If you have followed the blog for awhile, then you know that I LOVE sharing local eats from where we live and travel. While I usually share this part of our life mainly on Instagram, I want to share more of it on my blog so that you can save it for a reference. Since our move we have loved exploring the food scene and these are some of the amazing local restaurants in Columbia, SC we’ve uncovered. I will continually be adding our food adventures throughout the city as we try new places.
Updated Jan 2021
Lunch Restaurants in Columbia, SC
- Spotted Salamander $ (Downtown) Sandwiches, Salads & Daily Specials
- Crave Artisan Market $ (Rosewood) Deli and Salads
- Freshe Poké $ (The Vista) Sushi Bowls & Burritos
- Midwood Smokehouse $ (Shandon) BBQ, Salads
- Gourmet Shop $ (Five Points) Salads, Soup, Brunch, Sandwiches
- Tazza Kitchen $$ (Forest Acres) Tacos, Salads, Pizza, Shared Plates
- The Happy Cafe $ (Forest Acres) Quiche, Salads, Daily Specials
- Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli $ (Devine St) Gourmet Sandwiches, Salads, & Cinnamon Rolls
I mean as if the photos don’t already make you drool… you should know that there are even more options than what they have on the menu. While this is a lunch only (11-2:30) & catering restaurant, the menu is limitless and always features something new. The Pulled Brisket Sandwich is out of this world, but you can also go lighter with the spotted salad and soup of the day. The restaurant is located in the historic district downtown Columbia and they have the cutest little patio for small parties and a second room next door for overflow during the lunch rush. Always order the daily deviled eggs & save room for dessert!
This quaint Rosewood gem is perfect to grab a light or heavy bite on your lunch break. Look for daily specials or snag a soup, salad, or sandwich off their classic menu.
A casual lunch spot with huge salads and a boasting BBQ menu. If you’re looking for a light lunch, you may want to share, but everything is delicious including the smoked wings, Mac and cheese, and the chopped salad with brisket.
I am so in love with the poké concept. If you’re a sushi lover, and haven’t tried poké then you are absolutely missing out. Freshe Poké has three restaurant locations in Columbia: downtown, Forest Acres & Harbison. You can create your own bowl or choose straight from their menu. They also have chicken & shrimp for those that don’t love raw sushi. Here’s what I put in my bowl (pictured) and it was delicious: Base- half sushi rice, half spring mix, tuna and salmon, spicy mayo and eel sauce, topped with panko
A perfect lunch spot on Forest Drive served up by the sweetest local ladies in Columbia. Expect homemade soups, fresh salads, quiche, sandwiches and a new special each day.
Brunch Restaurants in Columbia, SC
- Tazza Kitchen $ (Forest Acres) Saturday 11:30/ Sunday 10:30
- The War Mouth $$ (Cottontown) Saturday & Sunday 11:30
- Publico $ (Five Points) Sunday 10:30
- Za’s on Devine $ (Devine St) Saturday & Sunday 11:00
- Cafe Strudel $ (Cayce) Saturday & Sunday All Day
- Liberty Taproom $ (The Vista) Sunday 10:00
- Twisted Spur Brewing $ (The Vista) Saturday & Sunday 10:00
- Motor Supply $$ (The Vista) Sunday 10:30
Did somebody say brunch?!!? Y’all know I am all about it and I love when I find a great brunch spot. The mimosas are strong, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere is SO cute. They open at 10:30 on Saturdays and it is packed by 10:45! If you go at lunch, I definitely recommend the crab cakes or the burger!
Publico Kitchen & Tap is another brunch favorite offered Sundays from 10:30-2. You’ll want to go when they open because they fill up quickly. Grab a spot on the patio and be sure to order the jalapeño corn biscuits! Drinks are buy one get one free during brunch hours on Sundays too! We can’t wait to go back!
A longtime Columbia favorite launched brunch last summer and it is d-e-v-i-n-e! See what I did there?! But really though, the brunch menu is simple but everything is delicious! Plus you can split a bottle (yes bottle) of Champagne for mimosas for $12 with your choice of juice on the weekend. I highly recommend the Breakfast Bowl!
