For the foodies out there looking for some of the best restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina you’ve come to the right place.
From upscale cuisine to casual eateries serving up local favorites, this city has no shortage of delicious dining spots.
Whether you’re in the mood for an exquisite fine dining experience or a charming cafe offering innovative dishes, we have you covered.
In today’s article, we’ll be exploring all that Columbia offers in terms of unique eats, top-notch flavors, and unforgettable atmosphere. Bon appetite!
- 1 20 Best Restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina
- 1.1 1. Motor Supply Co. Bistro
- 1.2 2. Bourbon
- 1.3 3. Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Café
- 1.4 4. Saluda’s Restaurant
- 1.5 5. Solstice Kitchen
- 1.6 6. Blue Marlin
- 1.7 7. Villa Tronco Italian Restaurant
- 1.8 8. Cola’s Restaurant
- 1.9 9. The War Mouth
- 1.10 10. Publico Kitchen & Tap
- 1.11 11. Tazza Kitchen Trenholm Plaza
- 1.12 12. Gervais & Vine
- 1.13 13. The Gourmet Shop
- 1.14 14. Lizard’s Thicket
- 1.15 15. Alodia’s Cucina Italiana
- 2 Factor While choosing Best Restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina:
- 3 Conclusion
20 Best Restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina
With a diverse selection of eateries, including upscale bistros, cozy cafes, and innovative breweries, Columbia’s food scene is sure to delight foodies of all kinds.
Here are 20 of the best restaurants that you absolutely must try when in Columbia.
1. Motor Supply Co. Bistro
When you’re exploring the culinary scene in Columbia, South Carolina, one name that consistently stands out is Motor Supply Co. Bistro. This restaurant has carved a niche for itself as one of the city’s top dining destinations.
Motor Supply Co. Bistro takes pride in its farm-to-table concept, serving dishes that are as fresh as they are flavorful.
The menu changes twice daily, reflecting the seasonal availability of locally-sourced ingredients. This means every visit offers a unique dining experience, keeping foodies excited and coming back for more.
The restaurant’s commitment to quality doesn’t stop at the food. Motor Supply Co. Bistro also boasts an impressive selection of wines, cocktails, and craft beers, ensuring that every meal is complemented with the perfect beverage.
Housed in a historic motor supply building, the bistro’s ambiance is a delightful fusion of rustic charm and modern sophistication.
Whether you’re in for a casual lunch or a romantic dinner, the warm and welcoming atmosphere sets the stage for an unforgettable dining experience.
This second place on my list is more than just a restaurant; it’s an experience that leaves a lasting impression on your palate.
The menu at Bourbon is inspired by the robust flavors of the Louisiana Bayou, combined with the comforting staples of Southern kitchens.
From their mouthwatering gumbo to the classic shrimp and grits, every dish is crafted with care and attention to detail. The ingredients are locally sourced, ensuring freshness and supporting local producers.
But what’s in a name? At Bourbon, the name speaks for itself. It features an extensive selection of bourbon, making it a haven for whiskey enthusiasts.
Moreover, Bourbon’s cocktail menu deserves special mention. Their mixologists create innovative drinks that are as visually appealing as they are delicious, often using bourbon as the star ingredient.
The ambiance at Bourbon is warm and inviting, with rustic wood accents and a laid-back vibe that’s quintessentially Southern. It’s the kind of place where you can feel at home, whether you’re catching up with friends or enjoying a date night.
3. Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Café
Among the top dining spots Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Café holds a special place. This restaurant has been delighting patrons with its innovative Southern cuisine for years and continues to be a local favorite.
Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Café is renowned for taking traditional Southern dishes and giving them a unique, contemporary twist.
The menu changes regularly to incorporate the freshest ingredients available, but you can always expect a creative mix of flavors and textures. From succulent seafood to hearty meat dishes, there’s something to satisfy every palate.
The café also impresses with its wine list. With a focus on affordable, high-quality selections, it’s easy to find the perfect pairing for your meal.
