Columbia has come a long way as a city for eating and drinking.

That’s not to say we were some kind of cultural wasteland up until this point. Indeed, the roots of the growing Midlands culinary culture are in the past. It’s just that for many years, chain restaurants dominated the landscape, and the area’s fine dining restaurants and original eateries had yet to weave a cohesive narrative about Midlands cuisine.

Maybe we’re still not there yet. But there are several indications that Columbia is forming its own culinary identity, from the growth in Midlands-focused restaurants to the growing originality of our wine and dessert games.

It’s also a city that has developed enough to host a multi-day food and wine festival. This weekend, the second annual Columbia Food and Wine Festival hits (hosted in part by Free Times), with an expanded slate of satellite events including beer and wine events, an heirloom food dinner in partnership with Historic Columbia and a quirky brunch, not to mention Sunday’s main event featuring 44 restaurants and a slew of breweries, winemakers and others.

It seemed like a good time to take a look at the terrain. What’s next? How do we define ourselves? Some of the answers lie here. — Eva Moore

State Fare: Powered by Nostalgia, Midlands Cuisine Finds its Voice

Paring Down the Pairings: Local Wine Lists Get Smaller, More Curated

Sweet Scene: When It Comes to Desserts, Columbia Keeps Up

Proximity Alert: How Farm to Table Went from Obscure to Ubiquitous

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