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Tazza Kitchen is a great little European-style restaurant in Trenholm Plaza. They have everything from tapas to pizza and larger plates, as well as great cocktails and a fairly sophisticated wine list.

With a nice little happy hour menu, plenty of parking, plus indoor and outdoor seating, my coworkers and I decided it was an ideal place for a ladies’ happy hour. Even on a Friday afternoon, we had no trouble getting a table right away (or parking spaces – hurray!!!!!).

Water is served a la continent in a glass bottle on the table sans ice. I’m sure someone would bring you ice if you asked, because the staff is very friendly and accommodating, but I don’t recommend it. This is the European way of doing things, and if you’re up for the full experience, I recommend you just go with the flow.

Our server was very informative, and let us know, in not so many words (and by that I mean way more words…) that he thought Tazza was, like,  the best restaurant in Columbia. And my coworker, a recent transplant from Denver, would probably agree with him. In fact, I think it’s pretty great myself.

Our server informed us that the Tazza philosophy (much like the European way) was never to rush guests from the table, and he made us feel as though we could sit there all evening (and I think hoped we would), if we liked. This is very different from when I was a server (quite a few years ago at a chain that shall remain nameless…), and we were told that lunch should be 40 minutes – understandable, as many people have one hour to get back to work – and dinner should be 50 minutes. 50 minutes. This is not the case at Tazza, where they welcome you to stay and enjoy yourself (and hopefully keep ordering food and drinks).

Definitely a foodie haven, Tazza incorporates a lot of farm-to-table in its menu. Our very enthusiastic server also let us know that all of the mixers are made from scratch (freshly squeezed juices, house-made syrups, etc.), so you can really pretty much feel healthy about your cocktail, right? Right???

We ordered the guacamole (um, a vegetable!!!) and the goat cheese appetizer. If you’re not a big fan of goat cheese, this is still a great option because it was really more marinara-heavy, with just a hint of melted goat cheese, served with hunks of toasted bread that had been drizzled with olive oil and coarse salt. It was fantastic. And didn’t last long…

Tazza Kitchen used to be Cafe Caturra, and was owned by the same people. But at some point after traveling around a bit they came back and closed Cafe Caturra for a while and reopened as Tazza Kitchen. I have to be honest: I went to Cafe Caturra a couple of times and really enjoyed it, so I’m not entirely sure what the major differences are other than maybe some menu items. But the restaurant is definitely fantastic by any name.

The happy hour specials boast a nice little sampling of Tazza’s cocktails, wines, beers, and a few of the signature appetizers. And I love it when a server comes by to let you know you have exactly “9 minutes before happy hour is over.” We quickly put in our second round…

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