Celebrating During a Pandemic

Keeping things safe, fun, and hey, classy too.

by Faith Worrell / Garnet & Black

With the way this year is progressing, it looks like everyone is going to spend at least one birthday in the middle of a global pandemic. However, while it definitely puts a damper on some of the more exciting 21 birthday ragers, there are still fun ways to ring in your new age. Whether you're looking for a fancy socially-distanced brunch or just a quick slice of cake, there’s something safe out there for everyone’s comfort level. 

The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli

As a Columbia favorite, the Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli offers sweets galore for an early morning birthday present. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, their dine-in seating is closed, but you could easily call ahead and pick up a Cinnamonster - a cinnamon roll cake that feeds 10-15 people - or a dozen individually packaged mini cinnamon rolls, perfect for a socially-distanced picnic with friends.

Eggs Up Grill

For those who love Waffle House but want something a little fancier, Eggs Up Grill is the place for you. Currently open for dine-in and carry out, they offer diner favorites from buttermilk pancakes to home fries. Those who are turning 21 are encouraged to try their mimosas, but if you have to miss out, they also offer a variety of mocktails. 

Faith Worrell / Garnet & Black
Cafe Strudel

Just a hop, skip and a jump away from campus, this eccentric cafe is located in West Columbia. Famous for their hangover hash browns, Cafe Strudel has something for anyone. Currently they are open for dine-in and carry out, but those who are willing to be seated are encouraged to grab one of their coffee creations or craft beers. 

Weco Bottle and Biergarten

For those turning 21, Weco is the perfect place to hang out with friends and get a taste of the many beer and wine selections they offer. They are always open to enjoy a beer on their picnic and patio seating, but you can usually find a food truck in their back yard. Some start at 5 p.m., but others set up shop at 11 a.m., making this a fun and casual way to celebrate your birthday with some drinks. 

Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles

It can be argued that there is no better gift than the joy you will get from Kiki’s comfort food. With options for everyone, you can celebrate your birthday by eating the best soul food in town and finishing with a warm fried apple pie. Open to enjoy in store, they also offer carry out options, perfect for those turning 21 who are looking to pair their crispy chicken with a hard seltzer. 

Tios Mexican Cafe & Cantina

Famous for their heavenly margarita towers, Tio's is a staple to all turning 21. While you can enjoy the theatrics of the tower with their in-house seating, they also offer the option of pick-up or delivery for their margarita mix. So while you’re enjoying some chips and queso at home, you can make your own by simply adding your own tequila. 


While definitely the most expensive option on this list, Saluda’s is nothing if not worth the price. They offer beautiful entrées and a comprehensive wine list to meet everyone’s tastes. Can anything really compare to celebrating your birthday with a perfectly cooked filet mignon or a warm butternut squash bisque? 

Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe

Found on buzzing Gervais Street, Kaminsky’s is a Columbia classic. Those who are turning 21 can enjoy their iconic alcoholic milkshakes in-store; but if you’re avoiding in-person dining, their large selection of desserts and non-alcoholic drinks can be picked up or delivered for your comfort. 


While Cookout is probably not the fanciest dessert place to go on your birthday, there is nothing better than one of their thick milkshakes after a long day of celebrating. Recommended to enjoy either very late or very early in the day, Cookout is perfect for all new 21-year-olds to grab their favorite drunk craving, or, for those underage, Cookout is perfect for a late-night adventure.