Eating My Way Through Columbia, South Carolina

I recently visited the capital of South Carolina in order to meet the girls of my sorority’s newest chapter at the University of South Carolina. After doing some research on Columbia, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing to do in the town and I started wishing that I was going to Charleston or Myrtle Beach instead. Usually I’m not a Debby Downer when it comes to travel and I always find something to do no matter the city. I was even excited to go to Columbus, Ohio! So it was a real disappointment when I seriously could not find a single exciting thing about Columbia. Until I started looking into what to eat there. I was SO surprised that this tiny capital town had so many amazing food options! My list was so long I knew I had to prioritize because there was just too much that needed to be eaten in one trip.  Maybe its because I’m originally from the South and have a weakness for good bbq and tex mex, but all the food in Columbia appealed to me. Just a word of warning- your stomach WILL start grumbling as you read this post and look at all the yummy photos of food so its probably best this post isn’t read on an empty stomach.

Real Mexican Restaurant

As the name states, they definitely serve real Mexican food here. And in big generous portions for cheap prices too! I am so use to New York prices on everything that when I noticed the $5 price tag on a bowl of queso I caved and got that plus a bowl of bean dip. A girl can never have enough melted cheese in her life! This place isn’t too big and fills up quickly so make sure you come at a good time to snag a table! This restaurant is located on the outskirts of Columbia so if you are driving from Atlanta its a great place to stop and eat before you complete the last 20 minutes of your drive.

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Duck Donuts

Before this trip to South Carolina, I had never been to a create your own donut bar! Although you don’t physically make the donut, you do get to choose the donut type, filling, icing, and toppings you want. There are so many options that it looks like you’ll never run out of a combination to try. I got the vanilla cake donut with raspberry drizzle and oreo crumbs. Duck Donuts also has a selection of coffees to choose from- perfect for our 3 hour drive back to Atlanta. I was also a little shocked at how cheap everything was here. I don’t know if it’s the New Yorker in me or what, but I guess I just expect even snacks like donuts to be overpriced. But I think I only paid $3 for a small coffee and my own personalized donut!

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 Midwood Smokehouse

Midwood is your typical bbq place and serves good solid meat and the cheesiest queso ever. We added brisket to our queso (because why not) and was obsessed with the combination. My Carolina pork combo plate with mac and cheese was also a great choice. The restaurant is located in a shopping center and is right across from Duck Donuts (there is a huge parking lot too so don’t even worry about having to squeeze into street parking). The prices are reasonable and its a good place to get some solid barbecue.

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 Southern Belly BBQ

I had high hopes for the barbecue bar, but while the service was so friendly (it is Southern hospitality after all), I was slightly disappointed in the food. We went there for brunch, which was probably not the best choice because it was clear the bar was still recovering from the previous night. Many items on the menu (champagne and french fries) were out and the restaurant hadn’t had time to restock yet. So if you’re dying to try one of their famous bbq sandwiches, I suggest coming for dinner or a late night snack. Plus, the extremely oily sandwiches and potato chips (which we resorted to when they told us that fries were not available) were a bit much for a 11am meal. It was a cool food concept through- there are about 7 different sauces that are unique to Southern Belly and we were able to try a sampler of the sauces before deciding which ones we wanted on our sandwiches. The bar also only serves pork so if you don’t eat or like pork, this place will have to be a skip for you. The pork is cooked very well though and was delicious!

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JJ Tea House

This may be the only bubble tea cafe in the entire city of Columbia so if you have bubble tea cravings like I do, this cafe will for sure be on your hit list when you visit. JJ is located on the corner of the University of South Carolina’s main campus and as a result, is usually filled with hungry college students. Don’t let that deter you though because their drinks and their giant shaved ice bowls are amazing!

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After my first trip to South Carolina, I returned to Atlanta for a week of work and continued my Southern eating tour. Here are two of the highlights of that quick trip. This was actually my second time in Atlanta this year and because I was there for work, I wasn’t as adventurous as my first trip which you can read about here.

Iberian Pig- If you love tapas (or just being able to taste several dishes), I strongly recommend this tapas bar located in downtown Decatur. Be sure to bring a friend (or two!) in order to try multiple dishes! You’re mouth will be watering while reading the menu and you’ll want to order everything because their menu is amazing and everything we ate was SO good. My favorite dishes were the patatas bravas and the pork and truffle dip that came with toasted bread.

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Fox Bros BBQ- While writing this blog post and flipping through my pictures of the food eaten this weekend, I realized that boy do I eat a lot of barbecue. Maybe its my Texas upbringing or the fact that since I live on the East Coast now and I’m unable to have legitimate Southern bbq on a constant basis, but I’ve become addicted to juicy, perfectly flavored meat. I switched it up a little at Fox Bros though because I was dying to try the fried pork ribs and the brisket fries. Fox Bros has two locations so take your pick and don’t miss it on your next trip A-town.

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Next time you are in South Carolina (or Atlanta)… Happy Eating!!