After decades as a chain restaurant-studded wasteland, Columbia has steadily become a town for serious eaters. Here are some highlights.

Keep in mind, this list is an introduction to the local dining scene — not a comprehensive overview of it. For that, grab a copy of Bites and Sights, our quarterly guide to restaurants and attractions — or visit bitesandsightscolumbia.com.

Cool

When you want curries, tacos, Korean barbecue or just a great baguette, check out this list — these hip spots keep Columbia’s dining pool fresh. And keep an eye on Free Times’ weekly issues, as new spots are always popping up.  

929 Kitchen

929kitchen.com. Vista: 929 Gervais St., 803-764-3825. Korean gastropub offers traditional and fusion cuisine in a beautiful space. $

Al Amir

Downtown: 1734 Main St., 803-401-5882. Al-Amir has a reputation for authentic and well-prepared Middle Eastern cuisine. ¢-$

Asanka Kitchen

Northeast: 10203 Two Notch Rd., 803-851-0111. Yes! Columbia has a Ghanaian restaurant. $

B.L.D. Diner

Forest Acres: 484 Forest Dr., 803-931-3595. Breakfast features avocado Benedicts, breakfast burritos and more; lunch and dinner bring everything from chili cheese fries to hot chicken to wedge salads. $

Blue Cactus

bluecactuscafe.com. Five Points: 2002 Greene St., 803-929-0782. This unassuming, family-run little eatery boasts a serious culinary reputation, specializing in homestyle Korean food mixed with Southwestern and other influences to create a sizzling menu that is especially vegetarian-friendly. ¢

Boeshreen

boeshreen.com. Northeast: 2630 Decker Blvd., 803-699-2300. Mediterranean, Libyan and American dishes make up the menu at this cafe and bakery — burgers, wings, falafel sandwiches, gyros, baba ghanoush, shakshouka (eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce) — and some Libyan favorites, including pastries. ¢

Bone-In Barbeque charcuterie

Bone-In Barbeque

Bone-In Barbeque

boneinbarbeque.com. Downtown: 2180 Boyce St., 803-728-7512. The first restaurant to open at BullStreet, this Chef Scott Hall project builds on his successful barbecue truck of years past, topped off with a craft cocktail program. Salads, barbecue plates, charcuterie, brunch and much more — right next to Segra Park, where the Columbia Fireflies play.

Cabañas Restaurant

West Columbia/Cayce: 825 Sunset Blvd., 803-851-1189. Flip to the back of the menu for the Honduran specialties, which are the shining stars of this restaurant, from baleadas (homemade tortillas stuffed with beans, meat and more) to yuca con chicharron (fried or boiled yuca and fried pork rinds) to pupusas. Also features classic Tex-Mex combination plates, tacos and more. $

Café Strudel

cafestrudel.com. Lexington: 309 S. Lake Dr., 803-490-0895. West Columbia/Cayce: 300 State St., 803-794-6634. Casual restaurant offers soups, salads, sandwiches, grill items and coffees. Also hosts a legendary Sunday brunch. ¢

Camon

camonsushi.wordpress.com. Vista: 1332 Assembly St., 803-254-5400. Beloved by devoted regulars for the outstanding food, service and atmosphere, Camon serves splendid sushi, tempura and other Japanese favorites. Dinner only, unfortunately. $

Crust Bakehouse

crustcolumbia.com. Shandon/Rosewood: 2701-B Rosewood Dr. In the mornings, Crust offers cookies, scones and other sweet pastries; a little later in the day, the delectable breads start coming out of the oven: focaccias, ciabattas, sourdough, levains and more. And yes, they have no telephone. ¢

Cupcake Down South

freshcupcakes.com. Vista: 1213 Lincoln St., 803-212-4949. This Charleston import does one thing and one thing only: cupcakes. Of course, it also does them supremely well. ¢

Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli

thecinnamonrolldeli.com. Shandon/Rosewood: 2617 Devine St., 803-465-4947. Big ol’ cinnamon rolls are the major draw here — and not just the classic kind, but bananas foster rolls, coconut cream rolls and more. This deli also offers specialty sandwiches, hot dogs, soups and breakfast items. $

