Quick Trip Report: Publico

by April on November 13, 2015

I wonder if the folks at Publico planned to open on Friday the 13th.

That kind of ominous opening might imply that I had a terrible experience there, which is quite the opposite. I left a bit before noon to avoid the parking crunch in Five Points and was rewarded with a spot not too far away.

The first thing you notice about Publico is the decor. I had to laugh at all of the hipster restaurant cliches that they fulfilled there but you know what, it comes together nicely. Male bartenders and servers in plaid shirts? Check. Reclaimed wood walls? Check. Sputnik light? Check. Garage door windows rolled up to reveal a beautiful November day? Check.

I can’t say anything about hipsterness though, I was at the bar Instagramming my meal with my iPhone. Check.

publico columbia sc

publico columbia sc

Publico offers fusion tacos, tosados, burgers, and other Mexican-ish-Asian-ish fusions, along with a pretty sizeable tap list. I went for the lunch special which was two tacos and a side, the two tacos being the agedashi tofu and the avocado crunch with Mexican sticky rice.

publico taco lunch special columbia sc

The agedashi tofu taco was easily my favorite. The tofu had to be flash fried, it was crisp on the outside and perfectly puffy on the inside. The peanut sauce brought the whole taco together. And it didn’t seem weird that the mostly Asian-ish flavors were in a tortilla. A tortilla, by the way, that was the perfect size for the amount of ingredients that were put in it. I hate eating tacos in public because they are insanely messy and drippy, but this taco gave me no embarrassing drips or spills or smears of food on my face.

The avocado crunch is going to be what guac lovers want to order. I am not a guac lover. Next time I’d ask for them to go light on the guac, but this second meatless taco was still a winner. The flavors were bright and crisp, plus the fried avocado was actually pretty good, again, for someone who isn’t a guac/avocado lover. I like it but only in small amounts. This taco could have benefitted from some hot sauce, now that I think about it. Next time.

The Mexican sticky rice wasn’t anything to write home about but is a good palate cleanser between tacos, or to help wash away the heat if you did put extra hot sauce on your meal.

I didn’t order any beer since I will be at Arts & Draughts tonight at the Columbia Museum of Art, but am looking forward to going back to Publico for more tacos, but with a beer next time. Other menu items that caught my eye include the Caribbean nachos, and the tostada con cero for the meat eaters. Here’s the appetizer section of the menu for a taste of their fusion offerings.

publico columbia sc menu


Happy Friday the 13th to all, and remember to be nice to the servers at brand new restaurants. Publico is located in the space that formerly housed Garibaldi’s.

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Tasting Beer, Getting Certified

by April on November 12, 2015

For those who don’t know, I am involved in the operations of two craft beer appreciation non-profits in Columbia, South Carolina. You wouldn’t think a smaller city could support two, or would even have two, but here’s the sekrit: I also was involved in the creation of both, which proves that if you want to shape your city, just start doing it. But that’s not the point (now).

The point is that despite being so involved in both of these craft beer organizations, I still feel like my knowledge of many of the specifics is lacking. Sure, I know some things about most of the styles, but what I don’t know is the best glass shape for each style, as an example. The glass shape doesn’t matter to most people, but I want to deepen my knowledge and fine tune my senses to be able to appreciate the beers I drink at their best. I want to possess that knowledge to make me a better board member, beer event planner, and connoisseur.

flight of craft beer columbia sc

Conveniently, there’s a tiered program in place for people who want to advance their craft beer smarts. The Cicerone program is often called “the sommelier of the craft beer world” and that’s about as good as a description as there is. There are a few levels to it, starting with the one I am going for, the Certified Beer Server. the CBS involves an online test and costs $70 to complete. This is a level that servers at specialized craft beer bars are required or encouraged to take.

The next level up is actually Cicerone certification. It’s a 10 month minimum studying process and without having gone through it I’d liken it to studying for the SAT or the GRE (but with more beer!). My good friend Ashley, aka the Beer Fairy is a Cicerone and the only female in the state and the only one who works for a distributor. She is an encyclopedia of beer and my inspiration for wanting to get my first certification. Beyond that for me… we’ll see. It would really only make sense for me personally if I was in the industry and was going to exercise the knowledge on a near daily basis.

But for now, I’ve ordered the recommended book for studying for the CBS, Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher. I said I’d start studying at the beginning of October, but my new goal is to start the week of Thanksgiving and take the test before December 31st. Who else has a solid goal to accomplish before the end of the year?


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God’s Acre Healing Springs in Blackville, South Carolina

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Columbia’s Inaugural Gervais Street Bridge Dinner

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Rise Gourmet Goods and Bakeshop

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Asheville & Bryson City Eats & Drinks

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Are Your Nuts Boiled?

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A Slow Mountain Weekend in Bryson City

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For anyone who has been reading me for a few years you’ve probably read about the vacations I take every year with my friends to places like Atlanta, Boston, DC, and Disney World. Those vacations are usually hard hitting trips where we cover as much ground as humanly possible in three to five days. This year we […]

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The End of August, Already

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