It’s a town steeped in sweet tea, smoked meats, and the produce of Appalachia, but Greenville’s restaurants have migrated beyond a picturesque downtown and found a foothold with avid diners in adjacent neighborhoods. From the arts district of the Village of West Greenville to reimagined buildings in Midtown and the outdoor hub of Travelers Rest, eating in Yeah That Greenville is more tapestried than ever.Read More
18 Essential Greenville, South Carolina, Restaurants
From savory crepes to Italian plates
1. Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse
Bright yellow stools and matching mugs are reason enough to stop at Tandem in the hamlet of Travelers Rest, but expertly prepped Counter Culture Coffee (drip or pour over) and Dobra Tea make breakfast or lunch here feel noteworthy. A dark chocolate waffle can distract from a full menu of made to order crepes. Try the Grazing Goat with its blueberry compote, local greens and vinaigrette or a more traditional lemon sugar crepe. The fast casual service is friendly and well-informed, the historic building filled with Furman University students, families and cyclists just off the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
Also Featured in:
2. Sidewall Pizza Company
The original location in Travelers Rest is a gathering spot from open to close. The pizza offers a memorable bite, the crust doughy and savory with nice bubbles and some char, baked in a 900-degree oven. Toppings from gorgonzola to squash and a variety of meats keep it interesting and salads tossed with local roasted vegetables are sizably shareable. The creamy garlic dressing is ordered by locals as a pizza dip and housemade ice cream, regional beer, and a sundry by the glass list allow Sidewall to crest the family dining category.
Also Featured in:
Owners Gina Petti and Roberto Cortez charge their menu with global ingredients. Originally opened as a Mission-style taqueria, Asada garnered an audience hungry for fusion fare like okonomiyaki, choclo tacos, burger topped arepas, and shrimp-stuffed chayote. A line at Saturday brunch moves quickly, and outdoor tables supply overflow seating. Sangria, hibiscus tea, and a cooler filled with craft beer and sake round out the experience. Petti grows many of the restaurant’s peppers and herbs in a back garden plot. Take note of various hours and days of business.
4. SBH BBQ
Todd Smith pulled a hat trick last year when his barbecue team won the KCBS World Invitational Championship with a 708, an astonishing total score. It included perfect marks in pork and significant placements in brisket, ribs, and chicken. He’s beaten every known barbecue team on the planet and his small restaurant on Greenville’s Eastside produces competition-quality smoked meats and sides every day. Tables fill up at lunch, so grab a seat at the bar or on the shaded deck through the side door. Order the melty pork medallions, the burnt ends when available, and the only on Friday brisket burger.
5. Sushi Go
Chef Max Godo produces striking sushi, sashimi, and ramen bowls; and the restaurant stocks a considerate sake and by the glass wine menu. The corner establishment is at the top of downtown, where parking is a cinch behind Main St. After Friday Night Music at Noma Square, head to Sushi Go for New Zealand king salmon, toro offerings and beautiful hamachi and snapper. Check the specials’ board, especially for a brothy little neck clams app. Locals lunch here for well-priced combos and miso that’s satisfyingly earthy. Ask for the fried shrimp heads as an off-menu snack after dark.
6. Asia Pacific Restaurant & Supermarket
It may not be picturesque but dining at a full-service restaurant inside an Asian superstore is a whole lot of fun. The menu is pages long so peruse an iPad for referenced ideas. Stand outs include stir-fried pea tips, roasted whole or half duck, salt and pepper lobster, shrimp with egg tofu, beef with bitter melon and roast pork with Chinese broccoli. A bubble tea bar offers quality boba pearls. The hot and sour soup serves three to four, with a pungency that is layered. On the grocery side, a standing freezer of shaved proteins and an aisle of dumplings are worth ogling.
7. Willy Taco - Feed & Seed
The marquee location of twisted cantina concept Willy Taco holds court in Midtown. A multi-million-dollar upfit reimagined the 1930s Feed and Seed store into a 200-person restaurant with indoor and outdoor, heated and cooled seating. The original trussed ceiling and material reuse make the design by Sandra Cannon Interiors notable for saving war-era buildings of commerce. SC Chef Ambassador William Cribb is behind the menu and a fresh juice cocktail program and deep tequila list keep discerning drinkers happy. Beyond tacos, a Mexi-dip black Angus sandwich is delicious, and order a side of the agave charred cauliflower.
Also Featured in:
8. Trio - A Brick Oven Cafe
Opened in 1996, Trio wins at lunch. At the corner of Main and Coffee Streets, the cafe offers scenic views of downtown from picture windows and sidewalk tables; groups opt for large booths against original interior brick walls. Order the turkey asparagus melt or an individual pizza with roasted chicken. At night, shareable pasta dishes like angel hair with roasted pepper pesto and shrimp please a crowd. Owner Steve Boone, a career restaurateur, runs a tight ship in the spotless restaurant. The bar offers two dozen wines by the glass and, day-to-night, Trio teems with locals and staff who feel familiar.
9. Trappe Door
The Belgium beer bar sits below street level under Barley’s Pizza. Get a reservation for a dimly lit table or stalk the bar for a couple seats for dinner and drinks. The stairs are too steep for keg delivery, so they live upstairs with taps dropped through the ceiling. Beers number about 100, organized by type or region including select Trappists. Cocktails pair well with mussels and frites offerings, like the white and blue with a broth of white ale, blue cheese, bacon, and dijon. A short rib with shaved creamed Brussels is also a great order. Open seven nights a week, Trappe Door solves Greenville’s Monday problem.
