendations for a good, casual place for lunch and/or dinner? All cuisines (except Indian) are fine, we prefer local places over chains, low-key is better than fancy and (ideally) it would have some vegetarian options for me but I can usually work around it.


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  1. I enjoyed Mr. Friendly's, not to be confused with the Friendly's chain.

    1. Baan Sawan. Yummy Thai food, and a terrific beer/wine program.

      1. Sandy's chili-slaw dog won't let you down :-> have one!

        where will you be? Cola is very spread out, so we can help best if we know what days you are
        here and where. BBQ? Mexican?? Taco or other food trucks OK ? veggie?

        Also, check out the Columbia threads and if you see something you like, ask and we can update you. Heads up - on game days certain restaurants are guaranteed slammed -
        the farther away from the stadium you go, better chance of not being packed to the walls.

        I'm on board with Baan Sawan and Mr. Friendly. Wander around 5 Points - you won't recognize it. The Vista, too - but it will be jammed on game days.

        IReservations somewhere $$ but it might be worth it - the town really will be swamped

        1. Mr. Friendly's and Baan Sawan both sound great! Definitely putting them on the list.

          We will be in Columbia for the USC vs. Missouri game the weekend of 9/21 - 9/23. My husband's birthday is on Saturday, so I'd love to find a nice place to take him to dinner that night after the game and then a fun place (in Five Points?) to go for drinks afterwards. Since it's a conference game, I fully expect everything to be crowded. We'll have a car so we're not opposed to heading for the outskirts of town.

          I'll take a look at the Columbia threads...thanks for the suggestions!

          1. Mr. Friendly's is fantastic and completely worth a stop for good Southern fare. I approve.

            Some more casual places where you can also get a drink:

            116 State St. Wine and Espresso Bar: Small restaurant, but great food and drinks, and decently romantic (in my book at least!). Serves tapas and various European fare with a little Southern twist here and there. Brunch Sunday is pretty tasty.

            Hunter Gatherer: The only local brewery in town. Serves some quality food, maybe more of a nice place to stop for a drink as it's right on campus and tends to be less hectic than the VIsta and Five Points.

            Gervais and Wine: Vista staple, another tapas place. More tapas oriented then 116, good selection and uses a lot of locally grown ingredients.

            Have fun!

            2 Replies
            1. re: ForagingFoodie

              plus one on these plus Terra...but for sure HUNTER GATHERER

              1. re: ForagingFoodie

                Its been a couple if years but I really liked Hunter Gatherer and Gervais and Vine. HG especially, I try to go there whenever I'm down there.

              2. One thing to remember about Mr. Friendly's is they aren't opened for lunch on Saturday, but are open for dinner. Wonderful place with upscale food at a fairly casual price and vibe.

                1. I get the feeling that just one weekend isn't going to be enough time to cram in all these great places! Hunter Gatherer sounds perfect. Good food and house-made microbrews? I want to go to there!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: punkin712

                    Several things come to mind...first, the kickoff time has not been determined...it could be anywhere from around noon to somewhere around 7pm...keep watching for when game-time will be announced...

                    Hunter-Gatherer is located on campus. Parking and crowds will be two huge issues. Also, while I'm totally certain, I'm somewhat doubtful H-G takes reservations. Furthermore the clientele will be heavily scewed towards college aged folks very likely consuming copious amounts of beer...

                    If it were me I would do Terra. It's right across the river close to the Vista. They have valet parking, a very dedicated chef/owner committed to local fresh, seasonal and artisinal ingredients prepared with care, simply and in inventive ways.

                    It'll' be hard to find better. Especially for a birthday where you want things to go smoothly...

                    Anyway, that's my best advice.

                    And if you decide to try Terra call as soon as you can for a reservation. They'll fill up fast.



                    1. re: Cpt Wafer

                      Ahhh Cpt Wafer! Good to see you around. And with an excellent suggestion too.

                      1. re: SweetPea

                        Thanks SweetPea! Good to see you as well :) .I've got another tip for those going to Terra...ask for Donna to be your server. She's smart...informed...and soooo laid back...