21 Best Restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina to Try Today (2024)

Columbia, South Carolina is a great place to visit.

Whether you’re interested in history, art, or culture, there will be something for you! It’s also great for all ages, whether you’re traveling with little kids or older parents.

No matter your reason for visiting Columbia, you’re going to be hungry!

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 21 best restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina.

1. Cola’s Restaurant

Photo credit: Cola’s Restaurant Facebook page

Cola’s Restaurant is one of the best places to eat in Columbia.

This upscale tavern has a modern industrial vibe.

It may be trendy, but it’s also a solid favorite among locals.

Named after the RC Cola bottling plant it’s located in, this restaurant is a Columbia staple.

When the weather permits, they open the garage doors so you can admire the city and enjoy a cool breeze.

While the menu isn’t too long, there are several different types of food to choose from.

The menu mostly consists of bar food and sophisticated dishes.

The balance between the two is what keeps people coming back.

2. Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe

Photo credit: Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe Facebook page

You can find some of the best food in Columbia at Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe.

Located in Historic Five Points, this restaurant is a local favorite. 

It opened in the 80s as a sandwich and cookie shop.

But in the 90s, they started to serve New Southern cuisine.

They source all their food locally, including meat, seafood, and produce.

They also have an extensive wine list!

The menu has a variety of food and changes daily.

You can check their website ahead of time to see what they’re serving each day this week.

3. Motor Supply Company Bistro

Photo credit: Motor Supply Company Bistro Facebook page

Motor Supply Company Bistro is one of Columbia’s best restaurants.

Open since 1989, it’s been a Columbia staple for decades.

Located in an old engine supply building, this building is actually on the National Register of Historic Places.

They butcher sustainably farmed meats in-house.

They source locally farmed produce.

Their seafood all comes from South Carolina. And everything on the menu, including sauces and desserts, are made from scratch. 

Their eclectic menu covers cuisines from all over the globe.

It changes every day so you’ll always be able to try something new! And they have quite popular bourbon cocktails.

4. Backstreets Grill

Photo credit: Backstreets Grill Facebook page

One of the top restaurants in Columbia is definitely Backstreets Grill.

This modern restaurant is a great place to catch the game or catch up with friends.

They take game day so seriously that they even have a tailgate menu, which is perfect when ordering for a crowd!

This family-operated restaurant serves modern American food made with fresh ingredients.

Their unique sauces are extremely popular and completely homemade!

They also have a full bar and a seasonal list of specials. Come in after work to enjoy happy hour deals!

5. The War Mouth

Photo credit: The War Mouth Facebook page

The War Mouth is one of the best restaurants in Columbia.

This gastropub doesn’t look like a restaurant from the outside, but you’ll be happy you stopped by.

The interior is bright and welcoming and they even have outdoor seating.

They serve some classic Southern foods, like whole hog barbecue, Catfish stew, and boiled peanuts.

Their produce is fresh and locally sourced before they pickle, char, or stew it. 

The War Mouth has a limited menu so they can focus on the quality of your food.

They also have a decent beer, wine, and cocktail list. 

6. Oyster Bar Columbia

Photo credit: Oyster Bar Columbia Facebook page

Whether you prefer your oysters steamed or raw, you’ll love the ones you order at Oyster Bar Columbia.

They also sell shrimp, scallops, clams, and crabs. Plus you can order one of their soups!

While the menu is quite limited, that just goes to show how good their food is.

The few dishes they do serve are so good people keep coming back!

The atmosphere is clean and bright, while also being as cozy as a dive bar.

There’s nothing fancy about it because the food is the star of the show. And anyone will feel welcome here.

7. Menkoi Ramen House Gervais

Photo credit: Menkoi Ramen House Gervais Facebook page

If you could go for a good Japanese noodle soup, you should stop by Menkoi Ramen House Gervais.

While they specialize in ramen soup, they have a few other things on the menu.

However, the menu is quite small so they can guarantee that everything on the menu is top notch.

While it’s a great place for takeout after a busy day, they have indoor dining, as well.

