West Columbia, SC

We Z-evoured the Z-eriously Great Burgers at Zesto in West Columbia, SC, Along With a Creamy Butterscotch Milkshake


Driving the interstate from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach near lunchtime in Columbia, SC, we were faced with the usual assortment of exit-centric fast foods, all trying to compete for our passing attention with road sign advertising. But on early-fall Saturday day, we had a little extra time and decided to venture off the raceway to find something with more character.

I could go on and on about the experience at Zesto, but that wouldn't do justice to the simple goodness at the core of the menu.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

And that's how we discovered Zesto of West Columbia, following a winding GPS routing that led us off the most-beaten path and into the land of drive-in chicken, burger and shake greatness.

If you don't know the Zesto story, it's the reverse of the usual chain restaurant. Zesto was founded after World War 2 by a company which made "Zest-0-Mat" frozen custard machines. Dozens were opened throughout the South and Midwest. Then the parent company changed approaches, dropped the concept, and left the owners to fend for themselves, independently.

It simply doesn't get better in any burger world than fresh cooked, juicy burgers, dressed to order and served hot wrapped in white paper.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

The West Columbia location has been around since 1949, according to the website. We're not sure, but based on the crazy and carved-up layout of the building, we'd guess the business grew from a window service ice cream shop featuring soft-serve to include the addition of multiple dine-in areas.

The promise of good burgers, fries and a shake drew us here, and Zesto delivered on and exceeded all our expectations. And while I could go on and on about the experience at Zesto, that wouldn't do justice to the simple goodness at the core of the menu.

Whether by the plate or the tub, the crispy, moist fried chicken delivers on taste with every bite.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

Our meals: Fresh cooked, juicy hamburgers and cheeseburgers, dressed to order and wrapped in white paper. Crispy battered moist and juicy fried chicken. Fresh cooked and piping hot thick fries. A chocolate dipped vanilla cone. A thick chocolate milkshake. And the piece-de-resistance: a scrumptious butterscotch shake -- large, of course, because this much flavor must be enjoyed in mass quantities!

If you're getting the impression that Zesto made us simultaneously nostalgic about old-fashioned burger joints and thankful for modern Yelp! and Google ratings, you'd be 100% correct. In fact, we may just have to schedule a college visit for our graduating senior to nearby USC just to have an excuse to drive the 243 miles from our Georgia home to visit again.

We're guessing the original restaurant expanded from window service to include a jumble of dine-in spaces. And that menu! YUM!Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

You'll find Zesto of West Columbia at Zesto of West Columbia, 504 12th St, West Columbia, SC 29169.

More from DeanLand

I'm a Georgia based family excursion, outdoors and travel blogger. You can follow my blog at: OurTravelCafe.com. You can also follow me here on Newsbreak. Simply use the "follow" button, located before and after this article on your phone, or on the left side menu on your computer.

And see these recent Southeast region posts by DeanLand on Newsbreak and OurTravelCafe.com:

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I'm a trained journalist and retired global marketing executive. Living in Northwest Georgia, I write about about avocations including outdoors, travel, exploration, history and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries. My South Louisiana-born French Cajun upbringing in food-rich Louisiana plus my extended restaurant-related career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. At my blog, OurTravelCafe.com, I offer a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA

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