But what truly sets Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Café apart is its warm and inviting atmosphere.
The restaurant exudes a casual charm that makes diners feel right at home. The service is friendly and attentive, ensuring a dining experience that’s as enjoyable as the food itself.
4. Saluda’s Restaurant
One more, on our list the vibrant culinary landscape of Columbia, South Carolina, Saluda’s Restaurant stands out as a distinguished dining destination.
This upscale eatery is located in the historic Five Points neighborhood, offering guests an unforgettable blend of Southern charm and sophistication
Saluda’s menu is a testament to culinary creativity, presenting a fusion of Southern classics with global influences. The dishes, crafted from locally-sourced ingredients, are both visually stunning and delectably satisfying.
Complementing its exquisite food offerings, Saluda’s boasts an impressive wine list that caters to a variety of preferences.
From sparkling wines to full-bodied reds and refreshing whites, every bottle is carefully selected to enhance your dining experience.
The ambiance at Saluda’s is equally noteworthy. Set in a renovated historic building, the restaurant exudes elegance without being pretentious.
Its beautifully adorned interiors, coupled with warm lighting, create a welcoming and intimate atmosphere, making it an ideal venue for both special occasions and casual dinners.
5. Solstice Kitchen
Solstice Kitchen is a culinary gem nestled in Columbia, South Carolina. Known for its innovative approach to Southern cuisine, this restaurant has earned a reputation as one of the city’s top dining destinations.
The menu at Solstice Kitchen is a celebration of Southern flavors with a creative twist. It changes regularly to showcase the freshest seasonal ingredients, sourced locally whenever possible.
This means that each visit can be a new gastronomic adventure. Whether it’s a perfectly cooked steak, a flavorful seafood dish, or a vegetarian delight, every item on the menu is thoughtfully prepared and beautifully presented.
In addition to its outstanding food offerings, Solstice Kitchen also shines with its selection of beverages. From fine wines to craft beers and artisanal cocktails, there’s a drink to complement every meal. The staff is knowledgeable and can recommend the perfect pairing for your chosen dish.
The atmosphere at Solstice Kitchen is warm and inviting, blending modern elegance with Southern comfort. The service is top-notch, making every guest feel valued and well-cared for.
6. Blue Marlin
In the heart of Columbia, South Carolina, you’ll find Blue Marlin, a restaurant that has become an integral part of the city’s dining scene.
Known for its flavorful seafood dishes and Southern hospitality, it’s one of the must-visit restaurants in the city.
At Blue Marlin, the menu is inspired by the rich culinary traditions of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
The spotlight is on seafood, with dishes like shrimp and grits, crab cakes, and their signature “Adluh” stone-ground grits making a regular appearance.
However, they also serve a variety of other Southern classics, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
The ingredients used at Blue Marlin are sourced locally whenever possible, ensuring freshness and supporting local farmers and fishermen. This commitment to quality is evident in every bite, as the flavors truly shine through.
But it’s not just the food that makes Blue Marlin stand out. The restaurant is housed in a restored 120-year-old train depot, giving it a unique charm and a warm, welcoming ambiance.
Its historic setting, combined with its delicious food, makes dining at Blue Marlin a truly memorable experience.
7. Villa Tronco Italian Restaurant
As the city’s oldest restaurant, Villa Tronco Italian has been serving authentic Italian cuisine since 1940 and continues to be a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
The menu at Villa Tronco is a heartwarming tribute to traditional Italian cooking. Whether it’s a classic pasta dish, a hearty lasagna, or a delectable tiramisu for dessert, each dish is prepared with love and the finest ingredients.
The recipes have been passed down through generations, ensuring an authentic taste of Italy in every bite.
But it’s not just about the food at Villa Tronco. The restaurant also offers an extensive list of Italian wines, perfect for pairing with your meal.
From robust reds to crisp whites, the selection caters to a range of palates and preferences.
Set in a historic fire station, Villa Tronco exudes an old-world charm that’s hard to resist. The interiors are adorned with family photos and memorabilia, adding a personal touch to the dining experience.
