By Carrie Kuecks, American Heritage (Plantation, Florida)
As a girl from south Florida, I stared down at a bowl of strange green leaves, collard greens, a popular side dish found at Yesterdays Restaurant and Tavern in Columbia, South Carolina. Surprisingly, a picky-eater such as myself, thoroughly enjoyed the taste and appreciated the balance of sweet and salty in the side dish.
“[Our collard greens is] one of our fellows who works here in the kitchen mother’s recipe,” Scott Macrae, one of Yesterdays’ owners, said. “She passed away about 10 years ago and we kept her recipe.”
From the moment you step inside Yesterdays Restaurant and Tavern in the Columbia Five Points neighborhood, you feel comfortable, surrounded by the laid-back, casual and classic style.
Since 1977, Yesterdays has had a menu including something for everyone.
What has made Yesterdays work for almost forty years are meals featuring fresh vegetables. Yesterdays sets itself apart and firmly establishes itself as a local gathering place and game day favorite.
Yesterdays has two owners, Scott and his older brother, Duncan, who was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey.
“One day [Duncan] called me up and said ‘let’s go look at places in South Carolina,’” Scott said. “We flew down here the day Elvis died, put down money on the place four days later. Been here for almost 40 years now.”
The restaurant has had its share of experiences with fame. Musician Darius Rucker, who at the time was a member of Hootie and the Blowfish, lived four blocks away and Yesterdays would deliver a delicious meatloaf with mac and cheese to him three nights a week. Episodes of “MTV The Real World” and “Taste of the Town” were also filmed there.
According to Scott, author Pat Conroy put Yesterdays in about three or four of his books. “We’re in Beach Music, I think The Great Santini, and The Prince of Tides,” Scott said. “He put Yesterdays in his novels because he is the oldest brother in the family and Pat is the only one that didn’t work here.”
Yesterdays has Pat Conroy-themed tables honoring him. It has been the place of sentimental occasions, including several engagements, and customers have returned with their grandchildren.
Ordering from their menus is easy, from burgers to Tex-Mex to Southern favorites like macaroni and cheese and chicken fried steak. For an appetizer, I tried the spinach and artichoke dip, which was unique in a way that tasted fresh and did not taste like the processed dip I am used to. I also enjoyed the chicken fried steak entree and found the mix of crispy chicken on top of hearty steak was flavorful and scrumptious. As for the mac and cheese, it is easy for me to say that it is the best mac and cheese I ever tried.
Below is a video montage of the Five Points area, the area that Yesterdays Restaurant and Tavern is located in.