Restaurant recommendation (Columbia, SC)?
September 5, 2007 5:58 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a romantic restaurant in Columbia, SC for a birthday dinner-date?

I'm looking for a quiet, romantic restaurant for dinner and conversation. Cuisine is not particularly important (Bistro, Italian, Greek....). Thanks in advance!
posted by Womanscientist to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My wife and I usually go to Saluda's for romantic dinners. It looks out over five points and the food is good and it has nice atmosphere.
posted by ND¢ at 7:19 PM on September 5, 2007

Hmm ... sadly my experiences with 'romantic, quiet' restaurants since living here have been woefully few, but I wanted to respond anyway to warn you against California Dreaming, just in case. It's one of the first restaurants people tend to recommend (in my experience) when you ask for a good place in Columbia, and it is indeed tasty, not to mention housed in a cool old train station - but man oh days is that place NOISY! Lots of people, lots of waitstaff always in quite a rush, and I guess the acoustics of an old train station aren't exactly conducive to 'quiet' or romantic ... eh, anyway, again it seemed worth putting in a warning just in case (though I would recommend it for non-quiet tasty outings).

And in the hopes of providing at least one potentially useful answer: have you considered Al's Upstairs Italian? I've never been here myself but from what I've heard from friends who've been, it's the first spot I'd consider if I were looking for a romantic spot. Not to mention, driving past it on my way to campus every day it certainly -looks- rather delightful. It's right at the West Columbia end of the Gervais St. Bridge, and its main dining space has windows looking out over the river which makes for a lovely view at night when the lights are all out. Otherwise, Hampton Street Vineyard is meant to be lovely, too, and Nonnah's in the Vista has crazy-tasty desserts that make it well worth considering ...

Then again, of course there's always Maurice's ;)
posted by zeph at 8:54 PM on September 5, 2007

Aww, darn it, should've checked Maurice's site before I linked to it, it used to have a "BBQ and Politics" page that was quite beyond belief. Now I feel obligated to point this out in case you're somehow not already familiar with Maurice's: I'd, eh, advise skipping it - especially Maurice's flagship 'Piggy Park' location unless confederate flags and "The Biblical View of Slavery" tracts somehow factor in well with your idea of "romantic" =P
posted by zeph at 9:10 PM on September 5, 2007

I've never been to Al's but have heard positive things. I like Motor Supply Company in the Vista. Pasta Fresca is good and romantic but low-key. And Saky's is my favorite restaurant in town, period.

Yeah, skip Cali D's. zeph is right. It's like a non-chain chain restaurant, and everyone will try to send you there to eat some bullshit salad made of iceberg lettuce and cheap chicken breast.

It always blows my mind when Columbia shows up on the national radar!
posted by climalene at 9:20 PM on September 5, 2007

Yeah I forgot about Motor Supply Company. It is really good. They have a crab bisque that is to die for. I haven't been to Al's Upstairs either, but I have heard that it has gone downhill a lot in the last couple of years. Nonah's is great for dessert. I don't think that Pasta Fresca is very nice, and Saky's has great food, but I wouldn't take someone there for a romantic dinner. My wife suggests Mr. Friendly's.
posted by ND¢ at 4:31 AM on September 6, 2007

I recently went to Bonefish Grille on Forest Dr and loved my meal.

I've been meaning to go to Motor Supply Co. Oh! and Gervais & Vine is a good tapas restaurant (but always really busy, probably not really quiet). Get on their mailing list and sign up for a wine tasting.

There's MoMo's Bistro in Shandon next to Half-Moon and Al-Amir.
As for downtown proper, Hennesey's is dark and quiet and you can get discount coupons on

Note: I used to work for Nonnah's and created the current version of their website. It is a 1+ year old and their menu items have changed, but for the most part the desserts are the same (I think they just eliminated the White & Dark cake).
posted by ijoyner at 6:54 AM on September 6, 2007

If you like sushi, I am a big fan of Camon Japanese Restaurant -- it's not super fancy, but the sushi is incredible, the Japanese food is great and authentic, and the Kobayashi family runs a wonderful restaurant.
posted by wonderwisdom at 7:18 AM on September 6, 2007

Gervais & Vine for tapas (a bit expensive), and my all-time favorite, Hunter-Gatherer, for some really good food and beer. HG is not necessarily "romantic," but it's got a great atmosphere and I recommend it to everyone.
posted by kidsleepy at 8:33 AM on September 6, 2007

I LOVE Hunter Gatherer. I've had everything on the menu. Not so much the romantic setting, but if your in the mood to chill, that is a good place to go for a beer or two. Oh, and their beer is great as well. I recommend the ESB.

As for other resturants, I've been to Al's Upstairs, and if your familiar with great real Italian food you may be a little disapointed. But you still get a good meal.

I've also had many positive experiences at Gervais & Vine. One of the better tapas resturants I've ever been to, and that includes my list in NYC. (( If you are unfamiliar with eating topas, directions for two: you both order two things on the menu you like, (after the wine of course), then if your still hungary order something else you'd like to try, or even re order another dish.))

Hampton Street Vineyard is always good. May fit your spec's a little better.

California Dreaming is good, but more for the eat out in Jeans occasion. Then again, I've been to almost every resturant in Columbia and always see some jeans around. Could be considered more of a upscale family resturant.

Blue Marlin is also a favorite of mine. I go there just for their She Crab Soup. I've never had a bad meal here. It's between romantic and loud.

Longhorns is good for a steak, but not quiet or romantic.

Liberty is overrated in my book. I've had two bad experiences there but others find it nice.

I have not been, but in 5 points there is Saluda's. I just hanen't been because their menu posted outside never really appealed to me.
posted by thetenthstory at 10:17 AM on September 6, 2007

And incase someone recomends the Melting Pot. Don't pay that to cook your own food. It's a romantic setting, food is alright, service is great. But I think you pay a little too much of a premium just to say you ate there. I do beleive you can eat better elsewhere and find a great setting. Just the atmosphere is quite and romatic at the Melting Pot. I've been there a few times, don't know if I would ever go back soley because I like eating elsewhere better.
posted by thetenthstory at 10:22 AM on September 6, 2007

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