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    Columbia’s Tastemakers

    Does your ideal dinner out include a stop along Main Street for drinks on a rooftop bar before dining at a Cajun-Creole restaurant in the shadow of the South Carolina State House? Or are you looking for a farm-to-table experience followed by an early evening at a local craft brewery? Are you enjoying Italian, pit-smoked barbecue, seafood, Korean, or a savory Southern meal? You can find all of the above in and around our city from the middle of downtown Columbia to the suburbs of our community and everywhere in between.


    There is an endless supply of outstanding, locally owned restaurants and bars around the Midlands that are waiting to impress you with their delectable menus and their tasty drinks. This summer, we invite you to go on a culinary adventure around town and to try and discover new-to-you restaurants. You never know what restaurant will soon become your new favorite! Have an old tried-and-true favorite that you just can’t get enough of? Introduce a friend! Share the love of what makes our growing food and drink scene so special.

    Grab a glass of wine or a locally crafted beer, sit back, and enjoy meeting the culinary experts that are leading the tastes and experiences in our community. After you’re done reading, make a reservation and dine locally this summer!

    Marcella Joseph & Rodney Green, CITY GRIT

    “Consideration is the best of service.”

    At City Grit Hospitality Group, there is excitement in the air as the summer brings in an array of fresh seasonal produce, the bustle of outdoor diners, and the return of events and gatherings. Chef de Cuisine of City Grit Marketplace, Marcella Joseph, and Director of Hospitality, Rodney Green, are both busy preparing for the season ahead. Marcella oversees the culinary direction of three Columbia-based City Grit concepts including SmallSUGAR, an all-day café and bakery, Il Focolare, a pizzeria located in Cottontown, and City Grit Marketplace, a brick-and-mortar shopping experience featuring gourmet products, a full-service wine bar, and event catering. She is constantly innovating, creating, and providing guidance and support to the rest of her culinary team. Rodney works closely with Marcella to help facilitate production orders and requests as well as provide a warm welcome to guests at the Market. For both Rodney and Marcella, providing exceptional hospitality and service is at the pinnacle of what they do, “consideration is the basis of service,” said Rodney. The respect for their craft, their community, and for their team is felt from the very moment you step into any of CITY GRIT’S concepts.

    Reshma Lustman and Jessica Henry, Sakhar Jams

    Business partners and best friends Reshma Lustman and Jessica Henry are bringing the delectable flavors of the season to eagerly awaiting customers, one batch of artisanal jam at a time. The pair are the creators of SAKHAR jams, and for the past 2 years in business they have wowed customers with their deliciously unique range of flavors profiles and pairings. When they first began building their book of recipes, Resh & Jess personally visited local South Carolina farms and hand-picked seasonal ingredients for their creations. Those relationships built with the farmers have grown and expanded and now the pair partners with GrowFood South Carolina to source the tastiest and freshest local ingredients for their assortment of jams and jellies. SAKHAR currently offers 2 batch drops of their jams per month, drop details and orders can be placed on their website at

    Keep an eye out for their tasty collaborations with other local Columbia businesses!

    David Adedokun, Warmouth

    “Our cocktail program is ambitious and bold and fresh ideas are always encouraged.”

    As the fresh summer breeze rolls through the open garage door at Cottontown’s neighborhood bar and restaurant The Warmouth, Bar Manager, David Adedokun is busy at work cultivating an exciting cocktail and bar program for his guests to enjoy. For David, the past few years working at The Warmouth have been filled with creativity and exploration, as he continues to research and try seasonal ingredients and new methods in which to bring those flavors onto his menu. He welcomes challenges and collaborations he says they push not only The Warmouth forward but also raise the level of the local restaurant community here in Columbia. A few months back he collaborated with local Columbia artisans, SAKHAR jams to feature a limited time cocktail that included their delicious blackberry jam. “One of the only downsides to working with fresh, seasonal ingredients, is that once they are gone, there is no more. But maybe that’s also what makes it so special.”