10. Aryana Afghan Cuisine
English is owner Nelo Mayar’s third language. She immigrated from Afghanistan to Germany as a young fiancé and later to the US. Her small lunch eatery offers a large plate daily with two proteins, two starches, and two vegetables. Soft-set dumplings, healthy spins on street-fare, and incredible long grain rice dishes top the seasonal-driven menu along with pressure-cooked meats and legumes. Vegans will be pleased with individually sauced vegetables. The cardamom tea is slurpable and a vinegar-based table sauce Mayar calls “chutney” is something to pour on. Take a look at the new Aryana cookbook. Weekly menus are posted on Facebook.
Chef Greg McPhee’s resume includes Husk and Blackberry Farm but at his Village of West Greenville restaurant, The Anchorage, diners forget to take photos because they’re eating. Farm-forward, produce heavy and acid driven, middling plates are designed for combinations of three, four and five. Seafood is broken down by hand; proteins are ethically sourced; produce is grown by them or nearby farms. The James Beard nominated menu is unapologetically interesting. Date night happens at the bar, sip herbaceous cocktails and nosh apps including a board with addictively good trout dip. Order the hot biscuit with its fried cauliflower at Sunday brunch.
12. Sully's Steamers
A steamed bagel sandwich from the original Sully’s is a Greenville institution and every oozy combination is available from open until close (notably 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday). For a breakfast bagel, opt for the California Steamin, but the Nacho Maximus with its half bag of Doritos shoved between ingredients is startlingly good. Only amateurs peel the foil away here; sandwiches drip as you devour them making a Sully’s steamer stand out from other bagels. Ask for the legacy menu to try The Pirate — a dressed turkey sandwich with spinach cream cheese.
There used to be a saying in Greenville: there’s nothing between Subway and Soby’s. Literally, not much stood between the chain sandwich shop at one end and Carl Sobocinski’s flagship restaurant on South Main Street. Warp speed infill occurred over two decades, but Soby’s with its original warehouse interiors, remains an anchor of going out. A wetter crab cake with haricot vert and maque chow hits a savory note. The shrimp and grits have been written about a thousand times. Don’t discount the filet, apt service, lively bar, and a vegetable plate that even omnivores order. The banana cream pie maintains groupie status.
14. Bar Margaret
A 90s themed cocktail bar, named after co-owner Sarah Cochran’s Great Dane Margaret, serves arguably the best burger in Greenville. The milk bread bun is ideally squishy, made in-house, and debate rages over ordering a double or two burgers because of it. Locals eat it while gulping co-owner Christopher George’s craft cocktails. A pungent and spicy chicken thigh app is a match for his seasonally inspired drinks or some farm-leaning wines. Brunch includes photo worthy biscuits, cinnamon rolls and the sundrenched light of the Village of West Greenville. Check out the mural by Sunny Mullarkey McGowan on the exterior wall.
15. Northampton Wine + Dine
With a $10 corkage over retail, no place is more interesting to pair wine with dinner than at Northampton. The wine store and restaurant in the heart of downtown serves consistently nice fare, including a hot chili seafood app worth ordering two at a time. The land side of the menu is a boon for red wine drinkers with grass-fed filets, elk sauced with blueberry, and Angus burgers topped with onion marmalade. Wine service is consummate and browsing the shelves adds to a visit here. The white chocolate croissant bread pudding never disappoints.
There is no better table in Greenville than on the terrace of Jianna. Ask for a reservation in the curve of the balcony overlooking both S. Main and Falls Park, but the team of chef Michael Kramer and general manager Andrea Ciavardini have a knack for making every diner feel attended to. A whipped ricotta app is what to order and get the meatballs. Though the second-floor restaurant is known for house made pasta, fish specials tend to stand out with northern Italian leanings. This is a place to order a bottle over a glass of wine, the list is interesting, deep and thoughtfully priced.
Also Featured in:
17. Snack Works Smoothie Cafe & Bodega
A staple for fresh grab and go near Falls Park, the quick-mart’s half dozen tables stay full of politicians, local news anchors, freelancers and young families happily chatting with owner Patrick Demarco and each other. Flatbread panini nearly surpass black bean bowls stuffed with chopped ingredients, steamed broccoli, rice and grilled proteins. The Green Go smoothie is a mango driven superstar; wheat grass is grown in-store and whole ingredients are broken down daily. It’s possible to bump into longtime mayor Knox White here, but Demarco is the heart and soul of Greenville’s West End.
18. O J's Diner
Open for breakfast and lunch during the work week, line up at OJ’s to experience soul food produced from scratch. Olin Johnson set out to reinvent the meat and three category with whole foods. Daily specials tend to sell out and it’s best to arrive at 11 a.m. to get fried chicken. Table service is warm and efficient; it’s possible to drown in the amount of tea served. A sweet potato cobbler may be the only item to outshine the chicken. Limas, cabbage, turnip greens, and okra resonate as memorably good. A slice of life gathers in the dining room over biscuits. OJ’s is a place where all are welcome.