Duke’s Pad Thai & Noodle Bar

West Columbia/Cayce: 904 Knox Abbott Dr., 803-661-6455. Noodle bar offers pan-Asian flavors galore, from ramen to pho to Thai-style chicken basil. The street foods include shrimp dumplings and Thai sausages on a stick. $

Goat’s

Five Points: 2017 Devine St., 803-256-3325. Rising from the figurative ashes of Goatfeathers is Goat’s, a swanky bar for sophisticated people. Eat the Philly cheesesteak. $

Good Life Café

goodlifecafe.net. Downtown: 1614 Main St., 803-726-2310. Originally a vegan raw food bar with a tasty and ever-rotating array of mock foods — tacos, tostadas, wraps, sandwiches, tarts — Good Life has added some cooked vegan dishes to its menu. Also has a large selection of fresh squeezed juices and herbal tonics, and a great bar. ¢-$

The Grand

thegrandonmain.com. Downtown: 1621 Main St., 803-726-2323. It’s a boutique bowling alley, bar and restaurant all in one. High end bar food — think Southwestern Loaded Waffle Fries — meets classy entrees like pork osso buco.  $-$$

Harambe Ethiopian Restaurant

Five Points: 2006 Senate St., 803-764-5510. Wonderful stews, veggies and curries are served atop injera, a sourdough flatbread made from teff, a North African grain. A warm and inviting restaurant with a large bar. $

Hero

columbiahero.com. Northeast: 6634 Two Notch Rd., 803-699-9922. Order from the Korean barbecue menu and your server will dump some hot coals in the hole in the middle of your table and let you go to town. Specializing in authentic Korean dishes such as gal bi (short ribs in a house sauce) and hwe dup bob (mixed raw fish and spicy sauce atop rice), ¢-$$

La Isla Bonita

facebook.com/laislabonitasc. Northeast: 1701 Percival Rd., 803-596-6244. Quaint restaurant that serves traditional Puerto-Rican cuisine. Dishes include mofongo, Cuban sandwiches, empanadas and a pastry of the day. ¢

JJ Tea House

Downtown: 601 Main St., Suite D, 803-834-6666. Serving up Taiwanese street food near campus, JJ Tea House is a cozy little spot. Dumplings, noodle soups, fried rice and chicken wings, Taiwanese sausage, fried fish — and lots of bubble teas. ¢

Roti curry at Kao Thai

Kao Thai

Kao Thai Cuisine

kaothaicola.com Vista: 1001 Senate St. Suite 300, 803-569-6881. Housed in a historic fire station, Kao Thai blends Thai classics with some special items from other Asian cuisines, like shumai and roti & curry. Full bar with fancy cocktails. $

KiKi’s Chicken and Waffles

kikischickenandwaffles.com. Northeast: 7001 Parklane Rd., 803-699-5422. There’s a reason both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have been to Kiki’s. Besides the classic combo for which the restaurant is named, Kiki’s also serves up shrimp and grits and soul food classics — or flavored waffles if you’re feeling fancy. ¢

The Kraken Gastropub

Shandon/Rosewood: 2910 Rosewood Dr., 803-955-7408. What’s a gastropub? Well, that just means the food is as good as the craft beer. $

Locos 4 Chicken

locos4chicken.com Lexington: 2361-A Augusta Hwy., 803-785-5024. Peruvian combos featuring that addictive rotisserie chicken, plus beer, wine, salads, desserts. ¢

Mai Thai

maithais.com. West Columbia/Cayce: 2249 Sunset Blvd., 803-939-4795. Not just a great Thai restaurant, but also a bubble tea cafe and Asian bakery. Restaurant features Thai classics such as spring rolls, stuffed chicken wing appetizers and a host of noodle and rice dishes and entrees. $

Manny’s

West Columbia/Cayce: 1228 Augusta Rd., 803-800-6348. Though it specializes in raspados and chamoyadas — sweet-and-savory drinks in a variety of refreshing flavors — Manny’s also has fun Mexican snacks, plus banana splits and milkshakes. A great stop for the family, or a date that’s not at a bar. ¢

El Mariachi

West Columbia/Cayce: 1078 Sunset Blvd., No. 8. On one side, a Mexican store complete with groceries, a bakery and a butcher shop. On the other side, a beloved Mexican eatery. $

