Columbia is both the state capital of South Carolina and its second largest city. Here, lovely and historic adventures are served up on a silver platter.
Filled with rivers, canals, wide avenues, and plenty of sumptuous restaurants and cafes, Columbia is pretty as a picture. Let’s take a journey through those avenues, with a fine focus on some of the most delectable dining options.
Tips & Recommendations for Columbia
1. Liberty Tap Room
Although Liberty Tap Room is touted as a beer lover’s dream, you can be sure it’s everybody’s dream. They take American fare to a whole new level.
Seasoned to perfection, their ribeye and NY strip are ecstasy. Likewise, their steak salads, buffalo chicken wraps, and po’ boys are like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
No matter where you stay or where you tool around town, make absolutely sure you stop by the Liberty Tap Room one evening.
Liberty Tap Room
Address: 828 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Website: Liberty Tap Room
2. Motor Supply Company Bistro
Like Columbia, Motor Supply is pretty as a picture. Their exposed brick walls and nearly floor to ceiling windows aren’t the only flights of fancy. They also change their dinner menu every day.
Somehow, these artisans blend French, European, Asian, and Italian influences into their dishes. Even the wildflowers on the tables are an eclectic display.
If you’re a solo traveler, scoot up to the oak bar and enjoy some friendly service. If you’ve got a couple friends in your party, then both the outdoor patio and cozy dining room will give you something to talk about.
If eclectic and unique are the kinds of adjectives that light your fire, then make sure you stop by Motor Supply. You’ll be glad you did.
Motor Supply Company Bistro
Address: 920 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Website: Motor Supply Company Bistro
3. Solstice Kitchen
Solstice is so lovely, even its address is pretty - Sparkleberry Lane!
You probably know what happens when you find a restaurant that offers a seasonal menu… Everything is fresh and delicious. For example, as I write this article, the specials include sautéed mussels and frites, and a 14 oz. ribeye. All together now - yum!
As refreshing as the menu is, you’ll find the staff to be equally delightful. With a warm and welcoming atmosphere, fresh finds, and an extensive wine list, who could ask for anything more?
Address: 841 Sparkleberry Lane, Suite 4, Columbia, SC 29229
Website: Solstice Kitchen
4. Little Pigs Barbecue
Little Pigs means it when they say you haven’t tasted real Carolina barbecue until you’ve eaten here. This is where you’ll find home cooked delights, served buffet-style. Dress comfortably - elastic waistband comfy - and choose from an overflowing array of options.You’ve got barbecue ribs, brisket, pork chops, chicken wings, fish, rice, collard greens, beans, tomato pie, macaroni and cheese, and so much more.
Little Pigs is a fun, laid-back spot for one of your nights in town. You’ll love it; the kids will love it; and everyone will sleep with bellies full of good ‘ol southern fried cuisine.
Little Pigs Barbecue
Address: 4927 Alpine Road, Columbia, SC 29223
Website: Little Pigs Barbecue
5. Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse
Okay. Wow. When the folks at Rioz say they offer an unparalleled dining experience, they’re not just whistling dixie. You simply must make a reservation at Rioz one night.
They serve their meals in an authentic Brazilian style, offering continuous tableside service. This means that, after you dip into the salad bar stocked with seasonal favorites, you’ll then be treated to a continuous offering of more than 15 different cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and poultry.
To no surprise, their cocktail and wine selections are mouth-watering. And, if you can find the room, don’t skip out on their turtle cheesecake.
Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse
Address: 410 Columbiana Drive, Columbia, SC 29212
Website: Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse
6. The Oak Table
Let’s start with the location and decor. The Oak Table is situated right on the corner of Main Street and Gervais, overlooking the state capital. All the touches of oak wood - from the walls to the tables - are spectacularly elegant.
This is the kind of place where you’ll be dazzled just by their cheese board and Sangiovese. But, of course, you’ll want to dine on any number of entrees, including the handrolled trofie pasta and chimichurri marinated ranch steak.
Their truffle fries are made to perfection, as are their Yukon gold mashed potatoes.
The Oak Table
Address: 1221 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Website: The Oak Table
7. Pawleys Front Porch
This is a down-home favorite that we simply must discuss. When the mood strikes for a burger, head to Pawleys. They’ve come up with a wonderfully unique menu, making the whole affair quite enjoyable.
Seasoned with a secret blend of spices, there are ten different ways to stack your burger. The Wadmalaw burger, for example, is made with chipotle barbecue sauce, fried pickle chips, applewood smoked bacon, and cheddar cheese.
Pawleys is no ordinary burger joint. This is the kind of menu you’ll be thinking about when you’re back home and gearing up for one of your very own backyard barbecues.
Pawleys Front Porch
Address: 827 Harden Street, Columbia, SC 29205
Website: Pawleys Front Porch
Let the beef and steak journey continue because Grillmarks is another must for your itinerary.
Get this. Their “Hot Mess” is a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed between two beef patties, a grilled hot dog, chili, cheddar cheese, swiss, American, applewood bacon, onion straws, fried pickles, lettuce, and tomato. That’s not something you’re going to find on any ‘ol menu.
If you’ve ever wondered what milkshakes look like up in heaven, wonder no more. Grillmarks’ FREAKshakes are to die for. They’re milkshakes topped with ice cream, coated in whipped cream, and drowned in an avalanche of toppings.
Come to think of it, you might want to fast for the entire day before coming here! If you’re hungry, and I mean h-u-n-g-r-y, Grillmarks is all you’ll ever need.
Address: 711 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201
9. Pearlz Oyster Bar
Surely, we’re all a little stuffed just from reading about Grillmarks. It’s time for some lighter fare over at “the eclectic little oyster bar”, Pearlz. Their raw bar is particularly sensational, offering a nice selection of Lowcountry and Gulf oysters. The cocktails here are refreshing and light enough to blend well with whatever you choose from the raw bar. Of course, Pearlz also offers other fanciful delights such as pappardelle with garlic and oil, and good ‘ol fashioned lobster rolls. This makes for a fantastic evening meal after any afternoon spent in storybook Columbia.
Pearlz Oyster Bar
Address: 936 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Website: Pearlz Oyster Bar
10. Columbia Flying Saucer
Flying Saucer is packed full of fun. Their web address alone is cute - “beerknurd”. This spot is so full of character, you won’t know where to look when you first walk in.
Their entire wall of taps will probably lure you into pulling up a barstool, but they also have a lovely outdoor patio. Honestly, there are so many exciting draught picks, you might want to scan the menu before you head over. It’s like studying for the SATs except you can’t go wrong here.
Flying Saucer’s menu is truly delectable. The Marsellus Wallace is especially good, a certified Angus sirloin with grilled onions, pepper jack, a giardiniera spread, and horseradish mayo.
Even their grilled cheese is out of this world, stacked with a special three-cheese blend and bacon, served on toasted sourdough. It also comes with a lovely cup of tomato bisque.
Beer drinkers, this is your mecca. Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to pay homage!
Columbia Flying Saucer
Address: 931 Senate Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Website: Columbia Flying Saucer
Come to think of it, you could plan a weekend in Columbia just to experiment with different kinds of food! Nevermind its gorgeous scenery, Columbia is a hidden treasure trove of gourmet cuisine. Whatever your mission, I wish you the safest travels and the happiest of times.