Guide to the best burgers in Columbia
Welcome to our deep dive into the best burgers in Columbia! This list shares Columbia’s dedicated burger joints, beloved drive-ins, BBQ restaurants with burgers, hole-in-the-wall spots and everything in between.
Burgers are such a great category because you can find them on so many different types of menus. Take this guide for example– there’s a cafe with an only-available-on-Friday burger, a few breweries, an English pub and even a fine dining restaurant. All have at least one delicious burger on the menu!
While making our list of the best burgers in Columbia we realized that there are a lot of pimento cheeseburgers in town! We have a hard time saying no to these. We also have a hard time saying no to ice cream, so we especially love visits to drive-in-style restaurants like Zesto’s and Rosewood Dairy Bar.
Anyway, we hope this list introduces you to a new favorite burger in Columbia, whether it’s topped with pimento cheese, comes with a side of ice cream or maybe alongside a pint at a proper English pub.
Map of the Best Burger Restaurants in Columbia, SC
A list of Columbia’s Best Burgers
When you think about the quintessential college town burger joint, Pawleys Front Porch is it! Located in the heart of Columbia’s Five Points neighborhood, Pawleys is a casual burger joint that serves huge handmade burgers stacked high with toppings.
Choose from one of their SC beach town-themed signature burgers or build your own. And don’t forget to relax on their front porch with a burger, fries and a beer for a great Five Points experience.
A lively upscale bar with excellent food, Bourbon is worth a visit for a good time and a great burger. The atmosphere at Bourbon always feels like a party! They have two burgers on the menu – their Bayou Burger with a choice of cheese and their Grilled Lamb Burger.
The Grilled Lamb Burger is served topped with Bourbon batter onion rings, honey thyme goat cheese and smoked tomato jam for an unforgettable flavor. You really can’t go wrong with either burger and we recommend their garlic herb fries to go with it.
But you’ll have to wait for dinner to taste a Bourbon burger — they open at 4:30 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
What’s one of Columbia’s best Carolina-style BBQ joints doing on a burger list? Making mouthwateringly delicious burgers is what they’re doing. They have one burger on the menu — the Fiery Ron’s Burger and it does not disappoint.
Two 4 oz patties topped with standard burger toppings and harissa mayo make for a great classic burger. Make sure you check their specials where you’ll often find other specialty burgers.
Located in the heart of Five Points, their large renovated restaurant is a great spot for friends and families to enjoy great food. For those who remember eating at Harper’s formerly in this location, you won’t recognize the transformed interior. It’s impressive!
James Beard semifinalist Chef Jessica Shillato’s restaurant, Spotted Salamander, is a casual cafe with buzzworthy fare.
The Spotted Salamander burger is no exception to their amazing menu. It is topped with housemade bacon jam and their own special sauce. We definitely consider it one of the best burgers in Columbia. But here’s the catch – it’s only available on Fridays!
The original Richland Street location is on a quiet tree-lined street in Columbia’s historic district. Ignoring the fact that it has a James Beard nomination, it still feels like a hidden gem.
What can be better than enjoying an excellent burger while hanging out in one of Columbia’s best breweries? You can do just that at Savage Craft Ale Works in their Biergarten.
Their burger is called the Savage Burger for a reason. It is huge and stacked high with bacon, pepper jack, crispy onions and BBQ sauce (and you can even add an egg!) You won’t go home hungry after eating this one!
430 Center Street | West Columbia
If you’re on the hunt for the best burger in Columbia, make sure you put Backstreets Grill on the list. Located on Devine Street, this casual Columbia neighborhood restaurant is a local favorite.
Their bison burger is grilled to perfection and you can have it served regularly or with chipotle for a little extra kick! And if you’re more into classic burgers, you can pick your size with their Big (6oz) Bigger (8oz) Biggest Burger (10oz) with your choice of toppings.
While Café Strudel is most well known for one of the best daily brunches in Columbia, don’t overlook their burger offerings. They serve up five specialty burgers that will have you pondering which one to get.
