Not Columbia ’s best restaurant, but certainly its best-known, Yesterday’s (2030 Devine St., 803/799-0196, www.yesterdayssc.com , Sun.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–midnight, Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m., $6–12) in the heart of Five Points is as close to a Southern institution as the city offers. Founded in 1976, Yesterday’s occupies the distinctive flat-iron building at the corner of Devine and Harden, and was singularly instrumental in the revival of the Five Points area. This simple, always-crowded diner has a menu perfect for a Southern game-day meal for the whole family: “Confederate Fried” Steak, special-recipe fried chicken, fried catfish, and of course their signature meatloaf. Yes, meatloaf. They also have all kinds of sandwiches, from wraps to burgers to clubs to southwestern chicken.
What the heck’s a Lizard’s Thicket (818 Elmwood Ave., 803/779-6407, www.lizardsthicket.com , daily 6 a.m.–10 a.m., $7–15)? It’s a very popular local chain featuring Southern, meat-and-three-style home cooking in a relaxed atmosphere. The key location for your purposes is probably the one downtown near the University of South Carolina  campus, though there are ten other locations around the Columbia metro area to choose from. This is the kind of place where the Sunday special is a pot roast and nearly all the vegetable dishes are seasoned with real pork.