Columbia is one of Maryland’s most family-friendly towns and a key suburb for both Baltimore and Washington D.C. Parents and young professionals commute to work in large cities, using their residence in Columbia as a more laid-back, family-friendly haven to escape the stresses and dangers of city life.
As a planned residential community, it has highly rated public schools and plenty of fun activities for the whole family.
Nature lovers can enjoy hikes in Patapsco Valley State Park and visits to the Robinson Nature Center.
The Merriweather Post Pavilion is a popular place to enjoy live musical and theatrical performances alfresco while enjoying a picnic on warm summer nights.
Columbia’s restaurant scene is equally family-friendly, with options adults and kids will rally behind.
During my most recent trip to Columbia, I went looking for Columbia’s best restaurants to suit any culinary and dining preference.
Best Restaurants in Columbia
- Tino’s Italian Bistro
- Seasons 52
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Stanford Grill
- Cured 18th & 21st
- The Iron Bridge Wine Company
- Maggiano’s Little Italy
- The Ale House Columbia
- The Walrus Oyster & Ale House
- The Corner Stable
- Cazbar – Columbia
- MISSION BBQ
- The Food Market
- Urban Hot Pot
- The Turn House
- GrillMarx Columbia Steakhouse & Raw Bar
Read on to discover the best restaurants in Columbia that encompass a wide range of cuisines and dining experiences that will surely satisfy you’re craving in a welcoming and family-friendly atmosphere.
Tino’s Italian Bistro
8775 Centre Park Dr, Columbia, MD 21045
Owned and operated by Columbia natives and married couple Lance Cook and Nicole Giannini, Tino’s Italian Bistro is a casual yet refined Glenmar neighborhood Italian eatery and wine bar.
Head Chef Rudis Portillo Rivera uses over 20 years in the restaurant business to create a delicious menu of traditional Italian food that has won many awards from Columbia’s Howard County publications and associations.
The menu at Tino’s features Italian American favorites like hoagies, stromboli, calzones, salads, pasta, and New York-style pizza.
You can build your pasta or pizza or choose from a comprehensive list of specialty pasta and pizza. I loved their signature Meatball Pizza.
10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy Suite 3150, Columbia, MD 21044
Seasons 52 is an upscale wine bar and grill, serving beautifully plated New American cuisine in a bustling atmosphere.
Located in the city center’s massive Columbia Mall, Seasons 52 specializes in fresh, seasonal produce served in healthy adaptations of your favorite comfort foods.
The wine bar is a cozy place to enjoy a great Happy Hour after work, with 6$ wine by the glass and 12$ wine and food pairings.
Seasons 52 uses seasonal bounty to create a colorful menu of fresh salads, soups, entrees, and flatbreads.
Whether you’re looking for a healthy and delicious power lunch or a family dinner, Seasons 52 accommodates all demographics.
When I went, I loved their Maui Tuna Crunch salad with seared handline tuna, organic greens, mango, almonds, and toasted sesame dressing.
The Cheesecake Factory
10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044
As another Columbia Mall locale, The Cheesecake Factory has to be on the entire nation’s radar for its massive menu of American food served in enormous portions along with one of the more extensive cheesecake counters you’ll ever witness.
The Cheesecake Factory has a romantic, dimly lit atmosphere with blown glass chandeliers and colorful murals, and you can expect excellent service and plenty of delicious leftovers.
The Cheesecake Factory has something for every craving, whether it’s burgers, pizza, salads, or desserts. Plus, they have a full cocktail bar for adults to enjoy.
They make some of my favorite meatloaf dishes with mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, grilled onions, and fresh buttered corn. Of course, you must save room for a slice of cheesecake.
8900 Stanford Blvd, Columbia, MD 21045
Located in the Long Reach neighborhood, Stanford Grill is a New American restaurant and wine bar in an upscale and inviting atmosphere.
The restaurant exterior looks like a ski lodge with wood accents and an intimate back patio, while the interior features plush leather booths, a full cocktail bar, and nightly live jazz music.
Stanford has won the Diner’s Choice Award for its romantic atmosphere, and its delicious food is on par with an award-winning dining experience.
Stanford Grill’s all-encompassing menu has a myriad of sandwiches, burgers, pasta, steaks, seafood, and more. I loved their barbeque pork ribs with French fries and coleslaw.
The Iron Bridge Wine Company
10435 MD-108, Columbia, MD 21044
The Iron Bridge Wine Company is a fine-dining wine bar and restaurant owned and operated by Rob and Steve Wecker.
Their dream of opening a modest wine bar and café with a rustic-chic setting soon blossomed into a nationally recognized hotspot.