Menkoi Ramen House

Vista: 1004 Gervais St., 803-708-1569. Authentic Japanese ramen, served fast. Onigiri and Japanese soft drinks, too. ¢

Moctezuma’s Taqueria

Garners Ferry/Southeast: 506 Beltline Blvd., 803-888-7498. A bounty of Mexican antojitos like tacos, sopas, huaraches and tortas, plus some Mexican-American restaurant favorites like fajitas and chiles poblanos. A cozy, friendly spot near Shandon, Heathwood, Rosewood. ¢

Pearlz Oyster Bar

pearlzoysterbar.com. Vista: 936 Gervais St., 803-661-7741. Pearlz specializes in fresh oysters, regional seafood and Lowcountry recipes. But its hip, trendy ambience and signature martinis also make it a hotspot for Columbia’s young, urban professional crowd. $

Pho Viet

pho-viet.com. Northeast: 2300 Decker Blvd., 803-699-5959. Five Points: 2011 Devine St., 803-779-4077. Though it specializes in pho — the fragrant Vietnamese beef soup served with assorted beef cuts, fresh herbs, bean sprouts and other accompaniments — Pho Viet also serves spring rolls, chicken and seafood soups, rice bowls and noodle bowls topped with such Vietnamese favorites as grilled pork and shrimp. ¢

Pitas

Downtown: 1800 Taylor St., 803-343-3454. Tasty, consistent Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fare. Sure, pitas are on the menu, but so are some delicious salads, wraps and more. Vegetarian-friendly. ¢

Publico Kitchen and Tap

publicokitchenandtap.com. Five Points: 2013 Greene St., 803-661-9043. A long row of craft beer taps sets the stage for the fun, fresh flavors of Publico. Featuring tacos inspired by ethnic foods from banh mi to Hawaiian poke to pad Thai, Publico serves up tasty, modern Mexican-inspired fare. $

Real Mexico

St. Andrews-Dutch Square: 2421 Bush River Rd., 803-750-8990. Authentic Mexican food, from tortas to carne asada to fajitas to chimichangas to fish tacos. Full bar with margarita specials. A beloved spot. $

The Reizod Vegan Experience

Northeast: 110 Columbia Drive NE, 803-862-0045. All-vegan food from a variety of cultural traditions. ¢

Rosewood Market & Deli

rosewoodmarket.com. Shandon/Rosewood: 2803 Rosewood Dr., 803-765-1083. Natural-foods grocery also has a deli serving a diverse selection of hot gourmet meals, salads, breads, pastries and desserts. The daily grain bowl is a standout. Eat in or take out. ¢

Scoopy Doo

Five Points: 725 Saluda Ave., 803-765-6999. Housemade gelato and sorbetto incorporating some excellent local ingredients, including coffee from Drip, which is right next door. ¢

Silver Spoon Bake Shop

silverspoonbakeshop.com. Shandon/Rosewood: 2507 Devine St., 803-673-6374. Housemade pastries, cakes, pies and delicious cookies, plus a coffee bar. Custom cakes and pies for special events, too. ¢

Soda City Market

sodacitysc.com. Downtown: Main Street at Hampton Street. Downtown Columbia’s weekly street market has become an incubator of sorts for local eateries. From arepas to biscuits to dumplings, the constantly evolving vendors offer something for everyone. The market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday.

smallSUGAR

smallsugarsc.com. 709 Gervais St., 803-722-7506. A bakery and sandwich/salad shop with top-notch service and lots of fresh food, chef/entrepreneur Sarah Simmons’ smallSUGAR is a treasure in the heart of the Vista.

