Guide to Five Points in Columbia, SC
Known for local shops and tons (and tons) of bars, the eclectic Five Points is a go-to destination for residents and visitors alike. There you’ll find restaurants, coffee shops, record stores, vintage clothing and bars. Pretty much all of it is local, too!
What it’s like:
Hip · Lively · Vibrant
Restaurants · Bars · Shopping
East of downtown Columbia and the University of South Carolina
Check out our Columbia, SC Five Points guide below and don’t miss our full Columbia city guide!
Five Points Restaurants
Some of the best restaurants in Columbia can be found in Five Points. We’ve highlighted a few of our favorites below (in no particular order!!)
Where to get a really good sandwich in Five Points
Groucho’s Deli: A local deli with specialty sandwiches, build-your-own deli sandwiches, salads, soups and veggie plates. Groucho’s is one of our favorite restaurants for lunch in Columbia. They have locations all over the city (and state!) but Five Points is their original. We typically order an Apollo Dipper (ham, turkey, swiss melted on a hoagie roll with 45 sauce) and an STP Dipper (roast beef, turkey, swiss melted on a hoagie and topped with bacon.)
Gourmet Shop: A great local restaurant and market! Gourmet Shop is known for having the best chicken salad in Columbia. You can buy it by the pound from their deli counter or enjoy it for lunch in their cafe section. We always add a side of their tomato basil feta pasta— it’s outrageously good! Gourmet Shop also has a daily breakfast menu. Apart from the cafe and deli counter, you can shop for kitchen items and packaged pantry goods in Gourmet Shop’s market.
Drip: Ok, ok, so Drip is primarily known as a coffee shop, but they have a seriously good food menu for both breakfast and lunch. The menu changes seasonally, but to give you an idea, you’ll find things like prosciutto, fig jam and brie on a housemade biscuit, Nutella french toast and egg, brie and pepper jelly on a biscuit. For lunch, you can find a grilled cheese with fresh mozzarella and a sundried tomato tapenade. Breakfast and lunch are served all day. PS: if they have a chocolate chip cookie, GET IT!!!
Enzo’s Italian Specialties: You’ll find mega subs in this local Italian deli and shop. Their menu includes both hot and cold sandwiches. Don’t miss the meatball parm sub, the Ana Capri (tomato, mozzarella, pesto and balsamic) or any of their hot sandwiches with chicken. Enzo’s also has an Italian grocery section with a great selection of pantry goods. You can order Enzo’s to-go online.
Pita Pit: Chain sandwich shop offering build your own pitas, specialty pita sandwiches and rice bowls. They are pretty quick and make a good sandwich. We don’t go much but I always enjoy their chicken ceasar pita when we do!
The best pizza in Five Points
Village Idiot: One of our favorite pizza places in town! They have another location in Forest Acres where we typically pick up pizza, but their Five Points location is pretty cool. After entering Village Idiot, you’ll walk up a flight of stairs and arrive in a bar setting. It’s a popular place in the evenings for Carolina students.
Blue Pizza: Let’s hear it for some New Jersey-style pizza!! That’s right! It turns out NJ-style pizza has cheese on the bottom!! Most of Blue Pizza’s cheese is on top, though they do have one pie with sauce on top. It’s a thing. Blue Pizza is a great spot to dine-in if you are looking for a college bar atmosphere. You can also order takeout from Blue Pizza online here.
Looking for all the details on the best pizza in Columbia, SC? Check out our Columbia pizza guide here!
Where to find barbecue in Five Points
Home Team BBQ: Home Team is still somewhat new to Five Points but we can’t imagine the area without it now. They are originally out of Charleston and have an absolutely amazing menu of all the barbecue classics and southern staples. We love their mac and cheese and you definitely shouldn’t miss their BBQ Nachos with pulled pork. Oh, and the smoked chicken wings and their famous rum-based Gamechanger!! You can order Home Team online or dine in at their industrial-style Five Points location.
Southern Belly BBQ: Here you’ll find a ton of creative barbecue sandwiches. Southern Belly keeps it easy with a pretty basic menu and offerings. Just pick a sandwich and it comes on a plate with coleslaw and chips. You don’t have to think too much about sides, which I love! Their pulled pork grilled cheese (American & Cheddar cheeses, bacon, and Rebel Red barbecue sauce) is always a good idea!
Where to find burgers in Five Points
Pawley’s Front Porch: If awesome burgers are your love language, then look no further than Pawley’s! They also have tacos, wraps, appetizers and salads, but their burger menu is where they really shine. We love their Isle of Palms Burger with pimento cheese and their Fripp Island Burger with a fried green tomato. Pstt: 20% off your meal with a valid University of Carolina alumni card!
Salty Nut Cafe: Another Five Points restaurant and bar with great burgers and some seriously good fried pickles. It has a college town feel– you are basically on Carolina’s campus, after all! And yes, you are given salty nuts after sitting.