With accolades from USA Today and Wine Enthusiast, The Iron Bridge Wine Company attracts a following from Columbia residents and Baltimore residents alike to its warm and inviting eatery in Elliot Oaks.
With over 300 bottles on the wine list, The Iron Bridge Wine Company is the premier place for wine lovers to explore the best and most eclectic selection of wine. They also have a cocktail and craft beer menu.
The menu is a classic New American bistro menu with one of my favorite burgers in town, featuring high-quality, locally sourced beef on a brioche bun with pimento cheese, dried tomatoes, and bacon served with thick-cut fries.
Maggiano’s Little Italy
10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044
Maggiano’s Little Italy is a nationally loved Italian American restaurant that originated in Chicago and has since expanded to dozens of restaurants around the nation.
Maggiano’s location inside Columbia Mall is a great place to enjoy a family-style Italian meal with your loved ones after a long day of shopping.
Maggiano’s wants you to feel like you’re dining at your Italian grandmother’s house, with large family-sized plates of pasta, salads, and entrees to be passed around the table and shared.
They’ve got all your favorite dishes, from fried mozzarella sticks to giant meatballs and marinara to eggplant parmesan.
The Ale House Columbia
6480 Dobbin Center Way, Columbia, MD 21045
The Ale House Columbia is a family-friendly sports bar and grill in the Long Reach neighborhood with a giant outdoor patio equipped with fans and heaters to enjoy dining alfresco in the summer or winter.
They have a wide variety of rotating draft beers on tap, along with a full cocktail and wine bar where you can enjoy a brew while watching your favorite sports game before heading out to the patio for a meal with the family.
There’s a daily drink specialty with discounts on wine, beer, and specialty cocktails. I recommend the Tuesday specialty with $5 margaritas and half-priced bottles of wine.
Regarding food, the menu runs the gamut of fusion American food with everything from tacos to flatbreads.
They make delicious house-made soft pretzels with Oliver Brewing beer company beer cheese and tangy beer mustard.
The Walrus Oyster & Ale House
10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy Suite 3030, Columbia, MD 21044
Located inside Columbia Mall, The Walrus Oyster and Ale House is an oyster bar, seafood restaurant, cocktail, beer, and wine bar in a contemporary dining space.
They have an evening and a late-night happy hour, making them a favorite spot for young professionals to kick back after work and dinner.
Adults can certainly make a night of it at The Walrus, starting with great weeknight happy hours with $1.50 oysters on the half shell and cheap margaritas, wine, and beer on tap. Family’s can enjoy a sit-down meal, too, as they have a kids’ menu.
I recommend the happy hour, with cheap small plates of mini mussels with basil broth and garlic baguette and deviled eggs with fried oysters and chipotle mayo for under $7.
The Corner Stable
8630 Guilford Rd, Columbia, MD 21046
The Corner Stable is a family-owned and operated American food restaurant that originated in 1972 in the neighboring Cockeysville community before opening the Columbia location in the King Contrivance Village Center.
Families can enjoy hefty portions of American favorites and signature dishes decades in the making in a casual and comfortable setting.
The bar has a wide selection of cocktails and local craft beers to enjoy while watching a sports game on one of the many giant flat-screen T.V.s in the lounge.
The Corner Stable’s two signature dishes are the Famous Baby Back Ribs and Colossal Lump Crab Cakes.
Cazbar – Columbia
9400 Snowden River Pkwy #122, Columbia, MD 21045
Teetering between the Guilford and Owen Brown neighborhoods a few blocks from the lovely Hopewell Park, Cazbar is a hip and trendy Turkish and Middle Eastern bistro and cocktail bar.
Its high ceilings, rich wood floors, and fancy Middle Eastern décor make Cazbar an interesting and exotic dining experience for the whole family. There are nightly belly dancing performances to boot!
Turkish food has the best of both Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, with plenty of hot and cold mezze or small plates, dips, and fresh pita, along with traditional Turkish dishes that you’ll love.
I loved the Turkish pizza appetizer, which was essentially a bubbly Turkish flatbread with Mediterranean herbs and ground meat. Their vast selection of lamb and skewered kebabs with seasoned French fries are delicious entrees.
6270 Columbia Crossing Cir, Columbia, MD 21045
Mission BBQ epitomizes the term “All-American.” Its co-owners, Bill Kraus and Steve Newton, founded it to provide proud Americans with the best version of America’s favorite food while supporting American troops with jobs and funding.
Enjoying a delectable plate of ribs, sausage, and sides means supporting the military and fulfilling the American dreams for soldiers returning from duty.