Sun Ming

sunmingrestaurant.com. Harbison/Irmo: 7509 St. Andrews Rd., 803-732-4488. For the most authentic Chinese dining in the Midlands, order off the traditional Chinese menu, which features such dishes as chicken feet with black mushrooms or spicy chicken ding. On the other hand, also offers plenty of orange chicken and beef-and-broccoli to satisfy all your Chinese-American desires. $

Tacos Nayarit

Northeast: 1531 Percival Rd., 803-242-4885. Longtime taco truck has a brick-and-mortar location. Tacos Nayarit blends the traditional Mexican taco stand with the Americanized made-to-order fast-casual model made famous by Chipotle and Moe’s — though it’s griddling its own tortillas right behind the counter. ¢

Ten Ten Oriental Restaurant

Northeast: 2000 Clemson Rd. No. 7, 803-788-7333. Vietnamese noodle soups, banh xeo and more, plus Chinese favorites. ¢

Tio’s Mexican Cafe

tiossc.com. Downtown: 921-A Sumter St., 803-252-7229. Locally owned Tex-Mex café features an array of tacos, sandwiches, chimichangas, salads and the famous wet burrito, which comes smothered in sauce and/or queso — or a vegan option featuring vegan cheese. Full bar features tequilas and beers galore. Open late, and delivers late, too. ¢

True BBQ

West Columbia/Cayce: 1237 D Ave., 803-791-9950. Serves pork ribs and classic chopped pork barbecue, smoked on site (in the parking lot out front, in fact); spectacular hash and rice; barbecue chicken; barbecue sandwiches; and the usual slew of sides and desserts. Choose between Pretty Lady, Sexy Lady or vinegar-based sauce. ¢

The Whig

thewhig.org. Downtown: 1200 Main St., 803-931-8852. Hip underground bar across from the State House serves sweet potato fries, burgers and a mean grilled cheese sandwich. Also home of the infamous Taco Tuesdays, when beef or bean tacos are 75 cents apiece and the crowds are massive. ¢

The Wurst Wagen

thewurstwagen.com. Food Truck: 803-463-6637. This mobile food truck boasts a German-trained master butcher and a whole lot of delicious German sausages, not to mention occasional doner kebab. For locations and hours, follow the truck on Twitter: @BestWurstWagen. ¢

Classy

By “classy,” we don’t mean you have to dress up — honestly, Columbia’s not much for that — or save these restaurants for a special occasion. We just mean these are the creative, chef-driven dining spots, often with beer, wine and cocktail lists to match.

@116 Espresso and Wine Bar

116state.com. West Columbia/Cayce: 116 State St., 803-791-5663. Combine a coffee shop atmosphere — seriously, it’s a converted coffeehouse — with great wine and food, and you have @116 on State Street. Fresh-baked pastries and homemade soups accompany meat and seafood main courses, pizzas and empanadas. Sunday brunch features omelets, sweet potato pancakes and more. $

Baan Sawan

baansawanthaibistro.com. Five Points/Shandon: 2135 Devine St., 803-252-8992. Baan Sawan serves expertly prepared Thai standards like pad thai and curries, but also offers dishes you won’t find elsewhere — matzah balls in tom ka gai, or the Thai-spiced pulled pork shoulder that shows up on the specials board from time to time — and inventive seafood creations. Classy setting and staff, and a quirky, loving approach to beer and wine. The dining area is small and intimate — not a place for big parties, but a great secret to reveal to the people you love. $-$$

Blue Marlin

bluemarlincolumbia.com. Vista: 1200 Lincoln St., 803-799-3838. Specializing in seafood dishes with a decidedly Lowcountry flair, Blue Marlin also serves hand-cut steaks and prime rib. Shrimp and grits is a top seller, with the grits coming from right across the street at Adluh Flour. $

Bodhi Thai

bodhithaidining.com. Lexington: 126 E. Main St., 803-957-1994. Classy Thai in downtown Lexington. Classics like pad thai with shrimp and green papaya salad are joined by items like a filet mignon in red curry or pork belly steamed buns. Immaculate presentation; carefully crafted food; daily specials. $$

Bourbon

bourboncolumbia.com. Downtown: 1214 Main St., 803-403-1404. Serves high-end Cajun-Creole and Southern cuisine in a cozy renovated Main Street space, with daily chef-driven specials. Amazing assortment of whiskeys, and one of the city’s best cocktail programs. $$

Cellar On Greene

cellarongreene.com. Five Points: 2001-D Greene St., 803-343-3303. Part wine shop, part tapas bar, the Cellar on Greene is the place to go for wines by the half and full-glass or bottle and an ever-changing menu of Continental, Mediterranean and bistro-style dishes and desserts. $-$$

