It’s 8:30 and I haven’t had dinner yet and I’m getting hungry. Since my car is currently in the shop I was thinking about ordering a pizza and eating pieces of it for the rest of the week. Thinking about pizza made me think about Za’s and I realized all at once that I hadn’t done a Mid-Week ‘Fave Five’ yet today. So, as I’m waiting for my ham, pineapple, and onion pizza to arrive from Papa John’s, I’ll write this post:
1- The Hawaiian Za. (Za’s Brick Oven Pizza). The only Hawaiian pizza I’ve ever had with pineapple, mandarin oranges, honey-baked ham, and a sweet honey glaze. I can’t say it was love at first “bite” (the honey glaze caught me off guard the first time), but it’s (almost) the only thing I’ve ever ordered since! (I tried the Chicken Teriyaki Za one time when I was feeling adventurous… it was good, but it wasn’t the Hawaiian).
2- Salty Nut’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich. (Salty Nut Cafe). Salty Nut is one of those places where you can still thrown your peanut shells on the floor, which is really half the fun of eating them, right? It’s also one of the best places in Columbia for a burger (right after Rockaway’s, where President Bush dines when he comes to town), but I always order chicken. I don’t know if the chicken is exceptionally good, but it’s one of the only places I know where you can always get a grilled chicken sandwich with melted cheese and teriyaki sauce. Mmm, good!
3- Chicken Teriyaki. (Grilled Teriyaki). Grilled Teriyaki almost didn’t make the list, but I started to notice a trend involving the word “teriyaki” and I couldn’t leave it off. Grilled Teriyaki is a hibachi place in Five Points, only a few blocks from my old house. It’s open until 3 or 4 in the morning, and a great place to go if you just happen to be craving Japanese at 3am. (Does anyone actually crave Japanese at 3am). Regardless, it’s good, just trust me.
4- Beef Burrito (White cheese sauce, no red sauce!). (Monterrey’s… or San Jose… or Casa Linda). It doesn’t really matter which of the Mexican restaurants you go to, they all have the same menu. Most everyone swears that one or the other is better than all the rest, but they really aren’t. (Although, given the choice, I always pick Monterrey’s on Knox Abbot). Anyway, my old roommate Kary introduced me to ordering burritos con queso, and it became a quick favorite. (I had one on Sunday from San Jose, actually). For $3.50 you get a great burrito and all the chips you can eat- amazing! I hope Seattle has Mexican restaurants as good as the ones in the South!
5- Black Bean Burger Wrap. (Cool Beans). My Dad is going to read this and think I’m becoming a vegetarian… don’t worry Dad, I’m not, I still love a good steak! (And I can get one whenever I want for $3.28 at Longhorn, although they aren’t as good as yours). Anyway, Cool Beans is my favorite coffeehouse in Columbia. It’s located in an old house across the street from the Horseshoe at USC. The walls are painted fun colors and always exhibit the artwork and photography of local artists (and sometimes, school children). The Black Bean Burger Wrap is black bean burger, shredded romaine lettuce, salsa, and cheese wrapped up in a tomato tortilla and grilled. (It usually comes with sour cream too, but I don’t get that on mine). At lunch the special comes with a side of Cool Beans’ fantastic pasta salad (and Michelle swears the fruit option is even better) and your choice of tea or coffee.
*Hard not to mention: The All-Turkey Apollo at Groucho’s, Columbia’s favorite deli. I couldn’t include it on my list because I can’t rave about the famous Formula 45 Sauce. Why not? Frankly, I just don’t like it. I’ll definitely miss the gyros at Mediterranean Tea Room (best Greek in town) and Ristorante Divino in the Vista definitely has the best Italian food I’ve had this side of the Atlantic. However, I can’t afford to eat anywhere with a dress code stricter than “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.” Ristorante Divino actually specifies that pants must be worn, and I, therefore, have only been there once. Finally, if this was a list of famous meals in Columbia, not meal’s that I’ll personally miss, you would probably find the controversial Maurice’s BBQ listed. Coming from Eastern NC, I can’t understand why anyone would want to put mustard on their bbq, but Maurice does, so I don’t eat there. Anyway, I’ve digressed and my pizza is here- bon appetit!