The Diner

The Diner is the newest Columbia, SC restaurant to occupy a graveyard of restaurant dreams, but this one seems to be here to stay. Few will remember the dingy Lu Lang Wang, a chinese restaurant that routinely “forgot” to check customer identification when ordering certain adult beverages. This new dining destination appears to be luring in customers with its daily “blue plate specials” and your classic diner offerings served up with a fresh twist, rather than with the promise of a cold frothy beer in underage hands.

On our first visit (it certainly won’t be our last), we took our time perusing the accommodating menu and found several tempting options. Finally we settled on the “12 Peppers Hanger Steak Salad” and the “Oysters Benedict.”

the diner columbia sc

Artful presentation and a very flavorful salad. Grilled hanger steak seasoned with 12 peppers over mixed greens and tomatoes, served with vinaigrette dressing. The steak was the star of this tasty dish, the flavors grilled right into the tender meat. A great way to get in your daily serving of steak and a healthy dose of vegetables.

the diner columbia sc

Another well presented plate: The “Oysters Benedict.” Fried fresh oysters on holland rusk poached eggs served with hollandaise sauce and a generous dollop of yellow grits. Nothing like a fork full of fried fresh oysters making a low sweep into a delicious pond of grits on its way into your yapper.

Have not driven past The Diner without being impressed with the amount of customers they are bringing into this restaurant. A stark contrast to the desolate parking lots of the past attempts at restaurants. Apparently they are doing something that the people love, and we would have to agree. Another great addition to the Columbia, SC restaurant scene. Before you come in, check out their menu for yourself and find something to look forward to.

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The Kingsman

Born and raised in Columbia, SC and never have I heard of the Kingsman Restaurant, but this Cayce staple has been building quite the reputation over the years. You can imagine our reaction when we pulled into a strip mall located on the Cayce side of the Gervais St. bridge and spotted our destination flanked by a bowling alley. Luckily, I now associate bowling with food after the “turkey” I got on my last bowling outing.

While savoring that fond memory, the lights of a CVS sign captured the attention of my peripheral vision and politely reminded me about the redbox dvd sitting in the back seat, waiting to be returned. Moneyball. Good movie.

Tables were a luxury at 7:30 on a Thursday night so we settled for a surprisingly comfortable spot at the bar. After a few friendly words with the barkeep, we put in our order for the ribeye dinner. Our salads came out quickly; a combination of iceberg lettuce and dark greens, tomatoes and cucumbers. A few generous splashes of oil and vinegar finished the preparation. Light and fresh. An appetizing beginning to our meal.

Twenty minutes and a few refills later we each had our entrees in front of us, and with knife and fork in hand, started to carve out our first bite of steak.

Presentation was a bit lacking, but I suppose speed trumps visual appeal when you are churning out food to a polite yet hungry mob of Thursday night regulars. Our tender steaks and the warm atmosphere combined to form an enjoyable dining experience among friendly company.

Located on Axtel Drive, right across the Blossom St. Bridge, the Kingsman Restaurant boasts some delicious Southern classics. Come on in and try what “Garden and Gun” calls one of the top 100 Southern foods you must try before you die, the “Famous Pimento Burger,” or perhaps the “Kingsman Famous Ribeye,” their specialty for 30 years.

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The Oyster Bar

Thank you Columbia Dealsaver! For $10, us here at Capital City Eatz got $20 to spend at a great new find for us, The Oyster Bar. Locally owned and operated by a former South Carolina business student, The Oyster Bar is a great place to unwind and shoot back a few shots of good-ol-fashion fun. We started off with some oyster shooters (first timers here) and with fingers crossed, we downed the deliciously odd combination of spice, tomato, oyster, and vodka. Party. Started.

This place is GREAT for a first date. You hardly have to talk. Just point, smile, and laugh at all the action that is going on around you. Then you can clam-up, knock back some oyster shooters, and pinch, pull, and pop those delicious cajun crawfish tails in your mouth (don’t forget to suck the head!).