And you’ll love to see the food when they bring it out to you!

You might not think of ramen as an Instagrammable food, but their ramen is perfect for social media pictures.

8. 929 Kitchen & Bar

Photo credit: 929 Kitchen and Bar Facebook page

When you’re in the mood for Korean food, you don’t want to miss out on 929 Kitchen & Bar.

This industrial yet modern restaurant is so charming! 

The restaurant’s goal is to keep ancient and traditional Korean dishes alive.

However, they will use centuries of food development and science to improve these old recipes.

Everything at this restaurant will be modern without losing its significance.

You can try bibimbap, stir-fry, fried chicken, and other classic Korean dishes. If you’ve never had Korean food before, your mind will be blown after eating here!

9. Green Olive Restaurant

Green Olive Restaurant is a popular Mediterranean restaurant in Columbia.

While most Mediterranean restaurants are better suited for takeout, this one is perfect for dining in.

They have indoor and outdoor dining so you can meet up with friends over gyros or shawarma!

Their menu is full of delicious foods.

Whether you’re in the mood for kebabs, curry, or a wrap, they’ve got you covered.

You can also order a soup, salad, or pizza.

And they have a few other entrees that are great for anyone who wants to try other classic Mediterranean dishes.

10. DiPrato’s

Photo credit: DiPrato’s Facebook page

The best of authentic New York-style Italian cuisine can be found at DiPrato’s.

For lunch, you can try a panini, sub, or salad.

They offer a variety of classic breakfast dishes for brunch.

And every day they have different specials. Their food is a bit more intense than what you find at most delicatessens, but it still fits into the deli genre.

Not only will you find New York-style Italian food here, but you’ll notice that everything has a Southern twist.

It’s hard to cook food in South Carolina without taking on some of the region’s popular ingredients!

11. Terra

Photo credit: Terra Facebook page

Enjoy the city skyline while eating locally sourced food at Terra.

You’ll quickly understand why the locals love it here!

The team at Terra sources all their ingredients locally.

The seafood is sustainably sourced.

The produce is fresh and in-season. Their meat is hand-cut. And their dishes are even more delicious than the individual ingredients!

Open since 2006, their menu is constantly changing.

This is because they always serve whatever food they can best make with their fresh ingredients. That’s how you know that you’ll never be disappointed when you visit.

12. Smoked

Photo credit: Smoked Facebook page

Upscale yet trendy, Smoked is a popular restaurant.

It isn’t as traditional as a lot of fancy restaurants, which makes it more welcoming to a variety of people.

Their dishes are made with fresh and local ingredients when possible.

They even have a microbrewery on-site so that your beer is also as fresh as possible!

They also have events throughout the month if you’d like to catch one of those. A recurring event they host is the Cocktail Classroom.

This is such a fun way to learn about cocktails while supporting a local business!

13. Julia’s German Stammtisch

Photo credit: Julia’s German Stammtisch Facebook page

Julia’s German Stammtisch is such a fun place to go for German food!

They’re especially known for their schnitzels, but they have a lot more to offer, as well!

They also serve some bratwurst dishes, salads, and appetizers.

Plus their dessert menu is amazing!

You’ll definitely want to save room for this final course. And they offer a variety of beverages.

You can get German and other European beers and wines.

The interior feels like you stepped into a local hangout in Germany.

They’re proud of their German heritage and wear it like a badge of honor! 

14. Bourbon

Photo credit: Bourbon Facebook page

If a whiskey bar that specializes in Cajun and Creole food sounds good to you, then you’ll want to visit Bourbon.

Located in the historic Brennen Building, Bourbon has a classy atmosphere for sipping whiskey.

They serve nearly 500 whiskeys from around the globe. However, they mostly focus on bourbon.

And they do have specialty cocktails featuring their favorite whiskeys if you want to try something with extra flavor!

You can order appetizers, sides, sandwiches, and entrees that come from New Orleans-inspired recipes.

Everything on the menu is guaranteed to make yout mouth water!

