Summertime in the South is sweet—it’s as simple as that. Sun tans, boat rides and longer days all make the season a swoon-worthy one. The icing on the (ice cream) cake, though? All of our favorite foods waiting for us at the picnic table—and you guessed it: we’re sharing. So, pull up a chair, roll up your sleeves and dig in to your pick of these classic Southern summer eats. Yes, you can certainly have more sweet tea.

Pimento Cheese

Sharp cheddar cheese, mayo (we won’t specify a brand preference because that has ended marriages in the South), pimentos, salt and pepper is the traditional way to start this classic Southern spread. But in Columbia SC, there’s about as many variations as there are people who say y’all. On bread, on a sandwich or straight from the spoon.

Where to find it: Essentially everywhere. Check out our pimento cheese roundup here.


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Boiled Peanuts

Boiled in a giant pot of salty water until they’re soft, easy to open and addicting. The best appetizer. The best side dish. The best road trip snack. And there’s no such thing as eating “just a few.” Of this, we are certain.

Where to find it: The War Mouth, Soda City Market, Cromer’s Peanuts, The Peanut Man, Farmboy's Barbeque


Boiled Peanuts = When You Know You're Back In The South

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DYK that South Carolina actually surpasses Georgia in annual peach production? Can be found in cobbler, swirled in homemade ice cream or even grilled and added to a summer salad. We also fully support buying one from a roadside stand and eating it straight up. Bliss.

Where to find it: Featured in a savory setting at farm-to-table restaurants like Motor Supply, Mr. Friendly'sLula Drake and Terra. In ice cream form at Sweet Pea's or Sweet Cream. On top of a cronut at Spotted Salamander. Stuffed in an empanada at Hunter Gatherer. Check out the Lexington County Peach Festival to satisfy all peach cravings.



Smokey, saucy and fall-off-the-bone tender. Pairs well with potato salad, mac n’ cheese and some type of green that is cooked in bacon fat. Eating with hands is mandatory.

Where to find it: Bone-In BarbequeThe War Mouth, Midwood Smokehouse, True BBQ, Hite's, Jackie Hite's


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Tomato Sandwiches

Preferably of the heirloom variety and paired with salty bacon and crisp lettuce. Also perfectly perfect with just mayo, salt + pepper. Actually tastes like summer.

Where to find it: Spotted Salamander, The War Mouth, Tazza Kitchen, Di Prato’s, The Sandwich Depot


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Typically comes on your plate complete with chili, onion and mustard. Or just mustard and onion. Or ketchup only. Whatever floats your boat, really. We recommend ordering two.

Where to find it: Crave Artisan Market, Sweet Pea's, Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs, Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli, Rush’s



Crunchy green vegetable that even the pickiest of eaters typically love. You may find it pickled, fried to perfection or even in your Bloody Mary. Cheers!

Where to find it: Za’s, Lizard’s Thicket, Lamb’s Bread, Yesterday’s


Fresh, crisp + lightly grilled — can't go wrong with seasonal, charred okra.

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Fried Green Tomatoes

Edible, not referring to the movie. Unripe tomatoes coated in cornmeal and fried into golden goodness. Often found on sandwiches or topped with remoulade. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it.

Where to find it: Café Strudel, Saluda’s, Mr. Friendly’s, Pawleys Front Porch, The Root Cellar


Fried Chicken

Protein staple at any good picnic. Sometimes spicy, sometimes on a sandwich, always crispy. Hot sauce encouraged. Plays well with others (aka: waffles).

Where to find it: Zesto’s, Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles, Bernie’s, Drake’s Duck In, Doc’s BBQ


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Banana Pudding

The ultimate Southern dessert. Sweet, cooling and filled with fresh bananas and soft Vanilla Wafers. Can be served hot or cold—or straight from the baking dish.

Where to find it: Bourbon, Maurice’s BBQ, Palmetto Pig, Main Street Bakery & Gift Shop


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Looking for more delicious eats in Columbia SC? Check out our restaurants page, where you can search by category to find exactly what you're looking for.