The best places to eat in Columbia with your parents

Shoutout to the parents that treat us to a great meal when they visit.
Flat Branch is the number two recommendation for restaurants to take your parents to by writer Michelle Lumpkins.

If there is one thing all college students have in common, it’s that our stomachs are as empty as our wallets. Before students leave for college, most parents are tearing their hair out and screaming, “Get a job and pay for your own things!” But something about us being away makes them want to pull out their credit cards and feed their struggling children at school. After months of being away from our families, it’s nice to finally be able to sit around a table again to catch up on each other’s lives, while also enjoying a delicious meal.

Here are some of the best places to eat when your parents are in town. It’s on them, so dig in.

1) Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen

If you haven’t been to Cheddar’s before, I highly encourage you to try it out. Their cheddar bites are a great appetizer to kick off your meal. They literally melt in your mouth and are sure to be a hit with your parents. For the main dish, I highly recommend trying the Key West Chicken and Shrimp. The chicken is served over rice with pineapple pico de gallo, and the shrimp is marinated to perfection. To this day, my mom talks about how amazing it tastes and continues to order it every time she visits. If your meal comes with sides, I recommend the broccoli and cheese casserole or the Caesar salad. Both are equally satisfying and can be paired well with almost anything on the menu. The restaurant itself supplies a classy atmosphere that is dimly lit and beautifully decorated. Elegant fans line the ceilings and rustic bricks cover the walls. Your parents will be delighted to see that you not only have great taste in food, but you’re classy, too. Also, their portions are huge. I’m not exaggerating — their main entrees could feed two or three people, which means you’ll have leftovers to hold you over once your family leaves. You will leave wishing you had room in your stomach for more.

2) Flat Branch

Flat Branch is amazing, but it can be pricey. For starters, my dad likes to order the hot pretzel twists. These braided pretzels have the perfect combination of crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. He also enjoys their speciality beers, which they brew themselves. I recommend the bacon and chicken wrap or, for the avocado lovers out there, the California chicken club sandwich. Both of these are mine and my mom’s favorites. Whenever we go and I order the same dish as she does, she never fails to remind me, “Your mom knows best!” Compared to the stereotypical pub you might find downtown, this is less of the party scenery and more of a family-orientated atmosphere. Flat Branch also offers outside seating on their patio, or you can choose to eat inside their cozy pub.

3) La Siesta

If you’re mom is anything like mine, she’s obsessed with Mexican food and frozen margaritas. Usually, La Siesta is filled with college students drinking margaritas and munching on the free chips and salsa, but I often see people bring their parents in as well. If your parents are up for being a part of the La Siesta atmosphere, then order some strawberry margaritas and prepare them for some bomb, authentic appetizers. First, I recommend the nachos with chicken. Every time I order this, I find myself hovering over them like my life depends on it as my friends try to grab a few, precious chips without me noticing. If your parents enjoy Mexican food, there is no way they will not love La Siesta’s nachos. I also encourage you to try the taco salad fajita. With your choice of chicken or steak, it comes in a tortilla shaped bowl filled with sauteed vegetables and pure happiness.

4) Geisha Sushi Bar

For all of you sushi lovers out there, this is the place to go. Geisha offers a lounge-like atmosphere, filled with friendly staff. Maybe sushi isn’t your thing, or you haven’t tried it yet. Unfortunately, my parents are still hesitant to step out of their comforts zones and try some. However, my friends have brought their parents here and they loved it! Typically we go to the same restaurants with our parents, but this is an opportunity to try something different. If you’re nervous about trying sushi, I encourage you to at least try the traditional California rolls. I remember I used to think to myself, “There is no way I’m eating raw fish.” But once you get past the idea of it, I promise how good it tastes will make up for it.

5) Addison’s Grill

For those of us not looking to spend more than $10 on a meal, Addison’s might not be our first option. That’s not because the food isn’t amazing — we are just typically broke and struggling. Take your parents here, and make sure you order the Nachos Bianco. Your parents will love them and immediately start planning their next visit so they can order them again. When my dad realizes there are ribs on the menu, he typically will order them. Although I haven’t actually tried their ribs, my dad says they are some of the best he has ever had. I swear I can still hear him talking about how much he loved their housemade sauce all the way home. My mom and I are obsessed with their baked tortellini pasta. It’s super cheesy and the sauteed vegetables add the crowning touch. Addison’s offers the perfect, friendly environment for you and your family to enjoy great tasting food along with each other’s company.

6) Houlihan's Restaurant and Bar

Unfortunately, my expensive taste struggles to afford eating here without having to donate plasma. However, this is a great place to enjoy with your parents. Their extensive menu has something for everyone. Whether your parents are in the mood for steak, ribs, pasta, egg rolls, salad, flatbread or even a burger, you name it; they got it. For all those pasta lovers out there, I recommend the chicken fettuccini alfredo — it is one of the best that I’ve ever had. My mom loves their BBQ chicken flatbread. I managed to steal a few bites and it was fantastic. This restaurant is great to bring your parents too because it is overall welcoming, classy, and most importantly delicious.

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