The Oyster Bar reminds me of a mullet (very appropriate analogy for a seafood restaurant). Business in the front. Party in the back. Come in and relax at the front bar and enjoy the dark features and dim lighting of the front room. Take a gander at the beautifully hand-painted low-country landscape paintings adorning the walls. Feeling a little lively? Make your way to the back room and pull up a seat to a front row view of the fastest shuckers in the east. Order up a peck of oysters and wait for the shuckers to deliver a bucket full of gulf coast flavor. Who knew something so unappetizing to the eye would be so enjoyable to the palate? They even do things a little differently with their cocktail sauce – it’s made fresh every day and then served hot from a tea kettle, and WOW is it good. Oyster, saltine, a drizzle of cocktail sauce..Zinggg! Delicious!

Behold! The Beaufort Basket, a delicious southern tradition. Whether you call it frogmore stew, low country boil, or the beaufort basket, most versions of this low-country classic combine shrimp, sausage, potatoes, crawfish, corn, and old bay into a savory serving of seafare and veggies. That’s good eating, ya’ll.

The Oyster Bar and its signature “Mother Shucker” cocktail sauce is located on Park St in the Vista. If you have a hankering for a good time and great Gulf Coast cuisine, get on down to the Oyster Bar to experience the “Pearl of the Vista,” ya hear?

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Husk Restaurant

To those of you who received our unfinished post, we apologize. The mouse and “publish” button have a relationship that is sometimes out of our hands.

There is so much I could say about Husk, and every statement would end with an exclamation point. Actually, that’s really the only way we can convey our excitement- so exclamation points it is. Get ready for an exciting ride down flavor lane!

Dining at this Charleston gem is a true treat for any palate! One of the hardest parts of writing this post is being forced to look at the menu, and not be able to enjoy it! I have to settle for a hazy memory of that dining experience, flavor after flavor delighting the appetite and indulging the senses! We were lucky enough to get reservations for Friday night during Charleston Restaurant Week, and WOW were we excited!

Florida Shrimp and Grits with Tomato Braised Peppers and Onions, Charred Scallions, Soft Poached Farm Egg! Served up southern style in a mini cask iron cauldron! Almost like the cauldron’s contents were taken right out of the Florida marsh! Fresh Florida Shrimp, swimming in a shallow bath of briny broth! Grits make up the the sand-like bottom of this tasty tidal pool! A very appropriate introduction to our dinner!

Mark’s Rudderfish, Carolina Gold Rice “Risotto”, Smoked Tomatoes and Sweet Peas, Red Peppers, Arugula Pistou! The rudderfish (what is a rudderfish?) makes a rare appearance on the menu and the tempting description sells it to my fellow Capital City Eater! The presentation nearly matches the wonderful flavors of the dish!

Heritage Pork from Adam Musick, Cider Braised Cabbage, Baby Sweet Potatoes, Bourbon Demi-Glace! Under that tender hunk of heritage pork is a serving of the best cabbage I have ever had the privilege to taste! The sweet potatoes compliment the pork nicely, although they appear slightly awkward in presentation!

The atmosphere was tasteful! The service was impeccable! Glasses of water were refilled with only slightest notice of the waiter! Allow me to take this opportunity to advise waiters on a pet peeve of mine! Always refill the water glass! If you have to ask, you are already disturbing the experience of the fine people enjoying their meal! Our dining experience was a memorable one, and we will be back as soon as possible!

Husk is located on Queen St. in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina! Conveniently located near a parking garage! Recently named Bon Appetit Magazine’s 2011 Best New Restaurant in America, this is one dining experience you do not want to miss!

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Garibaldi’s Cafe

A circlet of ivy crowns the green awning of Garibaldi’s Greene St. entrance. Valet boys take a break from bragging about their tips and joustle for position as a car approaches, hoping to gain the favor of the next customer. One gives up as a street light reveals the profile of an approaching Ford Fiesta. Silently he lights a cigarette and mournfully mutters something about “customer profiling” and “student loans.” An artful depiction of the noble flounder, a classic low country favorite, hovers overhead, bringing the restaurants facade to life….

