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24 Hours in Columbia, South Carolina

by Sabrina Smelko

24 Hours in Columbia, South Carolina
[Note: today’s guide was written before the terrible flooding that hit Columbia and other parts of South Carolina. In light of this awful tragedy, please consider helping out or supporting those in need (here are many ways to help out). Hopefully we can help this wonderful town get back on its feet and support those who need help locally. -Grace]

Writer Anne Postic was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, but always dreamed of moving away. Like myself growing up, Anne always thought the grass was greener elsewhere until she became an adult and opened her eyes. While Anne loved going to Litchfield Beach with her family, attending USC and Charleston games, and indulging in some of the best barbecue and fresh tomatoes in the world, she thought she’d never stay once she grew up. After attending college abroad, she returned to Columbia to tackle one last degree and, as she says, “ended up married with three sons.”

Over the years, Anne has come to love and appreciate her hometown, which boasts a world-class zoo (Riverbanks), great museums such as the Columbia Museum of Art, The SC State Museum, and 701 Center for Contemporary Art, the Nickelodeon Theatre, a vibrant independent film festival, and plenty of green space. Though she’s lived here for her entire life (and perhaps because of that), she found it nearly impossible to share only one perfect day. Today, Anne is sharing with us an ideal day in her life, along with some additional Columbia favorites. –Sabrina

8:30 am: The kids are at school, and I’m ready to get to work. Several days a week, I’m at Cyberwoven, where I’m a content developer. But a lot of my work is freelance, and when I’m not at Cyberwoven, it helps me to write in public, because I’m too easily distracted at home. I’ll head to Drip in Five Points for a rose cardamon latte and smoked salmon on one of their delicious Tuscan herb bagels.

Drip.jpg

I’ll end up running into at least 10 of my favorite people, but the laptop will signal them to wave and smile, unless I’m ready for a break. There’s always someone to talk to here! I’m usually working on something for The Kitchn, Fig Columbia, or Free Times, our local alternative weekly.

11:30 am: Walk a couple doors down to Revente (a great consignment store) to see what’s in stock. Across the street at Gourmet Shop, Bryan the wine guy will help me pick out a case. He always knows what I might like, and the prices can’t be beat. He understands things like, “I’m headed to the beach for the weekend, and I need some afternoon wine. Also, not planning on getting out of a bathing suit and we’ll probably just steam crab all weekend.” I probably won’t be able to resist the cheese case at Gourmet Shop, and will go home with something from Cowgirl Creamery. Yum!

1 pm: If I’ve met all my deadlines for the day, or come pretty close, I’ll call a friend to meet for lunch at Sakura, a great sushi place near Trenholm Plaza. After lunch, I might head across the street to browse at Mack Home, because everything there makes me want to redesign my whole house. And they’d be happy to help, but I’ll settle for some pretty candle holders or new place mats, at least until the kids are gone and my stuff is less likely to be covered in mud.

3 pm: By now, I usually have the kids in the car. We’ll head to Rosewood Market for a healthy snack and I’ll pick up whatever I need for supper. If I’m lucky, there will be a small farmers’ market in the parking lot and I can choose fish from Our Local Catch and a bag of Congaree Milling grits. I’ll grab some bacon inside, along with local tomatoes, peppers, and celery. Fish and grits for supper is easy and delicious.

5 pm: With the kids at soccer, choir, or whatever else it is they have that day, I can head home and start cooking. If I’m lucky, a friend will stop by after work to chat and have a glass of rosé. If I’m even luckier, they’ll stay for dinner. If I invite someone else, we’ll stretch the meal by asking them to pick up salad greens on the way, and I’ll make a quick vinaigrette.

7 pm: On the best nights, we take a family walk, including our sweet bichon Shiro, to the Rosewood Dairy Bar for dipped cones and milkshakes. When they’re in season, the peach milkshake there is unbeatable as a summer treat. Back home, we send the kids to bed. I love it when friends or my siblings — all three of them live in town — stick around to play pool or talk on the porch until way too late.

 

Additional favorites:

Terra: Chef Mike Davis was farm-to-table before it was cool — well, it was always cool, but he knew it. The food is always delicious, simple, local, and refined. On a recent night there, I sat at the best table in Columbia — under the canopy of Japanese maples on their patio with a friend and we shared some Campari sour and soft shell crab. Heaven.