15. M Vista

If you’d love to try creative Asian dishes, M Vista is your place!

This restaurant serves Asian fusion food that takes inspiration from several different countries throughout Asia.

You’ll be able to try a little bit of everything!

They use local and fresh ingredients to provide healthy meals to their guests.

They also have a sophisticated yet welcoming atmosphere.

It’s great for meeting your friends on a Tuesday night or celebrating your life’s milestones.

They also serve several Asian teas that may be hard to find elsewhere.

This truly is a great place to satisfy any Asian cuisine cravings you may have!

16. A Peace of Soul Vegan Kitchen

Photo credit: A Peace of Soul Vegan Kitchen Facebook page

A Peace of Soul Vegan Kitchen is a funky little restaurant that serves vegan food.

You’ll love the atmosphere because it welcomes anyone! It’s bright, open, and fresh!

Their menu changes daily because they use fresh and seasonal ingredients.

This means that they will never feed you frozen food or anything that’s been sitting in the pantry too long.

And most of their food is typical of food trucks.

For instance, you can get a chili cheese dog, loaded fries, or chicken slider. And everything is 100% vegan!

If you really love their food, you can even order their 3-day meal prep kit which allows you to cook their food at home.

17. Coa Agaveria y Cocina

Photo credit: Coa Agaveria y Cocina Facebook page

If you love Mexican food but not Mexican restaurants, you’ll love Coa Agaveria y Cocina.

This restaurant is a bit more sophisticated and intimate than most Mexican restaurants in the area. However, the food is just as delicious!

Everything in this restaurant was well-thought out to ensure that Mexican heritage is represented.

Their hand-crafted cocktails are made with the highest quality tequila.

They have a few vegan options. They also have specials throughout the week.

The menu is full of Mexican dishes that are a bit more upscale than your typical enchiladas.

Everything is Instagram-worthy and you’ll definitely want to come back for more!

18. No Name Deli

Photo credit: No Name Deli Facebook page

Over 30 years ago, a deli without any signage moved into Columbia.

Everyone called it the deli with no name, and that’s how No Name Deli came into being!

It’s the best place to get a quick bite to eat without sacrificing the quality of the food.

They serve a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches, and side dishes. They also have specials and daily features.

No matter what you’re in the mood for, you’ll find something here.

Their sandwiches have a wide range that covers pimento cheese, liverwurst, and fried bologna sandwiches. 

19. Cantina 76

Photo credit: Cantina 76 Facebook page

For the best tacos in town, visit Cantina 76.

This trendy restaurant is a great place to get a margarita while munching on Mexican food.

Meet up with your friends for happy hour or on a weekend afternoon to catch up at this taqueria.

They have specials throughout the week.

And they specialize in tacos and margs.

They have so many different types of tacos and margaritas that you’ll have to come back several times to work your way through the menu.

But they do have a variety of other Mexican foods if you’re in the mood for something else. 

20. Boeshreen

Photo credit: Boeshreen Facebook page

Boeshreen serves Middle Eastern and American cuisine.

It’s the best of both worlds when you’re really craving some comfort food!

This affordable restaurant has a cozy dining room.

It’s great for dining in or taking out! So no matter what you’re in the mood for, this place is a great choice.

It’s super casual and welcoming.

It’s perfect for visiting over your lunch break or after a busy day at work.

But it’s also nice when you want to meet up with your friends to enjoy some good Mediterranean food.  

21. The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli

Photo credit: The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli Facebook page

If you’re still wondering where to eat in Columbia, try the the Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli.

Whether you’re in the mood for breakfast all day or a classic deli lunch, this place has got you covered.

But what they’re famous for is their cinnamon rolls. 

They use a Hawaiian sweet bread recipe for their cinnamon roll dough.

This is what makes them so amazing!

But then they add several different toppings and flavors to create a ton of different types of cinnamon rolls.

They have Apple Cobbler, Bourbon Caramel, and more on their every day menu.

But they have specials that change regularly, such as the Black Pepper Bacon Maple Glaze.

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