The atmosphere is warm and inviting, making you feel like you’re dining in an Italian family home.
8. Cola’s Restaurant
Cola’s Restaurant is a standout dining establishment that merges casual elegance with exceptional cuisine.
Housed in a carefully restored 1930s-era RC Cola bottling plant, it offers a unique dining experience that engages all senses.
The menu at Cola’s is an enticing blend of American and globally inspired dishes. Known for their fresh seafood, succulent steaks, and inventive daily specials, they focus on using locally-sourced ingredients to ensure peak freshness and flavor.
Each dish is thoughtfully prepared and presented, reflecting the restaurant’s commitment to quality.
Cola’s also boasts an extensive beverage selection. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a cocktail enthusiast, you’ll find plenty to enjoy. Their knowledgeable staff can guide you to the perfect drink pairing to enhance your meal.
The ambiance at Cola’s is as distinctive as its menu. The restaurant retains many of the original architectural features of the bottling plant, including the high ceilings and exposed brick, creating a stylish yet comfortable atmosphere.
Combined with the attentive service, it makes for a dining experience that’s both relaxed and refined.
9. The War Mouth
If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, look no further than The War Mouth. This quirky restaurant is set in an abandoned gas station, offering an unexpected mix of classic pub food and global flavors.
The menu at The War Mouth is a tribute to the diverse food traditions of the South. You’ll find dishes like pit-cooked barbecue, fresh seafood, and a variety of pickles and preserves, all made with locally-sourced ingredients.
The offerings change regularly to reflect the seasons, ensuring a fresh and flavorful dining experience every time.
Complementing their food menu, The War Mouth also boasts a carefully curated selection of beverages. From craft beers and artisanal cocktails to a range of wines, there’s a drink to suit every palate and pair with every dish.
The atmosphere at The War Mouth is relaxed and welcoming, reflecting its commitment to Southern hospitality.
The restaurant’s industrial-chic decor gives it a modern vibe, while the friendly staff ensures you feel right at home.
10. Publico Kitchen & Tap
Publico Kitchen & Tap is a vibrant dining hotspot in the Five Points neighborhood of Columbia, South Carolina.
Known for its eclectic menu and lively atmosphere, this restaurant offers a unique blend of Latin and American cuisines that has won over food enthusiasts in the city.
At Publico, the menu is a fusion of flavors, featuring a mix of traditional dishes with a creative twist.
From tacos and nachos to burgers and salads, there’s something to satisfy every craving. And with a focus on using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, each dish delivers on taste and quality.
But it’s not just about food at Publico. The restaurant also boasts an award-winning selection of craft beers and cocktails.
The ambiance at Publico Kitchen & Tap is as engaging as its menu. With a modern, industrial-style interior and a spacious outdoor patio, it provides a relaxed setting for any occasion.
11. Tazza Kitchen Trenholm Plaza
As you step inside Tazza Kitchen Trenholm Plaza, you’ll be greeted by a stylish and contemporary interior that effortlessly blends rustic elements with modern design.
The open kitchen concept allows you to catch a glimpse of the talented chefs at work, creating dishes that are as visually appealing as they are delicious.
The menu at Tazza Kitchen is a fusion of American and international flavors, offering a diverse range of options to satisfy any palate.
Start your dining experience with their popular wood-fired pizzas, which boast thin, crispy crusts and a variety of toppings, from classic margherita to inventive combinations like the “Shaved Brussels Sprouts” or the “Roasted Mushrooms and Goat Cheese.”
If you’re in the mood for something heartier, Tazza Kitchen offers a selection of flavorful entrees.
From the tender “Grilled Hanger Steak” to the aromatic “Spicy Lamb Bolognese,” each dish is expertly crafted with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available, ensuring that everyone can find something to suit their dietary preferences.
Complement your meal with a carefully curated selection of craft beers, wines, or signature cocktails from the bar. The knowledgeable staff can guide you in choosing the perfect beverage to enhance your dining experience.