I recently shared an entire blog post on my favorite brunch restaurants in Columbia. View the full article here.
Dinner Restaurants in Columbia, SC
- Tazza Kitchen $ (Forest Acres) American, Tacos, & wood fired pizzas
- Publico $ (Five Points) Mexican/Asian Fusion
- Za’s on Devine $ (Devine St) Italian & Pizzas
- Coa Agaveria y Cocina $$ (The Vista) Modern Mexican Tapas
- Lula Drake $$ (Downtown) Wine & Small Plates (currently closed)
- Cola’s $$$ (The Vista) Southern
- Saludas $$$ (Five Points) Southern/ Steakhouse
- Bourbon $$ (Main Street) Upscale Cajun Flare
- Motor Supply $$$ (The Vista) Farm to Table with Daily Specials
- Pearlz Oyster Bar $$ (The Vista) Happy Hour Oysters & Seafood
- Tsunami $ (The Vista) Sushi & Hibachi
- 929 Kitchen $$ (The Vista) Korean
- Hendrix $$ (Downtown) Tapas and Modern Fare
- Cantina 76 $ (Downtown) Casual Mexican
- Jake’s on Devine $ (Five Points) Casual, fried chicken sandwiches & tenders (dog friendly)
- Mr. Friendly’s $$ (Five Points) Southern fine dining in a dive atmosphere
Unlike most Mexican food places in the South, this is not an average tex-mex restaurant. Coa is an upscale modern restaurant with authentic and unique dishes to be shared all over the table. They also have the largest craft margarita list in town and they’re all SO good!! Some of my favorite small plates are the crab empanadas, tamale de rajas, guacamole and queso (obviously), sopes de barbacoa. I also love the tacos campechanos and may just claim that they are the best tacos in town.
Lula Drake (currently closed due to Covid-19)
If someone asked what my favorite place in Columbia is… I would have to say Lula Drake. I had walked by a few times while downtown and thought to myself how cute it looked. But when I looked online, the menu seemed small, and I couldn’t really tell much about it. If you have done this and thought it wasn’t for you… think again! It is a wine bar that also has craft beer and tapas (small plates). It is quaint and reminds me of something out of NYC, and has a swanky vibe but still casual. Most of the tables are set for about 3 people but there is a larger space in the back plus the patio tables on Main St. The menu changes daily for specials, but my favorite two things have been the Spanish Crepe and the Pork Ragu. Everything is unique and delicious and you won’t find anything like it at any restaurants in Columbia, SC.
Another one of my favorites for a date night or special occasion is Colas. Their menu changes seasonally with some classics that stay year round. One of our favorites is the Shrimp & Risotto appetizer! YUM!!
Growing up in west Texas, the only time we ever ate seafood was on vacation to the beach. Now that I live on the east coast, I have found a love for raw oysters and fresh seafood more & more. Shane and I both love it and we were so excited to find Pearlz in the heart of our city. Definitely check out their happy hour specials M-F 4-7 as well.
Motor Supply has long been nominated as one of the best restaurants in Columbia. This uniquely crafted menu is sure to enlighten you palette. Even if you’ve been once, the chef is constantly curating new recipes for the menu. We enjoyed a fun double date here and loved the food and chic warehouse atmosphere. The menu changes nightly and you’ll always find crafty cocktails behind the bar!
This has been our go-to spot for tacos and margaritas here in Columbia. We love to come during happy hour and sit on the patio downtown when the weather is nice. I also love that they have daily taco specials where you can always try something new.
If you’re on Main St on a week night or the weekend, you’re likely to see a huge crowd around Bourbon and for good reason! This modern restaurant brings a unique scene to downtown with its craft cocktails and urban vibe. Don’t fear the community table either, you’ll probably meet someone new and have a great time. We have, both times we have been. If you’ve seen this place then you know the name represents it well with a bar stocked with probably a hundred whiskeys! While I’m not a whiskey drinker myself, I usually just substitute a different liquor in their amazing cocktails. Although it is very popular, it’s definitely not for large groups.
This has been our first place to try sushi in the city and I was pleasantly surprised. The only thing I would say is that they are very heavy on the sauces on the rolls so if you like light sauce, make sure you say so. This place is super casual and service is kind of meh, but the hibachi and sushi are always good.
