While we love a good salad, you’re not going to find any on this list. From sandwiches and soups to mac and cheese and, well, more mac and cheese, we’re giving you the rundown on some of our favorite comfort foods in Columbia SC.
Panini and a Cup of Soup from The Gourmet Shop
Whether it’s a cold, rainy day or, ya know, just a regular ‘ol Tuesday, it’s hard to resist The Gourmet Shop’s tempting pull. Settle in at a bistro table, order up a hot, toasty panini – might we suggest the fresh goat cheese & house-made basil pesto – and dunk it into a steaming cup of soup (keep your fingers crossed that it’s roasted red pepper and smoked gouda bisque day). We’re pretty sure this is the meal version of a hug.
White Truffle Grilled Cheese from The Oak Table
You’re never too old for a grilled cheese and just when you thought this crispy, melty masterpiece couldn’t possibly get any better, The Oak Table says, “hold my beer.” Thick pieces of buttery brioche are joined together by a decadent blend of white cheddar, fontina and mascarpone. #dead
Spicy Ramen from Menkoi Ramen House
If you’re feeling under the weather or need a quick, satisfying lunch on a blustery day, a stop at Menkoi Ramen House is just the fix you need. Make it spicy for some extra fire in your belly and get ready to take on the rest of your day. Bonus – Menkoi offers late-night weekend hours for when you just want to unwind with some noodles after a night out on the town.
Pho from Pho Viet
Or perhaps you’re Team Pho and opt for the mellow, herbal flavors of this soothing Vietnamese soup. At Pho Viet, noodles swirl together with chicken, beef or veggies, while bean sprouts, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice top it all off for the ultimate cozy-in-a-bowl meal.
Pork Belly Mac N Cheese from Spotted Salamander
A popular special that just earned its place on Spotted Salamander’s permanent menu is this sinfully delicious concoction of Carolina Heritage Farms pork belly, “grown up” mac n cheese and sweet tea vodka BBQ sauce. If you somehow manage not to die and go to heaven from swooning over this dish, seal the deal with one of Spotted's famous homemade desserts.
Smoked Gouda Mac N’ Cheese from The Whig
Descend into the depths of The Whig for some of the best late night eats in town. The smoked gouda mac n’ cheese is perfection as is, but you can up the ante by adding bacon (and/or vegetables if you’re into that kind of thing). An honorable mention goes to the Chipotle Pimento Cheese Fries.
“Lamb Mac” from Terra
In case you were wondering, no, we’re not finished talking about mac and cheese yet, thankyouverymuch. Probably one of the most iconic dishes in town, the “Lamb Mac” is the brain child of Chef Mike Davis at Terra. Smoked lamb shoulder and Poblano peppers team up with goat cheese and fontina underneath a sprinkling of baked breadcrumbs for a savory staple you’ll be coming back for time after time. Drooling yet?
Brick Oven Wild Boar & Bison Meatloaf from 1801 Grille
Get a comforting taste of home with an unexpected twist with the brick oven wild boar & bison meatloaf from 1801 Grille. Upping the indulgence factor is a crispy pancetta crust and sweet potato and Szechuan green beans on the side. Don’t even think about leaving until you’ve had your fill of the cinnamon sugar dusted donuts, too (complete with a generous slathering of sea salt caramel and whipped cream, of course).
Mussels Romesco from @116
Seafood fans, rejoice! For @116 Espresso & Wine Bar is about to be your new best friend. Cozy up to a hearty plate of mussels sautéed with homemade Romesco, garlic and white wine. Ask for extra bread and mop up every last bit of the sauce. Seriously. It’s. So. Good. Pro tip – for extra relaxation points, order a glass (or two or three) of 116's famous sangria for only $3 from 4 – 7 p.m.
Cinnamon Pancakes from Cafe Strudel
Sometimes you just need a heaping plate of sweet, syrupy pancakes. Enter Café Strudel, where you can order from the breakfast menu all day because they understand that pancakes are just as necessary at 1 p.m. as they are at 9 a.m. The cinnamon batter makes these puppies extra special and that bottomless coffee bar gives us all the heart eyes.
Cover photo by: Sean Rayford