Tazza Kitchen Trenholm Plaza not only delivers exceptional food but also prides itself on providing exceptional service.
The attentive and friendly staff create a welcoming atmosphere, making every visit to Tazza Kitchen a memorable one.
12. Gervais & Vine
With its cozy ambiance, delectable menu, and impressive wine selection, Gervais & Vine offers a delightful dining experience that combines the flavors of the Mediterranean with a touch of Spanish influence.
Step into Gervais & Vine and be greeted by a warm and inviting atmosphere. The rustic yet elegant decor sets the stage for an intimate and relaxed dining experience.
The menu at Gervais & Vine revolves around tapas, small plates meant for sharing and exploring a variety of flavors. Indulge in a culinary journey with options like the savory “Baked Feta” or the flavorful “Lamb Meatballs.”
The menu also features fresh seafood, charcuterie, cheeses, and vegetarian options, ensuring there’s something to please every palate.
To accompany the delicious tapas, Gervais & Vine offers an extensive wine list with a focus on Spanish and Mediterranean varietals.
From crisp whites to robust reds, the knowledgeable staff can assist in selecting the perfect wine to complement your meal and enhance your dining experience.
For beer enthusiasts, Gervais & Vine also offers a selection of craft beers, both local and international, as well as handcrafted cocktails that are expertly mixed with care.
13. The Gourmet Shop
As you enter The Gourmet Shop, you’ll be greeted by an inviting space filled with the aromas of freshly baked bread, aromatic cheeses, and a variety of artisanal products.
The market section is a treasure trove of culinary finds, featuring a wide range of gourmet ingredients, including imported cheeses, cured meats, olives, oils, vinegars, and specialty foods from around the world.
The café at The Gourmet Shop offers a cozy and relaxed atmosphere, making it a perfect spot to enjoy a delicious meal or a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
The menu features a tempting selection of sandwiches, salads, quiches, and soups, all made with the finest ingredients and bursting with flavor.
Indulge in a classic Croque Monsieur, savor the delicate flavors of a Caprese Salad, or treat yourself to a hearty bowl of Tomato Basil Soup.
But the offerings at The Gourmet Shop extend beyond its food. It also features a stunning array of gourmet products such as artisanal cheeses, specialty coffees, and fine wines.
14. Lizard’s Thicket
With its warm hospitality and homestyle cooking, Lizard’s Thicket has become a local favorite and a go-to spot for hearty, satisfying meals.
The menu at Lizard’s Thicket is a heartwarming tribute to Southern cuisine, featuring dishes like fried chicken, country fried steak, and an array of home-cooked vegetables and sides.
Each dish is prepared with care, using high-quality ingredients that deliver an authentic, home-cooked taste.
But Lizard’s Thicket isn’t only about delicious food. It also offers a selection of refreshing beverages, including sweet tea, a Southern staple, and other classic drinks.
With multiple locations across Columbia, Lizard’s Thicket offers convenience and accessibility to diners throughout the city.
Whether you’re looking for a hearty breakfast before starting your day, a comforting lunch with friends, or a satisfying dinner with your family, Lizard’s Thicket provides a welcoming atmosphere and delicious food that will leave you feeling satisfied and nostalgic for the flavors of the South.
15. Alodia’s Cucina Italiana
The Alodia’s Cucina Italiana exudes a rustic charm with its exposed brick walls, soft lighting, and comfortable seating, creating a perfect setting for a romantic dinner or a gathering with friends and family.
The menu at Alodia’s Cucina Italiana showcases the rich and diverse flavors of Italian cuisine.
From classic pasta dishes like spaghetti carbonara and fettuccine Alfredo to specialty entrées like chicken Parmesan and veal Marsala, each dish is prepared with the finest ingredients and a touch of culinary expertise.
Alodia’s takes pride in using fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, ensuring that every bite bursts with authentic Italian flavors.
In addition to their delectable pasta and entrées, Alodia’s offers an extensive wine list featuring a selection of Italian wines that perfectly complement the flavors of the dishes.
