Six restaurants every foodie should try in Columbia

Tired of eating the same old thing? These restaurants offer delicious and unique meals.

As the semester drags on, it seems like the dining halls just blur together and everything tastes the same. I have lived near Columbia all my life, so I’ve managed to find some great restaurants that are scattered throughout the city. Here are some of my favorites to add a little spice to your life:

1) Walnut Street Tap + Kitchen

Location: 1200 E Walnut Street This restaurant has delicious burgers, wraps and salads, my personal favorite being the British Brewhouse burger. The burger has a smear of English cheddar, is topped with fried onions and is finished off with a drizzle of maple vinegar. It’s truly the tastiest spin on a burger I’ve had. Walnut Street Tap + Kitchen also has dishes with New Mexican influences, which focus on red and green chiles. For an appetizer, try the chile cheese fries, which are covered in beer cheese and a choice of red or green chiles. Students can also get a 10 percent discount off their meal with a student ID, and the restaurant has various deals throughout the week, like Taco Tuesdays and Burgers and Fries Wednesdays.

2) Jina Yoo’s Asian Bistro

Location: 2200 Forum Blvd #108 For anyone who has a love for sushi, this is the place to get it. With over 20 unique, flavorful sushi rolls, you cannot go wrong at Jina Yoo’s. But to help narrow it down, I recommend the Sin City sushi roll. It has all the flavors and textures: spicy, sweet, creamy and crunchy. It is a mixture of crab, spicy tuna, cream cheese and tempura — and it’s all fried. It is definitely an indulgent sushi roll. If sushi isn’t your thing, Jina Yoo’s offers other entrees, like Jina’s B.A.P.T. (Bad Ass Pad Thai), which definitely lives up to its name, because I haven’t had better pad thai anywhere else. It’s a generous serving of rice noodles, vegetables and a choice of chicken or shrimp, all covered in Jina Yoo’s secret peanut sauce. If you’re feeling extra hungry, try my favorite appetizer, Jina’s Balls (this restaurant has great names for all its food). This appetizer consists of two rice balls mixed with spicy tuna. Also, the chef and owner Jina Yoo comes out from the kitchen to talk to her patrons.

3) Las Margaritas

Location: 5614 E Saint Charles Rd. Suite E Las Margaritas is the place to go for Mexican food in CoMo. It has the colorful atmosphere and all the tasty Mexican dishes everyone craves. Something I want to highlight is the chicken chimichanga: It is super crispy on the outside and is stuffed with chicken and vegetables. It’s fun to come here with a group of friends or family so you can try a bite of all of the different dishes, which is what I like to do. There are so many options when you come to Las Margaritas, but that’s what makes going back and getting something new worth it.

4) 44 Stone

Location: 3910 Peachtree Drive This restaurant is a little farther away from campus but worth the trip to Peachtree Drive. It has some fancier choices, but also plenty of options within the college student’s budget, like various sandwiches and salads. One thing that people must try is the 44 Stone Burger. If a restaurant puts their name on it, you know it’s good. My friend claims that this is her favorite burger in Columbia. It is topped with arugula, mushrooms and a sharp cheddar that adds to the strong flavor of the burger and makes for a sensational taste. To accompany the burger, check out the appetizer Pub Cheese Fritters, because when does fried cheese go wrong? Plus, they come with a flavorful dipping sauce.

5) 44 Canteen

Location: 21 N 9th Street 44 Canteen is the sister restaurant to 44 Stone, but it’s located downtown next to The Blue Note, which is a great location for people who live near campus. It has a diverse menu, with tortas, tacos and burgers. A favorite of mine is the chicken torta, complete with a lime aioli, which adds a complex flavor that is so tasty. Also, they have some great tacos, and sometimes offer specials that are not on the menu. This location is tiny, but if you come, you can see the kitchen and get a glimpse of the chefs.

6) Sophia’s

Location: 3915 S Providence Rd. This is a great place where you can dine ‘al fresco’ on Italian. If the weather isn’t cooperating, the inside is just as beautiful as the outdoor patio, with paintings on the walls and comfortable seating. On top of all of those things, the pasta is delicious. I love ravioli, so I think everyone should try the Ravioli Carne with Three Cheeses. This dish is gooey and fulfilling; all of the cheeses complement the hearty beef ravioli. I go back to this dish every time I’m there, just because it’s too good not to pass up. Sophia’s also offers many dishes outside of pasta, including salads, sandwiches and unique pizza creations, like their Ginger Apple Gruyere pizza. This pizza has the perfect mix of savory and sweet: Ginger apple chutney tops rich mozzarella, gruyere and basil-infused olive oil for that hint of sweetness.

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