Mission BBQ has a full menu of barbecue favorites that draw inspiration from the nation’s most famous barbecue regions like Texas, Kansas City, and Tennessee.
Mission BBQ’s central location in Columbia’s Business district makes it an excellent place for a hearty lunch. I recommend the Texas-style brisket and the pulled pork sandwich.
The Food Market
10480 Little Patuxent Pkwy G150, Columbia, MD 21044
Located in the Columbia Town Center in front of the beautiful Symphony Woods Park, The Food Market is the second location of the Baltimore City concept of chef-driven, hip yet casual American gastro bars.
Founded by award-winning Chef Chad Gauss, The Food Market is a creative and contemporary space to enjoy a passionate Chef’s takes on American classics.
The craft cocktails are the best in town, and their happy hour features a variety of their signature cocktails at low prices.
I enjoyed the TFM Paloma with javelina Blanco, grapefruit liqueur, grapefruit and lime juice, and agave with soda water.
It went perfectly with pickle brined fried chicken with liquid cornbread, baked beans, coleslaw jus, hot honey, and Hampden sparkle.
6181 Old Dobbin Ln, Columbia, MD 21045
CAVA is a fast-casual Mediterranean food restaurant that started when three friends who grew up in Greek families wanted to share the fresh, flavorful, and healthy tradition of Greek cuisine with the world at affordable prices.
Its fresh and healthy yet fast and budget-friendly appeal has skyrocketed CAVA’s fame into becoming one of the leading chains in the U.S. with over 80 locations.
CAVA’s Columbia location is in the heart of the Long Reach neighborhood, in an ample modern space with washed concrete flooring and wood booths.
Ordering is a formulaic and customizable process where you pick a base of a grain bowl, pita, salad, or combo of salad and grain bowl.
You then pick up to three spreads and dips like hummus, feta, and tzatziki to garnish your choice of meat or plant-based protein and several fresh veggie toppings.
Urban Hot Pot
10100 Twin Rivers Rd STE C1-109, Columbia, MD 21044
Located in Columbia Town Center right in front of the Columbia Mall, Urban Hot Pot is an Asian-inspired all-you-can-eat seafood and meat hot pot restaurant.
It also has cocktail bar in a beautiful Asian-style art deco dining hall. Urban Hot Pot is upscale in its ingredients and hip, modern, and tech-savvy in its delivery as you order your meal through a table-side touch screen.
Plus, each table has a magnetic heating device to keep the hot pot piping hot so you can cook the never-ending plates of fresh seafood, meats, and vegetables that servers bring to the table.
If you don’t want to build your own hot pot with a selection of seafood like crawfish mussels, snow crab, and shrimp, you can also choose from a la carte fry baskets and soups.
The Turn House
11130 Willow Bottom Dr, Columbia, MD 21044
Owned and operated by seasoned Chef Thomas Zippelli, The Turn House is Columbia’s proudly local restaurant and bar that features a rotating menu of locally sourced ingredients.
The Turn House’s delightful atmosphere features a bustling sports bar lounge, luxurious dining room, and fantastic outdoor patio inside Harpers Choice neighborhood’s stunning Hobbit’s Clen Golf Club.
The Turn House is a top choice for a nice glass of wine and craft cocktail around a stone fire pit with views of the beautiful golf greens as much as for a formal multi-course meal.
I recommend ordering house-made sourdough bread for the table or as an accompaniment to some killer baked crab dip or to sop up the broth in a delectable bowl of mussels. My favorite entrée was the duck confit cassoulet.
GrillMarx Columbia Steakhouse & Raw Bar
10175 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044
Sandwiched between the City Center’s Columbia Mall and lovely Lake Kittamaqundi, GrillMarx Columbia Steakhouse and Raw Bar is an elegant yet welcoming steakhouse and seafood restaurant.
It serves a wide selection of the finest cuts of steak and seafood in Columbia with live jazz music to serenade your meal on the weekends.
GrillMarx is the height of fine dining in Columbia and a special meal whether you’re there for an intimate dinner or a business power lunch.
For an incredibly decadent meal, I recommend starting with the seafood tower, featuring oysters, cocktail shrimp, lobster tail, and snow crab.
As for the steak, the signature steak is the Filet mignon encrusted with cracked black peppercorns in a rosemary cabernet reduction.
Columbia’s family-friendly appeal features plenty of family-friendly restaurants, but there are also options for fine dining, exotic eats, and contemporary concept restaurants.
Whether you want barbecue, family-style Italian, or Asian-inspired hot pots, you’ll find all cuisines and dining experiences represented on my list of the best restaurants in Columbia.
Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment, and we’ll check it out!