Nashville has hot chicken, Austin has barbecue, but ooey gooey pimento cheeseburgers—a true Southern staple—proudly belong to Columbia, South Carolina.
It’s a little known secret of South Carolina’s capital city that the pimento cheeseburger—the most delicious form of burger to exist—was invented in Columbia by J.C. Reynolds at the long-gone Dairy Bar in 1954. Residents honor him every time they sink their teeth into that perfect combination of toasted bread, hot beef, and warm, melty pimento cheese. There are two schools of thought on the accoutrement that adorn the burger: one classic with lettuce, ketchup, and pickles, maybe sliced onions, too. The others introduce more bespoke ingredients like fried jalapeños and pecan-smoked bacon. Which way you veer is up to you, but once you get that first taste, you won’t look back.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
This hidden-in-plain-sight restaurant is known for two things: not having a lick of signage and its famous pimento cheeseburger, which even has presidential status. George W. Bush once stopped by to enjoy one of their warm, melty pimento cheeseburgers, which get a healthy crunch from lettuce and pickle. Look for the expanse of red brick right along the sidewalk on Rosewood Drive and you’ll have found one of the best pimento cheeseburgers in town.
One of the few places in town to get that authentic walk-up dairy bar experience, RDB has a classic pimento cheeseburger heaped with Southern gold that nestles in well beside crinkle fries and milkshakes named after great Carolina baseball players. Right in the middle of the Rosewood neighborhood, it’s an easy walk on a warm night for folks to burn off the calories.
When your burger arrives with a giant steak knife holding it together from the top down, you know it means business. A fluffy toasted bun barely contains hand-shaped ground ribeye, fried jalapeños, a big helping of pimento cheese, and crispy bacon for a texture explosion that brings people from miles around for one of these at this Cayce establishment.
Nope, it’s not the same as the chain, but this longtime Meeting Street staple still draws a large lunchtime crowd. Many of that crowd want the pimento What-A-Burger, which rings in the most affordable of the bunch at $3.29 for a no-frills, hot, cheesy burger that’s fit to eat in the car.
Each burger here is named after an area of the Lowcountry and the two pimento cheese choices sound as heavenly as their namesakes. The Isle of Palms is appropriately fancy with pimento cheese and tingly-warm jalapeño bacon while the Caw Caw Creek burger heats it up even further with jalapeño pimento cheese, pickled green tomato, smoked bacon, and grilled onions. Don’t forget to ask for lots of napkins at this establishment of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives fame.
Down below the streets of Columbia lurks the Berger Burger, the Whig’s answer to a pimento cheeseburger, made with spicy pimento cheese, bacon, grilled onions, mustard, and ketchup. It’s best enjoyed when the sun is still up in the afternoon but you’d never know it down in this moodily lit bar with a tiny kitchen cranking out unexpectedly good eats.
Aptly named the Carolina Burger at Henry’s, this burger comes with a slathering of house-made pimento cheese and plenty of bacon atop eight ounces of Angus beef to crate a salty treat that’ll have you reaching for one of the many craft beers from the restaurant’s menu. Three locations around town make it hard to be too far from this magical burger.
The fanciest of the bunch, this monstrous burger is packed with smoked pimento cheese, pecan bacon, and a dill pickle slice. The neighborhood hangout has indoor and outdoor seating, plus plenty of craft beer options and really, really good fries.
The handmade beef patty is the star of the show at this cozy little diner on B Avenue in West Columbia. The extra cheddar-y pimento cheese is offset with a simple array of lettuce, tomato, and onion slices for some vegetal crunch.
This everyman’s pimento cheeseburger in the Irmo area costs a mere $4.69 and comes with chips and a pickle. You know this is a long-run mom-and-pop lunch spot when you can make it a basket with fries and slaw for an additional $2.50.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.