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Columbia, SC


zoramargolis
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We pulled off the highway just outside of town, hankering for barbq, and found Maurice's--a satellite branch of a local institution, owned by a former candidate for Governor of South Carolina. We asked where the food was made, and the young woman manning the counter, who turned out to be a granddaughter of Maurice Bessinger himself, said that the food was all made at the main restuarant in town and delivered to them several times a day. They had just gotten a delivery and everything was fresh. Jonathan and I split a monstrous plate of pulled pork, ribs, coleslaw, fries and hushpuppies that was delicious and satisfying. The hushpuppies were delivered to our table, hot out of the fryer and they were the best that we tasted on our trip. Crusty on the outside, moist and fluffy inside, and very flavorful. The pork--which they called "chopped" but was in big hunks like pulled pork, not finely chopped like in North Carolina--was juicy and smokey and slathered in a somewhat too sweet mustard sauce. The ribs were tender and falling off the bone. As we drove through Columbia on the Interstate, we saw signs for a couple of other Maurice's just off the highway.

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We pulled off the highway just outside of town, hankering for barbq, and found Maurice's--a satellite branch of a local institution, owned by a former candidate for Governor of South Carolina. We asked where the food was made, and the young woman manning the counter, who turned out to be a granddaughter of Maurice Bessinger himself, said that the food was all made at the main restuarant in town and delivered to them several times a day. They had just gotten a delivery and everything was fresh. Jonathan and I split a monstrous plate of pulled pork, ribs, coleslaw, fries and hushpuppies that was delicious and satisfying. The hushpuppies were delivered to our table, hot out of the fryer and they were the best that we tasted on our trip. Crusty on the outside, moist and fluffy inside, and very flavorful. The pork--which they called "chopped" but was in big hunks like pulled pork, not finely chopped like in North Carolina--was juicy and smokey and slathered in a somewhat too sweet mustard sauce. The ribs were tender and falling off the bone. As we drove through Columbia on the Interstate, we saw signs for a couple of other Maurice's just off the highway.

Unfortunately Maurice Bessinger is a noted racist and white supremacist. His restaurants and his socio-political views have been widely and heatedly discussed elsewhere; a few years ago Jim Leff had to call a halt on Chowhound due to the venom. Several major supermarket chains stopped selling his products back in 2000. OTOH, it is said he himself is no longer associated with the restaurants, having sold out, so take it FWIW.

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Unfortunately Maurice Bessinger is a noted racist and white supremacist. His restaurants and his socio-political views have been widely and heatedly discussed elsewhere; a few years ago Jim Leff had to call a halt on Chowhound due to the venom. Several major supermarket chains stopped selling his products back in 2000. OTOH, it is said he himself is no longer associated with the restaurants, having sold out, so take it FWIW.
Some people consider the politics before making their dining decisions, some don't.

According to Washington folklore, the arrival of airline flights from certain southern points

at RR National Airport are announced by the packages labelled "Maurices" in the baggage claim area.

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Unfortunately Maurice Bessinger is a noted racist and white supremacist. His restaurants and his socio-political views have been widely and heatedly discussed elsewhere; a few years ago Jim Leff had to call a halt on Chowhound due to the venom. Several major supermarket chains stopped selling his products back in 2000. OTOH, it is said he himself is no longer associated with the restaurants, having sold out, so take it FWIW.

I hadn't previously seen this post John. The history of the place was unknown to me until I read it. We were on a long drive across SC from Asheville to Savannah, it was two p.m. and we were starving. I spotted the sign from the highway as we were driving and we decided to take a chance rather than go to yet another chain. I was just delighted that the food was good--so many of those kind of decisions don't turn out very well. According to the granddaughter who is running that outlet, her father is now running the business. Does he share his father's despicable politics? I have no clue. We might have opted not to go there if we had known the history beforehand, but then again it was late and we were hungry and I really wanted to have bbq in South Carolina. We chose not to put our Obama/Biden bumper sticker on the car before heading South, just to be on the safe side. In both Asheville and Savannah, of course, where we spent some time, we felt like we were among like-minded folks, for the most part. Driving on a state road up the coast in South Carolina, it was a different story.

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Any other tips for decent spots to eat in Columbia, SC that do not pose serious socio-political issues? Proximity to the University preferred. Thanks!
I don't have personal experience at any of these places, but my parents enjoy the following spots:

Gervais and Vine - Mediterranean wine and tapas bar

Mr. Friendly's - "New Southern Cafe"

Solstice Kitchen and Wine Bar

I'm not sure if they're near the University.

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Any other tips for decent spots to eat in Columbia, SC that do not pose serious socio-political issues? Proximity to the University preferred. Thanks!

Used to live in Columbia ages ago. If you want a good cheap lunch eat at any of the Lizard's Thicket restaurants. It's a meat and 3 sides.

And yes, I definitely wouldn't set foot in a Maurice's. He only recently removed the Confederate Flag from all his billboards.

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Spent last week in Columbia for work -

Flying Saucer is in the Vista, and it is a good place to grab a pint. They have a large rotating selection of brews, a fair amount of which are interesting local varieties. I didn't eat anything, so I can't comment on the food, but I sat at the bar and service was great.

Blue Marlin is also in the Vista, and it was recommended for its shrimp and grits. I was hesitant, especially after having visited Charleston recently, but the shrimp and grits were actually very good - the grits had good texture, and there was a nice balance between the fresh shrimp and the smoky andouille. The rest of the meal, however? Very average. Seared tuna tasted like it was of the frozen variety, fried seafood was chewy, and sides were mediocre all around. Service was fine, but I wouldn't classify the place as anything special.

The culinary surprise of the week? Baan Sawan, a small Thai restaurant in the Five Points area. Tod mun (chicken/shrimp patties) were flavorful and crisp, and duck matzoh balls (the special app of the day) were frickin' fantastic - fluffy, spicy, and totally unique. Spicy noodles with shrimp were delicious, and a HUGE portion. The wine and beer program is awesome - lots of interesting finds, and Sam, the proprietor/bartender/philosopher, is more than happy to share them all with you. We sat at the bar and had a blast, winding up the evening watching Muppet clips on Sam's laptop. Thanks to a friend's suggestion, Baan Sawan will make me dread my next trip to Columbia a LOT less.

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