Top Picks for Hot Dates
Since dates come in all different shapes and sizes and with various price tags, we’ve rounded up our favorites in the Columbia area to give our readers our Top Pics for Hot Dates. Be it your first date – a no pressure morning jog together and stop for a cup of joe, or a fancy 10 year anniversary or special occasion celebration, we have the inside scoop and an invitation for you to visit some of our favorite spots!…
Owner Tony Raffa has made his debut in Columbia after first opening in Washington DC and Athens GA. This young entrepreneur opened his doors downtown with coffee and made-to-order donuts catering to the college crowd (and local patrons) who flock to get their day started right with “donuts your way”. A unique concept much like a frozen yogurt shop. For one set price, you can customize your perfect creation. Start with a chocolate or vanilla donut base, then pick your flavored glaze or coating and add limitless toppings. Here are just a few variations to tempt your tastebuds – Lemon Coconut, Cinnamon Sugar with Pecans, Chocolate with Raspberry Drizzle, or for the true donut enthusiast, Maple Bacon!!
And to sweeten the deal even more, Zombie is passionate about giving back to the community through supporting local charitable organizations and allowing visitors to vote for monthly nominations that they give to.
650 Lincoln Street
Columbia, SC 29201
In the 17 years that Columbia has been “home base” for us, we’ve watched the downtown scene grow and develop and love the new faces we see on the block!!
Grill Marks came on the scene a few years ago and is best known for their upscale burgers crafted from a custom blend of chopped Certified Angus Beef, resulting in something more akin to a “steak on a bun” than a common hamburger. Noted for serving ‘The South’s Best Burgers’ and being one of ‘The 31 Best Burger Joints in America’, Grill Marks also serves fresh salads, and “undressed” options for the health conscious or gluten free diner who prefers a lettuce wrap and to go easy on the carbs. And while they are famous for their burgers, it is perhaps their “Freakshakes” that set them apart as no competitor on the scene comes close to competing with these architectural, artistic and culinary wonders!! Get a load of that thing!! Grill Marks makes their own ice cream in house and spins each milkshake to order.
We recommend dining al fresco on the patio with beautiful exposed brick walls and a great “people watching” vantage point near the Vista.
711 Gervais St
Columbia, SC 29201
Located on the corner of Main Street and Taylor sits the Main Street Public House. This place is hopping on weekends as its become a popular dining experience for dinner parties and group gatherings as the place to mix and mingle. Serving up refined casual cuisine which is described as “quality without pretension”, they are open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner as well as brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Main Street Public House offers unique spins on classic favorites and has been recognized and awarded for a number of their culinary achievements such as their outstanding “shrimp and grits” which I can personally attest is the best Ive ever had!
Their chef sources the freshest , seasonal ingredients and shops local whenever possible, utilizing both new and old world techniques throughout the well versed menu. Almost everything is made entirely from scratch and Main Street Public House also proudly serves premium, NY style pizza in their custom brick oven (one of only two in the state!!). The menu boasts a wide assortment of hand crafted cocktails, unique wines and a vast variety of quality brews on tap. For the later crowd (which we are not because, well….7 kids) the Main Street Public House brings in live music from regional musicians and DJ’s.
1556 Main Street
29201 Columbia, South Carolina
This has been our go-to for a couple of special occasion dinner dates because, well, Italian food…it’s my love language! On our most recent visit, our waiter, Gabriel, took a moment to share with us that the intimate dining experience is enhanced because of the relationship amongst staff. “We are like family” he said as he knowledgeably offered suggestions from the wine menu and answered questions about our entree selections. “Its a work environment we all love” he expounded, which gives the quaint restaurant a homey, comfortable, yet elegant ambiance. The emphasis on family and team comes directly from the inspiration of the restaurant…It was was opened by Adam Huneau whose great grandmother (for whom the restaurant was named) passed on not only the secret family recipes, but a great devotion to family!