COA Agaveria y Cocina

Vista: 823-A Lady St., 803-851-5965. Tucked under the hip Aloft Hotel, this tequila bar offers classy Latin food, from grilled octopus to quail mole poblano to high-end tacos. $

Cola’s

colasrestaurant.com. Downtown: 1215 Assembly St., 803-451-0051. An American bistro with diverse influences, Cola’s has a classy bar, big windows that open to the fresh air, and tasty Continental-Southern fare. $$

Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse

cowboybraziliansteakhouse.com. Downtown: 1508 Main St., 803-728-0887. Visit the enormous salad bar, then partake in the never-ending parade of sizzling grilled meats being carried around the dining room. Some 30 cuts available, including filet mignon, chicken wing, pork sausage, lamb shoulder and beef picanha — a special Brazilian cut. $$

Gervais & Vine

gervine.com. Vista: 620-A Gervais St., 803-799-8463. True Mediterranean wine and tapas bar with more than 40 wines by the glass and a wide selection of appetizers. Dishes fuse Greek, Italian and Spanish cuisine. ¢-$

Halls Chophouse

hallschophousecolumbia.com. Downtown: 1221 Main St., 803-563-5066. High-end steakhouse with a fabulous view of the State House.

Hampton Street Vineyard

hamptonstreetvineyard.com. Downtown: 1201 Hampton St., 803-252-0850. Classic fine American cuisine with seasonal menu changes, featuring fresh seafood, hand-cut steaks, lamb, duck, veal and accommodating and professional service all taking place in an urban cool space below the sidewalk in the historic Sylvan Building. Killer wine list, as the name of the restaurant might suggest. ¢-$$

Hendrix

1649 Main St., 803-834-5132. Restaurant in the historic Hennessey’s building is the new hotspot for downtown Columbia, with a Peruvian-influenced fine dining menu and all the frills. Opens early February. $-$$

Lula Drake

luladrake.com. Downtown: 1635 Main St., 803-606-1968. This wine bar offers a small but excellent menu that lets the wine shine through. Handmade pastas, nightly specials, iberico ham, more. $

Miyos, M Kitchen and M Vista

miyos.com. Forest Acres: 3250 Forest Dr., 803-743-9996. Harbison/Irmo: 340 Columbiana Dr., 803-764-1285. Harbison/Irmo: 1220 E-2 Bower Pkwy., 803-781-7788. Lexington: 5594 Sunset Blvd., 803-957-9888. Northeast: 715 Fashion Dr., Ste. 1, Village at Sandhill, 803-788-8878. Vista: 701-C Lady St., 803-255-8884. Michelle Wang’s restaurants are different from each other, but they all offer healthy Asian food. Choose from standard Chinese stir fry dishes, including vegetarian options, or reasonably priced grilled items like salmon or flank steak, which come with a healthy salad plus a choice of white rice, brown rice or steamed noodles. Sushi, too. ¢-$$

Motor Supply Co. Bistro

motorsupplycobistro.com. Vista: 920 Gervais St., 803-256-6687. An early pioneer of dining in the Vista 20 years ago, Motor Supply’s eclectic menu reflects a classic bistro mentality and changes every day and every night. Upbeat, cosmopolitan atmosphere and excellent food with a focus on fresh, local produce and artisanal techniques. Especially popular for Sunday brunch. $-$$

Mr. Friendly’s

mrfriendlys.com. Five Points: 2001-A Greene St., 803-254-7828. This popular little bistro, tucked into the side of Claussen’s Inn, serves “good, old fashioned, New Southern Cuisine.” In addition to its daily menu, Mr. Friendly’s offers innovative nightly specials. $-$$

Ristorante Divino

ristorantedivino.com. Vista: 803 Gervais St., 803-799-4550. You’ll find classic Northern Italian dishes here, as well as innovative specials incorporating seafood, Southern ingredients and more. $$

Rosso Trattoria Italia

rossocolumbia.com. Forest Acres: 4840 Forest Dr., 803-787-3949. Great seafood highlights the Italian-Mediterranean menu, but don’t miss out on the wood-fired traditional pizzas. Risottos, grilled meats and fabulous salads abound. $-$$

