Spotted Salamander 's Pimento Fondue

10 Best Restaurants To Eat in Columbia, South Carolina

Earlier this spring, I was hosted for a fun girls’ weekend in Columbia, South Carolina by Garden and Gun and Experience Columbia. The feature is in the July 2022 issue of Garden and Gun, out on magazine stands now! To commemorate and relive some happy memories, I am featuring some of the best restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina I had the pleasure to dine in during this girls’ weekend!

 Best Restaurants To Eat in Columbia, South Carolina

Cocktails and Fine Dining at Smoked

Smoked, Photo by Linda Nguyen

Our first stop was the beautiful Smoked 🌿🍸. There were so many gorgeous corners in their space, making it perfect for date night. We had pre-dinner drinks and I loved the Blanco Colada and the Soda City Queen. They have a fine dining menu consisting of oysters, steaks, and more. I’ll have to make time to actually eat at Smoked in the future!

A fun fact about Smoked: The beer on tap is from Peak Drift Brewing, a new brewery opening in town later this year and features Columbia’s first female brewmaster, Ashley Kinart-Short.

1643 Main St, Columbia SC 29201

Rooftop Dining at Hendrix

Hendrix -  Best Restaurants To Eat in Columbia, South Carolina

Our first full meal was dinner at Hendrix, a short walk away from Smoked. My girlfriend and companion for this trip, Karina, said she wasn’t excited about their menu and was surprised that everything we tried, both eats and libations were “amazing.” She said the pork chop may be her favorite pork chop she’s ever had! Other favorite orders were the duck katsu sandwich with milkbread and the mushroom toast. The general manager made me a mocktail that he created on the fly and I am still haunted by it. He used their housemade fig syrup and it was heavenly.

1649 Main Street  Columbia, SC 29201

Intricate Deserts and Cocktails at The Robinson Room

After dinner at Hendrix, we went for desserts at Robinson Room. The Robinson Room is located in the hidden lower level of The Grand on Main. To get to Robinson Room, use The Grand’s main entrance and a server will guide you down the stairs into Robinson Room’s immersive dessert and cocktail lounge. I am a longtime fan of chocolate and orange together and their chocolate orange here is the most beautiful chocolate orange dish I’ve seen. The Robinson Room is a perfect date night spot in Columbia!

Robinson Room
1621 Main Street,  Columbia, SC 29201

Brunch at Gourmet Shop after Perusing Their Market and Shop

Gourmet Shop -  Best Restaurants To Eat in Columbia, South Carolina

We started our second day in Columbia at the Gourmet Shop. The Gourmet Shop is a bakery, deli, cafe, and market all in one. It was fun to peruse the store and shop after we enjoyed a delicious brunch of french toast and the brie and bacon croissant sandwich.

Gourmet Shop
724 Saluda Avenue Columbia, SC 29205

Southern Cuisine at The Spotted Salamander

Also on our second of the three days spent in Columbia, we lunched at The Spotted Salamander. This quaint little restaurant had fresh flowers on every table, cute window seats, and a  Southern menu that made us so happy. The pimento fondue was liquid gold, and I bet I could eat their deviled eggs with bacon jam and Adluh cornbread crumble by the DOZEN. At the time of our visit, they were serving cakes inspired by Girl Scout Cookies. They’re also famous for their oatmeal cookies that are as big as your face. Sigh. I miss the Spotted Salamander, y’all.

The Spotted Salamander
1531 Richland Street Columbia, SC 29201

Vietnamese Inspired Fare at Black Rooster

The crowd at the Black Rooster was lively. I definitely recommend getting reservations here. The wait was long even with reservations but the Asian/French-inspired menu made it worth the wait. We had the “Frenchish” Okonomniyaki, the Bun Thit Nuoung (a Vietnamese dish I grew up on!), and an amazing salmon entree.

Black Rooster
201 Meeting St, West Columbia, SC 29169

Brunch on the Lively Patio of Market on Main

Saturday mornings, Soda City Market on Main St. comes alive with food, drink, and art. Karina and I had coffee while we walked the market. After we snacked and shopped, we continued our eating adventures and brunched on the patio of Market on Main. We shared the griddled banana bread and reuben hash. It’s a great spot for groups and for people watching

Market on Main
1320 Main Street #150, Columbia, SC 29201

Sip on Some Wine at Lula Drake Wine Parlor

Lula Drake Wine Parlor is yet another perfect date night spot in Columbia. The space was so sexy. Seriously. I couldn’t think of another adjective that more fit the vibe of Lula Drake. They have an extensive wine list and some delicious cheese and jamón boards.

Lula Drake Wine Parlor
1635 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201

Mexican Flavors at the Hip Coa Agaveria y Cocina

Coa Agaveria y Cocina feast// Best Restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina

A list of Best Restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina isn’t complete without Coa Agaveria. If I had to pick my absolute favorite restaurant from this trip, it would be a close call but I think it would be Coa Agaveria y Cocina. At Coa Agaveria, our server couldn’t pick a favorite entree because she said she had about 15 favorite dishes; I was skeptical. After our dinner there, I believe her! We had the Wedge Asada (the rare occasion I finished an entire salad happily), the Aguachile Verde, Poblano Relleno, and Carne Brava. They were so good. I can’t think of an upscale Mexican restaurant as good as Coa Aqaveria near my home in North Carolina. I’ll just have to come back to Columbia soon!

Coa Agaveria y Cocina
823a Lady Street, Columbia, SC 29201

Brunch Classics and Snazzy Brunch Cocktails at Publico

Our last meal in Columbia was brunch at Publico. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’m obsessed with tots. So it was an obvious choice when we spiled the Tater Trash Hash (tater tots, queso, cotija, pickled onions, and bacon). We also enjoyed the classic brunch dish, shrimp and grits. The S’more Cold Brew cocktail was gorgeous! It was a delicious send-off!

2013 Greene Street Columbia, SC 29205

And this concludes my list of Best Restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina. I had no idea such a darling destination was about three hours away from me in the Triangle! I’m definitely adding Columbia to my weekend road trip list!

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