Just three short years ago, we moved to Columbia, South Carolina to begin our journeys at the University of South Carolina. Since then, Columbia has developed and grown into a more lively and diverse city. New restaurants and hot spots are making their way onto the scene, making USC the perfect place for a foodie to live. 

Follow us on the ultimate food tour around our city

1. Where to go when you're sick of Starbucks: Drip

milk, cream, coffee, chocolate, hot chocolate, dairy product
Meredith Price

Drip is a local coffee shop that seeks to make each cup of coffee better than the last. They provide high-quality service and out-of-this-world coffee and espresso that will make you question why you ever went to Starbucks. 

What to order: If you're feeling adventurous, go for the Honey Habanero Latte. If coffee with a kick of spice isn't your thing and you're craving something sweet, try the Honey Vanilla Latte. Don't stress over their unique menu—no matter what drink you choose, Drip will make sure that it exceeds your expectations

Location: 1441 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201 and 729 Saluda Avenue, Columbia, SC 29205

2. Where to go when you're craving pizza: Village Idiot

Since opening in 1990, Village Idiot has been the go-to for Gamecocks to get their NY-style pizza fix. They offer late-night food and drink specials, as well as trivia, making it the perfect college pizza joint.

What to order: If you're a more simple pizza person, go for the Hurricane, which is red sauce pizza topped with a swirl of pesto. If you're a heartier pizza person, go for the Village Special, topped with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and black olives

Location: 2005 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29205

3. Where to go when you're hungover: Cafe Strudel

rice, egg
Cayla Przygoda

Cafe Strudel is a quaint cafe with a bustling atmosphere. It is the perfect environment for brunch after a night out. They offer a full-service menu as well as an espresso and cocktail bar. Be sure to get there early or utilize their call-ahead seating because this place fills up fast.

What to order: Hands down the Hangover Hash Browns. There's no questioning how they got their name, and nothing else tastes better after a late night in Five Points

Location: 300 State Street, West Columbia, SC 29169

4. Where to go if you want to check out live music: Tin Roof

Tin Roof prides itself on being a place for musicians and non-musicians alike to come together over music and food. They host the famous, the non-famous, and everyone in between. Whether you're looking for a full-service meal or are just grabbing a drink, this live music joint is the place to go.

What to order: If you're looking to snack while enjoying the music, go for the Sloppy Nachos. If you're a little hungrier, go for the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich. No matter what menu item you choose, you'll leave Tin Roof with an appreciation for music and food

Location: 1022 Senate Street, Columbia, SC 29201

5. Where to go if you're trying to be healthy: Southern Squeezed

tea, beer
Lauren Froneberger

Southern Squeezed is one of the newer hot spots in the Cola food scene. They opened their doors in July of 2015 and have been promoting a healthier lifestyle by providing cold pressed juice ever since. 

What to order: Each of their juices is pressed using local produce, which means you are helping Cola's economy no matter what you pick. If you are feeling extra health conscious and are looking for a cleanse, they offer 1-Day and 3-Day packages. If you're just going for a single bottle, we highly recommend Sweet Greens.

Location: 1135 Lady Street, Columbia, SC 29201

6. Where to go when you're craving something sweet: Kaminsky's

coffee, milk, espresso, cappuccino, chocolate, hot chocolate, mocha, cream
Kristian Ko

Kaminsky's makes their delectable desserts in house daily, which guarantees freshness while satisfying your sweet tooth. Located in the Vista, it's a great place to take a date or enjoy a classy night out.

What to order: You can't go wrong with the S'more's milkshake, and if you're of age they'll add Bailey's Irish Cream to make it even better. If you're craving more than a milkshake, go for the Mountain of Chocolate cake, which lives up to its name.

Location: 930 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201

7. Where to go when you turn 21: Jake's Bar and Grill

This is a great place for seniors to go when they want a haven from the craziness of Five Points. Jake's has an abundant draft beer selection, a farm-to-table menu, live music, and Yappy Hours, where people can let their dogs mingle while they enjoy craft beer, good food, and a great atmosphere.

What to order: We recommend the Burnt End Sandwich with grilled, marinated chicken breast, bacon, caramelized onions, provolone, and spicy ranch aioli on a toasted brioche bun with any of their craft beers. Bonus points if you bring your dog.

