Cover pic Explor the South Carolina Capital City Two Gals And A Fork Food Tours PullOverAndLetMeOut
Anna Marie

Anna Marie

Explore The South Carolina Capital City With Two Gals And A Fork Food Tours

A food tour is a fantastic way to learn a city’s history all the while enjoying delicious food and beverage. In Columbia, the capital city of South Carolina, Two Gals And A Fork Food Tours offer a sampling of appetizing cuisine, a history lesson, and a heaping helping of Southern hospitality. Janet and Gloria of Two Gals And A Fork took me on a delectable tour of Columbia’s Vista neighborhood. Here’s what I learned and tasted.

Why a food tour?

I often use a food tour to acquaint myself with a new location. Taking a food tour on my first day in town allows me to learn a little about the city and helps me decide which restaurants I’ll return to for meals while I’m visiting. It’s orientation with a side.

When I met Gloria Freeman and Janet Jordan I knew we are kindred spirits. Both travel extensively and make it a point of seeking out food tours while away from home. The pair were on a tour of Seattle when the idea of creating a walking history and food tour of Columbia became more than just talk. They returned home created a plan and went to work.

In May of 2014, Freeman and Jordan launched Two Gals And A Fork and have been highlighting Columbia’s history and culinary scene ever since.

The ladies of Two Gals and a Fork with Anna Marie of PullOverAndLetMeOut.com
Me with Gloria and Janet of Two Gals And A Fork Food Tours

Vista Columbia, SC

Collage of pics from the Blue Marlin Restaurant Vista Columbia, SC PullOverAndLetMeOut
The Blue Marlin was the Amtrak station until 1992.

We meet at the Blue Marlin in the heart of the Vista neighborhood of Columbia. Once called Hell’s Half Acre, The Vista has a storied past that wasn’t always positive. Janet and Gloria share some of the details with me as we taste our first sampling of Low Country flavors; award-winning shrimp, Adluh stone-ground grits, and collard greens.

Housed in what was the Seaboard Railroad and later Amtrack station the Blue Marlin was one of the early dining destinations in the revived neighborhood once renowned for its empty warehouses, bordellos, mills, and maximum security prison. 

We’re joined by Manager, Ryan, who shares particulars of the Vista’s renaissance, the old train station’s renovations as well as the restaurant’s dining philosophy and patriotic connections to the Honor Flights program.

Our time here is the perfect kick-off for our tour.

Plaque on wall at Blue Marlin Restaurant Vista Columbia, SC PullOverAndLetMeOut.com
Blue Marlin owner, Bill Dukes, founder and chairman of the Honor Flight of South Carolina.
Photos of Honor Flights at the Blue Marlin in the Vista neighborhood of Columbia, SC PullOverAndLetMeOut
The Honor Flights Wall is a highlight of a visit to the Blue Marlin.

Dining in The South Carolina Capital

Two Gals And A Fork partners with a rotating lineup of restaurants and eateries in the Vista. Our second stop today is at Liberty Tap Room & Grill at 828 Gervais Street.

The décor catches my eye the moment we enter. Patriotic paintings and unique mosaics mix nicely with the exposed brick walls and gorgeous wood in the renovated warehouse that used to house produce and beer.

Owned by Homegrown Hospitality, this happy taproom has an immense bar. However, in spite of the beautiful surroundings, it’s the chicken and waffles that most stands out for me. Light and fluffy describes the waffles and chicken with a little kick but not too powerful melds perfectly with the sweet syrup and honey butter. Yum!

The bar at Liberty Tap Room & Grill in Columbia SC PullOverAndLetMeOut
The grand bar at Liberty.
Statue of Liberty in mosaic glass at Liberty
Beautiful mosiac of the Statue of Liberty greets diners at Liberty Tap Room & Grill

Moving on, we take a short stroll to the World of Beer Bar & Kitchen at 902 Gervais Street. This is a fun stop for pub grub and a beer. World of Beer features an extensive beer list and is known for their giant Bavarian pretzels.

This turns out to be the perfect spot on the tour to cool off and enjoy sampling a craft beer. We try a local brew called Steel Hands Punch Clock Pilsner – an invigorating brew to send us on our way to the next stop.  

Samples of Steel Hands Punch Clock Pilsner at World of Beer
Samples of Steel Hands Punch Clock Pilsner at World of Beer

The mission of Two Gals and a Fork Food Tours is to entertain and educate locals and visitors alike, to introduce them to our business partners, and to create an appreciation of Columbia, Lexington, and Newberry as world-class culinary destinations.