….Since 1986, Garibaldi’s has been delighting Columbia, SC restaurant lovers with its signature “Crispy Flounder” and classic Italian offerings.  Keep it cheap, classy, and bacon flavored with the Fetticuine Carbonara ($9.95). Get a little tongue tied and ask your waiter (or waitress!) for the  Veal Scalopinne Saltimbocca ($17.95). Trying to treat yourself? Crispy Flounder ($26.95) it is. Picture a whole fried flounder, diamond scored and drizzled with an apricot shallot sauce. Wow.

fine dining columbia sc

The Veal Scalopinne Saltimbocca. A generous slice of tender veal, topped with prosciutto, spinach and an avalanche of mozzarella,  flanked by herb roasted red potatoes and steamed broccoli. This delicious island of culinary excellence was surrounded by a succellent lake of white wine sage sauce.

fine dining columbia sc

Veal Parmigiana. Quite satisfying, but I’m not so sure veal can replace chicken in this classic “American-Italian” dish. As I carved into the veal, I found myself craving the familiar fowl tucked under a thick blanket of marinara and mozzarella. Nonetheless, the dish was pleasing and packed with flavor. Hiding under the parmigiana crusted veal was a serving of sauteed green beans. A pleasant find and worthy compliment to the entrée.

Satisfying and delicious meal. Pleasant atmosphere. Slightly awkward waiter. Enjoyable night out. Garibaldi’s offers a candle-lit dining atmosphere at whatever price you choose. With entrees ranging from $8.95 to $29.95, you can enjoy a nice night out without breaking a sweat or live it up “Filet Mignon” style. Looking for a Fine Dining Columbia, SC Restaurant or Romantic Columbia, SC Restaurant? You found one.

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Peace Love & Rocky Roast

Walking into Peace Love & Rock Roast feels like you are getting a friendly high five and a hug from the coffee fairy all at once. Cool vibe personified. Add the mellow jams of a bygone era (think “woodstock coffee shop”) and you finally have a caffeine vendor that is on the same “cool” level as you. But don’t worry about any physical confrontation — no high fives or hugs if you don’t want them — just a fresh warm (or cold) cuppa joe in your hand and the comfortingly familiar jams of 60′s classic rock.

On our visit, we ordered a glass of iced black coffee, an iced caramel latte, and a small cup of the “birthday cake” gelato. Coffee was refreshing and energizing, flavorful and cold, a perfect compliment to a productive day. Armed with a cold cup of caffeine, and inspired by the uplifting and chill vibes of Peace Love & Rocky Roast, we cranked out this very post you are reading.  Having no standard to compare the gelato to, I can only say that it was delicious. Definitely worth a try.

Three TVs stream soundless movies and retro shows in addition to the several 60′s themed murals and framed memorabilia adourning the walls. The establishment also includes a back room decorated with an oriental rug, gas fireplace, several comfy chairs, and various rock-n-roll coffee table books. Still not convinced? PLRR (as they are affectionately known by the local acronym junkies) roast their own beans AND makes their own gelato. Different flavors of this delicious frozen Italian treat are offered every day, but the most popular ones seem to be “nutella” and “birthday cake.” Other perks of this place include free wifi (the password will be on your receipt) and an abundance of outlets to keep that laptop charged up.

“Mellow” and “coffee.” Two words that are seldom found complementing each other in the same sentence….”kosher” and “bacon,” “gelato” and “southern,” “At&t” and “quality service,” just to name a few…But Peace Love and Rocky Roast is betting that it’s unique woodstock-inspired vibe and attentive service will keep customers coming back for it’s exceptional homemade gelato and freshly roasted coffee beans. Chalk another one up for locally owned Columbia, SC restaurants.

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Cantina 76

Cantina 76 is a relatively new Mexican restaurant on Devine St. across from Henry’s. Just wait ’till Eric San Jose gets wind of this. Columbia, SC restaurant scene, prepare for a clash of two high-powered Mexican food cartels. The restaurant sports a cool interior, striking a great balance between casual and somewhat upscale. Cheap too. Their signature dish you ask? Gourmet tacos at a delicious price. But beware, there is something very addictive about the tacos at Cantina 76 (no, they don’t have a “Colombian Taco”). The tacos have been excellent on three of three visits (three out of three? Are we talking Carolina vs. Clemson football???) but the service has been spotty. Twice our party of two was in and out very quickly, but on another occasion, impatience almost got the better of us. ALMOST. But then the tacos came…

