Between the University of South Carolina’s flagship campus and the towering stature of the State House, Columbia, South Carolina, doesn’t spring to the minds of most as a food-and-drink mecca. Still, the riverside city has shown up in big ways, proving it doesn’t just cater to co-eds and the political elite. Old stalwarts dish out gourmet plates and expertly crafted cocktails while a new guard of eclectic eateries have sprung up at the city’s farthest reaches (and beyond). Vegan soul food to Peruvian comforts to dishes that are rooted in Africa represent the flavors of Columbia. The capital city college town has claim to one of the oldest recorded pimento cheese recipes and the first pimento cheeseburger—an invention you won’t regret trying. Head to Soda City market on Saturday mornings, where a closed-down Main Street plays host to food trucks, live music, and artisan makers. Craft beer is taking over this city, where more than twelve breweries reside and more are on the horizon. With evidence of renewal everywhere, Cola will leave you looking forward to what’s next.
Scoops of farm-fresh ice cream make perfect market treats. SC farmers are known for their produce and it’s even better served in a cone.