Location: 2112 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29205

8. Where to go when you're "doing it for the Insta:" Grill Marks

This place serves insanely unique burgers, craft beers, and over-the-top milkshakes. Need we say more?

What to order: The Firehouse burger with grilled onions and jalapeños, applewood smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle ketchup is a gosh-darn masterpiece. Up your game even further with any of their oh so aesthetically-pleasing milkshakes.

Location: 711 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201

9. Where to go when you're trying to watch the game: Salty Nut Cafe

There are so many lively gameday spots near the University of South Carolina, but we chose Salty Nut because it's a classic. They have burgers, brunch, $5 PBR pitchers on game day, plenty of TVs, and the biggest deck in Five Points.

What to order: We recommend a wing platter and a PBR pitcher to share with your friends as you watch the game.

Location: 2000A Green Street, Columbia, SC 29205

10. Where to go when your parents are visiting and they're footing the bill: Motor Supply Co. Bistro

In the heart of the Vista, this contemporary space updates their menus daily to create a unique, eclectic dining experience. The cozy ambiance, locally-sourced, shareable selection, and knowledgeable staff makes this the perfect spot when parents come to visit.

What to order: Because of their ever-changing menu, we can't recommend a specific dish, but we can tell you that anything you order will be locally sourced, high quality, and in season. 

Location: 920 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201

11. Where to go if you're vegetarian: Good Life Cafe

Located on Main Street, this lively cafe prides itself on organic, internationally-inspired raw foods, cold pressed juices, and smoothies. Their array of açaí bowls, interesting wraps and salads, and their raw noodle bar will please vegetarians, vegans, and those just looking for a fresh, unique dining experience.

What to order: If you are looking for something a little unique, their Almond Butter "bacon" sandwich is the way to go. It fuses the classic combo of almond butter and banana with the saltiness of their house-made eggplant bacon, served on fresh sweet bread. If you are looking for a fresh, nutritious meal, go for the Harmony Bowl with beans, grains, kale salad, and house-made tahini ginger dressing.

Location: 1614 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201 

12. Where to go if you have the munchies at 2am: Nicky's Pizzeria

A photo posted by @k.t.eats on

After bar hopping around Columbia's legendary Five Points, students don't have to go far to find their 2am drunchies. Nicky's Pizza is conveniently located right in the center of Five Points. 

What to order: You can fulfill your munchie needs with a good ole slice of cheese pizza, but they also have great calzones and subs. 

Location: 2123 Greene Street, Columbia, SC 29205

13. When you need to grab lunch for under $10: Beezer's

On your way to class, you can stop by Beezer's for a quick, cheap lunch. Their location right across from the Horseshoe makes it even easier.

What to order: The "Godfather" sub is a student favorite. Genoa salami, Capicola ham, Virginia ham, provolone, and more make up this delicious sub.

Location: 919 Sumter Street, Columbia, SC 2920

14. When you're trying to be romantic: Nonnah's

Tucked away in the middle of The Vista, Nonnah's is perfect for a romantic date night. You can have dinner or just stop by for dessert and coffee.

What to order: The Chocolate Raspberry Fantasy is so rich and chocolatey that you may have to reconsider sharing it with your significant other. Pair it with french pressed coffee and you've got yourself an amazing date night.

Location: 923 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201

15. When you need a good burger: Pawley's Front Porch

bacon, onion, bun, cheese, onion rings, beef, cheddar, hamburger, sweet
Sarah Cassidy

Pawley's was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and Free Times' Best of Columbia. Oh, and it has amazing burgers. What more do you need? Located in Five Points, you can walk off those burgers and fries as you visit the many shops around Pawley's.

What to order: The Wadmalaw burger. First, it's a fun name to pronounce to your waiter. Second, it has chipotle barbeque sauce, fried pickle chips, applewood smoked bacon, and cheddar cheese, uh yes.

Location: 827 Harden Street, Columbia, SC 29205

16. When you need some good sushi: SakiTumi

A photo posted by SakiTumi (@sakitumisc) on

Columbia has a lot of great sushi places, but we had to choose SakiTumi. Your sushi arrives artfully displayed on the plate and the atmosphere has a very chill, yet edgy vibe to it.

What to order: Start off with the edamame, sautéed in a tasty blend of soy sauce, garlic, and butter. Then, order from any of their creative SakiTumi sushi specials.

Location: 807 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201