cantina 76 columbia sc

The “BBQ Brisket” and “Peruvian Shrimp” tacos have gotten rave reviews from friends, but I would have to recommend substituting the “Chicken Pesto” for the shrimp taco. Now we won’t get into the merits of shrimp versus chicken and vice versa, so lets just move on to the best of the bunch: “BBQ Brisket.” Hands down, my favorite taco. The “BBQ Brisket” is a mouthwatering combination of chopped dry rub brisket with an agave chipotle bbq, fresh pico de gallo and a lime wedge for your squeezing pleasure. Delicious. Go for lunch and ask about the lunch special: two tacos and a side for $5.99. With a side of “savory Mexican rice” and a cold $2 PBR, this was a satisfying nosh fit for anyone’s midday meal. You can get your taste buds going early by checking out the menu.

Cantina 76 has some great specials to take advantage of. Among the more special specials are “Corona Fridays,” where you can refresh yourself all day long with $2 Coronas and Corona lights. But don’t make the mistake of going to Cantina 76 in between the hours of 2:30 and 4:30 (they won’t be there). A delicious Mexican addition to our collection of Columbia, SC restaurants.

Cantina 76 Columbia SC

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Mojito’s Tropical Cafe

After a questionably deserved break (we hope at least somebody noticed we were on hiatus), Capital City Eatz is back and ready to get its foodie on!…

You might not be able to vacation in Cuba anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the delicious cuisine of this island nation. Tasty sandwiches, refreshing mojitos, and a relaxing atmosphere await you at Mojito’s Tropical Cafe in Columbia, SC. Make sure you have a view of the projector screen so you can enjoy video clips of various beach scenes while you dine on your delicious sandwich (much classier than it sounds). “Mojito’s Sandwich Cubano” is the way to go for your first time.

Think cuban barbecue. Mojo marinated pulled roast pork , smoked ham, swiss cheese, dill slices, and a creamy spread of mustard on pressed, cuban bread. The sandwich is cut diagonally for optimal dipping functionality. Served with your choice of sides (pesto pasta, Caribbean slaw, or potato salad) and a mojo dipping sauce. Mojo is a subtle-but-tasty combination of olive oil, crushed garlic, cilantro, and a few unidentifiable herbs and spices. Quite succulent. Mojito’s Tropical Cafe is a fantastic option for these balmy South Carolina winters. Enjoy a night in the Vista (very chic!), tricking your stomach (as well as your wallet) into thinking it is in a modestly priced, tropical communist paradise, all-the-while basking in the glow of your thriftiness. Cheers!

Mojito’s Tropical Cafe in Columbia, SC

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Happy Holidays!

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Immaculate Consumption

No doubt the inspiration for the name “Immaculate Consumption” came from a happening 9 months prior to Christmas (how appropriate), many thousand years ago, when the virgin Mary conceived a child. A time of much confusion for a certain soon-to-be-husband. Catchy name, but if any sandwich tries to immaculately consume itself down into my stomach without even the least bit of hanky-pank with my taste buds, my money is going to immaculately appear back in my wallet.

Above is the “Big D”. I know, I know. It’s way more fun to get the street view of the sandwich, but just look at that golden brown croissant. Sandwiched in between the soft-but-slightly-crispy croissant was a layer of turkey, white cheddar, cherry tomatos, green leaf, and homemade honey mustard. I guess now we know what the “D” stands for. Had I known what I know now, I would have opted for the pasta salad rather than the chips.

Following that weak attempt at a joke (D stands for Delicious) is one of Immaculate Consumption’s daily specials. Turkey, provolone (I think), cherry tomato, and a slice of avacado; All held together by two slices of whole grain bread drizzled with olive oil. This satisfying sandwich was accompanied by a heaping portion of some of the best pasta salad I have had the pleasure of trying: whole wheat penne tossed with olive oil and parmesan, served warm.

We washed it all down with a cup of coffee for me and a caramel latte for my lady. ZING! CAFFEINE! They roast their own coffee beans in the basement and probably make a mean cup o’ joe, but as of yet, I have not acquired an experienced coffee palate, so I dare not speculate.

Immaculate Consumption should be on your list of Columbia, SC restaurants to visit. Nice atmosphere, a variety of sandwiches, and plenty of seating downstairs for those who like to work near their coffee. Conveniently located on the lesser traveled end of Main St., right next to the Nickelodeon.

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