For a city with such a long, lovely spring and a glorious fall, Columbia has for many years suffered a surprising lack of outdoor dining options.
That’s not to say we have none. It’s just that we don’t have as many as we should.
Things are beginning to change, though. On Main Street, just in the last few weeks, Good Life Café and Michael’s have set up outdoor tables, joining businesses like Cantina 76, Drip on Main, Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse and Wine Down on Main in bringing people to street level downtown. Few things make a city feel so alive as sidewalk seating, and the new Main Street vibe is tangible.
Looking to dine or drink al fresco? Here are some other good options.
The Old Mill Brewpub in Lexington has covered and uncovered seating that looks out over an old millpond (and beer brewed on site — hooray).
The 17th floor Rooftop Bar at the Sheraton is probably the highest open-air place you can drink in Columbia unless you have friends with penthouses. It’s worth a trip, especially for out-of-town visitors.
Jake’s Bar and Grill in Five Points has a huge, carefully landscaped outdoor deck and lawn. Nearby Lucky’s has a deck with a view of Harden Street while you’re drinking, while Harper’s offers a similar view for the brunch crowd. Pawleys Front Porch has a big, uh, front porch. Or wander down Saluda Avenue, where you can sit outside on the sidewalk at the Gourmet Shop, Drip, Delaney’s, Starbucks or CJ’s.
Carolina Ale House in the Vista has a big second-story deck.
TLC Sports Bar might be the only bar at which you can play volleyball outdoors on sand.
Liberty on the Lake features a huge deck and a view of Lake Murray.
Terra has a walled-in patio that’s a nice respite from the bustle outside on State Street.
And, of course, plenty of great bars and restaurants have a few outdoor tables — @116 State, Hunter-Gatherer, Kelly’s, Gervais & Vine and more.
If you’ve been watching the ETV-produced documentary series A Chef’s Life, you understand how compelling it is — and why it might have just earned a prestigious Peabody Award for critical excellence. The show follows Vivian Howard, a high-end chef who’s returned from New York City to her eastern North Carolina hometown to open a farm-to-table restaurant. Part reality show, part cooking show, part farm documentary, it’s a smart and engaging piece of television.
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