Looking for a great spot for pizza, pasta and some delicious apps? Za’s is the place! It’s great for groups because you can try their delicious appetizers and pizzas with friends and have a taste of it all! There’s a great patio for good weather days too! Plus they have complementary valet which is always a perk. They have happy hour M-F from 4-6pm and Wine Wednesday’s with $4 select glasses of wine. The meatball sliders are bomb!
Downtown’s newest addition to Main Street with a boasting rooftop and unique menu. Hendrix is the perfect spot for drinks with friends, brunch, dinner or to enjoy the rooftop views on a gorgeous day in Columbia.
Bars in Columbia, SC
- Aristocrat– $$ (The Vista) Cocktails, Outdoor Seating, Live Music
- Coa Agaveria y Cocina– $$ (The Vista) Craft Cocktails, Margaritas, Outdoor Seating
- Hendrix– $$ (Main Street) Cocktails, Beer & Wine, Rooftop Seating, Live Music
- Black Rooster– $$ (Cayce) Great rooftop happy hour and downtown views
- River Rat– $ (Shop Rd) Brewery, Outdoor Seating, TVs
- Columbia Craft– $ (The Vista) Brewery, Outdoor Seating
- Lula Drake– $$ (Main Street) Wine Bar
- Bourbon– $$ (Main Street) Cocktails, Beer, Wine, Outdoor Seating
- Hampton Street Vineyard– $$ (Main Street) Wine Bar & Cocktails with beautiful patio
- Tin Roof– $ (The Vista) A basic bar with great live music and concert feel. Expect a range of college seniors through young professionals, well drinks & beer.
- Pearlz– $$ (The Vista) In a pre-civid world, this was s fun spot for live music or a DJ and drinks for the young professional crowd
The perfect spot for pre dinner cocktails on the patio with some light bites. The “Aristocrat” cocktail is my favorite and it goes down even smoother on a night when there is live jazz on stage.
Such a cool spot near the stadium with great beers and a fun outdoor space and rooftop. I love coming here for a sunny afternoon and hanging out with friends or watching a football game. I think its a great place for drinks, but head somewhere else for food!
This is the place you want to be on a cool 75 degree day with a drink in your hand. The rooftop at Hendrix is one of the best places to watch a Columbia sunset, but you’ll have to head to the main bar for craft cocktails. Beer, wine, and well drinks are offered upstairs with a few select cocktails.
Dessert in Columbia, SC
We happened upon this delight when walking downtown in August… needless to say, we went four more times just that month alone! Sweet Cream has some of the best and unique flavors I have ever tried, but the one that stole our heart was a good ol’ classic vanilla milkshake. I don’t know what they put in their Madagascar Vanilla, but it is amazing! The wooden spoons are kind of a turn off for me, so I recommend a cone or a milkshake for sure!
If you’re out in The Vista for dinner, swing by Kaminsky’s for a delicious dessert or drinks. They have a full bar and alcohol infused dessert drinks, but my favorite is the milkshakes or Sundays. They are perfect for splitting and enjoying one another’s company.
This quaint spot located in the Vista bursts color and flavorful treats for every tastebud. While there cupcakes draw the crowd, I have recently come to know that they also create cake flavored milkshakes which I cannot wait to try!! Like they put a cupcake in a blender with ice cream… how can that not be amazing!? Plus if you’re lucky you can grab a spot on the patio and people watch!
Saved the best for last? Maybe! This little delight on Devine Street is the sweetest bakery in town. They’ve got everything from mini cupcakes, to croissants and cookies. A definite crowd pleaser if you’re wanting to pick up a dessert tray for any occasion, or just pop in for a treat for yourself. On Wednesdays they have specialty cinnamon rolls that will blow you away!
Thanks for stopping by the blog today. I hope you found something mouth watering for your next meal. Stay tuned for more to come as we explore throughout the many restaurants in Columbia, SC. To follow along with our experiences, see it first on Instagram and check out my Columbia highlight reel.
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Note: All opinions are my own, no restaurant is guaranteed to make this list unless we truly recommend it.