Considerable clouds this morning. Some decrease in clouds later in the day. High around 70F. Winds light and variable..
Partly cloudy early followed by cloudy skies overnight. Low 49F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: November 23, 2022 @ 11:57 am
Lula Drake Wine Parlour
Pierce Bowers shows the bucatini he hand cranked at Primal Gourmet.
Falafel King, a new Mediterranean restaurant in Five Points, offers a variety of both vegan dishes as well as cuisine with meat. Photo by Hannah Wade. 
Rob Shaw Gallery & Framing. Photo by Mike Dojc
In 2019, Tazza Kitchen’s drink menu featured non-alcoholic options.
A rendering of the outdoor seating of Bierkeller Columbia’s forthcoming brick-and-mortar brewery. 
Titus Andronicus performs at the Jam Room Music Festival. John A. Carlos II / Special to The Free Times

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Lula Drake Wine Parlour
As Thanksgiving is near, it’s perhaps cliché to rattle off a humdrum list of things to be thankful for.
In fact, at a recent friendsgiving, the activity was met with an audible groan when it was pitched. Begrudgingly, the crowd went along with it. And despite any initial qualms, with each admission of thanks a palpable appreciation filtered throughout the group little by little. By the end, we all remarked at how nice it was.
So, cynicism, snark and grumpiness aside — something I like to think Free Times often specializes in — I asked Free Times writers to share not just what they’re thankful for, but what Columbia’s food, arts and music scenes have made them most thankful for.
The answers span from hand-rolled pasta to the return of one of the city’s best musical offerings. Indeed, there’s much to be thankful for this year. DAVID CLAREY, Free Times managing editor
Pierce Bowers shows the bucatini he hand cranked at Primal Gourmet.
Oftentimes when it comes to food, I’m a bit too anxious. I want to know what I’ll order before I get to the restaurant and whether or not it’s the best option, stressing because what if the toss-up between this dish or the other lands me with something less appealing. When it comes to Wednesday Pasta Nights at Lula Drake, I relinquish that control. Each Wednesday, Pierce Bowers, the mastermind behind Dorsia Pasta Company, steps into the kitchen of Lula Drake Wine Parlour on Main Street with some of the most delicious hand-made pasta you could ever dream of. And each week, it’s something different.
One Wednesday, it was a lovely Garganelli pasta dish with Cannellini beans, basil pesto, pine nut breadcrumbs, all topped with burrata. Another, it was potato gnocchi, with a curry sauce and lima beans, topped with goat cheese crumbles. It never disappoints and I never question whether I should choose something else on the menu because it’s just that good. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for local chefs like Bowers and business owners like Lula Drake’s Tim Gardner who not only pour their talents and efforts into Columbia’s culinary scene, but also make an effort to collaborate with each other in a way that only enhances the food scene here. HANNAH WADE, Free Times food writer
Falafel King shares a wall with a gas station. It closes at 8 p.m. and has several attempts to blend American favorites, like barbeque pizza or Philly cheesesteak, into its menu. Suffice it to say, it’s an unassuming venue. But as a Greek college student who is miles away from my yiayia’s — grandmother’s — authentic cooking, Falafel King has quickly become my saving grace. While the owner does own two other Mediterranean restaurants in Columbia, Sahara on Main and NoMa Bistro, there is convenience to the Five Points location.
Falafel King, a new Mediterranean restaurant in Five Points, offers a variety of both vegan dishes as well as cuisine with meat. Photo by Hannah Wade. 
The food is authentic Mediterranean. The ingredients taste fresh. It’s often reasonably priced, and the portion sizes are large. But there is one menu item that makes Falafel King a highlight of my year — the stuffed grape leaves. The dish has many cultural iterations and can often be cheaply made. So it is somewhat surprising that not only are these some of the best I’ve had but each bite seems to transport me to simpler, childhood days. Matched with the zesty tzatziki sauce and pickled cabbage, the grape leaves are a favorite of mine — just don’t tell my Yiayia. STEPHEN PASTIS, music/arts writer
Titus Andronicus performs at the Jam Room Music Festival. John A. Carlos II / Special to The Free Times
The halting return to normalcy from the COVID-19 shutdown still lingered over the music and arts scene in 2022, even as most of the things abruptly aborted by the pandemic gingerly came back. One of the most cherished of these for Columbia’s music scene is definitely the Jam Room Music Festival, which was able to celebrate its 10th anniversary despite having to skip its 2020 and 2021 editions.
There’s a lot of things that go into the magical alchemy of the JRMF — there’s the decidedly left-of-center bookings, with unusual sounds, volumes and voices for a Columbia outdoor festival, the urban downtown setting, the casual free-ness of the whole affair. And for it all to come rushing back to the sounds as giddily unfettered as the righteous punk rock celebration of Titus Andronicus or the spectral communing brought forth by the jazz faith-keepers in Sun Ra Arkestra was a special moment that I was, indeed, thankful for. KYLE PETERSEN, music/arts writer
In a city with so many visual artists and so few places for those artists to show their work, we’re thankful for restaurants that nourish our bodies with great food, but also nourish our spirits with great art.
It’s easy for a restaurateur to leave it to a designer to purchase mass produced images of random art for their walls. But it takes intention and commitment to their community for a restaurant owner to reach out to locally based artists to purchase art or have them create work specifically for their walls.
Among a number of restaurants in Columbia who keep their aesthetic local are Motor Supply Company Bistro in the Vista and Sound Bites Eatery on Sumter Street, both of which rotate their art on a regular basis. Mr. Friendly’s in Five Points displays the work of local artists as well.