Saluda’s

saludas.com. Five Points: 751 Saluda Ave., 803-799-9500. This fine-dining establishment with a great view of Five Points blends Italian, French and Lowcountry influences. $$

Nonnah’s

nonnahs.com. Vista: 923 Gervais St., 803-779-9599. While many Columbians know it best for its desserts, Nonnah’s has also become a great place to go for a full bistro-style meal, with beef carpaccio, oysters and various ramens featuring on its menu. $$

Spotted Salamander

spottedsalamandercatering.com. Downtown: 1531 Richland St., 803-546-0249. A cozy, classy lunch spot, Spotted Salamander has something for everything, from the deviled egg of the day to salads and amazing desserts. Small beer and wine list. Daily specials offer quirky, balanced, tasty fare. $

Solstice Kitchen

solsticekitchen.com. Northeast: 841 Sparkleberry Ln., 803-788-6966. This Northeast eatery presents an upscale dining experience with South Carolina seafood and hand-cut steaks. Constantly rotating specials. Extensive wine list and elegant yet cozy atmosphere. $-$$

Tazza Kitchen

tazzakitchen.com. Forest Acres: 4840 Forest Dr. #20, 803-782-0760. Modern but comfortable bistro features wood-fired pizzas, salads and entrees and apps borrowing from a variety of cuisines. Ditto for brunch, where you can choose everything from huevos rancheros to a five-spice chicken sandwich. $

Terra

terrasc.com. West Columbia/Cayce: 100 State St., 803-791-3443. This upscale Vista West spot is home to serious food artistry. Chef Mike Davis mixes Southern ingredients and European techniques, producing an array of creative, delicious fare. And if you can’t afford to put high culinary art on your plate, the brick oven pizzas are a true and delicious bargain. Fantastic bar, too. $$

Tombo Grille

tombogrille.com. Forest Acres: 4517 Forest Dr., 803-782-9665. Whether you’re looking for a carefully crafted small bite or seafood dish using local ingredients with a fine wine to match, or just a great burger and a beer, Tombo is a solid choice. Live music several nights a week. $

The War Mouth

facebook.com/thewarmouth. North Main: 1209 Franklin St., 803-569-6144. South Carolina food done right, from chicken bog to deviled eggs, with a fine dining flair but no pretensions. The barbecue is out of this world, and there’s a big comfy bar. Excellent cocktail program. $

Classic

Columbia loves its delis, its meat-and-threes, its barbecue buffets. Mostly Southern, mostly hearty — though not all, as there are also venerable pizza places, and German and Chinese spots here — these places will get you fed right.

Andy’s Deli

Five Points: 2005 Greene St., 803-799-2639. Serving a range of hot and cold deli sandwiches plus salads, this Five Points mainstay enjoys a well-deserved reputation for prompt service and consistent quality. The Andy’s Special features roast beef, turkey and bacon bits on a hoagie roll, and comes with that tantalizingly tangy dip. ¢

Beezer’s

beezerscolumbia.com. Downtown: 919-B Sumter St., 803-771-7771. Sandwiches like the T-Bird, the Godfather and the Rebel Rouser have become mainstays for any self-respecting college student or budget-conscious diner. Delivers until the wee hours. ¢

Big T Barbecue

bigtbbq.com. Gadsden: 2520 Congaree Rd., 803-353-0488. Garners Ferry/Southeast: 7535 Garners Ferry Rd., 803-776-7132. Northeast: 1061 Sparkleberry Ln., 803-788-4295. Big T’s turns out some quality barbecue. Pit-cooked pulled pork is the standout, served with hot or mild, slightly sweet mustard-based sauce. The sides are first-rate. $

D’s Wings

dswings.com. West Columbia/Cayce: 920 Axtell Dr. (Parkland Plaza), 803-791-4486. Delectable ribs — seriously, they’re special — plus burgers, sandwiches, chicken fingers and more. Dinner options include marinated ribeye, fried shrimp and more. Also offers tailgating specials featuring wings, ribs, sandwiches, fruit and cheese. ¢

