A longtime favorite with locals, tourists, and the college crowd alike, the Blue Marlin (1200 Lincoln St., 803/799-3838, www.bluemarlincolumbia.com , lunch Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., dinner Mon.–Thurs. 5–10 p.m., Fri. 5–11 p.m., Sat. 4–11 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., $16–25) in the Vista is known for its mix of Lowcountry and New Orleans-style entrees, like the Oyster and Shrimp Bienville, seafood gumbo, and shrimp and grits. You might also want to go for any of their delectable fried takes, such as the Blue Marlin sampler of crispy flounder, crab cakes, and shrimp. In a unique and delicious touch, each table gets a community-style bowl of collard greens.
My favorite restaurant in Five Points is
Goatfeathers (2107 Devine St., 803/256-3325, Mon.–Sat. 5:30–10 p.m., $10–22). This dark, stylish place has gotten a reputation as something of a hipster hangout, but the food is incredible. Look to the specials board, where you will find treats like a delectable bacon and scallops dish, or a unique take on salmon.
Even the Goatfeathers burger, one of the best I’ve had anywhere, will do fine in a pinch. Don’t forget to save room for one of their signature desserts, a famous local draw in and of themselves. Another big plus here is the good wine list and the altogether excellent beer list. The bar stays open until 2 a.m. on weekends so that you may enjoy their offerings.
Possibly the most unique fine dining spot in Columbia —as well as the oldest in the Vista—is Motor Supply Company Bistro (920 Gervais St., 803/256-6687, lunch Tues.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m., dinner Tues.–Thurs. 6–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 6–11 p.m., Sun. 6–9 p.m., $17–27). Because their menus change as often as twice daily, it’s hard to pin down specifics. You might get a succulent pork chop dish, a pan-roasted tenderloin, or an adventurous truffle-scented egg pasta tossed with mushrooms and garlic. Their wine list is commonly considered the best in town.