We’re partial to the Mushroom Crespelle if you really want a decadent splurge, but we have never been disappointed. The menu offers authentic Italian cuisine, including homemade sauces and Abruzzo pastas, in homage to the family’s Italian heritage. Really, you cant go wrong selecting from classics that will tantalize your tastebuds and set the tone for a romantic evening!
Due to its popularity, Alodia’s has just opened a second location and is serving lunch, dinner and brunch on Sundays!
101 W. Main Street
Lexington, SC 29072
Call: (803) 957-1986
2736 North Lake Drive
Columbia, SC 29212
High Tea at The Dorchester
You cant take in London without taking tea. And if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right! The Dorchester Hotel provided the perfect afternoon, embodying all the elegance and pomp and circumstance you’d imagine of high tea in London. A special girls trip to celebrate my mothers birthday, set the scene for the ultimate tea party! We sought out the most luxurious hotel to celebrate this special occasion because of course, you only celebrate 70 once!!
Avid fans of Downton Abbey, The Crown and all things posh and pretty, The Dorchester was exactly the high society British afternoon we had anticipated. Waistcoated doormen greet you at the revolving door through which you are welcomed into the Promenade, an extravagant parlor circled by marble columns and illuminated by elegant lanterns. Tables are laid with fine linens and lavish sprays of fragrant salmon colored roses enhance the beauty of the exquisite parlor interior. Live piano music set the mood for a leisurely afternoon as we checked our coats in the cloak room and settled into our leather sofa seating around a table for four and “took tea”, in style!
A celebratory champagne toast initiated our afternoon followed by a careful tea selections from an extensive menu of both rare and traditional choices ranging from oolong to green tea, herb and black, white and my personal favorite – peppermint! The assortment of tea sandwiches served exceeded our expectations with creative variations on classic favorites! Our waiter was charming answering all our questions and patiently explaining the ingredients of each delicate and delicious savory snack. After a palate cleansing marigold-peach tea, our sweets treats were served. Warm raisin scones were offered alongside thick clotted cream and assortments of rhubarb and strawberry preserves. Ill admit, I had (ahem) not one but two scones. Consequently, I wasn’t exactly hungry by the time our sweets were served on tiered tea trays, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying handcrafted cakes and pastries. Just too good to resist!
The Dorchester went above and beyond presenting mother with a personalized birthday cake and special serenade from the live pianist. Unarguably an unforgettable afternoon with laughs and memories and photographs we will cherish forever!
Betty Blythe Tea Room
For the celebration of our own dear “queen mother’s” birthday, she invited her daughters to England for the ultimate tea party. 4 days bashing around London together climaxed with a mid-morning tea time at the quaint corner tea room – Betty Blythe! With brick walls and glittering chandeliers, this venue embodies both grit and grace, just like the women of the generation for which inspire the theme of the restaurant – the roaring 20’s!
The upstairs seats patrons who frequent the corner cafe on their coffee break or to carry out scones or pastries. Down a winding staircase is the private tea room where we happily spent hours playing dress up and sampling sweet and savory sensations!
Tara, the owner, has converted the space into every little girls dream….(or every big girl for that matter!) An entire room devoted to dress-ups and tea! We tried on swing dresses and rummaged through dresser drawers to accessorized with gloves and fascinators and hats and pearls.
Once adorned, our tea was served. Tiny tea sandwiches and house-made scones served up British style – with clotted cream and jam. Tiered tea-trays were plated up beautifully with delicate pastries and sweets which were passed around complimenting our English breakfast tea and Earl grey.
We had scoured books and blogs, web recommendations and word of mouth to find the best tea rooms in London and Betty Blythe stands out as one of Londons best-kept-secrets. This darling niche specializes to “hen parties”, baby showers and birthdays. With seating only for about 20, its never overcrowded and is strikingly reasonably priced.The perfect spot to take in local flavor, tasty treats and make charming, unforgettable memories!