Columbia, SC capitol building and downtown
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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

5 Must-eat restaurants in Columbia – and what to order

Columbia, SC Capitol building and downtown

The capital city of South Carolina offers a blend of history and a modern, urban feel. There are plenty of attractions in Columbia for the outdoor adventurer, from the Three Rivers Greenway riverfront trail system to the expansive Lake Murray. As for urban fun, the food scene has a range of casual and eclectic options to choose from.

Whether you’re searching for sports bars, buffets or the best burger in Columbia, it won’t be hard to find. We have a list of top spots for you to start with (they also serve Pepsi!). Happy exploring.

Here are our 5 must-eat restaurants in Columbia

Carolina Ale House

Just like its location in Raleigh, Carolina Ale House is one of the go-to sports bars in Columbia when you want game-day fuel. Appetizers are always fun to share while you watch your team dominate the big screens. Butter Baked Pretzel Sticks, Bacon Cheese Fries and Frickles® (crispy dill pickle chips) are good warmups.

What to try: Carolina Queso Loaded Nachos (full of Carolina Queso, Carolina Chili, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, jalapenos and shredded lettuce).


With five locations across the city, it’s easy to get your burger fix, fast. The business got its start in 1940 when the Rush family opened Carolina Dairies, one of the first fast-food drive-ins in America. Now known as Rush’s Fabulous Food Fast, the South Carolina establishment continues its tradition of selling burgers, hot dogs, shakes and chicken.

What to try: The Bacon Cheeseburger Basket, so you get French fries and coleslaw. (Think this is the best burger in Columbia? Let us know on social media.)

Flaming Grill & Supreme Buffet

Near the Columbiana Centre mall, Flaming Grill is one of the few buffets in the area that serves up a fusion of Chinese, Japanese, American and seafood-focused cuisine. Thanks to that variety, the restaurant offers more than 250 fresh dishes lined up in their buffet. Note: The lunch buffet is only $11 for adults.

What to try: A dish from the Teppanyaki-style grill (choose your own meats and vegetables to be cooked on the spot by a Teppanyaki chef).

Jasmine Buffet

Craving fried rice or sushi? Jasmine Buffet focuses on both Chinese and Japanese cuisine, with a buffet-to-go option. Note: The dinner buffet-to-go option is only $7.89/lb. In addition to sushi, entrees range from Honey Chicken, to Fried Dumplings, to Szechuan Beef.

What to try: An entree combination: The Sweet Sour Chicken with an egg roll and lo mein.

The Cotton Gin

Found in the charming Five Points neighborhood, The Cotton Gin has dubbed itself “the only relevant club in Columbia.” While the club is more known for its weekend lineups of deejays, they do recommend guests try their hot dogs, from their Coney Island Dog, to their Cincinnati Cheese Dog, to their Full Experience Dog.

What to try: The Traditional Dog. Pair it with a good dance song.

No matter where you go in Columbia, you’ll have a good adventure. While you do, tag us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter at @PepsiCarolinas with all your food photos.


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