If you do want to lean into the breakfast/brunch vibe go with their breakfast burger, topped with bacon and egg and served with a side of their yummy hashbrowns.
Their signature lunch burgers are some of the best burgers in Columbia. They are available as a classic cheeseburger, portabella burger, spicy diablo burger and even a low country burger with fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese and bacon.
PS: order their duck fat fries with whichever burger you choose!
300 State Street | West Columbia
Grill Marks is a classic burger joint with a large bright space in the heart of Columbia’s Vista District. It’s a great place to go when they have the overhead doors open on good weather days.
Choose from one of 11 signature burgers including a three slider sampler or build your own. They also have a huge selection of french fry sides with all the toppings you can dream of.
And what goes better with a burger than a milkshake? Not only do they have milkshakes but also ‘shaketails’, their frozen cocktails for the adult crowd.
While you might not think of burgers when you think of Halls Chophouse, we would be remiss if we didn’t include their burger on our list.
The Halls Chophouse Burger is a 10 oz. burger made with their house-ground beef. They keep it simple with classic toppings and serve it with parmesan truffle fries.
The burger is only available on their lunch and brunch menu, so plan accordingly!
A Columbia institution! Rush’s has 8 locations scattered around Columbia, West Columbia and Lexington and their 9th location is in Camden, SC.
Rush’s is known for their delicious cheeseburger baskets that come with fries and slaw. Pro tip: if you aren’t into slaw, just swap it out for extra fries. Drinks aren’t included in their basket deal, by the way. But instead of a regular drink, you should opt for one of their amazing milkshakes instead. We love the chocolate milkshake and the hot fudge sundae milkshake!
Apart from their classic cheeseburgers, you’ll find chicken sandwiches, fried chicken, chili slaw dogs and even BBQ sandwiches on the menu.
A favorite local neighborhood restaurant and bar, Henry’s is a go-to for burgers in Columbia.
This family-run establishment prides itself on making some of Columbia’s best handmade burgers with four specialty burgers to choose from. We love the Henry’s Signature Burger with mushrooms, onions and ale + dijon infused cheddar. If you don’t see exactly what you want, you can also build your own burger.
The casual atmosphere is great for families and friends to catch up whether you sit inside or outside on their covered porch. They also have a large bar with TVs, making it a great spot to catch a game.
Though they are only available for lunch, Mr. Friendly’s grills up burgers to perfection. They keep it simple with a classic house-ground 10 oz. burger with your choice of cheese. Be sure to check if the have any burger specials as well!
The atmosphere is a bit elevated compared to your dedicated burger joints. But overall it’s still a pretty casual spot with a dining room, bar and patio area.
The Hunter-Gatherer Brewery is Columbia’s oldest craft brewery. The warm cozy interior is a great spot for a local beer and a hearty meal. And though they are a brewery first, it was an easy decision to include them on our list of where to get the best burgers in Columbia.
A crowd favorite is the H-G Signature Burger (with pimento cheese and bacon — yum!) served on a brioche bun. We recommend that you splurge and upgrade to their parmesan-truffle fries.
Located near Five Points on Devine street, Burger Tavern 77 has your burger needs covered with a huge selection of mouthwatering burgers.
With burger styles ranging from a brunch burger to a greek burger to a pimento cheeseburger, it can be tough to decide. Luckily you can always go with their Burger Trio which comes with three of their most popular burgers as mini sliders.
Burger Tavern 77 is open daily for lunch and dinner so stop by whenever you’re in the neighborhood!
If you love a good episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives… Zesto’s is your place! I’m not sure why all of Columbia adds an extra ‘s’ to the name but just go with it.
Zesto’s has everything you’d want in an order-at-the-window place. Cheeseburgers, fried chicken, chicken fingers and chocolate-dipped ice cream. You can take it to go or eat in their indoor dining area.
Their burgers are pretty classic so don’t expect gourmet toppings! But you will find a double cheeseburger on the menu– the ‘Zestoburger.’