Dano’s Pizza

danosdelivers.com. Shandon/Rosewood: 3008 Rosewood Dr., 803-254-3266. New York-style and gourmet pizzas sold by the pie or slice. Dinner menu also offers veal parmesan, manicotti and stuffed shells. Great place to drink a beer and watch the game. ¢-$

DiPrato’s Delicatessen

dipratos.com. Five Points/Shandon: 342 Pickens St., 803-779-0606. A stone’s throw from Maxcy Gregg Park, DiPrato’s brings a New York attitude to its gourmet deli selections, including signature sandwiches and salads, plus dinner entrées that include crab cakes and salmon. ¢-$

Drake’s Duck-In

drakesduckin.com. Downtown: 1544 Main St., 803-799-9290. Known for its cheeseburgers, chicken filet sandwiches and other very affordable eats, Drake’s Duck-In offers some of the best, fastest fast-food-that’s-not-fast-food you’ll find anywhere in town. ¢

Egg Roll Chen

eggrollchen.com. Garners Ferry/Southeast: 715 Crowson Rd., 803-787-6820. A longtime Columbia favorite, packed at the dinner hour with everyone from lawyers to construction workers, Eggroll Chen makes fresh Chinese favorites to order, from fried rice to the famous Mamasan’s Beef Noodle Soup. ¢

Il Giorgione Pizzeria and Wine Bar

ilgiorgione.com. Shandon/Rosewood: 2406 Devine St., 803-521-5063. Authentic pizzas and pastas; good selection of affordable Italian wines. $

The Gourmet Shop brie bacon croissant

The Gourmet Shop

Gourmet Shop

thegourmetshop.net. Five Points: 724 Saluda Ave., 803-799-3705. A Five Points icon because of its coveted sidewalk seating and signature dishes that include the chicken salad and the turkey pesto. The store offers coffees, wines, breads, kitchen gadgets and more. ¢-$

Groucho’s

grouchos.com. Blythewood: 730 University Village Dr., 803-754-4509. Five Points: 611 Harden St., 803-799-5708. Forest Acres: 4717 Forest Dr., 803-790-0801. Harbison/Irmo: 800 Lake Murray Blvd., 803-749-4515. Lexington: 117 1/2 East Main St., 803-356-8800. West Columbia/Cayce: 2265 Sunset Blvd., 803-796-7826. Open since 1941, Groucho’s is beloved by students, businesspeople and generations of Columbia residents. The Apollo and the STP Dipper sandwiches are locally famous for good reason. ¢

Hudson’s Smokehouse & Saloon

hudsonssmokehouse.com. Lexington: 4952 Sunset Blvd., 803-356-1070. Lexington: Hudson’s Smokehouse Express, 931 Old Two Notch Rd., 803-356-1070. Big, well-stocked buffet with mustard-based, ketchup-based and vinegar-and-pepper options, and both classic (collards!) and unusual (rutabaga!) sides. ¢

Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Ale House

huntergathererbrewery.com. Downtown: 900 Main St., 803-748-0540. Shandon/Rosewood: 1402 Jim Hamilton Blvd. The original Hunter-Gatherer on South Main is a great place to eat, with creative rotating daily specials and a cozy atmosphere. The production brewery in Rosewood offers a small menu of really good pizzas.

Julia’s German Restaurant

julias.vpweb.com. Garners Ferry/Southeast: 4341 Fort Jackson Blvd., 803-738-0630. Old-fashioned, homestyle German comfort cooking. From bratwurst to schnitzel, Julia’s has you covered. Bring a healthy appetite and love for all things Deutsch. Cash only. ¢

The Kingsman

thekingsmanrestaurant.net. West Columbia/Cayce: 936 Axtell Dr. (Parkland Shopping Center), 803-796-8622. Lexington: 924-C East Main St., 803-957-0863. This longtime Cayce favorite offers an extensive menu featuring everything from fried appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and wings to salads, lasagna and even liver and onions. Serves liquor. Lexington location — The Kingsman Que and Brew — serves all the favorites in a larger space. ¢-$

LaBrasca’s Pizza

Garners Ferry/Southeast: 4365 Fort Jackson Blvd., 803-782-1098. Open since 1966, this humble pizzeria serves throwback-style pizza and salads absolutely covered in cheese. If you love it, you love it. ¢

