Let's Eat Outside, Shall We? A Guide To Al Fresco Dining In Columbia SC
Thursday, May 21, 2020 2:00 PM by Helen Dennis
Warmer months in Columbia SC are practically begging you to enjoy a little al fresco dining. With the added benefit that outdoor dining provides a safer culinary experience, grabbing a seat on one of these patios seems like a no-brainer. Increased safety precautions including masks, contactless payment options and socially distant outdoor seating free you to soak up every breezy, blissful moment.
Terra is a diamond of the West Columbia food scene—celebrated for memorable eats like duck confit pizza and baked mac n’ cheese with braised lamb. If you can believe it, though, the outdoor seating sites are almost as good as the drool-worthy bites—boasting what many locals have deemed the best patio in Columbia. With hanging shrubberies, exposed brick walls kissed with ivy, romantic cast iron gates and even a small flowing fountain, a meal on the Terra patio is like an hour-long trip to Paris on a random weekday. Sounds pretty magical, right?
Il Giorgione, the authentic Italian café on Devine Street, has the loveliest of brick-lined patios—as if straight from the corner of a Roman piazza. Twinkly lights hanging overhead, Aperol spritz in your hand and a swirl of pasta on your fork makes for an evening that’s even better than the pictures you will certainly take. Keep an eye out for the sweet owners Monica + George, who will surely be greeting familiar faces, shaking hands and giving hugs. So, when you’re craving spaghetti carbonara, something stuffed with mozzarella (made in-house, daily) or you just want to feel the spring breeze while you sip a glass of chianti, Il Giorgione is the place to be.
This new spot in the heart of downtown Columbia provides a perfect oasis. With lounge chairs, self-serve beer taps and stage for live music, we'd understand if you wanted to camp out here from brunch 'til dinner. Nothing pairs better with this beautiful outdoor space than their fresh menu. Trust us when we say you'll want to get a Main-mosa and an extra order of truffle frites.
The spacious patio at Tazza Kitchen creates an oasis for its patrons. A haven for wood fire cooking, Tazza is noted for its assortment of delicious fare, killer brunch + upscale vibes. The patio’s dreamy ambiance is by virtue of string lights and fireside seating. Order the cast iron goat cheese as your starter and then dig into the béchamel-based pizza with extra bacon. Finish it all of with your pick from the dessert menu.
Head west on I-26 toward Lake Murray for one of the most popular spots with a view, Liberty on the Lake. Going in on a Duck BLT or a Freedom Burger (fried egg included) while boats + skiers zoom past is definitely on our weekend agenda. The best part? The Liberty patio is the perfect front row seat to marvel at the vibrant cotton candy skies while the sun sets. Bliss.
Follow the Five Points crowd to Publico Kitchen and Tap. Blue-bricked, ivy-covered and sporting marquee-style signage, you can’t miss it. Complete with garage-style doors that are rolled up on nice days, Publico has become a go-to spot for a kick back or a quick bite. The lively taproom is equipped with a large deck area for all your al fresco needs. Play a round of corn-hole, take a seat on the refurbished bar stools or cheer on your team when it’s game day. Oh, and make sure to try out the brunch menu. #SundayFunday, guaranteed.
The Gourmet Shop in Columbia’s Five Points District is #BrunchGoals, #AestheticGoals—all the goals, really. The food is simple, yet elegant. The atmosphere is relaxed, yet welcoming. And the fact that TGS is part-café, part-market makes it hard to resist some post-sammy shopping for a tub of chicken salad, artisan bread + a bottle of vino to take home. While there is inside seating, all the locals know to sit outside to enjoy their brie with raspberry rhubarb jam, house-made tomato bisque and pesto paninis to soak up the charisma that Five Points can’t help but evoke.
For upscale wining + fine dining with a killer aerial view of the Five Points district, take a seat on the patio of local favorite Saluda’s for post-happy hour fancy feastin’. Known for southern eats with a dash of Italian + French flare, Saluda’s has quite the fan club that comes for the buffalo fried oysters and country-fried duck breast, but stays for a birds-eye view of the iconic Five Points fountain.
Featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” Pawleys Front Porch is known for its colossal + juicy burgers that are all named after places in South Carolina and, of course, its front porch. The aptly named restaurant has a vast covered deck overlooking Harden Street in Columbia’s Five Points district where each burger comes with a dagger (aka: a steak knife) stabbed through the middle + some of the best French fries you’ve ever had.
Looking for more dinner options? Browse our restaurant listings for options by region or cuisine.