In Columbia SC, there are more restaurants on tap than there are hours to try them all (we dare you to give it a shot, though!) While you've probably heard the go-to list of fabulous restaurants always recommended to travelers, there are so many local hotspots that may not be on your radar. As usual, we've got you covered. From tried-and-true institutions to new-and-noteworthy additions, these unassuming favorites are more than worth a stop! Pro tip – click on the name of each for exact locations.
Cozy and authentic is the vibe. With only 30 seats and open four nights a week, this Italian wine bar in Columbia’s Five Points is worth discovering for authentic pastas and appetizers alongside a glass of wine.
The Other Store seem like a convenience store on the outside but take another look and you’ll find a restaurant that locals have been flocking to for 37 years. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be there for a day they’re serving up a specials like chicken bog or shrimp jambalaya.
Famous for Southern classics like pimento cheese, egg salad, and chicken salad sandwiches + a meat and three buffet, Mathias has been a staple for locals for years and sits just outside of downtown in charming Irmo.
It's *such* a hidden gem that there isn't any signage. In the Rosewood district, in a nondescript red brick building, is the home to what some say is the best pimento cheeseburger in town - Rockaways. Order the pimento cheese fries, too, because... why not?
Possibly one of the best well-kept secrets in Columbia, Goat’s sits on a side street of Five Points with an eclectic, unexpected vibe. All we have to say here is cheers to Lobster Mac & Cheese and lots of wine options.
No one is making any statements about the best wings in Columbia here - But we can admit that the wing & fry basket at Publick House is a dinner combo for the books. Pair it with a Franziskaner brew and a lemon and tell them we sent you.
The epitome of upscale casual, this Vista spot leans in the flavors of Spain and France in the most accessible way.
There’s a lot of Mexican food to choose from in this great city, and while Moctezumas is hidden away between neighborhoods, you can still expect a bit of a wait for dinner. Don’t worry, though, they will make sure you are set with a margarita in hand upon arrival. Locals love the expansive Huaraches and Fajitas sections of the menu.
Sitting right off the Lake Murray dam in Irmo, Schooner’s is a watering hole for anyone looking for a laid-back lake atmosphere. They host live music almost every weekend and have a surprising diverse food menu. Think Siracha Ranch Tacos, Philly Cheesesteak Nachos, and a Black Bean Jalapeno Burger.
A Columbia staple for over 30 years, Village Idiot Pizza is a local favorite but may not be on the radar for visitors. Don’t miss delicious pies with names like Freshman Fifteen and Bud Man Special, which can be found all three locations, including Five Points, Olympia and Forest Acres.
While it may seem like sweet treats are their specialty, you would be remiss in not trying a cheeseburger from Rosewood Dairy Bar in the Rosewood neighborhood. We won’t judge if you order an ice cream cone on the side, but please, don’t skip the sprinkles.
No Name Deli is a check or cash only type of place, but it’s worth the extra step. We recommend checking out the menu before you go if you want to look like a regular, but you can’t go wrong with any of their (large) salad options – the Greek is a favorite to many.
Higher Ground is a craft burger shop with a laid-back attitude, located in Chapin. Order up something daring like the Death by Bacon or get a little fancy with the Swamp Monster. Pro tip – you can sub the burger for a portabella cap.
With two locations, this little Italian favorite has been getting a lot of buzz for its authentic style. Find your favorite dish in Lexington or Irmo– you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Old Italy as you walk in the door.
For traditional Mediterranean fare like kebabs and gyros, as well as burgers and pizza, Pita’s does not disappoint.
A cult-favorite of taco-addicts, this hole-in-the-wall Mexican eatery is one for the books.
Explore more Columbia restaurants here.