Two Gals And A Fork

BBQ

No food tour of the South Carolina Capital would be complete without a taste of barb-b-que. With this in mind, we travel to The Pot Smoker. The aroma of smoked BBQ fills the air as we approach. Before I walk inside I know this is going to be good – I’m right.

The casual restaurant is the quintessential BBQ joint. Stacked wood on the porch, humorous ornamentation on the walls, and simple hearty food enhance the authentic southern BBQ dining experience. Today, we’re met by Shante who details for us the cooking process which includes all night smoking of the leanest meat, freshly made side items, and a variety of sauces. I opt to try the traditional South Carolina BBQ sauce which is a mustard base. It’s different from the vinegar-based North Carolina style I’m accustomed to, but I like it.

Two Gals and a Fork with Shante from Pot Smoker BBQ. PullOverAndLetMeOut.com
Gloria and Janet with Shante at Pot Smoker BBQ.
Picture of BBQ and potato salad at The Pot Smoker BBQ PullOverAndLetMeOut
A tasting of BBQ and potato salad.
Sign that says You Can Smell Our Butts A Mile Away. PullOverAndLetmeOut
Fact!



Oysters and More!

Pearlz restaurant art on exposed brick wall. PullOverAndLetMeOut

Next up, a stop at Pearlz Oyster Bar at 936 Gervais Street. “The Eclectic Little Oyster Bar” located inside a historical building features exposed brick walls, high ceilings, a spacious bar, and wonderful dining ambiance. I’m also told the happy hour here is the best in town. Pearlz is famous for its fresh oysters as well as its daily fresh catch. Today we’re sampling the Oysters Rockefeller and & red rice – outstanding!

After all our sampling of the South Carolina Capital’s finest culinary favorites, it’s time for dessert. Kaminsky’s Dessert Café is a wine and dessert bar connected to Pearlz. The short journey to the other side of the former pharmacy places us in a wonderland of tasty pastries, cakes, ice cream, sweets, coffees, and libations.

I examine the display case and take note of the amazing offerings behind the glass. Upon returning to my seat, I am treated to a mocha cake pop that’s absolutely decadent and the perfect finale to my tour.

A display case filled with desserts at Kaminsky's in Columbia, SC. PullOverAndLetMeOut.com
A sweet display of confections at Kaminsky's.
The wine bar at Kaminsky's in Columbia, SC. PullOverAndLetMeOut.com
The wine bar at Kaminsky's.

A food tour is great for groups or special occasions. Contact Two Gals in advance to schedule a group tasting tour!

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Take The Tour

Two Gals And A Fork offer their tasting tours of the historical Vista neighborhood one Saturday each month and they offer two different themes. Brunch and Munch Tours commence at 11:00 am and their Sites And Bites Tours start at 4:00. Occasionally they conduct a Sunday Funday Tour – check their calendar for those!

The tours last between 2.5 and 3 hours and take place rain or shine. Vista tours begin at the Columbia Convention Center. There’s metered parking available however, you won’t have to feed the meter on the weekend.

Two Gals has a partnership with Historic Columbia who provides certified tour guides to share the South Carolina Capital’s riveting story. I also love how at each stop we were greeted by someone from the restaurant who provided information about the location and dining experience.

In addition to the Vista tour, Two Gals And A Fork also offer tours in Newberry and Lexington, South Carolina. Tickets for all tours are available online.

Take Away

Taking a food tour is a terrific way to explore a city. In addition to trying out the local cuisine and regional delicacies, a food tour is packed with history. I learned so much about Columbia’s rich heritage from its founding to its role in the Civil War, to today that I feel I hardly scratched the surface.

Two Gals And A Fork Food Tours provide a unique way to see and experience Columbia, South Carolina. I got a fantastic flavor of the city and I can’t wait to return!

Anna Marie with Janet Jordan and Gloria Freeman of Two Gals And A Fork Food Tours. PullOverAndLetMeOut

Our Tour Stops

 

  • Although my tour was hosted by Two Gals And A Fork Food Tours, all opinions are honest and my own!

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Two Gals And A Fork Food Tours of Columbia, South Carolina
Two Gals And A Fork Food Tours. PullOverAndLetMeOut

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  • Hi, I’m Anna Marie. I’m a wife, mother, Irish dancer, and pug mom living in North Carolina. I also love to travel. Come along for the ride! If you see something you like, don’t be afraid to say, ‘Pull over and let me out.’
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    1 thought on “Explore The South Carolina Capital City With Two Gals And A Fork Food Tours”

    1. Your post brought back good memories for me. I spent about 20 years living in Columbia so it has a big part of my heart. I love Kaminsky’s and The Blue Marlin. I’m so glad you got to experience this!

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