CupSide Down Cafe, located within Five Rivers Market, serves up a menu of specialty café drinks and fresh, healthy dishes for breakfast and lunch. In the morning, cooks bake quiches and slice fresh fruit for greek-yogurt parfaits. Later in the day, they prepare flavorful soups and salads and grill panini sandwiches. Patrons can take treats to go or lounge on stools positioned along a blond-wood bar.
Recipient of the 2009 and 2010 Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, Four Moons satiates diners with modern American cuisine served within a family-friendly dining space. Chefs craft an epicurean dinner menu of entrees such as the shrimp and grits with tomato, spring onion, and bacon gravy ($18). Appetizers include the sweet potato soup ($5), and desserts include the bourbon pecan pie ($6.50). Plush, royal-blue chairs that match the radiant blue-lighting accents surround tables draped in white linens. A towering wall of wine bottles borders diners dressed in Four Moons’ relaxed business-casual dress code, which encourages collared shirts for men and vetoes T-shirts, athletic clothing, and non-military-issued propeller beanies.
The Crab Pitt's chefs pile plates high with fresh seafood and American fare, searing and seasoning shrimp, oysters, scallops, and fish procured directly from McClellanville's local waters. Succulent dips made from wild-caught shrimp and crab precede or complement basil-and-parmesan-topped steamed oysters on half shells. As they revel in the casual atmosphere and enjoy banter with the consistently friendly servers, diners can try out fried alligator tail, frog legs, and other delicacies indigenous to the South. The staff also sizzles a tasty half-pound Angus cheeseburger, which weighs the same as the average secret agent’s bulletproof tie.
Ismael and Silvia Villegas have been snipping off sprigs of cilantro and squeezing limes onto tacos inside Casa Linda Mexican Restaurant's kitchens since 1993. Beneath decorations such as papel picado and piñatas, staples such as chicken in mole sauce and tacos al pastor join specialties such as the Pollo Loco, a chicken breast topped with cream sauce and a medley of squash and other vegetables. The restaurant also shakes and blends specialty cocktails such as açaí cosmos and superfruit margaritas.
Tokyo Grill’s chefs stand over sizzling grills, their furrowed brows illuminated by the dancing flames as they speedily prepare food that blends hibachi flavors with fast and casual dining. With swiftness and precision, they grill fresh vegetables alongside juicy strips of steak, cuts of chicken, and plump jumbo shrimp, then quickly plate the still-steaming meats atop beds of rice speckled with wedges of zucchini, slices of onion, and traces of fairy dust. Elsewhere in the kitchen, sushi chefs are equally hard at work, folding crabmeat and crisp cucumbers into sushi rolls.
Eric Leon has been wrapping enchiladas and simmering the spices of traditional Mexican cuisine since he was 12 years old. Now, he helms a team of chefs as they bury crispy chimichangas beneath mounds of melted cheese, serve heaps of shrimp and bell peppers in a still-sizzling skillet, and marinate chunks of chicken in a dark, chocolaty mole sauce. Authentic dishes such as these have earned San Jose Mexican Restaurant its spot as Columbia’s Best Mexican Restaurant according to Columbia Metropolitan readers. The eatery’s popularity also stems from the lively environs: the glow of TVs and video games flicker off brick walls, and occasional live music encourages syncopated chewing.
Guests mingle with crop cultivators in a verdant farm field at the Harvest Dinners holiday party, sampling bites crafted from locally sourced, sustainably cultivated ingredients. Executive chef Ryan Whittaker of @116 Espresso and Wine Bar pairs fresh produce harvested from City Roots Farm's fields the day of the event, with meats garnered from area producers, proving that, like delivering an ice sculpture depicting the 12 days of Christmas, it's best to go local. Pairs sip on specialty Christmas cocktails and hot toddies provided by Sydney Frank and American Harvest organic spirits while touring City Roots Farm's pastoral fields, filling their noses with the earthen scent of tilled fields and in-season mint, carrots, and sunflower microgreens. A cash bar dispenses sustainable beer and wine as well as hot toddies and cocktails, and country-blues group Whiskey Tango Revue serenades the crowd with songs about the one organic rutabaga that got away.