Jack Browns Beer & Burger Joint: Great 100% American Wagyu beef burgers, crinkle fries and beer! They have a fun list of creative burgers, like the Cobra Kai (cream cheese, pickled Jalapeños and Jalapeño jelly) and the Elvis (Peanut Butter, Mayo, Applewood Smoked Bacon and American cheese) burgers. It’s a bar frequented by Carolina students in the evenings, but a definite recommend from us if you are looking for one of the best burgers in Columbia, SC!
Fine Dining and Date Nights in Columbia’s Five Points
Saluda’s: If you are looking for an upscale restaurant or perhaps a date night spot, Saluda’s should be on your shortlist! Their menu isn’t too crazy (in a good way!!) You’ll find things like shrimp & grits, scallops and steak. We love their delicious entrees and desserts and you really can’t go wrong. Saluda’s is located upstairs and they have an awesome balcony to sit on when the weather is nice.
Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe: Mr. Friendly’s is one of the spots we will always point people to for a great dinner. They have an awesome menu full of elevated Southern classics. It’s called a cafe but it’s definitely more ‘date night‘ for us than what I typically consider as a cafe. Upscale, yet casual. We love their Meatloaf special— house-ground beef tenderloin & CAB ribeye, blue cheese bbq sauce, crispy fried onion rings, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, country ham stewed collard greens. It’s amazing and one of the few times we will both order the same thing! You’ll also find fish, cheeseburgers, great appetizers and a great wine list.
Goat’s: Goat’s is located right in the mix of everything in Five Points but it still somehow feels like a hidden gem. It’s really nice and low-key with a focus on wine and craft cocktails (versus some of the other bar-like places around the area.) Goat’s is great for a date night! Lobster Mac & Cheese is always a part of our order as well as the poutine with duck confit.
Other great restaurants in Five Points
Harambe Ethiopian: An unexpected and hidden spot in Five Points for traditional Ethiopian meat and veggie dishes. The Harambe Combo is a great place to start if you are new to Ethiopian food and want to sample it all. The avocado salad is another great one.
Publico Kitchen & Tap: Here’s a fun one! Publico serves up great drinks and Latin-Asian-inspired cuisine in an Instagram-worthy spot. They have an amazing and unexpected outdoor setup. It’s definitely one of the best patios in Columbia! Publico has a ton of vegan options on their dedicated vegan menu. You’ll find everything from Vegan Cuban Nachos to Vietnamese Noodle Salad to your classic Beyond Burgers.
Coffee, Bakeries and Sweets in Columbia, SC’s Five Points
Drip: Drip tops the list of the best coffee shops in Columbia, SC. We mentioned them above for their breakfast and lunch menu, but they are first and foremost a coffee shop! They have a great selection of single-origin whole beans and make a mean pour-over. They also have a full espresso menu, seasonal drinks and even some fun combos like a turmeric ginger latte and a honey habanero latte. It can get busy, but Drip is a great place to work or study from.
Baked Bear: Custom ice cream sandwiches! Choose an ice cream, cookies and toppings and be amazed. You can even mismatch your cookies and opt to get your sandwich warmed up if you like to live life on the edge.
Insomnia Cookies: Not far from Baked Bear you’ll find another great cookie shop (and they, too, have ice cream!) But wow– the cookies. They have some seriously amazing cookies. Insomnia Cookies actually specializes in DELIVERY of their cookies. We love their classic chocolate chunk cookie, though their basic sugar cookie is pretty unbelievable too. Insomnia Cookies also has a few vegan cookies on the menu!
Gong Cha: A fun spot to grab a bubble tea, an ice cream, a waffle or all three!
Five Points Bars
The Five Points area of Columbia, SC has A TON OF BARS. So many that it is a cause for concern for some locals, local businesses and even the University of South Carolina. Over the years some bars have had their liquor licenses revoked due to violations serving underage drinking, encouraging excess drinking, etc… But! There are also some great bars with some great food that are enjoyed by those who frequent them. It can get pretty rowdy in Five Points when Carolina is in session, though. Especially during the Gamecock’s football season!
I do want to mention Bang Back Bar & Lounge. It’s a newer establishment but is such a unique addition to Five Points. You’ll find bar food (wings, pimento cheese hushpuppies, eggrolls…), tacos and even gyoza. Weird menu but it works!
St. Patrick’s Day in Five Points (Mid-March)
Five Points is home to Columbia’s St. Patrick’s Day events in March each year. The family-friendly ‘St. Pat’s in Five Points‘ is typically the Saturday after St. Patrick’s Day and includes a fun run, a morning parade and live music all day. Five stages are set up around the area with multiple bands playing at each throughout the day.
Getting to and around Columbia’s Five Points
Five Points itself is very walkable. Everything is close by in Five Points (including USC’s campus!) and easy to get to. Parking can be a problem, though. There’s street parking all around and several spots on Saluda Ave between Drip and Gourmet Shop. Saluda is divided by a median and there is parking on both sides of it. This is our ideal place to park but sometimes it’s just too crowded.
There’s a newer parking lot just past Gourmet Shop toward the Fountain. Otherwise you may just have to circle around a bit until you find a street spot.
Of course, you can always Uber or take a Lyft in. This is an especially good idea if you plan on checking out any of the many bars in Five Points! 🙂