Terra

Il Giorgione: This small, family-owned Italian restaurant is within walking distance of my house, and also has a great patio. The food there reminds me of a lot of the neighborhood spots we enjoyed in Italy, and their house-made limoncello is always a treat. They’re also open for lunch, and if I really have writer’s block, I’ll go for a late lunch with my laptop and have a glass of verdicchio to get my thoughts flowing.

Soda City: This all-local farmers’ market takes over two blocks of Main Street every Saturday, and we’re able to get a lot of our grocery shopping done there. They recently opened Nest, where we can buy some of the dry goods and handmade things that are sold every week at the market, like Kyle Smith’s gorgeous pottery.

Soda City Market

The Nickelodeon Theatre. This movie theater rocks! They recently opened a second screen in the fully restored cinema they occupy on Main Street. Also, you can get beer and wine there, so it’s perfect for date night.

Nickelodeon Theatre

Trustus Theatre: This professional theater always has something good going on the stage, whether it’s a drama, a musical, or a burlesque show. You never know what they’ll do next, and it’s always worth seeing. Also, they have free popcorn.

Camon: Simply the best. I’ve been going to this family-owned and operated sushi place since I was in high school, when you had to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom. We love taking our kids there now, or going with friends.

Blue Cactus: This Korean Tex-Mex place is a family favorite, a friend favorite, and a me favorite. The bee bim bob is outstanding, so is the kim bob, stir fry #2, rice cake stew, clear noodle stir fry…okay, all of it. Bonus: you can bring your own wine or beer in a cooler. Just don’t stay past closing time, or you’ll incur the wrath of Julie, who is the chef’s daughter and one of the coolest people I know. Settle your check in a timely manner, and head down the street to Speakeasy for a cocktail if you want to keep the party going.

El Burrito: This casual spot in Five Points has the absolute best burritos, tacos, and pulled chicken salad in town, made with super fresh ingredients. And I love their chili (only available in colder months). During lunch, you’ll see just about everybody who’s anybody in Columbia, eventually. Also, we love them because they hired our oldest son for his first job last year.

MACST Skyline

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Comments

  • Hope Anne and all these lovely establishmints are fairing well after the horrible flooding. Sending positive thought out to the good folks of Columbia!

  • Anne Postic here. :-) It’s so nice to see this today! Our city is hurting, some of the above mentioned spots were underwater, but I’m also so proud of my town and the love and compassion people are showing for each other. Business owners who weren’t hit as hard are offering help and support to other business owners, neighborhoods are organizing support effort to homeowners, and everyone is pitching in. As hard as it is, I love seeing what we can for each other do as a city. I hope you all come for a visit one day, because we have a lot to offer!

  • What, no shout out to Baan Sawan or Motor Supply Co.? Or Mr. Friendly’s….

    Great article, and most of these places will be doing just fine after the flood, Sakura excepted, once the boil-water advisory is lifted.

  • This makes me so happy. I love all of these places. They and the other independently owned, local businesses that make our city so unique and appealing are all suffering a li’l bit, and I am making it my personal mission to eat out and go shopping as much as possible to support them — when I’m not desperately attacking my to-do list or helping do flood relief stuff or binge watching TV shows or crying randomly because this is all so sad right now. I think having a nice, tidy guide to jog the memory on the happy, delightful things about Soda City = just what the leisure science doctor ordered. Thanks, D*S!

  • Great list Anne! And reminded me of several places I need to visit as soon as possible! I heart Soda City!

  • I love this article-everyone who lives here could write a book of these daily montages of living well. Columbia is the best, and is only proving it during these terrible days.

  • I miss so many of these things… especially the great sushi at Camon and gorging on oysters from Our Local Catch in your kitchen the night before Thanksgiving. And I’ve cried twice over not having a decent Indian restaurant since moving away! Columbia is an amazingly cozy haven for those who love spending time with friends and food. It’s a combination that can’t be replicated. Thanks, Anne!

  • I love this. Commenting while enjoying my Drip honey habanero latte! As if there wasn’t enough to love about Columbia before, including all of these spots, the last couple weeks have proven that I’d never live anywhere else. Thankful that I get to share and frequent these picks with the people in this wonderful city! World: come visit us!

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