Liberty Tap Room & Grill

libertytaproom.com. Vista: 828 Gervais St., 803-461-4677. Huge Vista bar and grill offers burgers, salads, sandwiches and steaks — and a beloved brunch. Also has a Lake Murray location. $

Little Pigs

littlepigs.biz. Northeast: 4927 Alpine Rd., 803-788-8238. Amazing spread of barbecue buffet offerings including yams, corn, baked beans, fried okra, onion rings, hush puppies, green beans and more. Three sauced varieties of barbecue, plus a plain pig for pickin’. ¢

Mack’s Cash Grocery

Downtown: 1809 Laurel St., 803-779-9858. Hole-in-the-wall burger joint, usually known as Mack’s on Laurel, is beloved by locals. Pro-tip: When it’s busy, enter in the back door and get in line. ¢

No Name Deli

Downtown: 2042 Marion St., 803-252-0480. Folks are passionately devoted to this place. Grab a tray and line up for sandwiches (hot or cold), salads and homemade soup. ¢

Original Pancake House

originalpancakehouse.com. Forest Acres: 4840 Forest Dr., (Trenholm Plaza), 803-782-6742. Offering a full menu including cinnamon-glazed apple pancakes, crepes, freshly squeezed juices, homemade fruit syrups and more. And if you’re not in the mood for pancakes, try the meat-lovers omelet. The weekend lines are long for a reason. ¢

Oyster Bar

oysterbarcolumbia.com. Vista: 1123 Park St., 803-799-4484. A true, old-fashioned oyster bar, and the Vista’s first. Sit at the bar, grab a beer and let your server shuck you some steamed or raw Gulf oysters. Also serves steamed shrimp and scallops, plus shrimp and grits, crab legs and side dishes. ¢-$

Palmetto Pig

palmettopig.com. Downtown: 530 Devine St., 803-733-2556. For your downtown barbecue fix, here’s an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring pulled pork barbecue, hash, green beans, slaw and crispy fried chicken. $

Pawleys Front Porch

pawleys5pts.com. Five Points: 827 Harden St., 803-771-8001. Fancy a fried egg, apple-cured ham, pineapple or a pair of onion rings stuffed between a half-pound patty and a ciabatta bun? Crowds have been lining up outside Pawleys Front Porch ever since its fantastic burgers were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives back in 2010. $

Pizza Joint

thepizzajoint.net. Forest Acres: 3246 Forest Dr., 803-454-1743. This popular Forest Acres spot has pizza, obviously, but it also serves up calzones, strombolis and sandwiches, along with a wide selection of craft beer with which to wash down that yummy Italian goodness. ¢-$

Ray’s Diner

3110 Two Notch Rd., 803-661-8175. The downhome breakfast joint you’ve been looking for. ¢

Rockaway Athletic Club

Shandon/Rosewood: 2719 Rosewood Dr., 803-256-1075. So famous it doesn’t even have a sign. For years, locals have been flocking to Rockaway’s, as it’s usually known, for its unbeatable pimento cheeseburgers and solid bar food. ¢-$

Salty Nut Café

saltynut.com. Five Points: 2000-A Greene St., 803-256-4611. Huge tasty burgers, comfy indoor and outdoor seating, and peanut shells on the floor. ¢-$

Southern Belly

southernbellybbq.com. Five Points: 819 Harden St., 803-764-3512. Lots of sauces distinguish this barbecue joint, which offers a tasty selection of barbecued meat sandwiches. ¢-$

Very’s

verysrestaurant.com. Northeast: 6729 Two Notch Rd., 803-788-6254. Delicious Philly cheesesteaks, plus old-school Northeastern cuisine from Italian subs and lasagnas to pizzas. ¢-$

Yesterdays

yesterdayssc.com. Five Points: 2030 Devine St., 803-799-0196. A Columbia landmark since 1978. People flock here not just for a glimpse of a cowboy in a bathtub but also to throw back some suds while filling up on the heartiest fare in town, including meatloaf, broiled salmon, shrimp and grits and awesome country fried steak. Just about everything comes with veggies, too, unless you’re ordering late-night, when the sides scale back to slaw and fries and cold draught beer. ¢

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