The knowledgeable staff can assist in pairing the perfect wine to enhance your dining experience.
Save room for dessert as Alodia’s offers a tempting array of sweet treats, including tiramisu, cannoli, and panna cotta, all made in-house and guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The attentive and friendly service at Alodia’s Cucina Italiana adds to the overall dining experience, making you feel like a cherished guest.
The staff is knowledgeable about the menu and happy to provide recommendations, ensuring that your visit is nothing short of exceptional.
Factor While choosing Best Restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina:
Choosing the best restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina, is more than just finding a place to eat.
Menu Variety: A good restaurant should offer a wide range of dishes from different cuisines, accommodating various dietary preferences.
Freshness: The ingredients used in the preparation of meals should be fresh and high-quality to ensure tasty and healthy food.
Taste: The food should be well-prepared and flavorful, catering to the diverse taste buds of the customers.
Presentation: The way food is presented on the plate also matters. It should be visually appealing.
Consistency: Consistency in taste and quality of dishes over time is crucial for a restaurant’s reputation.
Attentiveness: Staff should be attentive to customer needs and quick to respond to requests.
Politeness: Courteous and respectful treatment from staff enhances the dining experience.
Knowledge: Staff should have good knowledge about the menu items to guide customers.
Efficiency: Quick and efficient service is essential to keep customers satisfied.
Problem-solving: Staff should be capable of handling complaints and issues effectively.
Cleanliness: A clean environment is paramount for a pleasant dining experience.
Décor: The décor and overall theme of the restaurant should be appealing and comfortable.
Lighting: Proper lighting sets the mood and enhances the ambience.
Music: Background music should be suitable and at an appropriate volume.
Seating Arrangement: Comfortable seating and well-spaced tables ensure a relaxed dining experience.
Accessibility: The restaurant should be easily accessible, preferably within a short drive or walk.
Parking: Adequate and secure parking facilities add to the convenience.
Neighborhood: The surrounding area should be safe and pleasant.
Scenic View: A restaurant with a scenic view can enhance the dining experience.
Proximity: It’s beneficial if the restaurant is close to popular attractions or business centers.
Value for Money: Prices should be reasonable and reflect the quality of food and service.
Discounts and Offers: Regular discounts and special offers can attract more customers.
Flexible Payment Options: Multiple payment options, including digital payments, add to customer convenience.
Transparent Pricing: There should be no hidden charges, and the pricing should be clearly mentioned.
Portion Size: The portion size of dishes should justify the price.
Reviews and Ratings: Online reviews and ratings give a fair idea about the restaurant’s quality.
Word of Mouth: Recommendations from friends and family often indicate a good dining place.
Awards and Recognitions: These are a testament to the restaurant’s commitment to excellence.
Social Media Presence: A strong social media presence indicates the restaurant’s popularity and engagement with customers.
Health Inspection Scores: Good scores from health inspections assure customers of the restaurant’s hygiene standards.
Unique Dishes: Restaurants offering unique or signature dishes often stand out.
Dietary Accommodations: Offering options for people with dietary restrictions (vegan, gluten-free, etc.) is a plus.
Kids’ Menu: A family-friendly restaurant should have a dedicated menu for kids.
Events and Entertainment: Hosting live events or entertainment can make the dining experience more enjoyable.
Outdoor Seating: An option for outdoor seating can be a bonus, especially in good weather.
Columbia, South Carolina is a city that boasts a vibrant culinary scene.
From the upscale Motor Supply Co. Bistro to the casual comfort food at Lizard’s Thicket, there’s a dining experience for every palate and occasion.
The city offers an array of cuisines, including Italian at Villa Tronco Italian Restaurant and Alodia’s Cucina Italiana, seafood at Blue Marlin, and Southern fare at Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe.
Columbia also offers unique dining experiences like the Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Alehouse for craft beer enthusiasts, and The Original Pancake House for breakfast lovers.
Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, exploring Columbia’s diverse restaurant scene is a must.