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“After seeing so many raving reviews...”

California Dreaming Restaurant & Bar
Ranked #19 of 1,026 Restaurants in Columbia
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $5 - $25
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Families with children
Dining options: Late Night, Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast, Reservations
Description: Awarded Best Salad, 17 years running -Free Times reader survey, 2017 & The State, 2017 and Best Business Lunch -The State, 2017; Best Restaurant to Take a Date and Restaurant to Take your Parents -The Daily Gamecock, 2016. Enjoy giant-sized fare from the California Dreaming kitchen; start with the Barbecue Chicken Nachos, then slow-cooked Prime Rib or a hearty pasta dish. The restaurant also features large party catering, online ordering for carry-out, live music and seasonal patio dining. Attn USC students: CarolinaCard accepted! The historic landmark building, Union Station, is located steps away from USC.
Reviewed December 27, 2013

When deciding a new place to try in Columbia, my husband and I chose California Dreaming due to the high praise of the restaurant. The menu was great. There was a lot to choose from. The atmosphere was probably my favorite part. I loved the look of the old train depot. Considering how high the rating was, I really expected better. The food was definitely good, but not as good as the ratings reflected, and especially since it was a little pricey for what we got. The food really reminded us of Copper River, which again, is delicious, but I know Copper River is rated quite lower than California Dreaming, even though the food is essentially the same (and cheaper!). Anyway, we enjoyed it, and I would eat there again, but it wasn't as exceptional as we expected.

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Thank Elizabeth W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CA_Centraarchy, Public Relations Manager at California Dreaming Restaurant & Bar, responded to this reviewResponded December 30, 2013

Dear Elizabeth, Thank you for your comments on the atmosphere, food and menu selections. We have been operating in the historic Union Station for 25+ years so imitation is flattery, unlike the other restaurant mentioned we serve the highest quality, all fresh, never frozen food for every menu item, including our USDA choice steaks. Thank you again!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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641 - 645 of 859 reviews

Reviewed December 26, 2013

I am not sure if the limited menu at the California Dreaming is a setback or a plus. The food we did order was good and timely except for one dish. We had a party of 9 . They did remove the late meal from the check without us asking them too so that was nice of the mgmt to do that. The atmosphere at this one was very nice, though kept a bit dark. They do a ton of business and there was a small wait ( less than 15 mins ). Overall I would go back.

Thank Evilshig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 23, 2013

California Dreaming is in or adjacent (depending on your definition) of the University of South Carolina. I went in to get a quick bite to eat before I needed to be somewhere for work. Ended up dining at the bar.

The food was decent, I ended up getting the pork nachos and they were tasty but a little too soggy. Prices are a little on the high side, I might have had a better food experience if I ordered an entree instead.

There weren't a lot of folks at the bar, so I felt the bartender could have been better at checking up on me. I was pushing to get to my meeting on time because I was waiting for him to give me my bill. I might give it another try if I'm in the area in the future.

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Thank Aspiring_Critic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CA_Centraarchy, Public Relations Manager at California Dreaming Restaurant & Bar, responded to this reviewResponded December 30, 2013

I’m so sorry to hear you didn't 100% enjoy your experience. To address your issues- I believe you ordered the BBQ chicken nachos, we don't sell pork ones. They are messy... the chips are made fresh in house, you may have received an extra helping of cheese to cause the moist chips. As for your service, I apologize that it wasn't as speedy as you would have liked.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 17, 2013

We had tried a few times to get into California Dreaming on a football weekend but could never get in. It was sorta worth it. The service was fast and responsive, the food was adequate. It is no foodie paradise but it's a nice setting in a railroad station, good for a nice family outing

Thank Marty E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 13, 2013

We ate here on the recommendation of some friends who used to live in Columbia and enjoyed this restaurant. We had also eaten at the California Dreaming restaurant in Charleston a few years back. We loved the concept of a "repurposed" train station as a restaurant and found the restaurant itself to be really interesting and fun, but all four of us were not overwhelmed by the food or the service. Neither were bad, but just very average. We had hoped for more.

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Thank kap929
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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