    Kiki Cyrus, Kiki’s Chicken & Waffles

    “We’ve got it all, just like Mama made it—except better.”

    Sink your teeth into the home cooked Southern staples found at Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles. Owner Kitwanda “Kiki” Cyrus has made her mark on the Columbia food scene by bringing a menu filled with soul food classics, including her famous Chicken and Waffles, to two dine-in Columbia locations in addition to a mobile food truck. Growing up, Kiki always enjoyed cooking and worked in restaurants throughout her time as a college student at the University of South Carolina. She and her husband, Tyrone, met during one of those restaurant gigs and the pair continued to explore their love of the restaurant and hospitality industry together. The idea to bring chicken and waffles to Columbia came from a short trip they took to Atlanta which included a stop at the iconic Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles. Kiki saw the high demand in Atlanta and knew that Columbia was missing that “go-to” soul food location, so in 2012, she became it! Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles is now a destination for locals and visitors alike and brings with it an incredible sense of community all paired with delicious soul food staples.

    Javier Uriarte, Ratio

    Chef Javier Uriarte has been a part of the culinary scene in Columbia for over 8 years, bringing his talents to many of Columbia’s popular downtown restaurants including Motor Supply Bistro and Hendrix. In 2020, he opened his very own restaurant in Elgin, SC called Ratio. The menu at Ratio is a proud reflection of Javier’s Peruvian heritage and each dish is created with the goal of providing his guests with the feeling of comfort and connection, even if it may be through a dish they have never tried. The name Ratio, comes from the idea that in cooking, as long as you understand basic ratios, you can expand your cooking capabilities 10 fold. He has taken that approach and applied it to every part of his restaurant, from finding just the right ratio in his food, drink, atmosphere, plating and service. This summer, Javier looks forward to introducing the staple flavors of summer, with some of his favorite being strawberries, peaches, and tomatoes, into his dishes in a unique and unexpected way.

    “Ratios are the starting point from which a thousand variations begin.” — Michael Ruhlman

    Jessica Shillato, Spotted Salamander

    “We love our local farmers and have always wanted to show off their amazing products”

    For Chef Jessica Shillato, cooking has been a part of her life since the age of 6. Her family always enjoyed coming to the table to share a meal, and that celebration of family, food, and togetherness inspired her passion and led to a professional career in the culinary arts. In 2008, Jessica opened Spotted Salamander Catering, a boutique catering company with a focus on serving innovative southern cuisine using only the freshest ingredients supplied by local farmers. In 2014, the Spotted Salamander Café opened on Richland Street serving lunch to customers Monday through Friday. Jessica has always enjoyed how cooking for others is a way to connect and make people happy. Jessica continues to focus on sourcing local ingredients for her meals “In all of our dishes there is something local, even if it’s just flour, milk or honey” she said. We love our local farmers and we have always wanted to show off the amazing products they have. The farmers and producers of South Carolina have so many wonderful quality products it makes my job a little easier.”

    Rory Macdonald, The Robinson Room

    Take a step into the Robinson Room, Columbia’s swanky dessert and cocktail bar nestled in the hidden lower level of The Grand on Main. Their menu of unique and decadent desserts is complements of World-Renowned Pastry Chef, Rory Macdonald. The London born and New York based Michelin-Starred Chef has been perfecting his culinary artistry for over 20 years. Chef Rory approaches each of his creations with a focus first on flavor, closely accompanied by immaculate plating and presentation. At the Robinson Room you can find an enticing blend of familiar comfort food flavors like those found in the Apple Tarte Tatin, as well as unique combinations like those in his Chocolate Orange dessert, complete with early grey mousse, blood orange glaze, and a salted chocolate sorbet. Enjoy an elevated evening of hand-crafted cocktails and grand desserts from Chef Rory and his talented on-site team at the Robinson Room.

    World renowned flavors in the heart of Main Street