3239 Forest Drive | Forest Acres
Speaking of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Rosewood Dairy Bar is another great restaurant from the past still serving up delicious fare today. And it’s actually owned by the same owners as Zesto’s on Forest Drive. But those same owners do not own the Zesto’s in West Columbia with the giant ice cream cone on top. IYKYK.
Expect classic cheeseburgers, fried chicken, chicken fingers and ice cream. They have a few outdoor tables and a separate indoor dining space to the left of the order/kitchen area. It’s… very old school.
3003 Rosewood Drive | Rosewood
The burger menu at one of Columbia’s best Greek restaurants Pitas is unexpected, but it’s definitely worth a mention on this guide! You can’t go wrong with any of their dishes, including their classic burgers and even their chicken burger.
Some of their burgers are even Mediterranean-influenced, like their Tzatziki Burger with actual tzatziki sauce on it. They also have a phenomenal pimento feta cheeseburger as a special, so keep an eye out for that!
Not only does Midwood Smokehouse serve some of Columbia’s best BBQ, but they are also a contender for the best burger in Columbia award.
Their signature burgers are both made with ground chuck and brisket, making for juicy flavorful patties.
On the menu, you’ll find The Cackalacky topped with smoked red onions, bacon and pimento cheese as well as The Roadhouse, their classic burger to which you can add brisket or chopped pork!
It’s definitely a spot to check out if you have a hankering for a good burger!
702 Cross Hill Road | Cross Hill Market
This Virginia-based burger chain keeps it simple with amazing burgers and amazing fries. It’s a throwback to a classic hamburger joint with hamburgers, cheeseburgers and bacon burgers. And prepare to be overloaded with fries. Your bag will be sopping with grease. It’s amazing.
Five Guys also has great milkshakes to complete the meal. And if you’re not feeling like a burger, try their grilled cheese – you won’t be disappointed!
Five Guys has multiple locations around town, including Forest Acres, Irmo, Lexington and Northeast Columbia.
Known for its burgers and bar, Rockaway Athletic Club has been a fixture in Columbia’s Rosewood corridor since 1982.
The building has no signage from Rosewood Drive so it can be easy to miss, but don’t worry, they are open!
Rockaway is specifically famous for its pimento cheeseburger. It’s worth stopping in if you’re on the hunt for Columbia’s best burger.
Near USC’s Campus and the Colonial Life Area, you’ll find another great spot to grab a burger: Thirsty Fellow. There are three burgers on the menu their classic Half Pound Burger, Mushroom Provolone Burger and BLD Burger with egg, bacon and cheese.
The casual bar atmosphere is a great spot to have a drink and a burger. Whether you sit inside in the dark moody space or outside on their large porch, you’ll enjoy your time there.
Jack Brown’s is a restaurant and bar dedicated to making delicious burgers with a creative twist. You can go plain with their hamburger or cheeseburger or make it interesting with classic toppings or unique toppings like peanut butter or cream cheese and jalapeno jelly.
Jack Brown’s burgers are all made from Wagyu beef. Don’t miss the sides section of the menu — in addition to fries on the side you can also order fried Oreos!
The updated space has a great atmosphere right in the heart of Five Points.
As the name suggests, the British Bulldog Pub is a true Brit-owned spot in the Harbison area. Plan to sit back, have a pint, watch some soccer and enjoy some classic British food.
In addition to scotch eggs, cottage pie, fish & chips and even bangers & mash, you’ll find a dedicated burger page on the menu with over 12 signature styles. And they are some of the best burgers in Columbia! So unexpected, but so delicious.
Their burgers include everything from a pimento cheeseburger to a black & bleu burger and even their famous Tower of London Burger. That last one comes with English bacon, an English banger, fried onion rings, an egg, sauteed mushrooms and mozzarella.
And the feel truly is that of an English pub. Wood bar, barstools, soccer flags… you definitely won’t feel like you are in Columbia at British Bulldog!
And that wraps up our guide to the best burgers in Columbia! If you want more food-related posts, make sure to check out our guide to the best pizza in Columbia and our guide to the best breweries in Columbia.