I swear I drove by the place 5 times before accidentally turning into the parking lot. There are no signs and no sign of life from the street side of the Rockaway Athletic Club in Columbia, South Carolina. I pulled into the parking lot to turn around once again when I noticed a piece of cardboard by a backdoor with the words, "Boiled Peanuts Tonight" scrawled on it in black Sharpie. I figured I had arrived.
I was at the Rockaway the other day to sample their Pimento Cheeseburger (pronounced 'pimena cheese' in these parts). At 3:30 on a Tuesday the enormous college watering hole was completely empty so the burger came fast. The photo above doesn't do the burger justice but it was an excellent belly-bomb with warm pimento cheese-goo on a soft egg-type sandwich roll. The patty, about 7 ounces of fresh, pressed beef, was a little overcooked for my taste but I'd go back.
Rockaway seems like a great place to let loose if you are a college student in Columbia with about 7 beers and a shot of Jaeger in you. The original burned down a few years ago and was replaced by this imposing brick structure (or maybe they moved to this location?) The plain exterior yields a well-appointed interior. I'd love to know why the windows out front are armored, or why there is no sign outside anywhere, or why it's called an Athletic Club? More research is needed for sure.
On the way out of town I found this tiny burger, chicken, and soft-serve ice cream stand and had to stop for a chocolate shake. No malt though. I asked for a chocolate 'malt' and I got a look like I was from a different planet. I thought malts were universal.