Weekend Foodie Warriors – Take 31! Columbia, SC! *Guest Edition*
Sorry for the delay Foodie Friends, we’re back! 😁 We have something big coming out at the beginning of the new year and it has taken much of our time, so stay tuned for that.
This week, our travels took us to Columbia, SC! Home of Soda City, one of the state’s oldest breweries, and lots of stops in and around the University of South Carolina.
I went to college in Columbia and I have family in town, so Columbia has always felt a little close to my heart. Compared to Greenville or Charleston, there isn’t near as much to do, but there are a few gems I’ve found along the way.
The first event that is a must see is the Soda City Market. The play on words isn’t immediately obvious so I’ll explain. Columbia is sometimes shortened to be pronounced like “cola”, like the soda, therefore, you have Soda City. I first started going to the market about six years ago and there were just enough vendors to cover two city blocks. We arrived last weekend to almost five city blocks! Our first purchase was Turkish doughnuts at Boeshreen, a Turkish restaurant. They handmade the doughnuts in front of us, filled them with either Nutella, vanilla pudding, or chocolate pudding, and finished with our choice of toppings.
We washed down the doughnuts with a coffee from Caffeine Cabin, a mobile coffee truck. Sarah bought some olive oil as a Christmas gift for her friend, another young home cook like ourselves. Low Country Olive Oil had at least ten flavors to sample. Sarah ended up purchasing the “Spicy mushroom, onion, and garlic” version, as her friend loves to cook with Asian ingredients and that pairs really well with those flavors.
Next in our list of stops, with free sampling along the way, was a Soda City classic, Meet Your Cremator. I remember how small their booth was when I first saw them during my early university years. This holiday season, their booth had at least eight diverse choices and sample packs.
A city market wouldn’t be complete without a handful of people selling homemade soap. Goat soap, soy soap, this soap, and that soap. We decided on Penny’s Naturals, who were kind enough to give us a mystery soap as an early Christmas gift! It smelled like spearmint and a couple things we couldn’t quite decide on.
I wouldn’t be a man without some last minute Christmas shopping, so I eventually scoped out some wooden earrings from Whittler’s Roost. My uncle distracted Sarah long enough for me to consult my aunt on the best option, purchase them, and let her hide them in her purse.
We finished off the long morning with one of our favorites, arepas. My go-to is a chicken and guacamole mix from Venezuela in One Bite.
I spent four years at the University of South Carolina, so it wouldn’t have been a fitting weekend without a walk through the old, brick-laid campus. The new Cocky (our mascot) statue was constructed after I left and placed in central campus.
And we visited my favorite coffee shop, Cool Beans / College Grounds. They’re both in the same building, one on top of the other, and are sometimes open at the same time and sometimes not. I have never quite understood the dynamic, but never cared too much after a good cup of coffee.
The next two restaurants are two of my favorite in all of Columbia, the first being my absolute favorite. Hunter-Gather has been around since 1995 at the south side of Main St., brewing their own beer inside the building. Over time, they have developed a diverse menu and in recent years, hired a professional chef to run the kitchen. They now offer weekly specials, some inspired by their beer, and other inspired by low country favorites. I had a brisket sandwich homemade barbecue sauce. The table shared a hummus platter, and for meals, there were orders of chick gyros and a chicken, goat cheese, & almond salad.
HG also opened their own Alehouse inside of an old airplane hangar! It is a massive building and has allowed them to grow their brew selection two-fold in the past few years.
Our final stop before heading back upstate was a weekend brunch hot-spot, Di Prato’s. We arrived around 10 am to avoid the church crowd rush and were glad for it, because there was a wait out the door when we left. I had a croissant sandwich with cheesy potatoes and Sarah had banana walnut pancakes. I try to take everyone here each time I visit!
Columbia can be a difficult city to find the right places, but the gems are definitely there. And most of them have been there for a long time. I’m always excited to visit family and reminisce on my university days, so I’ll keep visiting as long as I can.
So how was your weekend Foodie Friends? What’s the best last minute gift you ever bought someone for the holidays? Sound out in the comments below or let us know your suggestions of what dishes or places we should visit next. As always, feel free to like, comment, & share 🤗