But Kristian Niemi wins the award for best local art supporting restauranteur for turning all the walls in his West Columbia restaurant, Black Rooster, over to Columbia artist Michael Krajewski, who, in an ongoing project, has been painting incredible images right onto the walls themselves, where diners can enjoy an ever-evolving gallery of original work. CINDI BOITER, arts columnist
We have a big drinking culture here in Columbia that defines a lot of the city’s growth over the past 15 years. Amid this amazing growth, for folks like myself with alcohol intolerance or those who either don’t drink or have given up drinking, it was hard to find events where drinking wasn’t the center point of the event. It’s one of the frustrating things to be out with friends at a nice restaurant and only have a soda or sweet tea to nurse while others get to enjoy the location to its fullest through their drink program.
In 2019, Tazza Kitchen’s drink menu featured non-alcoholic options.
Over the past few years though, the rise of non-alcoholic drinks has done wonders to help bridge that gap for folks like myself. Many places I go now there’s often an option on the menu for either a customized drink by the bartender to actual menu-item drinks that lets non-alcohol drinkers have a very nice, thoughtful option to try. Non-alcoholic beer options from brands like Athletic Brewing have also slowly been on the rise, offering an opportunity to enjoy something similar with peers without feeling left out. I’m thankful for these options and hope to see it only continue to expand and grow as more and more locals learn to love the value of having non-alcoholic options on the table. BACH PHAM, food writer
I’m thankful for authentic, German-style beer from Scott Burgess’s Bierkeller.
A rendering of the outdoor seating of Bierkeller Columbia’s forthcoming brick-and-mortar brewery. 
German roots run deep in the Midlands. Martin Fridig anglicized his name and operated Friday’s Ferry in the 1750s where the Gervais Street Bridge now stands, and Dutch Fork takes its name from the “Deutsche” (i.e. Germans) who lived there. Even the mustard sauce enjoyed on your barbecue probably stems from a German ancestor somewhere.
After a decade in Germany’s Franconia region, Scott Burgess brought centuries-old craft brewing techniques and recipes back home, and the Bierkeller was born.
His signature Kellerbier is a hazy, unfiltered lager, meaning cool, crisp and refreshing like your dad’s favorite lawnmowing beer from the grocery, just made with premium German ingredients. Some love the smoky Rauchbier, others the sturdy, malt-forward Bockbier. I enjoy the dark side, including the rich, black Fastenbier, and the curiously complex, semi-sweet, flavorful Braunbier.
After years of festive pop-up beer gardens around town, Burgess has committed to a permanent riverside tavern/brewery by the Columbia Canal, with an anticipated opening in early 2023. Santa bring me a stocking full of the brewery’s signature wooden beer tokens please! AUGUST KRICKEL, theater writer
Rob Shaw Gallery & Framing. Photo by Mike Dojc
Rob Shaw caught the painting bug back in his Dreher High School days while taking David Vandiver’s art class and has been enlivening canvases ever since. The accomplished palette knife painter, renowned for his vivacious and enchanting Lowcountry landscapes that compel you to Airbnb a beach house stat, has been a fixture of the River District art scene for four years.
When a fine art collector desperate to find just the right frame to accent a recent acquisition or a football obsessive looking to safeguard their signed Clowney jersey behind plexiglass for all posterity asks me who the best custom framer is in the city, there is never any hesitation in my response.
There are plenty of framers who pull double duty as gallerists, but true double threats are as rare as a Vermeer. Shaw is the Shohei Ohtani of Columbia’s art scene. He has the eye and technical acumen to enhance and preserve works with meticulous diligence, but he also consistently stages consistently interesting monthly shows highlighting South Carolina artists. MIKE DOJC, Free Time food contributor
It’s been a long time coming and it’s still hard to believe it’s true but, after a 15-year-long drought, and domination by big box bookstores with little to no ties to local readers or writers, Columbia is finally getting a full-sized independent bookstore in Five Points. With coffee, too!
If all goes well, All Good Books is set to open in the old Thirsty Parrot bar space on Harden Street in early 2023. The project plans to present literary art by local authors and big-name best sellers as well as a café to quench those caffeine cravings, and even a reading room in the back where patrons can cozy up with a good book or gather in groups for readings, talks, and community meetings.
Ben Adams, owner of Odd Bird Books in the historic Main Street Arcade is one of the partners involved in the creation of this new literary watering hole. Adams plans to close Odd Bird Books early next year. He is partnering with Clint Wallace, a law professor at USC, who is excited about helping Adams expand their independent bookstore project from a 300 square foot space to 3,000 square feet.
Other than Ed’s Editions in West Columbia, which deals largely in used and antiquarian books, the Midlands has been without an independent bookstore since 2008 when, after 34 years of lovingly providing us with titles by authors that ranged from Conroy to Cartland, the late Rhett Jackson closed the doors to the Happy Bookseller for the last time.
Nothing may ever really replace the Happy Bookseller, but we are thankful to be able to give All Good Books the opportunity to win our hearts. CINDI BOITER, arts columnist
David Clarey joined Free Times in November 2019 as a food and news writer. He’s constantly fighting competing desires to try cooking food at home and spending his entire paycheck on Columbia restaurants.
Congressman James Clyburn comes to Columbia for a talk and the first Soda City Jazz Festival is here. Read moreColumbia To-Do List (Nov. 23-29): Soda City Jazz Festival, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
Free Times writers are thankful for a lot in Columbia, and it offers a great opportunity to reflect on the year’s happenings. Read moreThere’s a lot to be thankful for in Columbia’s food, arts and music scenes this year.
Free Times contributor August Krickel previewed some of the top live stage performances coming to Columbia. Read moreColumbia’s holiday stage season is jam packed. Let us help you decide which ‘Nutcracker’ is for you
The exceptional work of all three female finalists can be viewed at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art until January 15. Read moreReview: At the 2022 701 CCA Biennial finalist showcase, three women rule

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