100 State Street
Just beyond the Gervais Street Bridge lies Terra, an upscale eatery with a diverse menu that offers an alternative to the typical fine dining. Their website claims the motto, “Simple Food without Pretension,” offering a range of fried oysters to ribeye steak and wood oven pizza. Not only that, but Terra is also committed to supporting local farmers and incorporating locally grown products into its simple yet savory dishes. Terra is located outside the Vista and doesn’t experience the typical Friday night overcrowding of other popular weekend spots. My mother is the definition of a food and wine snob, and she loves to recommend this place to out-of-towners. Whether you are looking to impress a date or simply to get a nice meal out of your parents (cough), the warm, inviting atmosphere of Terra makes traveling two minutes away from your usual Vista haunts well worth the ride.
483 Sunset Boulevard
After moving into my new house, I hunted down bargains to furnish my place. I discovered ReStore, a nonprofit organization connected with Habitat for Humanity. ReStore collects donations of furniture, building materials and other household appliances, which are then resold, and all of the profits benefit Habitat for Humanity homes. Don’t be mistaken by its unassuming gray exterior. Inside, Restore is full of equipment and used furniture—from desks to couches that add just the right touch to spice up a room. Some pieces might require you to break out your toolbox and get a little crafty, but the discount prices can’t be beaten. For those looking to give back to the community who don’t have anything to donate, ReStore is a great place to volunteer. After Restore, check out other discount stores in West Columbia such as Goodwill and His House.
Ed’s Edition Used Bookstore
406 Meeting Street
If you are looking to buy a unique gift or a place to spend a long afternoon, head over to Ed’s Edition Used Bookstore. From the moment shoppers walk in, they are greeted by the musty smell of weathered pages and the sight of towering shelves. Books range in price from $1 to $10,000. The store houses a special collection of rare and first edition books, all locked in the “Rare Book Room.” The collection includes originals by Mark Twain and an early Quran. The family owned shop opened in 2001, fulfilling a long-time dream of its owner, Ed. Ed’s son, Eric, now runs the store full-time and loves showing shoppers around and sharing the stories behind his favorite book titles.
118 State Street
Cafe Strudel has made a name for itself with Columbia locals, and it’s time for students to take notice of this quaint hideaway across the bridge. The wait staff boasts that, “everything is legendary,” and accordingly, the breakfast, lunch and dessert spot offers an array of delicious items to satisfy your taste buds. If you need a good meal to recover from a rough night out, order the aptly named Hangover Hash Browns. These famous hash browns rightfully earned a claim to fame on the pages of Southern Living. Try Cafe Strudel to escape the lines and distractions of coffee shops closer to campus. Grab a bottomless cup of coffee for under $3; spend quiet study time upstairs or take a seat outside, and check out the café’s drool-worthy daily specials.
626 Meeting Street
Newcomer Conundrum Music Hall is determined to make an impact on the local music scene. Their website claims to “bring you the music you know you need, as well as the music you don’t yet even know you need.” Conundrum opened this past summer and has featured acts from a range of genres, such as local pop band Death of Paris and the talented guitarist Glenn Jones. The venue focuses on showcasing musical acts with adventurous, challenging sounds. The cozy one-room venue offers just enough space for concert-goers to enjoy an intimate show with clear sound. There is a small bar with reasonable drink prices and snacks for late-night munchies. The live shows normally come through every weekend and some nights during the week. If you are a music lover, check out Conundrum’s website, or like them on Facebook to stay on top of upcoming shows and featured musical talents.
116 Wine and Espresso Bar
116 State St.
Drive outside the normal five-mile campus radius, and venture into a new bar, one not suited to the typical 5 Points antics. One part laid-back coffee shop, one part art gallery and one part food and wine bar, 116’s casual atmosphere welcomes customers to “come as you are.” The Spanish influenced menu features a full range of tapas dishes such as the goat cheese dip and Latin style shrimp scampi. If you get lost among which mouth watering dish to order for the evening, ask the knowledgeable staff for suggestions on the menu’s best food and wine pairings. The personal service and hangout feel of the mix-matched furniture ensure a relaxing and enjoyable evening. Brighten the beginning of a long work week by checking out 116’s live music on Tuesday nights.
After one evening in West Columbia, the food, music and people will keep you coming back for more.