Put Greenville, South Carolina on your travel bucket list. I know, you think South Carolina, and Charleston springs to mind, but Greenville’s culinary scene has exploded in recent years making it a destination for upcountry Southern cuisine.
You’ll find James Beard-nominated restaurants, under-the-radar locals-only spots, coffeehouses, breweries, barbecue joints and more. And when you’re done eating, the family friendly city (we took our six-month old) has countless things to do and see. There are movies in the park, weekly concerts, a free trolley, a public art program, bike and hiking trails, a children’s museum, an art museum with the largest collection of Andrew Wyeth watercolor paintings in the world and so much more. We really could have spent an entire week exploring.
Here were some of our favorite places to eat and drink:
Between neighborhood vibe—groups of family and friends hanging out, dogs sharing a slice with their owners—and the food it’s hard to not want to eat at Sidewall every day during a trip to Greenville. The homemade dough is hand-tossed and cooked to perfection: crunchy with just the right amount of chew. You can choose between a sweeter crushed tomato sauce, a garlic sauce or basil pesto and cover it with the toppings of your choice. The Margherita and the Little Pepperoni were our favorites. Just make sure to save for the ice cream. Made daily, the flavors constantly change, but the scoop of blueberry basil that we had made me want to dig out our own ice cream maker as soon as we returned to New York.
Port City Java
Settle into the comfortable Port City Java on Main Street for a morning jolt. Pair any of the coffees with one of their freshly baked pastries for an easy breakfast before exploring.
Duke’s Sandwich Co.
A meal at this local institution (there are several locations) is a must. Eugenia Duke began making sandwiches with her already famous Duke’s Mayonnaise in Greenville back in 1917. During WWI she made hundreds of sandwiches each day for the soldiers stationed in town. More than a 100 years later her recipes live on.
Soby’s New South Cuisine
This upscale spot uses fresh, traditional Southern ingredients to create new twists on old favorites. A few dishes to try are the barbecue shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes with jalapeño pimento cheese and crab cakes remoulade.
Crêpe du Jour
This French creperie is dangerous. You could start your day here with a mushroom, spinach and cheese crepe and a latte and then end the night here with a strawberry crepe and a Gin Basil Smash cocktail or a glass of wine from the all-French wine list.
Go to this hip eatery which also has locations in Charleston and Nashville for afternoon drinks and apps. The fried tomatoes with pimento cheese is a must. The wine list is organized by terroir and soil type (so cool), bourbon and whiskey lovers will find an old or new favorite on the list, and a house apothecary helps make some of the best cocktails I’ve had.
Elizabeth Hunt and Heather Frenchette, the women behind Encore Gastrolounge are the type of people you want to be friends with. After already owning and operating a successful bar, they opened up Encore Gastrolounge because they wanted a place for their friends to hang out. “We were getting older than the crowd at On the Roxx, and we wanted a place where our friends could sit and talk,” Frenchette says with a laugh. Order the duck fat fries and the sweets and cheese board.
The Anchorage Restaurant
Order it. I can’t tell exactly what to get at this spot which helped put Greenville on the culinary destination map (they received a James Beard New Restaurant nom in 2017). Since they source much of their produce from their partner, Horseshoe Farm, but if they’re serving it you can bet it’ll be good.